Welcome To The Harem
The Rainbow Connection by Emily Miller Part 1 of 3
Summary: Years ago, a 12-year-old girl found the truth about her adopted sister in a box in her attic... a truth people would kill for. Now, 22 years later, Fox tries to help a woman named Ann who bears a strange resemblance to Samantha, but doesn't want to have anything to do with her less-than-average past. And when her old truth finally comes out, it could cost Fox, Ann, and the missing Marita Covarrubias their lives.
Archivist's note: I wasn't able to get in touch with the author as requested in the headers. If you're the author and would like to formalise consent or have the story removed, please let me know.
The Rainbow Connection
ARCHIVE: You can put it wherever you want, if you'll keep my name on it and ask me first.
DISCLAIMER: Fox Mulder, Dana Scully (Mulder, in this case), Samantha Mulder, and Marita Covarrubias are the property of Chris Carter, 10-13, and FOX. Lucas, Samantha, Daina Kathryn, and anybody else you don't recognize are mine, namely the citizens of Sunflower. Sunflower is mine, too. (
KEYWORDS: Mulder/ Scully married
SPOILERS: Anasazi, Paper Hearts, Bad Blood, Patient X/ The Red and the Black
SUMMARY: Years ago, a 12-year-old girl found the truth about her adopted sister in a box in her attic... a truth people would kill for. Now, 22 years later, Fox tries to help a woman named Ann who bears a strange resemblance to Samantha, but doesn't want to have anything to do with her less-than-average past. And when her old truth finally comes out, it could cost Fox, Ann, and the missing Marita Covarrubias their lives.
DEDICATION: To my best 'net friends: Sarah, Nikki, Erin, and Becca
NOTE: This story is the sequel to Rainbow Continuum. If you haven't read it, read it before you read this one; you'll be slightly confused otherwise.
THANKS TO: Anne Teldy, for the story's title (the lyrics to the song 'Rainbow Connection' can be found at the end of the story)
The Rainbow Connection
CASE NO. X2304-29483
SPECIAL AGENTS: FOX WILLIAM MULDER, DANA KATHERINE MULDER
DATE OPENED: JUNE 30, 1999
CASE DETAILS (by special agent fox mulder): AS OF TODAY, THERE HAVE BEEN 7 OF THE UNEXPLAINABLE DEATHS IN THE TOWN OF SUNFLOWER, TEXAS. THESE DEATHS STARTED IN EARLY MAY, WITH THE DISAPPEARANCE OF KIMBERLY HARBINGS, AN 8-YEAR-OLD GIRL WHO HAD BEEN IN TOWN FOR LESS THAN A MONTH. SHE WAS FOUND A WEEK LATER, IN BED, EXACTLY AS SHE HAD BEEN WHEN SHE DISAPPEARED. ACCORDING TO HER MOTHER, "IT WAS LIKE SHE'D BEEN THERE THE WHOLE TIME AND I'D JUST OVERLOOKED HER SOMEHOW." THE SECOND VICTIM WAS 11-YEAR-OLD DONALD BARKER, DISAPPEARED ON MAY 15 AND FOUND MAY 20, IN HIS BED, JUST AS HARBINGS WAS DISCOVERED. AFTER THIS, ALL DISAPPEARING AT NIGHT AND FOUND IN BED APPROXIMATELY A WEEK LATER, WERE CATHERINE CANPEY, AGE 6; ELLEN ARMSTRONG, AGE 15; TIMOTHY TIAN, AGE 10; MARK SACHSTON, AGE 5; AND ROBERT JAMES WITNON, AGE 17. MY BELIEF IS THAT THESE ARE ALIEN ABDUCTIONS, BECAUSE OF THE WAY THE CHILDREN DISAPPEAR WITHOUT ANY APPARENT BREAK-IN, THEN RE-APPEAR THE SAME WAY. AGENT SCULLY BELIEVES IT TO BE SIMPLE MURDER, SOMEONE WHO KNOWS THE CHILDREN AND THEREFORE CAN TALK THEM INTO LETTING HIM OR HER IN AND THEN GET BACK INSIDE WITHOUT MUCH TROUBLE- SOMEONE WITH A KNOWLEDGE OF LOCKS WOULD BE A PRIME SUSPECT. WITH THE OPENING OF THIS CASE, THE UNSUB IS STILL AT LARGE AND THE CASE HAS OFFICIALLY BEEN CLASSIFIED AN X-FILE.
EXACT DATE AND TIME UNKNOWN
She trembled, curled up in the corner of the room. She had been alone for as long as she could remember, years at least. She couldn't remember anything from before, anyway. But now there were people here, people in the white room. A lot of them.
