Title: Enders Switch: Sidetracked (1/1)
Author: Lynn Gregg
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.
Enders Switch: Sidetracked
by Lynn Gregg
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
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.
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
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
"Something's wrong," he said flatly, stopping in his tracks and refusing to go
"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.
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,
"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
"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.
~~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
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.
28 June 1998