"Evil (ignorance) is like a shadow — it has no real substance of its own, it is simply a lack of light. You cannot cause a shadow to disappear by trying to fight it, stamp on it, by railing against it, or any other form of emotional or physical resistance. In order to cause a shadow to disappear, you must shine light on it."
— Shakti Gawain
For the past 17 years, I have played the role of Jackson Van De Kamp. Odd, isn't it? That I would refer to playing myself as playing a role? But as I reflect on all that has happened in the past 17 years, that is the only way I know how to describe the journey that began on a farm in rural Wyoming in 2001 — a role.
Initially, everything was as it should have been. I was an only child being raised by two loving and doting parents. They attended to me and each of my milestones with the adoration and enthusiasm typical of new parents. Imagine their absolute elation at my ability to run when most babies were still creeping around on all fours and their pride in my ability to read at a first-grade level when I was only three years old. I was their miracle, an answer to their prayers for parenthood. As I continued to grow, however, it became clear that I was far more than exceptional.
My early childhood was unremarkable, until the day that it wasn't.
Tragically, the Van De Kamp's love and devotion would not be enough to silence what was inside of me. Despite their efforts, my earliest childhood memories were shrouded by a sense of unease. A deep-seated feeling that something was missing or not as it should be. In time, my parents confessed what I already sensed. I wasn't truly theirs. I came into their lives as an infant and what they knew of my biological family was limited. I have now come to understand why. The Van De Kamps were truly remarkable parents. The more I learn about who and what I really am, the deeper I mourn their loss. They deserved better. We all deserved better.
Van De Kamp Entry #092
Case No. 11101993717
Evidence No. 163.092
CH1: THE WATER'S EDGE
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple."
― Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
The rain has thoroughly soaked through her hair and clothes, but Scully feels nothing. She remains anchored in place staring down into the black abyss below her as the divers divide the harbor into grids. When William and Spender disappeared into the depths of the harbor several hours ago, the air was cool and crisp with an overlay of mist, but the temperature has dropped ten to fifteen degrees since then and what was a soft drizzle has now transitioned into a light, steady rain.
She knows she should walk away, but she won't. She's done with that.
While C. G. B. Spender's admission to Skinner had come as a surprise, the truth had not. She and Mulder had long suspected the syndicate's involvement in her sudden ability to conceive a child. After discovering Emily and learning of her missing ova, Scully had run every test imaginable. Had there have been any ova remaining inside of her, she would have found them. This is how she knows with absolute certainty that the ova used to created William was either implanted or produced within her body by unnatural means.
Her greatest fear for William has always been that his existence was part of an agenda, and the testing she performed throughout her pregnancy and after his birth had done little to ease her fears. DNA doesn't lie. William is their son. Hers and Mulder's. Yet he isn't — at least not entirely.
Traditionally, each parent passes half of their genetic material to their unborn child. William, however, only shared half of her and Mulder's DNA collectively. The remaining half was unidentifiable and by definition — alien. When she performed the original analysis, the technology to isolate this anomaly and examine it properly didn't exist, at least not in any laboratory she had access to. Her desire to find the truth, however, had been overwritten by fear. She knew that exploring the origins and implications of the remaining half would come at a cost, undoubtedly drawing attention to and endangering their son. The decision to destroy all of the samples and data she collected was not a decision she made lightly. But ultimately, she chose William's safety over conspiracy and little green men.
What Scully told no one, not even Mulder, was that she had kept the most critical sample of all. Hidden in a secure location amongst hundreds of thousands of other samples, she stored William's umbilical cord, preserving not only his DNA but his stem cells. She could not, in good conscience, given what she and Mulder had experienced with the alien virus, destroy the key to the greatest mystery of their lives. Preserving his cord wasn't just about science. It was also about security. She had buried Mulder once, and the thought of going through anything like that ever again was unbearable. Their enemies would kill, and there was little to no assurance that they wouldn't come for them again.
