Enders Switch: Departure
by Lynn Gregg
So much for our vaunted ratiocinative powers;
despite the countless years of expensive
universities, Quantico's rigorous programs, and our experience and training in the investigatory
field, in the end the damned Amazing Brainiac kid found *us* instead of the other way around.
The drowsy delirium of desire was slapped out
of me as effectively as if I'd had a bucket
of ice water dumped on me. I bolted upright.
"Gibson?! Gibson, where are you?"
At the mention of the name, Mulder too snapped
out of his stupor. The only one of us who
was at all calm, cool or collected was Gibson himself; his voice, over the distance, was
"I'm at a pay phone outside a Quik-Stop Food Mart."
"Are you hurt?" I demanded. "How did you get there?"
"I'm okay. I walked until I found a place that had a phone."
By now Mulder was all but having convulsions,
arms flapping wildly. Five years had given me
the winning edge in his peculiar brand of charades; I easily translated his frantic semaphoring as
"cell phone--no--land line." Nodding at him I asked Gibson to give me the number of the pay
phone. He did, and I clicked off my cell, turning briefly to Mulder.
"Alexandria," he muttered.
"It's a Quik-Stop convenience store."
He already had his cell in hand as I grabbed
up the room's phone and dialed the number.
Gibson picked it up on the first ring.
"How did you get away?" I asked without preamble. The kid was positively blase.
"I *told* you--I walked. They had me
at this laboratory place--all these old guys, and this
one guy that chain-smokes all the time, and that Russian guy with the fake arm that Agent Mulder
beats up a lot." His tone became confidential. "That guy really *hates* Agent Mulder. Anyway,
they had me there, and there were all these doctors and stuff, and they did all these tests--the
same stupid tests *you* did. But they didn't hurt me or anything. They think I can help them
with their stupid Project." I could hear the capitalization plainly.
"Something about Colonization." I've
never heard a 12-year-old convey such disdain. "It's
like out of some bad movie."
"How did you get away?"
"I waited till they all left for the night, then I broke a window and climbed out."
"Wasn't there an alarm? Or a guard?"
"Then how'd you get away?"
"It was easy," he said, as if I should've known.
"I just *told* him not to see me."
"That kid," said Mulder grimly, hanging up the phone, "*knows* too much."
"For his own sake, I can only hope he learns a bit of discretion as he gets older."
"If he lives that long."
"You got in touch with the Gunmen?"
"Yeah. Frohike's going to drive down
to Alexandria and pick him up. They'll keep him
safe until we get there." With noticeable reluctance he heaved himself up out of bed and
offered me a hand and a lopsided smile. "To be continued?"
"At our earliest possible opportunity," I assured
him, stepping into his arms. The man's
lips warranted registry as a controlled substance; already I was hooked. "Will it be safe to
go back to our apartments, do you think?"
"Probably, but I'd rather not. The guys are gonna set up a safe house for us."
"Safer than the last one, I hope." I shuddered, remembering Diana.
He was already slinging things into a bag,
the Mulder version of packing. "I'm guessing
it'll be about five, five-thirty when we get back to the DC area. The guys can babysit while
we get some rest. And then..."
"And then?" I prompted. "What are we going to do next, Mulder?"
"The same thing we do every day, Scully.
Plot to save the world from being taken over."
The drive back was infinitely more pleasurable than the drive down.
We've logged a lot of road time together, Mulder
and I. I'd go so far as to say that our
relationship--professional *and* personal--was both born and nurtured on the road, in an
endless succession of Lariat rentals, on the way between here, there and everywhere. In
those cars we have discussed everything from case files to the meaning of life; autopsy data,
abduction scenarios, song lyrics, batting averages, favorite movies, philosophy, religion,
magic, what to have for dinner. In those cars--usually Ford Tauruses, with the occasional
Crown Victoria thrown in for variety--we have defined and redefined and refined ourselves,
separately and together, over and over again. We've eaten in cars, slept in cars, fought in
cars, wept in cars, bled in cars, nearly died in cars.
There is one thing we haven't done yet in a
car--or anywhere else, for that matter.
Anticipation brought heated blood to my cheeks as I studied Mulder, openly now, as we
He is beautiful--and is made even more so,
perhaps, by his seeming lack of awareness
of it. He was curiously relaxed as we drove, as serene as I can ever recall seeing him;
astonishing, when you consider the circumstances under which we were making the trip.
