Title - "Round The Wheel Again: The Rebirth"
Author - Wintersong
E-Mail address - wintersong .ca
Website - .
Rating - R (violence by minors)
Category - S
Summary - Are we the sum total, not just of our
choices and experiences in this life, but the
sum of all the choices we have ever made?

Disclaimer: They belong to CC and 1013.

Author's Notes: This is not really babyfic.
It's more of a pre-colonization set-up story.
I really liked the concepts introduced in The
Field Where I Died (I most emphatically
believe however, that Melissa was simply
Mulder's wife in that past life...not his
soulmate).

This is the first part of a trilogy series
called Round the Wheel Again, but can be read
as a stand-alone.

Hope you like it! :o)

The aliens had left William behind. They had left
him alive.

He seemed human.

All of the genetic tests on Billy Miles had come
back perfectly normal. Perfectly healthy.

Perfectly human.

Perhaps the truth was not that William Scully was
not what the aliens were looking for.

But that he was.

Who can fathom the motives of an alien race? An
alien agenda? Did anyone even know how many
competing factions fought in this convoluted cold
war? How many sides existed in this battle for
Planet Earth?

Deep down, the one thing that Mulder could never
say to his partner was the fact that he feared
that the aliens had not come to take the child...

...but to bear witness to his birth.

As he stared into the blue eyes of a child who
might be the son of his body and was now and
forever the chosen son of his heart, Mulder
feared that the alien virus was only the first
step in a larger mechanism. That somehow, with
the birth of this child, the real battle had just
begun.

There were those who watched the child from the
shadows. Men who expected great things, the
genesis of a new race perhaps, or the salvation
the old. However, despite early signs of
increasingly voracious intelligence and physical
dexterity, the men in the shadows were
disappointed. None of the skills evidenced showed
anything beyond that which he could have
inherited from his parents. Intelligence, memory,
spatial abilities and muscular control were all
well with the ranges expressed by the parents.
Nor did the child seem to possess any of the
psychic abilities one would have expected from
such a mix.

In fact, the boy showed all the psychic ability
of a rock.

Worse, far worse, was the litany of childhood
illnesses the boy seemed to fall victim to. If
there was a cold virus, he caught it. If the
measles swept through the neighborhood, he got
it. He coughed, sneezed and shivered his way
through the first five years of life so
thoroughly introduced to the panoply of human
ailments, that his mother started buying tissue
boxes in bulk and kept an open account at the
all-night pharmacy down the street.

What they failed to see...perhaps because Mulder
and Scully took great pains not to tell them, was
that this apparently compromised immune system
was nothing of the sort. Perhaps it was not
alien, but they were not taking any chances that
someone might think so. Home laboratory equipment
ran the necessary blood tests and in the rare
cases where medication was indicated, Scully
wrote the prescriptions herself. No one thought
it odd. No one thought it particularly
noteworthy.

Than again, no one saw what William Scully's
immune system did to the bugs unlucky enough to
attempt an attack. Viral and bacterial suicide
was putting it mildly. It was not the fact that
he got sick that was the clue, it was the fact
that he never stayed sick for long.

Still, there was no evidence that this was
anything other than good genes.

In the end, they did the only thing they could
do. They kept a close eye on their son and loved
him. Ultimately, that would be the strongest
weapon of all.

Ironically enough, everyone was so concerned
about the child's physical makeup, they forgot
about his soul. If essence was meant to rejoin
the wheel of life, what was the greater purpose
behind the selection of parent and child. Did the
soul chose ? Was the selection of the new life
predetermined even before the death of the old?
Were Fate and Destiny intertwined across
generations, butterflies flapping their wings in
lives past so that the necessary souls would
arrive in time to complete the next stage of
their journey?

Did aliens have souls?

If they did, who decided which souls to send
where? Who designed the cross-generational
gameboard?

Which side were they on?

Was there one master planner, or merely a complex
interweaving of choice and individual decision
made before, during or after death? Does it
matter? Do our failures or our successes in past
lives drive us into the next? Are we the sum
total, not just of our choices and experiences in
this life, but the sum of all the choices we have
ever made?

And how are we affected by the actions of those
people and choices we left behind?

********************************************

William hated to see his mother cry. Whether it
was at a movie, after an argument with his father
or simply because she was chopping onions, tears
in Dana Scully's eyes inevitably led to a
horrified look and an offer of a teddy bear. His
favorite. If that did not work, chubby baby hands
would pat her gently in such a perfect imitation
of his grandmother, that inevitably tears would
turn to stifled giggles and baby William would
quickly find himself hugged, then thrust into his
father's startled arms so his mother could flee
to the bathroom before she could offend childish
dignity.

Loud noises terrified him. Thunderstorms sent him
into screams of hysteria that did not stop until
he was wrapped tightly in his parents arms. After
it was all over, he would not let his father near
him. He would bat his hands away with angry fists
and cling to his mother, tears streaming down his
face. Scully would simply looked helplessly at
the shattered look on Mulder's face and sit down
in the rocking chair by the fireplace. Oddly
enough, William would watch his father as Mulder
paced the room, and if he left, would cry as if
his heart were breaking.