William's miraculous conception only served to further convince her that the truth was far more sinister than they had been previously led to believe. In that sense, what Spender had told Skinner was true. He was, at least on some level, responsible for the science that created William — but a father, he was not.
She's not sure where Mulder is at the moment, but there is little doubt in her mind that he is somewhere nearby taking the brunt of Kersh's wrath. The fact that she has been standing on the docks for over an hour and hasn't been approached or questioned by anybody is most certainly his doing. Were it not for Skinner, she and Mulder would both likely be in handcuffs and in the bowels of the justice building.
The call she made earlier to Tad O'Malley had been reckless, bordering on insane, but it had to be done. The days of hiding in the shadows are over. Remaining silent all these years had bought them time but not freedom. Too much had been lost to let this fall beneath the surface yet again. This time, those responsible will not be able to contain the blowback.
The vibrating phone in her pocket pulls her away from her thoughts and back into the harsh reality of her present surroundings. She only attends to it because she thinks it might be Mulder, but it's not. It's her brother, and it's not the first time he's called. Tad O'Malley's broadcast in combination with tonight's body count has created quite the media storm with her and Mulder at its center.
Bill's hatred for Mulder still remains unmatched. If she can give her brother credit for anything, it's consistency. With the recent loss of their mother, she knows she can't continue to send him directly to voicemail. He never calls, so the fact that he has called seven times in the last forty-five minutes tells her that he is about to reach his limit. If she doesn't answer soon, he is likely to turn up unannounced.
Deciding that answering the phone was the lesser of the two evils, Scully takes a deep breath and hits accept, getting right to the point because she knows her brother well.
"Bill, it's not a good time. I'm going to have to call you back later."
Her brother is well-connected and not above pulling rank to get the information he wants. Odds are, he already knows that she is not one of the casualties in tonight's bloodbath, leaving him with only one other reason to call, and she is in no mood to argue with Bill about Mulder or the X Files.
"Jesus Christ, Dana, what the hell is going on? Are you okay? I swear to God if Mulder —"
She cuts him off quickly because she doesn't have the energy or the patience to listen to his long list of grievances against Mulder.
"Mulder wasn't the source, Bill. I was. This isn't about the FBI or the X Files. This is about William."
She says William's name to shut him up, and also because she doesn't want him to hear it from another source. Given his high-security clearance, it's certainly possible he will find out elsewhere if she doesn't tell him herself, assuming he doesn't know already. They haven't had a pleasant conversation in over a decade, but he's still her brother, and he still deserves to hear it from her.
"I've seen him, Bill. Spoken to him. Mulder and I both have. He's…," she hesitates because she can't be certain that her line is secure. Swallowing the lump in her throat and steadying her voice, she finally settles with, "gone."
It's not a lie, but it's not the truth either.
"William? Dana… what are you talking about? And what do you mean gone… Jesus, is he…? How can you —"
"I can't talk about this right now. Tell everyone that I am okay and that I will be in touch as soon as I have a more secure line."
"Dammit, Dana, I —"
Ending the call, she switches off her phone and slips it back in her pocket. Scully knows that at some point she will have to level with her family and tell them the truth about William, but not now — not today. Her frozen fingers sink deeper into her damp pockets in search of her mother's quarter medallion.
The mystery surrounding its origin doesn't bother her as much as it used to. If anything, it has been a great source of comfort. Scully's mother and sister were the only members of her family to ever support her decision to join the FBI, and their support and relation to her had cost them their lives — her sister directly, her mother more so indirectly. Scully's abduction, cancer diagnosis, and subsequent hospitalizations in combination with Melissa's murder and William's adoption had undoubtedly aged her sweet mother at least two decades. Her brothers continue to assert that she died of a broken heart. They are probably right.
