Chilmark Project, The - Part II - Mother's Day

by Wylfcynne and Ravenwald

Title: Chilmark: Part II - Mother's Day Authors: Wylfcynne and Ravenwald

See Authors Notes and Disclaimers in Part I: Demonology

+++

The Board of Directors Meeting Room Fifth Avenue, New York City. Thursday, June 27, 2000

Topic: progress review of long-term projects. Currently on the table: the suspended Chilmark Project: Project 1961-#28

Mr Harmon: It has been thirty-nine years since this Project was initiated. Why is it on the table, now?

Mr Lermontov: I have a personal interest in the Project, and I believe the Board would be interested in some of my findings...

Mr Webber: Was your continued interest in the Project authorized?

Mr Lermontov: It was. Chilmark was the first genetic manipulation study we did; we used our own children because access to other subjects put the Project, and the Group, at too great a risk of exposure. My son is part of the Project, and I have been monitoring the other survivors as well.

Mr Harmon: Survivors? What was the study's catastrophic failure rate?

Mr Lermontov: None of the initial groups of subjects died as a result of the project. One of the females in this first group died in an airplane crash at age nineteen, and another one suffered irreversible brain damage during surgery after a car crash at age twenty-six and died just recently in a long-term facility. The other four are still alive and functional. There were several miscarriages at the initiation levels of the Project, but we could never prove, one way or the other, if the miscarriage might not have happened anyway. That's why, despite eight couples volunteering their children, in the initial phase, there were only six subjects, and two of them were siblings.

Mr Webber: The Chilmark Project was a failure. Why do you want it reviewed, now?

Mr Lermontov: It was NOT a failure! We simply got results that were totally unexpected! This is a request for an active intervention, not a review. I have reason to believe that one of the male subjects who lost his original partner has successfully attached himself to another female, one from a different group, and that this relationship appears to approximate that of bondmates in all significant ways. If this is true, and the bondmate relationship can be initiated in appropriate partners even after adulthood, then the Chilmark Project has succeeded beyond our wildest imaginings.

Mr Webber: What sort of intervention do you want us to authorize?

Mr Lermontov: I want the four original subjects brought in for testing and re- evaluation. Mr Harmon: I don't suppose the subjects are aware of their participation in the Project?

Mr Lermontov: No. They were told nothing; it was feared that any such knowledge on their part might affect the outcome of the Project. They know nothing.

Mr Harmon: Then how do you propose to get them in for this testing?

Mr Lermontov: Abduction, of course. Surely you're not squeamish about these things...?

Mr Harmon: No! No.

Mr McClintock: Excuse me, but I believe that Mr de Kuiper has a personal interest in one of these subjects. He has exempted Subject B, I believe, from any participation in our research programs; he is a member of Mr de Kuiper's family and I believe he is an heir presumptive or some such.

Mr Lermontov: This is not a new project, merely a continuation of an old project that Mr de Kuiper was made aware of at that time. He lodged no objections then.

Mr McClintock: On your own head be it. Old Johannes is not always rational about family matters and less so as he ages. His health has been precarious, lately, and his heir is an idiot. He needs Fox Mulder whole, sane and functional.

Mr Lermontov: I repeat; this is not a new project, nor is it a project termination. It is merely a maintenance exercise. There is no anticipation that upon its conclusion that any of the subjects will be unable to resume their lives."

Mr McClintock: I see that you will do what you will.

Mr Slate: I move in favor.

Mr Webber: I second.

Mr McClintock: I abstain.

The Chairman: All in favor? Motion is carried, Mr Lermontov. Have them brought in. Do you have facilities in mind?

Mr Lermontov: Yes. One of the rail labs is free, and it will do for the two men. There is also a lab in Santa Fe that is doing related work; it will do for the one pair still together. At a later date, assuming results from this testing are positive, I will want to reunite all five under controlled conditions. When they were children, there was evidence of a bond between all six of the members of the original group, and the one sibling pair has maintained a powerful bond, despite the length of their separation.

The Chairman: Very well. We expect a full report on the results, Mr Lermontov. Now. On to item 17 on our agenda...