"That's our sister? That's Ann?" the girl asked. There were 4 of them: a woman, two boys, a big one and a little one, and a girl. Maybe her family. She had an idea what family was, but no memories of these being her brothers, that being her sister, that her mother. Maybe she'd just forgotten.
The older boy gave the girl, who was a little younger than she was, a withering look. "Of COURSE it is, stupid. Who else would it be?"
"I was just SAYING, John..." the girl's lower lip poked out and the boy- John- rolled his eyes.
She turned her attention away from their argument, which heated up after that point, as the woman came to her and crouched on the floor. She looked nice enough, with light blond hair and blue eyes. She was smiling. "Ann?" she said softly, ignoring the fight continuing behind her. "Ann, my name is Marian Covarrubias. That's-" she pointed to the younger boy, who was watching his older siblings with a thumb in his mouth. He looked about 4. "Jamie. And that's John and the girl, she's just your age- 8, right? - is Marita. We're your family."
She was still scared, confused. Was her name Ann? She didn't think so, she thought it was... she didn't know WHAT she thought. But it wasn't this. This wasn't right. Something was missing from her mind. She opened her mouth to start to speak but instead, for the first time in almost forever- as long as she could remember- she started to cry.
JULY 13, 1999
Daina Kathryn Scully stared out at the brown and gray and green below, fascinated. She'd been glued to the window of the plane for over an hour now, ever since she'd tired of her book, a children's-version of Moby Dick. It was a little hard for a 4-year-old, but she relished challenges- when there wasn't something better to do, like watch the country go by.
"Hey, D.?" Her sister, Samantha Mulder, who had the seat next to hers, poked her in the arm. "Dana says that she wants you."
Daina Kathryn peeled herself from the view and turned to her mother looking at her, waiting patiently for her to give up her entertainment. She was like that. If Daina Kathryn found something she liked, Dana- and Fox, too- did everything she could to encourage her daughter.
"What?" Daina Kathryn asked. She tucked a strand of her red hair behind her ear, a habit she'd picked up from her mother early on. She'd gotten her hair cut soon after she'd gone to live with Fox and Dana, to a cut identical to her mother's. People knew immediately they were mother and daughter when they saw them together somewhere, and that made Daina Kathryn feel wonderful. She'd spent so much time with an aunt as her only family. Now she had a mother and a stepfather and a brother and a sister and an aunt and two uncles and two grandmothers, even if she'd never met one of them.
"Put your seat belt on, we're about to land. And do you have your book?"
Daina Kathryn held up Moby Dick, then reached between her seat and Samantha's and pulled up the seat belt and pulled it over her lap. The trip had gone a lot faster than she'd thought it would, maybe because she'd never been on a plane before. She'd been in cars and in a helicopter and had walked miles and miles to hide from people who wanted to catch her and Melissa, but never a plane. She liked planes best, probably.
She wished Emily was here to see everything she saw. She didn't remember Emily, who she'd only known the first few minutes of her life, but she still missed her. Dana had given her the picture of Emily at her third birthday and she carried it with her everywhere. She pulled it out of her pocket now and stared at it, at the smiling girl who would have grown up to look just like Melissa. Just like she looked just like Dana.
It was weird, to think that Emily could have been happy and celebrating a birthday party while she, Daina Kathryn, stared out the window of a prison and tried to keep the boredom from becoming overwhelming her. Then Emily had died and she'd gotten out and the situation was reversed. Except maybe, somewhere, Emily was as happy as she was.
Daina Kathryn just wished that they could be together.
MAY 29, 1975
Ann Covarrubias sighed softly and stared at the clock on the wall, willing the hands to move just a little faster, the seconds to tick by a little more quickly. Only 5 more minutes, she tried to tell herself, but it wasn't doing much good. The last day of school was always the slowest. Mainly because there was nothing for the teacher to give them to do, no work to be done, and all their books had been taken up the day or the week before.
She was thinking seriously about closing her eyes and sleeping through the last few minutes when a note landed on her desk, tossed expertly from her sister, Marita, who sat 2 seats over. Ann sometimes couldn't believe that they could REALLY be sisters, even though her mother had used the car wreck as an explanation for her change from a "regular" Covarrubias, which meant loud and attention-seeking, to an abnormal, quiet, thoughtful one. She didn't remember the car wreck; she didn't remember ANYTHING from before those days in the white room, except... no, that was just her imagination. It HAD to be. Her brothers were John and Jamie.
Marita had insisted on sitting next to her at the beginning of the school year, but had been moved to her current desk less than a week later for talking continuously. Ann, who'd been getting the same looks from the teacher Marita did until then, immediately became a teacher-favorite. And she'd stayed that way, which never failed to make Marita and her brothers, especially John, giggle.