The conversation she and Mulder had on the church pew earlier this week immediately comes to mind. Can she live with the results of the decisions she has made? Were they the right ones? As she runs her fingers over the outer ridges of her mother's quarter, she silently prays for the clarity and strength that will be required to face whatever comes next. While she cannot predict the future, she does know one thing with absolute certainty: their son is not dead.
The dive teams won't find either body. She can't explain how she knows. She just does. With her hands buried deep in her pockets, she takes one last look at the churning waters below before turning and heading back towards the chaos. There is nothing left for her here.
Making her way back towards the warehouse in search of Mulder, Scully spots Skinner almost immediately. He's sitting in the back of an ambulance wrapped in a blanket speaking to Kersh and two other agents that she doesn't recognize. Skinner's eyes look tired and defeated, but he still manages to give her a nod and a slight smile. She returns the gesture just before disappearing behind a second ambulance. Words with the deputy director will have to wait. She needs to get out of the rain and find Mulder. As she navigates her way through the maze of tape and haphazardly parked emergency vehicles, she stops abruptly when she hears her name, turning to find Mulder walking towards her.
His stride embodies purpose and confidence, but as he gets closer, she can see the fatigue in his step and the concern in his eyes.
"I've been looking everywhere for you."
His brow furrows as he reaches out with one hand to lightly touch her shoulder, the other quickly finding the tips of her hair and side of her face.
"Scully, you are soaking wet, have you been standing out in the rain all of this time?"
Before she can respond, he's slipping off his jacket and draping it over her shoulders, pulling the hood up over her head in an attempt to protect her from the rain.
"I've been on the docks. They haven't located Spender or… or William," she says, her voice unsteady.
He swallows and nods, averting his eyes off into the distance as if he is looking for someone.
"Let's get out of here," he says as he takes her hand.
Neither of them speaks as he guides them through mayhem. She's surprised to see his silver Mustang up ahead and wonders how in the hell he managed to move it without erupting World War III. Only Mulder could remove a car from an active crime scene and walk away unscathed. He unlocks the passenger door and places his hand protectively on the top of her head as she eases down into the seat. Moments later, she feels the car shift under his weight as he slides into the driver's seat, but she doesn't look at him. Her eyes are entranced by the rain splattering against the windshield — her mind on their son. He's out there somewhere. He's cold, wet, and has nowhere to go. And instead of looking for him, they are leaving. His words, spoken through Mulder, still reverberating in the recesses of her mind.
"We can't protect him. No one can … let him go … he knows you love him."
A sickening feeling hits her in the pit of her stomach as Mulder puts the car into reverse and starts to drive away. Tonight, she is abandoning her son for the second time. The tears she has been holding back for the past several hours now flow freely. Mulder notices them but says nothing. Instead, he turns on the seat warmers and angles all the vents in her direction before reaching for her hand and intertwining his fingers with hers. It's not until his hand joins hers that she realizes how cold she is, but it's not just the cold that causes her tremble. The raw emotion brewing inside of her is paralyzing. She tries to speak but opens her mouth only to close it.
The first few miles are silent because neither of them knows where to begin.
The minutes continue to tick by until she can't take it anymore.
As wonderful as the heat feels as it hits her damp hair, skin, and clothes, she turns the intensity of it down to quiet the obnoxiously loud fan, not wanting to raise her voice to be heard.
"He's not dead, Mulder. Neither of them are."
It's not the most profound thing she could have said following the bombs she dropped on him earlier today, but it's a starting point.
"No, Mulder, listen to me. I can't explain it. I can't explain how I know. I just do."
He's quiet for a moment, briefly giving her his eyes before he responds.
"Do you want me to turn around?"
Her voice is soft and raspy from the cold, but the answer comes easily, for the answers they seek are not at the bottom of the harbor.
Unable to look out into the dark, miserable night any longer, she closes her eyes. There is so much more she wants to say… so much that he deserves to hear but not here… not like this.
The drive home takes a little over two hours.
They finish it with their hands joined in silence.