He enjoyed his mother's approval, a startled look
of astonishment and brilliant grin would result
every time he was praised. But if he loved his
mother's approval, he lived for his father's.
Everything Mulder did, William wanted to copy. He
studied his father with wide, solemn eyes and
while praise brought a cautious smile, failure
would send him into an angry depression for
hours and no amount of coaxing would get him to
try again that day. As he got older, the toddler
would angrily smash whatever it was that had
frustrated him and run to his room and huddle in
the closet until Mulder rousted him for dinner.

Any attempts to drag him out early sent him into
screaming fits of self-directed rage.

Finally, after several exhausting weeks of
reading every book on child psychology he could
lay his hands on, Scully found Mulder huddled in
the bedroom, tears streaming down his face. She
had swallowed sharply at the self-loathing and
guilt she had no idea how to combat. She had
known it was going to be difficult. William
terrified him. He was protective enough when the
boy was a baby and all he had to worry about was
kidnappers, cold weather and diaper rash. Now, as
the child's personality started to emerge, he was
convinced he would do something to scar him
emotionally and permanently screw him up.

All she could do was laugh and say that William
had inherited his intense personality.

A scuffling at the door caught her attention
and she jerked, alarmed that William had crept
out of his room without her hearing. The child
reacted badly enough at her tears. How would he
react to his father's? Mulder instantly wiped
them away and tried to smile reassuringly, but it
was too late. Three-year old William stood frozen
in the half open door, blank eyes in a blank
face. Scully started to go to him and was
unprepared when William suddenly dropped his
teddy bear and launched himself at his father. No
gentle attempt to reassure with bribe or comfort,
William slammed into Mulder's body so hard he
knocked them both back against the wall and
wrapped his arms around his neck in a
stranglehold.

For one awful moment, Scully thought she saw
Mulder's face turning blue. Then he wrapped his
arms around the crying child and looked at her
helplessly. Since she was a half step away from
freaking out herself, she was not reassured, but
did what every mother from the dawn of time has
done. She pretended she knew what she was talking
about.

"Looks like he just wants your attention,
Mulder."

Mulder, predictably, took her at her word.
Rationalizing that it was the personal failure
that seemed to bother the child the most, he
started taking William out every evening for
walks in the park. Rain or shine, snow or slush,
Mulder spent at least two hours with his son just
talking to him. As they rambled, he told him
stories. Elaborate fairy tales involving heroes
and monsters. The kid was fascinated. He listened
for hours. And despite Scully's original worries
about nightmares, William never seemed to worry
about monsters under the bed. She found out the
reason why when her mother dropped in for a
surprise visit.

It seems the monsters were all scared of Mommy.

Chasing Mulder off to shoot hoops, Scully and her
mother had had a comfortable afternoon shopping
and chatting while watching William chase
imaginary dragons beneath the clothing racks.
Back at home, Grandma was settling William down
on the sofa for a nap when he had demanded a
story. She started with Winnie-the-Pooh. Five
minutes into the story, Scully had looked up to
find her too silent son staring at his
grandmother with a mixture of horrified disbelief
and disgust. Then he had loudly demanded a *real*
story. At a loss, Maggie had looked at Scully who
had just shrugged and told her that Mulder
normally did the story-telling. She was
beginning to wonder if this had been a bit of a
mistake when William, in an effort to point out
his grandmother's misguided ways, launched into a
detailed and obviously well memorized fairy
tale.

Except it wasn't any fairy tale she had heard
growing up.

It seems a certain ex-FBI profiler had
appropriated certain X-File adventures as the
basis for his version of bedtime storytelling.
Scully had to admit, he had sanitized the
events...a lot. It was also rather quickly
apparent
that the hero of the story was a certain red-
haired princess named Katherine. (William
whispered in an aside to his Grandmother that
that was his Mother's secret identity but that
she couldn't tell anybody). Maggie had just
nodded gravely, her lips twitching as her
grandson blithely explained how his Mother had
saved the world.

Again.

Scully wasn't sure if she wanted to scream or
howl with laughter. Ultimately, she almost ended
up in tears. It seems William himself got to be
the occasional endangered party of the story. At
one point, he found himself locked in a castle
tower high above the clouds. William had
commented almost off-handedly that they were
angry clouds, full of thunder and lightening.
Aware of her grandson's phobia, Maggie had asked
gently if the boy had been afraid. William had
just looked at her, astonished, and told her
that he didn't have to be afraid, because he knew
that his mother-er, Katherine- would come and
save him.

Scully had watched her son through a mist of
tears and thought about the gifts you could give
to a child. Somehow, Mulder had managed to give
his son hope. Not that monsters did not exist.
But that ultimately, no matter what happened, his
parents would challenge the gods themselves to
save him. That they would always come for him.

No matter the cost.

In a universe where they faced the very real
possibility of this horrifying reality, Mulder
was trying to give William the tools to fight an
unimaginable future. Courage and hope, trust and
love.

It was not the way she would have thought to give
him those things.

She just thanked God that Mulder had.

Despite his almost obsessive devotion to the
members of his family - both blood and honorary -
William tended to regard other children with a
complex combination of watchful suspicion and
wariness. Not that he wasn't affectionate, but he
seemed to have an almost instinctive fear of
betrayal. When one of the others hurt his
feelings, he just retreated into a silent ball as
if this was to be expected. As a result, he had
no real close friends even by age five, although
every once in awhile he would tentatively reach
out.