Ann glanced at Marita, who was grinning. Her note was sure to have something less-than-positive about SOMEBODY, but it would probably also be true. For some reason, Marita always knew things about everybody and everything long before anybody else.
Ann opened the note with reluctant fingers. She didn't want to read it, didn't want to know that so-and-so was moving to Alaska or that this person's parents were getting divorced or that person's sister had died her hair blue and gotten a nose ring. Gossip didn't interest her the way it interested Marita, she hoped it never would. Marita got extremely boring sometimes.
CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT OLD MS. GILBERTS WON'T LET US SIT WHERE WE WANT, EVEN TODAY, OR EVEN TALK? I THINK THAT IF SHE EVER HAD TO BE NICE FOR 5 MINUTES, SHE WOULD HAVE A HEART ATTACK AND DIE... NO, WAIT, NO SUCH LUCK. SHE WOULDN'T DIE. SHE WOULDN'T EVEN SUFFER. SHE'D JUST GET CARTED TO THE HOSPITAL FOR A FEW HOURS, THEN SHE'D BE RIGHT BACK HERE TO TORTURE ALL US POOR, DEFENSELESS CHILDREN. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
That's what she was making everybody call her now. "M'ita." She said it made her sound older. Jamie said it sounded like she was some kind of stripper, which got him sent to his room for a while. He was 6 and tried his hardest to be as old as Ann and Marita and especially John. Ann thought that he was the only one in the family that might possibly be okay, or him and his mother, if the others weren't around. But they were, and he wasn't.
Ann thought Mrs. Gilberts was okay. She wasn't the best teacher in the whole world, but she wasn't the worst either. She was digging through her backpack for a pencil with the bell FINALLY rang. She zipped it back up and was out of her seat, trying to keep up with Marita as Marita tried to catch up with the group of the most popular girls in the class, who wanted nothing to do with her. It was that way every day, and every day Ann tried to tell herself that tomorrow she wasn't going to follow them like a puppy. But everyday she did. Maybe next year the girls wouldn't be in the same class with her and Marita- her mother always made sure they were in the same class- and this wouldn't happen. There wasn't much chance of that, but there was always hoping. Ann was good at hoping, she had plenty of time to dream and hope. Not that it ever came to anything.
"Mar- M'ita! M'ita, wait up!" Jamie had gotten out kindergarten as fast as Marita and Ann had gotten out of third grade. Of course, as usual, he ignored Ann completely, running right by her to Marita, who put an arm around his shoulder and rubbed his hair.
Hair was another thing that separated Ann from the Covarrubias' family. Every one of them, from Jonathan Covarrubias, Sr., to little Jamie, had blond hair. LIGHT blond hair. Ann's was dark, wavy, and so different, as she was in most everything.
Following behind Marita and Jamie, the idea she'd been trying to hide for over a year now, since after the "accident", wriggled it's way into her mind: could it be that she was being lied to? What if they WEREN'T her real family? And what about the boy... the one who's face she saw in her dreams. Who was he?
JULY 13, 1999
Samantha Mulder stuck her head through the doorway that separated the room she shared with her brother and sister and the Fox and Dana's. "I'm bored. When are we going to do something?" she asked, adjusting one of her long pigtails. Dana had wanted her to cut it, saying shorter hair was easier to manage, especially if it was as thick as hers, but Samantha had refused. Fox had backed her up, he still thought she was a clone of his sister. She'd never had a chance to think about it before, she hadn't known what a clone was- what ANYTHING was-, but now that she did, she didn't think she was clone. She was HERSELF, not the first Samantha Mulder. If she'd been given a choice, she would have given herself her own name, one that would separate herself from the other Samantha. Maybe Katherine, she liked Katherine, but unfortunately, Daina Kathryn had gotten to it first.
Dana was re-reading the case file they'd come to the tiny town of Sunflower to look into, Fox was watching the little TV, just like Lucas was in the kids' room. You could barely see anything through the static, which was why Samantha had gotten bored. Daina Kathryn, as usual, had her nose stuck in a book. She was so BORING sometimes, all that science junk she loved so much.
At first, Samantha didn't think she was going to get an answer, because both her adoptive parents seemed engrossed in what they were doing. Then Dana looked up. "In a little while, Samantha. Tell Lucas and Daina Kathryn to put their shoes back on, we'll go see what there is to do in this place." She went back to her file.
Neither Fox nor Dana would tell Samantha, or even Lucas, what they were here about. They just said it was a case they had to investigate. Samantha thought it was probably because they thought she would get scared. Maybe Daina Kathryn would, she was only 4 years old, but SHE was 7, or about 7, and almost never got scared. She had nothing to get scared OF.