+++ +++

Mother's Day, 2000 Sunday afternoon, 3:48pm Greenwich CT

Fox Mulder picked up the flowers he had chosen, pink roses with baby's breath and ferns, and climbed out of the car. His mother's house looked dark. He knocked and rang the bell, but there was no answer. His gut tightened.

(Could she have had another stroke?)

"Mom!" he called, making a fist to pound on the door.

"Young man!"

Mulder whirled, to face an elderly woman on the sidewalk walking a pair of tiny black Pekingese dogs.

"Young man, are you looking for Teena Mulder?"

He blinked and recognized her. "Mrs. Herringer? It's me, Fox. Her son."

The woman smiled sadly. "I remember you, now, lad. It's Mother's Day, isn't it? But Teena isn't home; she went antiquing with a new friend of hers, Patsy McClain. They're staying over in New Hampshire, somewhere." She gestured helplessly. "They left yesterday."

Mulder stared at her. "She... left? Yesterday?"

The elderly woman nodded, and her smile faded. "I'm sorry, lad. I think she should have told you."

(Yeah...)

The elderly lady resumed her walk. Mulder watched her go, and then walked down the steps again.

+++

It was well after midnight when Margaret Scully heard a car pull into her driveway. Nervous, being a woman alone, she peeked cautiously out through a curtain. She was startled to recognize the car and driver: that was Fox Mulder, and he was alone.

This was unusual; she had invited her daughter's partner to come and join her and her family for various holidays in the past; he almost always declined. Margaret could not help but wonder if he expected to find her daughter here. Dana had been there but had gone home hours ago.

Mulder was still sitting in the car. Puzzled that he made no move to get out or approach the house, Margaret finally pulled on her raincoat over her housecoat, and went outside.

He did not seem to see her approaching and when she tapped on the glass to get his attention, he flinched. Then he rolled down the window. "Mrs. Scully?"

He sounded confused, and Margaret frowned. "Fox? Are you all right?"

He looked up at her, and she was deeply disturbed by the blank, shocked look on his face. "I haven't any idea," he admitted.

"Come inside. I'll make coffee."

She was using her 'mom' voice; Mulder obeyed her.

+++

"So, Dana said you were going to go see your mother this afternoon. How is she?"

He was sitting on the couch in her living room, his coat thrown over a nearby chair. She was sitting on the loveseat watching him cradle a cup of black coffee in hands that she could see were trembling. He was also having some trouble focusing on her, but the words were clear when he replied.

"I went. She wasn't home."

Maggie was startled. "What?"

"She wasn't home. She went antiquing with a friend."

Maggie was shocked. "It's Mother's Day! You always go see her on Mother's Day! How could she do that?"

He wanted to shrug carelessly; it came off as a wracking shudder. He had to put the coffee cup down; his hands were shaking too hard to hold it.

"Fox!" She moved to come and sit beside him on the couch, put her arm around his huddled shoulders. "What's wrong?"

He was not at all certain where the words were coming from; they certainly were not in his head, so he listened to see what he would say.

"I... I just had it hammered into me today that..." His voice trailed off.

"That what?" she prompted him gently.

"That I'm all alone." He would not look at her. "My father never wanted me, my sister's still missing, and my mother's lost interest in me. She's more interested in old furniture that belonged to other people. That's all the family I've got... and I guess I haven't even got that." She finally had to put her hand on his chin and turn his face toward her. His eyes were blank, unfocused, dry. His face was expressionless, his voice flat and toneless, and Margaret was frightened.

"Fox, as long as Dana and I are alive, you will not be alone."

He did not even blink.

"Fox, when Dana disappeared, I would have given up if it had not been for you. When she was fighting that cancer, I would never have been able to stand up for as long as it took without you. You saved her! You found the cure, and you saved my little girl. If you do nothing else in all your life, I will love you forever for that."

He blinked. "Mrs. Scully?"

"Yes, Fox?"

He focused on her. "You love your kids, don't you?"

"Of course I do!"

"What did they have to do to earn it?"

