Title: Enders Switch: Sidetracked (1/1)

Author: Lynn Gregg

Rating: PG-13

Classification: SR

Feedback: pythia@aye.net

Missing parts: http://members.tripod.com/~dkscully1013 or e-mail author

Disclaimer: The X-Files and its characters are the property of Chris Carter, 1013

Productions and Fox Broadcasting. No copyright infringement is intended.

Summary: Gibson is reunited with his parents, and the agents find themselves

called upon to step in on another case.

Notes: Please see author's notes at end of story.



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Enders Switch: Sidetracked

by Lynn Gregg

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Psychic powers are contagious; I know this because Frohike had obviously

acquired some by the time we awoke and stumbled, bleary and disheveled, into the

kitchen. One look into his stormy countenance told me he'd already caught on to

the enhanced nature of Mulder's and my partnership. He averted his gaze as he

wordlessly plopped a plateful of scrambled eggs and bacon in front of me, and

once again I felt a queer little niggle of guilt.

Such an absurd figure, our Frohike, garbed as he was that morning in horrifying

paisley pajamas and an apron exhorting the viewer to "Kiss the Cook!" For an

insane moment I wanted to do just that--kiss him, and rumple his remaining

threads of hair, anything to take away his mute expression of betrayal. Having

served me he slammed a plate down for Mulder, and the glare he delivered along

with the food shocked me. If looks could indeed kill, my partner would've been

flayed to the bone.

Gibson's eyes were tracking us all avidly, like a spectator's at a tennis match.

We were entirely too entertaining for the boy's good.

Poor Frohike. Although I'd never say it, I *am* fond of him; I've grown fond

of all the Gunmen. They may be kooks, but they're loyal kooks, and trustworthy--

and God knows, in our position, people like that are few indeed. Frohike may be--

Hell, he *is*--a lecherous, perverse little troll; but deep down he is a good man,

and a genuine friend. There is very little, I believe, that he wouldn't do for

Mulder, or for me. I'll never forget that horrible time several years ago, when

Mulder went to New Mexico and was reported dead. Frohike came to me, half-

drunk and so clearly grieving the loss of his friend...There's a depth of feeling

there, well-camouflaged, that can't be dismissed so easily. He is, himself, a

redwood among mere sprouts.

These thoughts chased round and round as I picked at my breakfast. A

surreptitious motion across the table caught my attention; Gibson regarded me

steadily and mouthed the words "tell him," inclining his head ever so slightly in the

direction of our makeshift chef.

*Damn* that kid!

To the surprise of everyone, myself included, I rose from the table and strode

purposefully across the room, feeling every bit as ludicrous as I'm sure I must have

looked. A light touch on the arm brought Frohike around, however reluctantly, to

face me; the sound of the collective jaw-drop was audible as I put my arms around

him and hugged him hard.

"I can't thank you enough," I said quietly, willing him to understand. "For

everything."

Awkwardly, deathly embarrassed, he squeezed me back for a moment before

setting me, so very gently, away from him. There was an unmistakable gleam in

his eyes that I chose not to see.

"It's about time," he muttered, turning back to his stove; and I knew he wasn't

talking about my expression of gratitude.



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Two hours later, bathed and groomed and dressed in a proper suit for the first

time in days, I stood once more outside the J Edgar Hoover building, every inch

the Federal Agent I'd worked so long at becoming. Mulder was at my side,

impeccable as always. Outwardly it was as though nothing had changed, with not

so much as a shared glance to betray us; and yet I was separately conscious of his

every breath.

Gibson accompanied us; and the reason we now stood on the sidewalk like a

trio of gawking tourists instead of entering the building to make our meeting with

Skinner was because he had stopped us, looking as deeply troubled as I'd ever

seen him.

"Something's wrong," he said flatly, stopping in his tracks and refusing to go

further.

"What is it?"

"It's my parents. They're scared--but not about me." He paused, then topped

this startling statement with another: "They're not my *real* parents, you know."

"No, we didn't know." Mulder leaned over a bit to address him. "You mean

you were adopted?"

"Yeah. They never talk about it, but I know. They're pretty good at keeping

me from hearing them, but sometimes I can anyway."

"What are they scared about, Gibson?" I asked him. He shook his head; the

weak morning sun flashed off the lenses of his glasses, briefly dazzling me.

"Somebody's mad at them, because of me. Because I got away." And then he

did the unthinkable, a gesture I'd never expected from this odd, self-contained

young man: he slipped a small hand, soft and slightly damp, into my own, turning

naked beseeching eyes up to mine.