She knew that Dana hadn't wanted to come, or to have her and Lucas and Daina Kathryn come, because she thought it was dangerous. That meant it wasn't just a bank robber or something. Then again, from what Fox and Dana told her, they didn't usually investigate bank robberies. They'd admitted that they didn't know why Skinner would have assigned them to the prison where they'd found Melissa and Daina Kathryn, if they hadn't been there, it would have just been a normal prison.
Samantha ducked back into the other room. "Dana says to put your shoes on," she said, pleased she'd remembered just what to say. Sometimes she got shoes and socks mixed up, but she thought she was making good progress with language. She'd only been speaking it a little over 6 months.
Daina Kathryn yawned, put her book down on the bed where she had been stretched out on her stomach, and leaned over the side to pick up her sandals. She loved those stupid sandals and, as long as it was warm enough, refused to wear anything else. There was no chance that it would be too cold in Texas.
Lucas, on the other hand, ignored Samantha completely, entranced by whatever it was he could see on the TV. He loved TV, movies, anything like that. Dana had gotten him a little TV for his bedroom at home and he would sit on the floor, his back against the bed, for hours, eyes never leaving whatever show was on. Samantha walked over and poked him and he lifted his arm and took a half-hearted swipe at her. But he also looked up. "What?"
"Dana said put your shoes on," Samantha repeated.
"I'm watching!" he said, turning back to the TV. She sighed and went outside to wait.
JULY 13, 1999
Dana closed the file quickly when Daina Kathryn walked into the room, book in hand, and sat beside her on the bed. "What're you reading?" she asked, with her usual innocent curiosity. She asked questions 24 hours a day. When Samantha asked her why she did that, she said a scientist needed to know everything. And as far as she knew, Dana DID know everything. Dana was her mother, but she was also her hero. And Dana wasn't quite ready to break the truth to her daughter.
"A file," Dana said, hoping she wouldn't have to elaborate. She and Fox had spent most of a night arguing about taking the kids with them on this case; she'd said it was too dangerous, he'd said there was no place to leave them. She'd given in, after making him promise they wouldn't let them out of their sight the whole time.
It was their first X-File since January. Dana wasn't sure it was the one Skinner should have given them: it involved children and children dying. She was overprotective of her kids, especially Daina Kathryn, but that was because she was always worried that she was going to run into another 'Emily.' Daina Kathryn was Emily's twin sister, the government had killed Emily, they could kill Daina Kathryn without much trouble.
Maybe that was why they were on this case. To get rid of Daina Kathryn. It wouldn't look all that strange, considering what they were investigating, for Daina Kathryn to disappear. If she died... Dana tried to suppress a shudder. Losing two daughters, especially after she'd known Daina Kathryn as long as she had... for possibly the first time, she had a real understanding of what Fox had gone through losing Samantha.
"Can I look?" Daina Kathryn asked next, but she kept her hands in her lap, understanding that much of what her parents did was NOT the kind of thing she needed to be reading. She had nightmares sometimes. The worst one was the one that came less and less frequently now, but had kept her awake for hours in the months before. The one where she was locked in a prison cell with Dana while Rammin, the man who'd tried to kill her and her mother in Canada, shot first Melissa, then Fox, then Lucas and Samantha. And then he opened the prison and Dana turned to look at her, "Don't move, D. I'll be right back," she would say coldly. Then she would leave Daina Kathryn alone and Rammin closed the door behind her. And Daina Kathryn would have to watch as he shot Dana, too. Then she would scream and he would point the gun at her... and she would wake up.
Dana smiled and the memory of the vivid nightmare vanished. "Not this time, D." She looked at the folder once more, but didn't think she could take much more reading about children dying. And Fox was obviously bored, lying on his back on the other bed- the only connecting rooms had been ones with double beds, and Dana refused to leave the kids alone-, lazily flipping through channels he could only half-see on the TV. "Tell you what. Go get Lucas and Samantha and we'll go look for some place to eat a little early, okay?"
"Alright." She climbed off the bed and ran to the next room and Dana could hear her ordering Lucas to get his shoes on, Samantha had told him to, they were leaving and if he didn't have his shoes on, he would have to stay here. She smiled. Daina Kathryn wanted desperately to grow up and be just like Dana was, and Dana knew it. Melissa had told her the stories Daina Kathryn had made up about living "on the outside" when she was grown up, working for the FBI with a partner just like Mulder- now Fox, her step-father, to her-, in the X-Files. And Dana was sure she would do it. She had the determination.
Fox had turned off the TV- chances were he'd been listening more to Dana and Daina Kathryn's conversation than the show he'd had on- and was now lying on his stomach, watching her. "Are you really worried about this case, Dana?" he asked, aware of the way she'd quickly gotten Daina Kathryn out of the room before she could ask anymore questions about exactly WHY they were in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere.