She stared at him. "Earn it? Whatever do you mean?"

"What did they have to do to deserve to be loved, wanted? What did Dana have to do?"

"They're my children, Fox. That's why I love them!"

His eyes went blank again.

A horrible suspicion began to grow in Margaret's mind, and her heart ached for him. "Fox? What did you have to do to deserve to be loved?" she asked cautiously. He shuddered. "I was never sure," he admitted. "Whatever it was, I never managed to do it."

"It was a long time ago, Fox. Maybe you just don't remember it all very clearly, anymore."

He shook his head. "I have an eidetic memory, Mrs. Scully. I don't forget anything. That's why the blank spots are so... disconcerting."

She frowned. "Blank spots? What blank spots?"

"There's one about a week long after Samantha fell down the back stairs and broke her wrist, and there's one almost four months long after the night she vanished."

"What do you remember about the time she fell down the stairs?"

"I remember my father coming toward me taking off his belt," Mulder said flatly. "I remember the first few blows, then everything dissolves into soft grayness, and I woke up one morning, days later, in my bed, as if nothing had happened, at all."

"He beat you because your sister fell down the stairs? How old were you?"

"Six and a half."

Margaret Scully stifled a gasp of horror. (*What kind of monster would use a belt to beat a six-yearold ?!*) "How was her accident your fault?"

Mulder shrugged. "I should have been watching her better. I was there, above her. I tried to catch her..." He shuddered at the memory, just as fresh now as that day more than three decades in the past.

"What happened when she disappeared, Fox?" Margaret asked softly.

He dropped forward to rest his elbows on his knees. This position made it easier for him to avoid looking at Mrs. Scully, and he actually felt a little more stable braced this way. He was trembling uncontrollably; he had been getting colder and colder ever since he realized that his mother had abandoned him.

"I saw it happen. I was paralyzed, I couldn't move. I saw a bright light come in through the door, and I saw a little Gray silhouetted there. Samantha was floating toward him, horizontally floating above the floor, like a magician's levitation trick. When the light blinked out she and the Gray were both gone."

"Could you move?"

"No. I just sat there, staring at the place where she had been."

"What did your parents do when they came back?"

"I don't remember."

"Did you get beaten again?"

"I don't remember. Probably. I got beaten a lot."

Margaret was horrified at the carelessness with which he could say those words.

"And you woke up four months later?"

He nodded, staring off into a middle distance.

"How could you lose four months?!"

He shuddered, sat up a little and focused his eyes on the three bright flower arrangements on her mantelpiece: one from each of her surviving children, wishing her a Happy Mother's Day.

"I didn't lose them; I never had them. Years later, when I was old enough to read my own medical records, I found out that I was completely catatonic for more than a week, totally unresponsive. I came out of it slowly; I regained awareness in the hospital, over a period of thirteen weeks. I didn't start talking again for six months, though; long after I'd been sent home."

"How did your parents treat you when you got home?"

"They ignored me. My father was away a lot; he worked for the State Department. My mother hired a therapist and a tutor to take care of me and help me get caught up in school. I passed sixth grade despite all the time I missed, and I went on to junior high with my classmates."

There was a spark of pride in his voice, and Margaret was stunned. (*He witnessed his sister's kidnapping and spent thirteen weeks in a hospital, was ignored by his parents, and managed to make up all his schoolwork so he didn't have to repeat the grade?! My God, this man is tough!*)

"So, how did you do in seventh grade?"

"Straight A's."

"Eighth?"

"Straight A's."

"I detect a pattern developing," she smiled. "Your parents must have been proud of you."

"I don't know."

That stopped Margaret short. "You don't know? Didn't they ever say?"

"My mother was a barbiturate addict by then, living on Seconal and Miltown. My father was rarely home."

"Who took care of you, for heaven's sake?!"

He shrugged. "I took care of myself."

"And you've been doing it ever since."

"Pretty much."

"Weren't they even proud of you when you went to Oxford?"

"My father grumbled about how much it cost."

Margaret took a deep breath. "Well, I'm proud of you! You're an amazing person, and you've accomplished amazing things! No wonder Dana loves you."