His intense nature seemed to come out under these
circumstances and his parents watched sadly as
William threw all of his love into the ring, only
to stand uncomprehending as normal childhood
inconstancy inevitably drew the other child to
new playmates and he was left behind. On those
occasions, it broke Mulder's heart to see his son
just scuffing his toe and eyeing the new group
dynamics with confusion. But if his father's
heart bled for his pain, his mother was caught up
in recognition. In William's actions, she saw
again the courage of the father as she recalled
admiring how he had reached out time and time
again, only to be burned. And then finding the
strength to reach once more.

She had wondered once if courage was a quality
that could be passed on. Now she was sure of it.

He was generous with any toy except those he
specifically identified with his parents and he
jealously guarded these prized possessions. In
fact, he jealously guarded his parents. Adult
strangers were subjected to polite curiosity as
long as they kept a certain minimum distance that
seemed to fluctuate based on William's
whim. Large men came under the most scrutiny,
although Skinner was treated more with cautious
regard than suspicion. Acquaintances and
associates received an icy examination that had
Mulder biting his lip as the corners of his mouth
twitched and his eyes flipped from mother to son.

William could stand his ground stubbornly enough
if he thought he was right, but he rarely did. In
general, confrontations bothered him, especially
noisy ones and if his parents were in the room he
would inevitably sidle up behind one of them -
usually Mulder - and hide behind an adult leg.
That was unless that argument was directed at
either Mulder or Scully. If the person then made
the critical mistake of being both angry and
coming too close, Mulder usually ended up
grabbing for a hissing and biting pint-sized
dervish as it attacked without impunity.

Surprisingly, that rage was never directed at
children. Instead, if his parents interacted with
other children, he would watch silently from the
sidelines as if he had been rejected. He would
occasionally try to insinuate his body between
the usurper and whichever parent was in question,
but he never struck out physically. Which is why
Mulder and Scully were so floored the day they
were called by the elementary school at the
demand of the angry parents of another child
six-year old William had just put in the
hospital.

Social workers and police officers were all in
evidence by the time they arrived, and between
the hysterical screaming of the other child's
mother and the tearful incoherence of the
playground teacher, no one was making any sense
at all. From what little Mulder could make out,
three year old Jessica Travers escaped from the
daycare yard at recess in order to visit her
brother. She apparently found William's jacket
and had taken a toy spaceship from his pocket
when he wasn't looking.

Mulder had winced at this point, because the
spaceship was one of the few toys that William
guarded with his life. According to the teacher
who had gotten the story from two friends of the
boy currently in surgery, Jessica had protested
giving the toy back and William had pushed her
down. Hearing her screams, Kurt and the other two
boys had run over to see what was going on. Kurt
had accidentally stepped on the toy, breaking it,
and that was when William had gone ballistic.

According to the police, the doctors were
strapping three broken ribs, taping a busted
nose and putting a cast on a wrist that may
have broken when the boy fell on it. Maybe.
The doctor had sounded doubtful and Scully's grim
look had backed up his diagnosis. Of course, as a
forensic pathologist, she had been in a position
to see more defensive wounds and injuries than
the ER doctor. The bruises came from fists, but
the ribs had been broken by repeated blows from a
sneakered toe. The playground teacher confirmed
that William was found kicking the screaming boy
while the other horrified children stood and
watched.

Anyway you wanted to look at it, William had just
delivered one of the most brutal beatings Mulder
had ever seen one child give another.

He could easily have killed him.

And it looked exactly like that may have been
what he was trying to do.

Mulder met Scully's disturbed look as she stood
talking with the police officer in charge of the
case. It was obvious that William had done
exactly what they said he had done. However,
neither of them felt that they were hearing the
whole story. Whether it was parental disbelief or
years of listening to witness testimony,
something did not add up. The two boys who had
been with Kurt were sitting about twenty feet
down the hall on the left, a social worker
carefully listening to their tearful stories and
soothing the distraught parents.

The same parents who were sending venomous glares
toward Mulder and Scully. He suspected it was
only the presence of the police officers which
kept them from being more vocal. The police had
already forcefully threatened the parents of the
injured boy with ejection from the hospital if
they did not keep their voices down and under
control. Attempts to verbally harangue Scully had
been met with the same treatment. Relief came in
the form of a doctor who took them off into a
side room to discuss their son's injuries and
prognosis.

Five minutes later, a sullen faced William
Scully was brought out of one of the offices
by his own police escort and led down the hall
to the knot of adults waiting in the hall. The
officer checked when she realized that the other
two boys and their parents were still in the
hall, then seemed to shrug to herself and the two
made their way down the suddenly silent stretch
of hallway. Mulder was angrily working himself up
to lambaste the officer for submitting William to
this kangaroo court - preferably before Scully
started chewing strips and left nothing for him
to sink his teeth into - when the officer looked
up and met his eyes with real regret.

Mulder closed his eyes and worked on controlling
his temper. She had made a mistake. A mistake his
son was paying for, but that's all it had been.

Unfortunately his protective impulses needed some
convincing.