He drove easily, left hand on the wheel, right hand fiddling with the radio, a soda bottle,
my knee. Still rumpled from our abortive romp, his hair was spiky, his shirt wrinkled, in
all resembling the unmade bed we left behind. Nothing and no one has ever looked better
to me. My feeling for him was so enormous I wondered that I could contain it.
He's a piece of work, my Mulder, a mixed bag
of contradictions and inconsistencies, a
bona fide loose cannon veering wildly from extreme to extreme. Sometimes just looking at
him is exhausting, gripped as he so often is by that frenetic, single-minded energy that tends
to leave us mere mortals gaping after him, lost. His intensity, his arrogance, his infuriating
self-centeredness are balanced and tempered by fierce compassion, unswerving loyalty and--
unbelievably--crushing insecurity. For all his irritating qualities--and trust me, they are legion--
I've never met a man more deserving of respect, and love...or more blind to the simple truth
of that worthiness.
But what fun I'm going to have, convincing him!
He channel-surfed until he came across a station
we both liked, and we listened in silent
thrall as Donald Fagen's voice swirled around us in the dark:
"...This is the night of the expanding man
I take one last drag as I approach the stand:
I cried when I wrote this song
sue me if I play too long
This brother is free--
I'll be what I want to be
I learned to work the saxophone
I play just what I feel;
drink Scotch whiskey all night long
and die behind the wheel--
They've got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
they call Alabama the Crimson Tide:
Call me Deacon Blues..."
I realized that I'd been singing along, softly,
and that Mulder was looking at me as though this
were a profound revelation. "You never told me you were a Steely Dan fan, Scully. What's
your favorite song?"
"No way! Why *that* song?"
Because it reminds me of you? "I don't know, Mulder. I *like* it. It's...soothing."
"Soothing? It's about a condemned man, probably on his way to the gas chamber!"
"I know, but he's obviously made his peace
with it. There is even a certain nobility to the
protagonist. Besides...it's just a really cool song."
"You never cease to amaze me, Scully."
"Oh, I'm just getting started."
He threw on the brakes then, right in the middle
of I-95, pulled me halfway into his lap
and kissed me until I was literally gasping for breath.
"What was *that* for?" I finally managed to ask.
"Just because I can," re chuckled, and we drove
on into the night.
Frohike looked even less delighted to see us than he had at our last meeting, if that were possible.
"Where is he?" Mulder asked.
"Sleeping. Can I ask you something, Mulder?"
"Are you *positive* that you and your delectable
little partner there didn't run off and reproduce
when we weren't looking? Because I've gotta tell ya, that kid's a big enough pain the posterior to
*be* the spawn of you two."
I couldn't help it; I had to turn away to smother a smile. Mulder, however, was not so amused.
"Considering what those fuckers are capable
of cooking up in their petri dishes these days, I'm
not so sure about *any*thing anymore."
We were roused from our too-brief slumbers by the sounds of heated argument.
"Well, you ARE a dirty old man, Fro," Langly's
voice carried to us, insufferably smug. "You
can't kill the kid for telling the truth."
"A very astute observation based on irrefutable evidence," Byers agreed cheerfully.
"Shut up! Shut up, all of you!" Frohike sounded like a furious elf.
"You *were* thinking about Agent Scully's--"
Gibson began before someone shushed him.
Intrigued, I padded out into the main room, closely followed by Mulder.
All four of them stopped dead when we entered,
guilt coloring every face but Gibson's. He
was all too clearly having the time of his life baiting them. I could easily see the appeal of that
"Did we miss something?" I inquired.
"No--you're just in time to witness a murder,"
Frohike grumped. "When you said this kid was
a damn mind reader you weren't kidding."
"You're very popular," Gibson informed me,
comandeering the computer game one of the
Gunmen had vacated. "They all think you're *hot*."
"Nice blush, Scully," Langly jeered. "Most redheads can't *do* pink."
"So what *are* we all thinking, Gibson?"
Mulder asked, and that gleam of insatiable curiosity
was sparking in his eyes. Our pet telepath, or whatever he was, looked much put-upon but
complied gamely with what had to be for him an all-too-familiar request.
"Mr Langly is thinking this is all too funny.
Mr Byers is thinking about lunch and I''m not gonna
tell you what Mr Frohike's thinking 'cause you'd hit him. *You're* trying to block me out of your
mind but it's not working--you're not doing it right. You're mostly thinking about finding those men
who took me, but you're thinking about Agent Scully, too."
He swiveled his chair around to face me, his expression gone serious.
"And you're scared," he said simply.
"You're afraid those men are going to find you and make
you sick again."
All eyes turned to me.