He shuddered. "She likes me well enough, I suppose; she's a good friend..."

"Fox Mulder, don't you dare sit there and tell me you don't love my daughter desperately!"

He stared at her. "You know I do. But that doesn't mean she loves me. She's too smart for that."

Margaret smiled gently. "Love has nothing to do with how smart someone is. Dana loves you very much."

He shuddered again. "Why would she love me? Her career's been tainted, she's been kidnapped, and she's almost died how many times...? All because she was associated with me."

She noticed he did not use the word 'abducted' and wondered at that change in him.

"Being an FBI agent is dangerous; she knew that when she signed up. If the two of you are trouble magnets, that does not mean it's your fault. When you go after The Big Lie, certainly there will be more than one attempt to stop you, and the opposition will be well equipped. Fox--"

He looked at her. There was still no expression on his face.

"Dana's told me something about this Consortium. It sounds to me very much as if the two of you are constantly going up against a foe on the order of Nazi Germany. Can you imagine World War II reduced to the German Nazi Party versus two FBI agents? Fox, it's a miracle you've succeeded as well as you have! The Consortium is afraid of you both! Think about what an accomplishment that is! How much of their resources, efforts and manpower have been diverted from their goals to thwart you and Dana?"

He shivered, and swung his eyes away from her. "We haven't accomplished jack," he growled. "Melissa's dead, and Dana's almost died how many times...?"

Margaret shivered, reminded yet again of her other daughter's murder.

"You should hate me."

"Fox!" She was shocked. "I could never hate you!"

"Bill does," he said flatly. "He blames me for getting one of his sisters killed, and nearly succeeding with the other."

"Dana's alive because you would not accept the verdict," she said harshly, trying to get through to him. "Because you did not let anything stand between you and the truth. You found the cure for her. For that, I will love you forever, Fox Mulder."

He lifted his head to stare at her, stunned. "After everything I've done to you and your family?! Mrs. Scully!" She reached for him, hugged him close. He gasped at her touch, and she was startled. Then he crumbled, collapsing into her lap sobbing hopelessly. Margaret held him gently, stroking his hair and murmuring reassurances, until she felt him finally relax, until he fell silent. He did not move, and she realized that he had cried himself to sleep.

(*Poor boy... so alone and hurting so much... And damn his mother for her selfishness!*)

She waited until she was sure he was really asleep. (*He must be awfully tired: to drive up to Connecticut and back in one day, with all that emotion bottled up inside! He can stay here.*)

Once she was sure he would not wake up, Margaret slipped out from beneath him and put a throw pillow under his head. She gently slipped off his shoes, swung his legs and feet up onto the couch, and then covered him with a thick crocheted afghan. She tucked him in, and planted a maternal kiss on his cheek.

"Sweet dreams, Fox," she whispered.

She went upstairs to bed, feeling better than she had since Dana and Charlie had left.

When she got up in the morning, and came downstairs, there was a pot of coffee already made. Her favorite mug was on the counter and under it was a slip of paper. There were three words written on it:

\\Thank you.

Fox.\\

She looked out into the living room, but the couch was empty and the afghan was neatly folded. On the coffee table there was a bouquet of pink roses, with baby's breath and ferns, neatly arranged in one of her lead crystal vases. He had found it in her china cabinet and she marveled that he had managed all this without waking her; the china cabinet's doors were notoriously squeaky.

(*Those are the roses he bought to give his mother,*) she knew. She went to the mantle and pushed Dana's flowers --lovely pink-and- yellow Peace roses-- a little to one side. She picked up the pink roses from Fox and realized, with a secretive smile, that they were in the vase that matched the one Dana had used. (*He couldn't know that these vases were a wedding gift.*) She set the matching vases side by side in the center of the mantle, where she knew Mulder had not dared presume to place his gift. The more conventional arrangements of mixed flowers from the boys she left on the ends.

"There," she said to herself as she stepped back to admire the effect. "I have four children again."


To be continued in
The Chilmark Project Part III - Foxhunt


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