The officer stopped in front of a couch not ten
feet from where Mulder was standing and silently
gestured for William to sit. He did so without
protest and then huddled into the corner, eyes
glued to the floor. Taking in the defensive
posture, Mulder winced again. Six years old and
he looked like a juvenile delinquent with his
sullen air and tense set to the shoulders.

Mulder suddenly twitched and when he turned his
head he found Scully glaring at him. He widened
his eyes in surprised inquiry. She jerked her
chin toward William in exasperation and Mulder
eyed his offspring dubiously, then looked back.
Was she kidding? William had inherited his
mother's tendency to snap and snarl when
wounded. Did she honestly think this was the
best time? More exasperation. He guessed that
she did.

Mulder suddenly realized that the officer
standing next to Scully had been watching the
silent exchange with interest. Considering the
charges, Mulder knew exactly what the officer was
probably looking for. He sighed. Walking over to
the couch he debated with himself for a moment,
then sat down and stretched out his legs
casually. Leaning back, he let his eyes roam the
far wall, all the time keeping a sharp look out
with his peripheral vision.

William lasted about ten minutes, then his eyes
started darting toward his father. He appeared
to take no notice of the others in the hallway.
Just his father. Finally his eyes stayed a moment
too long and Mulder was able to capture them
briefly.

"Did you get hurt?"

Blue eyes darted away, "No."

Mulder nodded slowly, then glanced casually at
the side of William's face. The boy had
steadfastly refused to say anything about what
had happened.

"You do realize that your mother will find out
what really happened, don't you?"

He tried for light humor, but the smile faded
instantly when William's shocked gaze shot
instantly to where Scully was standing, then back
to his father. There wasn't a shred of disbelief
in that gaze and although there was a split
second of hope in those blue depths the over-
riding emotions seemed to be a mix of
desperation, confusion and fear.

Every law enforcement instinct he had ever had
went on the alert. Scully's expression hardened
instantly as she read the changes on his face and
he saw her turn her head to say something to the
police officer beside her. He looked at her
questioningly for a moment, then slowly toggled
the mike on his radio and spoke into it.

Within minutes, a tired looking thirtysomething
woman in jeans and sweatshirt came down the hall
accompanied by a third police officer and a woman
who was probably a social worker. A small towed-
headed boy who looked to be no more than five or
six trailed along behind them. A tiny doll of a
girl with strawberry blond hair and pixie-like
features rested in her mother's arms. Mulder had
the sinking feeling that this was Jessica
Travers.

The girl was clinging to her mother like a monkey
and rested against her sleepily as the police
officers explained that they were hoping Jessica
might be able to tell her side of the story. The
mother looked doubtful, but gently prodded her
daughter awake. The girl blinked big cornflower
blue eyes and stared at the female police officer
as she gently tried to ask the girl about what
had happened. Whether she was tired or just too
young to track the conversation, the girl was
unresponsive until the police officer got to the
part about taking the toy spaceship.

The girl's mother suddenly sighed and rubbed the
bridge of her nose.

"What have I told you about taking things that
don't belong to you Jessica?"

From the tone of her voice, this was a
longstanding problem and it gave unexpected
credibility to a tale Mulder knew was false, but
had no clue how to disprove. Jessica's mother
gave her daughter a hard look.

"What did I tell you would happen the next time
you took something that did not belong to you?"

Jessica's lower lip quivered and suddenly her
eyes were filled with tears. The cops looked
embarrassed, the parents sympathetic. Suddenly a
belligerent voice came from low down on Mulder's
left.

"Leave her alone. She didn't do anything wrong."

Mulder turned his head to see his son scowling
at Jessica's mother. Will's eyes darted towards
Mulder, then back to the floor. He mumbled the
next sentence almost inaudibly.

"I gave it to her. She didn't steal it. Leave her
alone."

Mulder glanced up to find all three cops staring
at William speculatively. Before anyone could
say anything, Jessica's head snapped around,
obviously orientating on William's voice. She
squirmed so suddenly that her mother reflexively
put her down before she could fall. The little
girl ignored her and zeroed in on her target.

"William!" she shouted happily and raced toward
him on sleepy legs.

She stumbled over Mulder's feet before he could
get them out of the way and he grabbed for the
back of her shirt. He needn't have bothered.
William had lunged up out of the couch seconds
before the disaster - from the look on his face,
obviously familiar with this tendency- and
Jessica crashed into his legs. Before he could
move, the little girl had wrapped both arms
around his right leg and was grinning up at him
toothily.

Mulder sank back into his seat and regarded his
son thoughtfully. This was not exactly the
behavior of a boy who would knock down a three
year old over a toy. Nor was it the behavior of
a three year old who had just been brutally
knocked down. So where did Kurt come into all of
this - because something had set William
violently at his throat.

Sudden movement beyond the adults caught his
attention and he found himself looking at the
two boys whose story was convicting his son
of aggravated assault, and their parents. The
officers were watching the parents for hysterical
outbursts, so the next sequence of events caught
everyone off guard. With a liquid grace
momentarily at odds with his six year old frame,
William twisted to place his body between Jessica
and the two smirking boys and he snarled.

Cold eyes glared in deadly threat as Jessica
peered around his legs and then huddled closer.
The sheer menace in those eyes was chilling.
Worse, it was familiar. He'd seen that look in
Scully's eyes the moment before she fired the
shots that sent Donnie Pfaster back to Hell. The
possible need for that reaction made him want to
throw up. Looking around the hallway, he saw that
every single law enforcement officer was running
through a similar list of sickening
possibilities.

