Scully sat in relative silence on the small private jet, Mulder in the seat across from her. Both were lost deep in thought, going over the last several hours in their heads. They had pulled up to their house to find John, Monica, and Skinner waiting for them. Monica had been holding a small folder tight to her chest, and the trio had looked extremely nervous. John was to the point as she and Mulder walked up to them.
"We think we found him." John had said without hesitation, and suddenly the world had been upside down…
John, Monica, Dana, Mulder, and Skinner sat crowded around the Mulder's coffee table, the contents of the file spread out. There wasn't a lot there, but what was there spoke volumes.
"It took me three weeks to crack the code encrypting this information." Monica explained. "There are a lot more details in the files; names, specific dates, access to photographs, specific locations, contact details; but it all uses different codes and encrpytions. I've isolated at least 30 separate ciphers so far that have been used."
"What information did you manage to get that makes you think you know where he is?" Mulder asked, scanning through the documents.
"It's mostly a suggestion here and there, reading between the lines." Skinner broke in. He had a relatively sour look on his face. It had been clear from the beginning that he felt it was too soon to bring the information to Mulder and Scully's attention. "It's all inference at this point, really."
"No, it's not conclusive at all at this point." John interjected. "But what Monica did find was that there are groups of children being collected in isolated locations all across the world. Increases in paranormal phenomena and alien sightings seem to have a tendency to correlate with where these groups are located, from what Monica has been able to gather."
Scully and Mulder exchanged a knowing look, their minds going to the report from the computer. An isolated town in the French Alps with associated phenomena…
"So you think William is in one of these groups?" Scully asked, and Monica nodded. "But how are we supposed to know which one? And how do we know where, if you haven't uncovered any locations?"
"I have some of the locations uncovered. Two are in Africa, one is in Vermont, another in Southern California. There appears to be several located across Western Europe." Monica looked up with a sparkle in her eye. "The main reason we think we found William though, is I deciphered the logs of children entering and leaving groups. In the last 8 months there has been only one instance of a child entering a group. It would have to be William."
"However, there isn't much evidence, no concrete evidence at all, to suggest that William has anything at all to do with these groups." Skinner said abruptly. "It's a complete assumption, and without it this whole idea loses a lot of its steam."
Scully looked at Monica. "Is there anything at all that would suggest William is involved with these groups?"
"We haven't been able to decode enough yet, but there are many partial decipherings that involve Alien Hybrids, suggestions of invasions and take-overs, certain abilities that seem to be associated with the children, such as telekinesis…" John trailed off. They all knew it sounded like William.
"Do you have any idea where the child was placed?" Mulder asked, and Monica bit her lip.
"No, not yet I mean." She admitted. "From the information I have, we can tell when the last child entered into their system, but not where he was placed. But, I'm working on it. We'll figure out where exactly he is."
Dana broke in. "We already know." She said, locking eyes with Mulder, and surprising him and all the others. "There's a group in the Alps, isn't there?"
Monica looked at her for a moment, confused, than shuffled through the papers. "I-yes, yes there is." She looked up at her friend, confused. "How did you know-?" She looked down again. "I mean, it's not specific, we aren't sure what country, but there is a very high probability of a group being placed in the general area…"
Dana didn't answer her; instead she stood and walked over to Mulder, took his face in her hands, and kissed him in front of all of them. The PDA was so out of character that Mulder couldn't even return the kiss at first he was so shocked.
"I'm so sorry Mulder, for everything." she whispered when they broke apart. "After all this time, I should have learned to just trust your hunches." Then she turned back to their friends.
"Mulder found a picture on a website yesterday. There is a boy in the French Alps, a place called Aurore, who looks very much like William. There were mysterious lights associated with him, and in the picture he is with a small group of other children." Dana looked down. "I gave Mulder a hard time about it, that he was just chasing his aliens, didn't care about me or William. I was wrong." She looked up again. "The boy in that picture is William. It just, makes sense somehow."
There was a general silence amongst the group. Skinner was the one who broke it. "It's, worth looking into, if nothing else." Mulder raised an eyebrow. It wasn't the kind of long shot Skinner normally endorsed, and not what he was expecting after his previous comments. The skin-man shrugged at the look. "We all know you two are going insane here with nothing you can do. The best thing for you both would probably be to get out into the field somehow. Feel useful again."
Dana was the first one to speak up. "You're absolutely right. Mulder and I are going stir crazy here, I've been at his throat for weeks." She shot Mulder another apologetic look. "And even if this turns out to be a dead end, it's still better than just sitting here doing absolutely nothing."
…And here they were, less than three hours later, on their way to France. Mulder's contact would be waiting at the airport for them when they arrived. According to Mulder the man had been enthusiastic about helping them. Dana stirred uneasily in her seat, and leaned back with eyes closed. It made her nervous that Mulder's contact was so eager to help. Her time in the FBI had taught her to be mistrustful of everyone. She fell into a restless sleep, and dreamt of a small red haired boy with Mulder's eyes and smile.