"Agent Scully," he whispered, "I'm afraid to go with them."

Helplessly I gathered him to me, his arms locking around my waist with panicky

tightness. Over the top of his head I looked to Mulder; but he was as lost as I.



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What choice did we have but to take him upstairs with us, and present him to

his parents? I didn't want to; Mulder didn't want to; and Gibson wanted us to

least of all. But there was no choice; there was no time. He went to them, and we

had to let him go.

Not that Jackson and Donna Praise looked at all like one's imaginings of co-

conspirators in a sinister international intrigue. They were a very average middle-

class couple in their early forties--average of appearance, of dress and demeanor--

no one would've given them a second glance on the street. She was a plain,

slightly faded woman, worried creases etched deeply into her brow. Her husband

had entered the inexorable middle-aged slide into baldness and fat; smile-lines

bracketed his mouth, but he was not smiling now. His eyes were as troubled and

shadowed as those of his son.

Skinner ushered them out of the inner sanctum, instructing them to stay put

until he came to claim them. Shutting the door on the family reunion, he retreated

back behind the barricade of his desk, indicating we should be seated. We sat,

warily.

"I'm pulling you off this case," he announced, without preamble. Instantly

Mulder and I began to rise, opening our mouths to protest; but at a lift of

Skinner's hand we subsided as one, and he continued.

"We have a potential terrorist situation developing in Dallas," he went on.

"I'm assigning you both to that team."

"*Terrorism* detail?" Mulder demanded. "Sir, I--"

"Agent Mulder. You and Agent Scully need to get the Hell out of Dodge for

awhile. The X-Files are being closed and Agent Spender has already put the

wheels in motion to have your actions in this present case investigated. It is--"

"It's a crock of shit!" Mulder spat. "It's a goddamn set-up! They're setting us

up!"

"That's *enough*, Agent Mulder! I'm doing my damndest to help you both

keep your jobs. I suggest you accept what's offered at this point." He stopped,

palms flat on the desktop; and in the flash of an unguarded moment I saw an

astonishing mix of emotions in our superior's eyes: frustration, anger, concern,

perhaps even compassion. They were gone as soon as I'd seen them, the standard

ex-Marine badass mask dropping firmly back in place. Darting a glance at Mulder,

I asked when we were to leave.

"Tomorrow morning. You'll be working under SAC Darius Michaud."

He went on to brief us on the assignment, though I must admit I was only half-

listening. My thoughts were still on Gibson, and his odd comment about his

parents. As much as it repulsed me to think that those two people, who had been

entrusted with the care of a child, could have anything but that child's best

interests in mind, I had to at least entertain the possibility.

After an eternity of droning on about bomb threats in Dallas, Skinner dismissed

us, asking us to send the Praises back in on our way out. As the parents moved

past us into the office, Gibson hung back, looking from Mulder to me and back

again. Gravely he offered a hand for Mulder to shake; turning next to me he gave

me a shy, awkward hug--and as I held him, I had a thought, fairly shouted it in my

mind, willing him to hear me. Wanting, so badly, to believe.

A name. And a number.

He heard me.

"Thank you, Agent Scully," he murmured, and closed the door behind him.



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~~End Notes to Enders Switch~~



When I began with the initial installment of this series, I had no inkling of what

it was to become. A simple stand-alone story, with perhaps a single follow-up

vignette...but something *happened*.

The feedback for part one was amazing; within thirty minutes of my posting it a

dozen messages had flown in, wanting more. Those messages continued to arrive,

and with each subsequent installment the response continued to grow. The story

continued to grow, too.

"Enders Switch" was in many ways a departure for me. My usual inclination is

toward character-study vignettes, with the occasional dash of sarcasm or smut for

seasoning. I'd believed myself too lazy to write a longer story, or attempt an

actual plot. What a wonderful feeling, to discover that your abilities exceed your

expectations!

There is going to be a sequel; this story won't let me rest until it's told. Expect

to see it begin publishing around the middle of July.

To all those who've written me about ES, "thank you" is inadequate. Your

encouragement and enthusiasm have made the process a joy from start to finish. If

you haven't heard from me personally yet, you will; I'm still about two weeks

behind on e-mail. <g> Thanks for making the journey with me.

Finally, I'd like to dedicate ES in its entirety to two people: to Jaime (again!),

because if it happened for me and Scully it could happen for you too; and to

Dianis, for believing.

Ankh-em-Ma'at,

Lynn Gregg

28 June 1998