The parents of the two boys saw only the threat.
Mulder turned his head to locate the girl's
brother. He had moved up to William's right. Not
quite to his shoulder. Mulder doubted he had the
courage. He was shaking so hard his knees were
knocking. But something was keeping him firmly
planted close to William's side. Mulder had the
awful feeling it was his sister.

Suddenly the boy's darting gaze met Mulder's
and the sheer terror in those eyes had Mulder
down on his knees beside him before he realized
that he planned to move. His arm was around those
trembling shoulders and when Mulder looked up to
see William gazing at him, it wasn't jealousy he
saw, it was relief.

William may have chosen the wrong way to settle
whatever problem arose. They wouldn't know until
they sorted everything out. But Mulder knew one
thing for sure. Whatever William had done, he had
done it for the right reasons. They would work
the rest out later. Meeting William's gaze
squarely, he nodded once and smiled slightly.
William's eyes widened in wonder, then suddenly
blazed with hope. His head snapped to search out
his mother in the crowd and when he found her
staring back at him with pride, his shoulders
began to shake. Suddenly he had his arms wrapped
around Mulder's neck and his soft plea was loud
in the deathly quiet hallway.

"Don't let them hurt her."

The parents of the boys gaped, the implications
still not lining up in a clear picture yet. It
did not matter. The police officers were suddenly
wearing cold professional masks and the social
worker looked like she'd been clobbered with a
two-by-four. Horror was etched on her face as she
stared at the two boys she had previously been
considering victims. She rather looked like she
was seeing her worst nightmare.

She probably was.

Slowly, the story emerged. Jessica's brother
stared at William with a painful mix of shame and
worship as he explained that Kurt and his two
followers regularly beat up the younger kids for
their lunch money, their clothing or personal
possessions. At least one child had gone to the
teachers, but all that happened was a trip to the
principal's office and a phone call to the
parents. The next morning, they were back out on
the playground and the child who complained was
left to suffer the consequences of trying to
follow the rules.

William had refused to buckle under and prompted
by his success, Jessica's brother Andrew had
tried to follow his example. Jessica had come
over to visit and had been playing in the sand
box
when the three boys headed for her brother.
William had tried to get Jessica back to the
daycare playground but she had gotten upset and
in an effort to calm her down, he had given her
the spaceship. He had been standing with her when
Andrew got cornered.

Andrew stood his ground and Kurt had started
roughing him up. At that, Jessica had thrown the
spaceship at him and gotten in a good hit to the
back of the head. In fury, Kurt had stomped on
the toy and then seeing Andrew's reaction to
Jessica's tears had started in on the little
girl. According to Andrew, the three boys had
started circling William and Jessica and started
pushing and shoving and then darting in to touch
her. Kurt had started the other boys flipping up
her skirt and grabbing at her.

At this point, Andrew started to cry. It was
obvious to everyone from his broken whispers that
he had frozen. He hadn't known what to do.
William, he said, had taken several blows from
all three boys, but had managed to stay on his
feet. The problem was that every time he stopped
to hit one of the boys, the other two would close
in on Jessica. Finally Andrew had given them his
new jacket and just pleaded with them to leave
her alone.

Kurt had laughed at him and backed off. Andrew
was crying openly now and everyone was standing
around in appalled silence as he whispered that
Kurt had ordered them not to tell anyone what
they had done...or something bad would happen to
Jessica. Maybe she would fall down a lot. Maybe
she would wander out onto the road.

Or maybe she would just disappear.

Andrew looked up, his voice suddenly harsh and
clear,"I believed him."

Mulder, Scully and the cops looked sick as they
considered the fact that they believed him too.
But no one else would have. Not the teachers. Not
the principal. And definitely not the parents of
an eight year old boy.

Mulder would have. And so would Scully.

But how many parents had chased monsters
for a living?

It was after that threat, apparently, that
William had exploded. And done his best to
eliminate the threat once and for all.

Mulder wasn't sure which was worse.

The fact that his son had consciously chosen such
a violent solution to a problem...or the fact
that he could feel that he had no other options.

Or maybe the biggest question of them all...why
hadn't he come to his parents for help?

Because no matter how angry he had been, William
had known exactly what he had been doing.

Six years old.

Jesus Christ.

Mulder honestly wanted to believe that his son
had simply been striking out in rage and taken it
too far. Lashing out like the child he was at
that which was hurting him. He wanted to believe.
He truly did.

But he could not.

Because he had seen the knowledge in his six year
old son's eyes that he had believed Jessica's
life had been in danger...and he had been
enraged.

But he had also been in control.

Or he had consciously chosen to lose control.

At six years old.

Christ.

They were going to need serious therapy over this
one.

He could just see the counselor trying to
explain that aggravated assault and attempted
murder were not appropriate responses to
blackmail and death threats from another child.

Fuck.

The son had inherited his mother's killer
instinct without her set of values or her
control. The worst part, was that Scully's
control and values had been learned before the
instinct was honed and developed. Could this be
done in reverse? Was this even abnormal? Perhaps
this was nothing more than the pragmatic
ruthlessness all children possess brought out by
an unusual circumstance.