William St. Charles sat on the floor in the den, bored. Around him random objects floated about lazily. He was supposed to be practicing his abilities, but he wasn't in the mood to concentrate, so merely orbited the small objects around him. A pencil, a paper clip, some small action figures, a marble.
Frustration filled the child. His Grandfather had left early that morning. He hadn't spoken a single word to William in private, had not given him an acknowledging look, a single smile. The little boy didn't understand. What had he done wrong? Why had his Grandfather changed towards him so much?
The objects circling William zoomed faster and faster, their courses becoming more erratic as his thoughts became more turbulent. His Grandfather hadn't been lying to him, he'd used his ability, had used The Knowing, when he had first met his Grandfather. He'd have known if he was lying. So something had to have happened between then and now. He just had no idea what it could be.
He had come here to France with his Aunt and Uncle. He was diligent about his studies, about learning to fight. He had even come to agree to use his abilities and develop them and make them stronger. He had even agreed to help the beings who came in the help with their plans at his Uncle's assistance. What could he have possibly done wrong that made his Grandfather angry?
The zipping objects dropped to the ground instantly when the door opened and William snapped his head around. Samantha stood in the doorway holding Amy on her hip. They both wore their parkas, mittens, and hats. In Samantha's hand was William's coat. He sensed in her a new resignation replacing the old fear he'd been feeling ever since his Grandfather and the other man had come to visit. Her voice came out in a soft whisper. "Willy, I have to talk to you. It's important."
Didier St. Charles waited at the runway, checking his watch impatiently. The plane was only 10 minutes overdue, but it made him anxious considering the circumstances. He smiled in relief when he heard the descent announced.
Though he had never met either Fox Mulder or Dana Scully, he recognized them immediately as they stepped off the plan. Since Mulder had contacted him the day before requesting his assistance he had found out as much about them as he could. He had been a fan for far longer though, since their days working the X-Files when he and Mulder had crossed paths via their similar interests.
"Mulder! Scully!" he greeted them warmly, smiling. "Welcome to France!" He shook both of their hands. "Though I do wish it were under better circumstances, I hope you enjoy your stay, and I certainly hope you find what you are looking for." His voice was sincere, his English impeccable, carrying only a slight trace of an accent.
Mulder nodded, smiling slightly. "Thank you. We certainly hope for the same."
Dana was more to the point. "Mulder said you can help us find our son?"
Didier nodded. "Yes, Madame, I believe I can." He looked around before continuing in a quieter voice. "If you both would accompany me to my office, where we may speak in private?"
Samantha's breath was only slightly quicker than normal as she put William and Amy's boots on them. Now that she had decided to act, there could be no going back. Even if she changed her mind, something she would NEVER do, Henri would be able to tell and she would be as good as dead. She needed to get them out of there, and she needed to be gone like 10 minutes ago.
"We're just going to go away for awhile, just the three of us, okay? Doesn't that sound like fun?" she asked the two small children, forcing a comforting smile onto her face.
"Like going on a trip, Mommy?" Amy asked her in her high little girl's voice, and Samantha's heart melted. Her resolve strengthened a thousand-fold again.
"Yes Baby, exactly! We're going on a trip, a very special trip, just me you and William."
William was still frowning uncertainly. "Where are we going Aunt Samantha?" he asked. "What about Uncle Henri, and the others?"
Samantha glanced around nervously. "I don't know yet William honey, I thought we'd decide once we were on the road." Samantha forced herself to smile. "And I think everyone will be just fine without us."
Samantha picked Amy up and held her hand out to William. "Come on Buddy, let's get moving, we don't want it to get too much later."
William reached for her hand and followed her out of the mountain home.
Mulder and Scully found themselves sitting in comfortable cushioned chairs in the Senator's office, drinking coffee. It was 4:30 in the morning in France. On the desk in front of them was a relatively thin file. Senator Saint Charles sat on the other side of the desk.
"My son was four years old when he disappeared from the beach in Sete in 1972." He began without fanfare. He had told the story many times before, and it was almost starting to sound by rote to him. He handed them a picture frame off his desk.
Dana studied the picture. It showed a much younger version of the senator, hair still thick and brown instead of its current thinning gray-white, in a blue swimsuit. Beside him stood a very beautiful young blonde woman in a bathing suit. Standing between them was a handsome little blonde boy with an infectious smile.
"My ex-wife and our son, Henri-Michel." Senator St. Charles informed Scully and Mulder as they inspected the picture. "It was taken less than an hour before he disappeared."
Mulder looked up. "What happened?" he asked. He had known Didier had lost someone close to him under mysterious circumstances, they had begun talking over it in fact, but he had never heard the entire story before now.
"I married my wife Cerise in 1967, and our son was born the next year. It was a marriage of convenience, political. Cerise and I were amicable and respected one another, but that was the main extent of the relationship. When Henri-Michel was born, things began to change. Cerise lost her interest in politics, and the arrangement of our marriage was no longer enough. Our son was her whole world, and she decided that having parents who were only together for politics wasn't a good environment to raise a child in. At the time I was on the fast track with my political career. The trip to Sete was our first vacation since our Honeymoon. It was my final attempt to save my marriage."