She tried to smile, but her face rebelled and sat there stubbornly with her usually-reserved-for-the-office stony look. "A little," she made herself admit.
"About Daina Kathryn," he said, filling in the blanks after her words like he always did. It was annoying, but comforting at the same time.
"Yeah, about Daina Kathryn. It would be so easy for them to do the same thing to her that they did to Emily... and I don't want her to go through that. To go through the pain and the fear and to know she's going to die and that her mother won't do anything to help her." This time the smile came, but it was one of barely hidden bitterness to what they'd done to Emily. She'd loved that little girl that she'd only known a few days, loved her like she loved Daina Kathryn now.
He got up and held out a hand to her. She took it, for a change, and let him put a hand on her back as they headed for the kids' room. "Don't worry, Dana," he said softly, because if he spoke aloud they were close enough that one of the kids might here. "She'll be fine."
Daina Kathryn had joined Lucas in TV-watching, although she looked bored with it. He'd put his shoes on and then flopped back on the bed. She sat cross-legged beside him. When she heard Fox and Dana enter the room, she looked up and quickly got to her feet. "Are we going now?"
"Yeah," Fox said. "You too, Lucas." Lucas reluctantly turned off the TV and crawled off the bed. He looked tired. Dana had a feeling he hadn't been going to bed when he was supposed to, instead staying up for just a few more minutes of the radio or TV and losing track of time.
Daina Kathryn, who'd taken her hand, now looked around the room, bewildered. "Where's Samantha?"
Fox and Dana exchanged looks that bordered on worried. "She's not in here?" Fox asked, looking around and seeing the obvious. She wasn't there.
"I thought she went to your room," Daina Kathryn said. She realized how stupid that sounded immediately. Samantha hadn't been in Fox and Dana's room when she went in there to talk to Dana and she hadn't been in their room when Daina Kathryn had come back and they hadn't passed each other. Sometimes she wished she thought longer before speaking.
"Outside?" Lucas offered, looking at the doorway. Dana noticed for the first time that the chain had been carefully placed outside the door so it wouldn't close completely. A fear knifed through her stomach and she looked at Fox.
"I'll go look for her." He nodded and she was gone, closing the door all the way this time.
There was no sign of Samantha, but she could hear voices from nearby. She reached for the familiar weight of her gun, but it wasn't there, of course: she'd kept it with her at all times before, but Daina Kathryn was terrified of guns, and now she only carried it when she thought she would need it. She wished for the first time she still kept it on her.
"Samantha?" she called, too worried to care that she was possibly endangering both her life and Samantha's by doing so. She didn't want to be here, she didn't want to be here, she could kill Fox for letting herself be talked into this, for taking the kids with them... she was going to lose on, alright, but it was going to be Samantha, not Daina Kathryn. Were Lucas and Samantha not products of government experimentation as well? Why not kill them, too?
Samantha appeared from behind a car, looking impatient. "What?"
"What are you doing out here?" Dana asked as her heart skipped a beat. She was okay. Samantha was okay.
"Talking to Chris."
A teenaged boy, probably 17 or 18 years old, came out from behind the same car. He gave Dana an amused grin; like he thought the fact that she was worried about Samantha- that was obvious from her tone of voice- was something funny. "I'm Chris, ma'am. Chris Harbings," he said with an obvious southern drawl.
Something about the name sounded familiar, but Dana couldn't quite place it. Probably just her imagination. "What are you doing with my daughter?"
"I'm just talkin' to her. My sister Kim was about her age." He put a hand on Samantha's head and rubbed her hair, but she ducked away and stuck her tongue out at him. She hated when people messed with her hair, but they were always doing it. Fox said HIS Samantha had been that way, too.
The name clicked then. Kimberly Harbings. "Your sister was the first one killed," Dana said. She felt no compassion for this boy; he was the type that cared about nobody but himself.
Like she'd expected he would, he nodded. "Yep. That was Kim. Just disappeared, came back 'bout a week later, dead. Eight years old."
"I'm 7," Samantha said, but neither Chris nor Dana paid any attention to each other. Dana had a sudden feeling of suspicion that Chris could very easily be the killer- his sister had been the first killed, and the killings had started soon after he and his family had moved to Sunflower.
She glanced back at the sound of a door opening and closing and Fox's voice. "Stay here. I'll be right back." He was jogging towards her. Lucas and Daina Kathryn were standing by their rented car, he looking interested, she ready to fight along her parents, if it came to that. Dana just hoped Lucas would have the sense to grab her if she tried that.