And maybe he was rationalizing something he did
not want to face.

Because for all his protective violence and
ability to pull the trigger, Mulder had never
possessed a killer instinct. He had killed, but
always in the heat of the moment. Scully had
been pushed to that place and he had stood there
and done nothing as Skinner had coldly pulled
the trigger. But he had never made that decision
himself...had prayed that he never would.

William was drawn into himself their entire trip
back to the house. He allowed his mother's
discrete touch, but flinched slightly from his
father. Mulder tried to find some way past his
own hurt and confusion to let his son know that
he was there for him, but in the end, all he
could do was tell him that he loved him and that
they were there for him no matter what. Only
Scully saw the anguished looks of misery that
crossed her son's face as he covertly followed
his father's tall form with his eyes.

Like a half sized shadow, he trailed after Mulder
for the rest of the week. Despite Mulder's
repeated attempts to reassure him that he was
still loved, the child just stared at him in
misery. It was on the third trip to the
therapist, William having again spent the hour
ignoring the female therapist and watching his
father, when the six year old finally blurted
out an anguished,

"I'm sorry."

Startled, Mulder had glanced first at a relieved
Scully, then back to William. The therapist
gestured discretely for him to go ahead and talk.

"Why are you sorry,William."

Huge tears welled up in the boy's eyes and he
whispered, "I'm sorry I made you hate me."

Instantly Mulder was on his feet while an aghast
Scully just wondered how in the hell William
could ever think Mulder would hate him. God,
William was possibly the spearhead for an alien
invasion and Mulder had still chosen to love him
with every fiber of his being.

They had always known the risks.

They had always known that someday they might
have to be the ones to destroy their son to
save a world.

They had chosen to love him anyway.

There had been no other acceptable option.

Now she wondered if somehow they had failed. Had
their vigilance come across as expectation. Did
they drive too hard? Expect too much? Terror and
anguish swirled through her, but she forced
herself to remain in her seat and ignored the
concerned therapist sitting beside her.

Please Mulder, she thought silently, Please find
the right words to say.

Mulder knelt slowly on the floor in front of
William until he was able to meet anguished blue
eyes. William searched intense hazel eyes and
found only what he had always found. Love,
acceptance, pain. No hatred.

Scully could see the moment he believed.

Which was why the sad desolation that crept into
his eyes was so disturbing. For a split
second, a veil seemed to lift, and Scully thought
she could almost see the structure of her son's
soul. Whatever answer he was searching for, he
didn't find it. Pain twisted his face as he held
his father's eyes captive with his own. The words
were a direct cry from the heart.

"Why wasn't it right?"

Mulder just stared, floored by the complex
emotions dammed up behind those six-year old
eyes. For a split second, fear lanced through
his chest and he wondered who...

and what...

...lived inside the body of his son.

The child had leaned forward to grab hold of his
father's jacket and tightened tiny fingers until
Scully feared for the bones.

"Why wasn't it right?"

In that moment, Mulder let go of his conceptions
of age, and let himself answer the question, not
the boy.

"Because you cannot take a life just because it
is convenient."

Scully heard the therapist gasp in horror.
Without thought, her hand flashed out and made
contact with the woman's shoulder. She realized
only in afterthought that she had stopped her
from interfering. The hard fingers digging into
her shoulder kept the woman silent.

William's body stilled, gaze turned inward as if
struggling to find understanding. Then his head
tilted in mute enquiry. Again, Mulder answered,
the beliefs of a lifetime dragged from his soul
for a child's edification.

For his salvation?

Mulder met his son's gaze unflinching, and for
the first time, his voice held judgement over his
son's actions.

"Did you stop to ask if there was another
option?"

Through her fingers,Scully could feel the
therapist gearing up to protest that Mulder was
treating a six-year old child like he was an
adult. Scully wanted to agree, but then, the mind
in that six-year old head constantly amazed
her. And the child had made the decision...they
needed to know why.

William was silent. Not in sullen resentment, but
more because he did not seem to have an answer.

"Did you think we wouldn't believe you?"

William's head shot up and his denial was without
hesitation. "No."

"Did you think we wouldn't do something to stop
it?"

William mulled that one over for a moment," I...I
don't know. I didn't..." he gestured helplessly
as he tried to articulate his own confusion.

Mulder grabbed his son's eyes with his own, "Why
did you do it, Will?"

William's voice was a whisper."I was afraid."

Mulder listened to the complexities of fear
behind those simple words and then did the only
thing he could. He gave his son the gift of
honesty.

"Fear just makes us take the easy choice. It does
not always make it right."

For a moment, Scully thought Mulder was being to
obscure. How was a six-year old supposed to
wrestle with the subtitles of a question that
haunted fully-trained adult FBI agents? Then she
realized that perhaps it didn't matter. For
whatever reasons, William had actively taken on
the burden of making that decision. He needed the
rules that went with those actions.

All things happen for a reason.

It chilled her to the bone to think that this was
a lesson he needed to learn.

The therapist was tightening like a bowstring
ready to snap. Scully wondered how much more of
this she would allow before she tried to
interfere. She rather hoped the woman had the
sense to stay in her seat...because Scully would
not allow her to halt what was happening.