Mulder and Scully listened intently as the senator spoke. Scully understood now why the man would be so enthusiastic to help them. He understand the pain of having a child disappear.
"The trip was wonderful at first. Cerise and I were truly enjoying one another, and I was spending time with my son that I had never gotten before. The third day we were there, I was teaching Henri-Michel how to swim. He was a natural, superb for a 4 year old boy who had never been in the ocean before." Didier St. Charle's eyes shined with nostalgia.
"I was the one who let him run back to his Mother. She was about 6 yards behind us. The beach was crowded, but not terribly so, and she was so close…" the man trailed off, and suddenly looked fifteen years older. "We were both looking at him. He just disappeared. He ran into a small group of people and was just gone. Vanished into thin air and left no trace behind. Cerise and I looked for hours. The police were called in. I used my connections to get publicity and have the government and military get involved. In almost 40 years, there has never been any sign of my son ever found."
Mulder and Scully sat in stunned, and terrified, silence. Would that be their fate with William, to hunt him for the rest of their lives and always come up empty handed?
"Cerise and I divorced in 1984, twelve years after Henri-Michel disappeared. It was finalized on what would have been the day before his 16th birthday. She lives in a beach house in Sete I had built for her." Didier's eyes were very sad. "She never got passed what happened with Henri-Michel in any way. She sits and talks to him, and at the same time she always watches over the beach, waiting for him to come back. Before we divorced and she moved there she institutionalized several times due to stress from Henri's disappearance. "
Didier stood up and began to pace the room. "I have never stopped trying to find out what happened to my son. My political career was launched by the publicity from Henri-Michel's disappearance, as well as the sympathy. However, my experience with Henri led me to delve into mysterious disappearances, which led me not only to meeting you, Mr. Mulder, but to other types and cases of unexplained phenomena. I never found any trace of my son, but I do now have a fairly large database of other unsolved and solved phenomena." Senator St. Charles pulled a map out.
"Aurore is very isolated, about a 4 hour drive from here. However, with the information you gave me yesterday Mr. Mulder, I was able to get the address for a family living on the outskirts of Aurore. A man, his wife, and several children, most adopted."
Scully felt her heart beginning to race. She had expected a long drawn-out search here, but this man was apparently leading them straight to William.
Didier handed a paper to Mulder. "Here, Mr. Mulder, is the address. There is a government issued car at your service downstairs, and any other help I can provide for you, consider it done. I may not be able to bring my son home, but I will do whatever I can to make sure no one else has to go through what Cerise and I have."
Samantha slipped quietly through the snow, keeping her eyes open for any of the other children. It broke her heart to leave them, especially Victor. Thinking of her son sent a stab through her chest. She remembered bringing him home, her oldest, remembered him as a little boy. But the training and conditioning had changed him, and now there was no way she could take him with her. He'd be the first to turn them in, and he'd hurt her, William and Amy without a second thought. She had no choice but to abandon her first born in older to save her youngest. As for William… He reminded her of the boy in her borrowed memories, the memories that had belonged to her Mother. Her brother, Fox. She couldn't leave him here, with these monsters who would heartlessly kill a sweet little girl like Amy. If he were to ever disobey them he could be in as much danger as Amy was now. She had to take him too. There was something different about him than the rest.
"Aunt Samantha, are we going to see Grandfather?" William asked as Samantha strapped Amy into her car seat. Perhaps this was why he had been so distant, because he knew they were coming to see him soon.
Samantha dropped onto one knee in front of William. "Honey, we aren't going to see him anymore." She said softly.
William stared at her. "What? Why not? You promised, when I came here, you all promised I would still see and talk to Grandfather!"
Samantha shook her head. "I know, Willy, I'm sorry! But he's not who you think he is, none of them are. They just want to use you for the powers you have, to further their own causes."
William stepped back from her, shaking his head. "No. No, that's not true, Grandfather loves me, he loves us." William's eyes were large and fearful. "I would have known if he was lying to me…"
"He tricked you William, he knows how to fool your abilities, he's worked with a lot of kids with powers like yours." Samantha said desperately, reaching out for him, berating herself for not waiting to have the conversation until they were on the road. She stood up and caught his arm.
"William, we need to get out of here. They want to hurt Amy now, because she doesn't have the powers like you and the others. If we don't leave, they are going to take her away." Samantha told him, her desperation rising.
William stared, chest beginning to heave. He felt like a caged animal. He shook his head at Samantha even though he could feel the truth in her words. "No… He loves us, Grandfather loves us, family means more to him than anything."
"William it's all lies! He doesn't care about any of us, he just wants to use us." She could see she was losing him. "William, he, he's one of the men who had your adopted parents killed!"
"NO!" William screamed at the top of his lungs. A stunned Samantha let go of his arm and he bolted away from her, away from the cabin, and off into the mountain forest. Samantha grabbed Amy out of the car and ran after him, calling his name.