"Who's that?" Fox whispered to Dana, coming to a stop beside her. She noticed that he had his gun on, which made her feel a little better.
"He says his name's Chris. Kimberly Harbings, the first victim? She was his sister. I found him out here talking to Samantha," she whispered back.
Fox was looking at Chris now as suspiciously as Dana had been. "Samantha, is he bothering you?"
Samantha sighed and rolled her eyes, sick and tired of her parents hovering over her like she was Daina Kathryn's age. "NO! We were just talking."
"Well, we're leaving. Come on."
She sighed again but did as told, crossing her arms and looking exasperated. "See you later, Chris," she said, then, more softly, to Fox, "I can take care of myself!" She didn't know why they were here, neither did Lucas or Daina Kathryn, Dana realized. If things continued like this, with them talking to anybody they saw without worry, she would have to tell them the truth, the last thing she wanted to do.
"Not here, you can't," Fox said. He felt like he was 12 years old again all of a sudden, dealing with a stubborn little sister. Why was it that all of his kids, even if they weren't really his kids, wanted to grow up so much faster than they were able? They'd missed so much of their early childhoods already: if he was one of them, he would have stayed as young as he could for as long as possible.
"Can if I want to," Samantha muttered as Fox opened the car door for her, Lucas, and Daina Kathryn. The latter was staying especially quiet, not asking questions about the narrowly-avoided argument with Chris Harbings, sensing the tension in the car. It made her uncomfortable. She hated it when people fought over nothing.
AUGUST 15, 1975
Ann stared dismally at the pile of gifts on the picnic table, at the laughing girls playing some stupid game, at Jamie trying to talk them into letting him join in. She hadn't wanted a birthday party, not even for her tenth birthday, which Marita insisted was the most important you would ever have, except maybe 21. Marita had turned 10 a month earlier; she'd had a HUGE party with every kid from their former third-grade class and a few of John and Jamie's friends, too. Ann had stayed in her room until Mrs. Covarrubias made her come out for cake. For her own party, she'd been told she had to stay outside.
"Ann! Hey, Ann!" Marita called, jumping up and down and waving her arms. The other girls- Ann had watched- had done each other's hair earlier and Marita's was even more fancy than usual. It bounced on her shoulders where they'd done their best- and did a pretty good job- to curl it. Ann's hair would never do anything; she no longer bothered to try any more than a ponytail. She wished Mrs. Covarrubias would let her cut it short.
Ann waved back, knowing perfectly well that Marita wanted her over there but pretending she didn't.
"Ann, I mean come over here, stupid!" Marita ran over and grabbed her arm. "Come on!"
Ann pulled away. "I don't want to."
"Why? You went to bed the same time I did. Come ON."
"Ann, you stupid..." Marita's entire vocabulary of insulting words consisted of 'stupid'.
"Leave me alone... buttmunch!"
Marita's mouth dropped open at the use of the forbidden word, 'butt', and Ann felt hers do the same. Why had she said that? She'd never heard it said before in her entire life. She wasn't even sure what it meant.
"Ann Covarrubias!" Mrs. Covarrubias had the arm that Ann had pulled away from Marita and was jerking her to her feet. "Inside, now!" Ann was swatted on the very area she'd just spoken of and shoved towards the house. She went without reluctance, knowing she fully deserved whatever it was she got for what she'd called her sister and maybe best friend. Only friend, was more like it.
She could faintly hear Mrs. Covarrubias apologizing for Ann having to leave and telling them she would write them all thank you notes for their thoughtful gifts. She sniffed hard, mad at Mrs. Covarrubias for making it sound like she even WANTED the stupid presents, mad at Marita for talking her into the party, and mad at herself for screwing up a day that MIGHT have turned out okay.
She slammed the door to the bedroom she shared with Marita as hard as she could.
JULY 13, 1999
The car was still in one of two parking spaces in the town's only caf? while Fox and Dana discussed what to do next. It was too early to go back to the motel, Samantha and Daina Kathryn would drive them crazy with boredom, but there was no place to go except to the homes of the families whose children had been killed to interview parents and siblings.
"We have to take them," Fox said, referring to the kids in the backseat. None were, fortunately, listening to their conversation: Lucas was holding something-or-other so Samantha couldn't get it and Daina Kathryn had her nose stuck in her book again- she took it with her everywhere, determined to finish it before summer ended.
Dana nodded. She and Fox had been going over the possibilities of leaving them somewhere for about 10 minutes, but no place seemed safe enough, especially after the afternoon's close call. "They'll be fine, they'll never leave our sight."
"First stop, the Harbings'?" Fox asked, already pulling the car carefully out of the tight parking space. Although he had the address of the house, he wasn't sure where the street was. It couldn't be too hard to find in a town this size.