"How do you know it's the right decision?"

Mulder grimaced, "Sometimes you don't. Sometimes
all you can do is weigh the options and try to
make the best decision you can. Sometimes you
don't know all the facts. Or sometimes, things
are not what they appear to be. And you cannot
make the decision to end another's life
carelessly or because it's easier than finding
another solution."

William scuffed a toe,refusing to meet Mulder's
eyes for the next question "What if you make the
wrong choice?"

Despite the negligent pose, Scully could see the
muscles across narrow shoulders tighten as her
son waited for Mulder's response. The ex-FBI
agent who was still fighting some of his own
demons sighed, " You apologize. You move on. You
try to do better the next time."

William lifted his head, his voice soft. "What if
it's so big, you cannot say you are sorry?"

The catholic in Scully wanted to say that there
was no sin too great to be forgiven. But she kept
silent. Because there were still things that she
could not forgive. Because William did not want
God's approval or forgiveness. He wanted
Mulder's.

Mulder was silent for a long moment. How did you
answer a question with no real answer? He
supposed you did your best.

"It depends on the circumstances. Sometimes,
there is nothing you can do. That's why you have
to be so careful. Your actions can hurt people.
There are some things you just can't take back.
Violence usually has a way of getting out of
control. That's why it is such a dangerous
weapon, William because innocent people get hurt
very easily. Even when you don't mean it to
happen. Be very careful before you decide to
use it. Or it will use you...and all the I'm
sorrys in the world can't undo what you might
have done."

William's face knotted up in sudden anger and
frustration,and the words were almost shouted
"But how do you know?"

Mulder just looked at him squarely," Do you think
you made the right decision?"

Blue eyes dropped,"No."

Mulder's head tipped to the side,"Why not?"

A long moment, then a dejected whisper," Because
you don't think it was right."

Mulder looked startled for a moment, then reached
out a hand and cupped a tiny chin and turned it
upward until he could meet William's eyes.

"Is my opinion good enough for you?"

Absolute trust and fierce loyalty suddenly blazed
in William's eyes and his voice was sure, strong,
unyielding in his belief in his father.

Just one word.

"Yes."

That said it all.

Scully caught her breath at the intensity. The
very passion in that tiny body was terrifying.
How could they ever keep him safe enough from
himself?

Mulder smiled suddenly, a beautiful smile full of
love, humor and acceptance. He ran his hand down
the side of William's face and leaned in a bit
closer as if sharing a secret.

"Then next time, come and ask me. We'll figure it
out together."

Scully supposed that some women would be jealous
of the astonished joy that broke over William's
face, and the sudden desperate lunge to wrap arms
around Mulder's neck. But it made perfect sense.
William trusted his mother to save him from the
universe at large.

He needed his father to show him how to save him
from himself.

It seemed appropriate somehow.

The therapist appeared to be debating about
whether or not to call her own therapist. She sat
there in silence, stunned eyes on father and
child. She turned a bewildered gaze in Scully's
direction.

"Is he always like that?"

Scully smiled in affectionate contemplation and
laughed.

"Which one?"

******************************

The next three years passed quickly and the
family slowly regained it's footing. Mulder's
fairy tales quickly grew more complex as William
suddenly began questioning everything about them.
Out of nowhere, William would corner one or the
other of his parents on points of duty and honor,
right and wrong.

Oddly enough, for all his desire for his father's
approval, he tended to use Mulder as his source
of information about people and motivation, but
his mother was the final arbitrator of right and
wrong.

Television shows suddenly ceased to be modes of
entertainment and William would sit unblinking as
he absorbed the issues raised in dramatic
primetime. He had no patience with talk shows,
instead, disturbingly enough, he preferred ones
like the Outer Limits, with its weighty
obsession with hubris, self-sacrifice and the
potential of the human race for self-
annihilation.

The truth was, that his very passion and
commitment terrified Scully until she finally
abandoned the notion that they were raising a
normal child and began treating him as what
he was...his father's son. Mulder smiled
ruefully and given her a list of the books he had
been reading at William's age. Scully had choked,
then with a determined light in her eyes made a
few changes to the list and headed off to the
bookstore with credit card in hand.

Despite his recognition of his son's abilities,
Mulder still remembered what it had been like
growing up as a childhood freak. He was
determined not to make his son feel the same
cruel mixture of pride and shame. He was
determined to make it fun.

Scully took a more pragmatic approach. William
was always going to be different. Those abilities
were going to lead him places they might not be
able to follow. Worse, there were those who would
take delight in seeing his emerging
abilities...and seek to use them.

Mulder's eclectic book list suddenly became a
structured curriculum designed to expose William
to as many possibilities as practical, while
satisfying the current demands of his curiosity.
Literature was chosen with an eye to satisfying
William's interest in right and wrong. Military
history emphasized the human element of motive
as well as strategy. Basic science set the stage
for future studies requiring logic and rational
thinking. Math,history,language and creative
expression all were added to the bunch.

William never did go back to school. Instead, his
parents arranged for his education at home, while
using sports as a way of satisfying primary
socialization skills. Additionally, sports
allowed him to mingle without being obviously
different. On the field or court, no one asked
what book you were reading.

A side effect of Scully's self-designed program
of study was the fact that it did not specialize.
Because of the sheer number of subjects he was
taking,in any one core subject, William was no
more than two or three years ahead of his age
level. He was often able to relate to children
close to, if not exactly his own age. His
intelligence, while appearing aggressive, did not
immediately stick out like a neon sign.

People see what they expect to see. And people
judge abilities by the limits of their own
knowledge. An English professor would expect to
hear quotes from certain books, a history
professor would expect knowledge about specific
battles. When they don't hear these things, the
general reaction is to gauge the speaker's
knowledge by their own educational track.

What most people failed to realize was the sheer
breadth of that education ... and the forays into
fields of interest that did not come up in common
conversation.

His entire education was designed for
misdirection.

So William was happily unaware that he was
especially unusual. And so were the watchers.
They already knew that IQ tests were misleading
regarding someone with a photographic memory. And
IQ tests quantify a person's grasp and common
knowledge against others of his same age range.
The fact that William's math and science skills
were not tipping the mark at university levels
was a horrible disappointment to the men in the
shadows.

Of course, everyone was going to get a bit of a
surprise when all of that seemingly unconnected
education eventually came together.

Take his ability to use a computer for example.
The Lone Gunmen and Scully had specifically sat
down and torn apart the science of computers,
broken it down into it's component pieces, before
deliberately assembling a course of skill sets
rather than a progressive track with specific
languages. William could count in binary and
hexadecimal as easily as base 10, his problem-
solving skills emphasized the ability to convert
word problems into mathematical solutions but the
relatively slow pace of his mathematical
education limited the types of problems he had
the tools to solve. He understood concepts, not
practical languages,he could take a computer
apart in minutes to find a voltage fluctuation,
but he barely knew how the operating system
worked.

In all cases, he specifically lacked the few key
pieces which would eventually allow him to put
it all together.

So people could be forgiven for not realizing
that he was a third of the way into the
equivalent of a four year computer engineering
degree, a diploma in networking and graduate work
in Hacking 401.

William had all the tools, the logic, the router
maps, the understanding of digital circuits...but
the bits were learned in such a manner, than he
was missing the final pieces that would allow him
to apply those skills in any effective manner. To
outsiders, William appeared to know enough about
computers to use the word processor and surf the
web. His practical abilities were really no more
than those of any other child his age.

Luckily.

Scully had no doubt that once he knew what he
was doing, he had the potential skills and
intelligence to be very...effective. But she
wanted him to have a solid grasp of ethics
before he acquired those skills. She also wanted
him old enough to understand potential
consequences before he brought himself to the
attention of the world at large.

So he played hacker-designed video games never
realizing that he was being taught how to locate
information, hide his tracks, crack networks and
evade security. As far as he knew, it was just a
game.

And that was just computer science.

They were six months into the new curriculum
before Mulder finally acknowledged what Scully
had known all along. They were not just training
their son, they were forging a potential
weapon. He had just sat staring at the stars
until nearly dawn. Remembering no doubt, the
costs of a war he had never had any choice but to
fight. That decision had been made for him the
day his sister was taken. Perhaps even before
that.

It was a decision he had sworn he would never
make for his own son.

Unfortunately, time and the shadow men would take
that control out of his hands. Scully watched a
bit sadly as shooting hoops was gradually
replaced by martial arts classes, introductory
mountain climbing and flying lessons. William did
not care. He gloried in the time spent with his
father. But Scully knew that Mulder mourned time
spent for no practical purpose other than the
fact that it was a skill he had been proud of. A
love he wanted to share with his son.

Another casualty of war.

And so it went. Day by day, moment by moment,
the small things which make up a lifetime slipped
by in the stream of time. But Fate is an
interesting concept. If who you were is directly
responsible for who you become, if the choices
you made were the pivotal events which ultimately
led to your new place on the wheel of the
universe, then must your new choices be made in
ignorance?

What then, is the meaning of life?

Is it a test? A chance for the soul to make
decisions unmarred by the knowledge and regrets
of the past? Or does the universe actually care
about the ultimate outcome? And if the knowledge
of past choices would directly affect the choices
of the future...

...would the universe do something about it?

On a sunny August morning, William Scully eyed
his cousin Matthew from a pitcher's mound. It was
a friendly game, a yearly tradition of a family
long weekend tradition. The line drive that
shattered his protective helmet and connected
with his forehead was a simple accident.

Such a small thing upon which to rest the turning
of the fate of mankind.

A coincidence.

Fate, in the aspect of the universe, reached out
a metaphysical hand...and made a choice.

As the pain exploded across his forehead, William
Scully screamed as sympathetic echoes reverberated
across time, collided...and meshed. The weight of
the past thundered into the future with all the
inexorable weight of entropy. His ten year old
mind unprepared and uncomprehending, William
retreated, pushed aside by the drives of his soul
as it reached eagerly to reclaim past identity.

William has a brief second to note the panic in
his parents' faces, to reach out to capture one of
the tears slipping down his mother's cheek, and
then William Scully was torn from his place in
the universe and sent careening into the
darkness.

William Scully passed out. And somewhere between
a heartbeat and his next breath...

...Alex Krycek awoke.

End Part 1, Round The Wheel Again: The Rebirth

Coming Soon: Part 2: Second Chances