Sure enough, they arrived within another 5 minutes, pulling into the drive of one of the town's largest homes. There was a little boy tossing a baseball in the air in the front yard and trying to catch it. Nine times out of 10, he missed and had to go chasing after it, more often than not laughing. He stopped when he saw their car and watched them suspiciously. Fox was the first out, and he backed up when he saw him.
"Where are your parents?" Fox called and the boy's mouth dropped open. He turned and ran back towards the house, shouting, "Mooooooommmmmm!" the whole way.
A woman appeared at the door and grabbed him by the shirt collar as he tried to get around her into the house. "What's wrong with you?" she asked.
"The killer's trying to get me!" he cried, throwing his arms around as much of her rather large stomach as he could. "He's right there, see!"
She turned and saw the family standing in the driveway, Fox and Dana looking rather bewildered, and the kids giggling at the idea of Fox being a killer. "Who're you?" the woman asked.
Fox pulled out his badge and Dana, seeing him do so, did the same. "Mrs. Harbings?" Fox said.
"Ms. Witt. Divorced a year ago."
"I'm Fox Mulder, with the FBI. We need to talk to you about your daughter's death." Dana winced. Fox had lost his sister and father and STILL couldn't understand that a death could affect anyone else the way it had affected him.
But Ms. Witt only nodded. "Come on in." She dragged the little boy with her and held the door open for Fox, Dana, Lucas, Samantha, and Daina Kathryn. "You FBI people usually bring y'all's kids along on investigations?"
"Not usually," Dana said, feeling a sudden dislike for no reason she could think of for Ms. Witt. What business what it of hers if they brought their kids along? She felt Daina Kathryn grab her hand as she detected the coldness in her mother's voice.
"Well, that's good, 'cause it seems to me that'd be a little big dang'rous, if ya know what I mean?" She sat down heavily on a chair in what appeared to be a living room. "Y'all have a seat." Fox sat gingerly on the edge of the couch and was joined by Dana and then Daina Kathryn, who curled up against Dana and watched Ms. Witt push her son to the floor at her feet. Lucas and Samantha also sat on the floor, since there were no other seats in the room.
"Ms. Witt," Fox said, sensing Dana's being uncomfortable and wanting to get out as soon as they could before she decided to break in and say what she wanted to say. She very rarely said her mind to strangers, but Ms. Witt, with her personal questions, might prove the exception. "Kimberly Harbings was your daughter, correct?"
"Yeah. She was a problem child all her life. Wantin' to follow her brother around all the time, never wantin' to spend no time with her momma. Didn't remember her daddy, far as I know, we were separated right after Kyle here was born, didn't speak or see each other until we got the divorce last year. Far as I know, he ran off to California with as much money as he could steal from us in the courts and probably died of a drug overdose."
"Who's her brother?"
"Chris Harbings, he's 17, works at the motel. You stayin' there, might see him."
Fox looked at Dana and found her staring back. "Did Chris like Kimberly following him around?"
"Nah, I guess not. He'd come complainin' to me sometimes about it, but I couldn't make her stop. When she died, it was almost a relief to all of us. She didn't... well, she didn't fit in, if you know what I mean, Mr. Mulder."
"Would Chris have had a reason to kill Kimberly?"
"Kill... oh, no, of course not! He's all talk, he'd never hurt nothin'."
Dana broke into the conversation. "How many children do you have, Ms. Witt?"
Ms. Witt patted Kyle on the head. He winced, but knew better than to duck away. "Just this one and Chris, now. Chris is workin', like I said, I substitute at the school. Used to be a teacher, before my kids were born."
"How old is Kyle?" Fox asked.
Instead of answering, Ms. Witt kneed Kyle in the back. "Five," he said, staring at the floor.
"When you got your divorce, were there any custody disputes?"
"Nah, he never liked the kids much. That was the reason he left, he said, 'cause Kyle was born. Three children's too much trouble, in his opinion. Didn't want the responsibility."
"So there's no chance that he was the one who killed Kimberly?"
"Don't think so. Like I said, he's in California now, maybe dead."
Dana could see that Daina Kathryn was ready to drift off on her shoulder and Lucas and Samantha looked bored almost to tears, picking at the carpet. "Thank you, Ms. Witt," she said quickly, before Fox could launch into another series of questions. "If you would give us your number, we'll call you if we have any further questions."
"Thank you," Dana repeated.
JANUARY 13, 1976
He was just staring, just staring, watching as it happened, he wasn't doing anything, he wasn't GOING to do anything, because he hated her, he wanted it to happen, he was going to watch and probably laugh at her and he was going to be happy because she wasn't there, and she screamed his name but he didn't move, he didn't try to help her, not even when she was screaming for him...
"Ann! Ann, wake up!" Marita was at the edge of her bed, shaking her shoulder hard.
But the nightmare wasn't quite ready to release its grip on Ann. "Fox..." she muttered, twisting away from Marita. "Fox, help me... Fox..."
Finally Ann opened her eyes and saw Marita and relaxed. The dream was already growing distant and hard to remember; soon it would be gone. "What?" she asked.
Marita let her go and moved back to sit on the side of her own bed. She'd been asleep when Ann started shouting, something about a fox, and had been almost ready to run and get her parents when she wouldn't wake up, just kept thrashing and shouting. "You were screaming in your sleep."
"Yeah, something about a fox."
She managed a giggle, even though it didn't seem very funny. "A FOX?"
"Yeah, a fox." Marita fell backward on the bed and laughed, but her laughter was genuine. Now that Ann was okay, she found the whole thing very funny. "Now shut up, I'm going to sleep." She put her pillow over her face and started snoring loudly.
Ann watched her for a minute, wondering why she couldn't be more like Marita, loud and self-assured and always happy. When Marita looked up again, waiting for her to laugh, she pretended to be asleep so she wouldn't have to say anything. But in reality, she didn't get much sleep that night.
JULY 13, 1999
Dana rubbed her eyes and squinted at the pictures in front of her, struggling to find anything out of the ordinary, something that the people at the actual scene might have missed. She'd been at it for an hour now, since she'd sent the kids to bed. Fox was still watching nothing on the TV. He, of course, didn't think there was any reason to do what she was doing: the children had been abducted by aliens and it had been the aliens that killed them and they knew better than to leave anything that might give away the truth.
She jumped when the phone rang and got up to get it, seeing Fox only glance in its direction and then go back to his stupid static-y show.
"Agent Scully?" She didn't recognize the voice.
"This is Detective Taylor. We've found another body, a 17-year-old kid."
Dana sucked in a breath, then let it out slowly. "Where are you?"
"Less than a mile from the motel. Looks like he was hitchhiking."
"We'll be right there." She hung up the phone and looked at Fox. "Another child was found dead," she said.
"And we're supposed to be at the crime scene."
She nodded and he turned off the TV. "What about the kids?" he asked.
That hadn't been something she thought about. Over the years, she'd gotten used to the odd hours of being an FBI agent working with Fox Mulder in the X-Files division. This was their first case since Lucas, Samantha, and Daina Kathryn had come into their lives. She hated to leave them, but they couldn't very well wake them up and make them go look at a body. "They'll be fine, it's less than a mile from here, we don't have to stay long."
"You sure you want to leave them?"
No, she wasn't sure. She wished now she'd listened to him and left them with Melissa. "They'll be fine," she repeated.
JULY 13, 1999
Daina Kathryn's eyes flew open and she covered her mouth quickly before a cry that threatened could escape. She'd had the dream again, where Rammin shot everybody. A tear slid down her cheek and she shuddered.
"Samantha?" she whispered, wanting somebody to talk to. "Samantha, are you awake?" But the form beside her didn't move.
She wanted Dana. She slipped out of the bed and crept across the room. The door separating her room from Fox and Dana's was, of course, open. And the light was on, the bed made, a file open on the small table. Something was wrong.
Fox and Dana weren't there.
She told herself to calm down, they were probably just going to get a drink or to investigate something or talk to someone. They would be back soon. She could wait, she knew she wouldn't be able to go back to sleep until she was sure they were okay. The dream was still fresh in her mind.
Maybe she could read the file, see if she could find anything they had missed. There was always a chance, she'd found Melissa's book and known she and Fox had gone that way when they were running to Canada to get away from Rammin. She jumped onto the chair- it was just a little too high for her to sit on comfortably, her legs dangled far from the ground- and turned over papers until she got to the first one. It was a newspaper article, cut out carefully, probably by Fox. A long article. She yawned, fighting fatigue already, and stared reading.
JUNE 1, 1977
Marita checked again to make sure Ann was asleep, then left the bedroom, closing the door behind her so if she made any noise, Ann wouldn't hear it. She didn't want anybody finding her, not until she was finished.
Earlier that day, her mother had offered her, Ann, and John five dollars each for cleaning up the attic, where they'd stuck a bunch of stuff when they'd first moved to the house, right before they adopted Ann. While they'd been up there, Marita had come across a shoebox in the very back corner, covered in a folded sheet. It almost looked hidden. Her curiosity had been piqued and she'd barely been able to wait for everybody to fall asleep so she could go back up and see what was in this mysterious box.
Now here she was, the excitement overcoming the fear of the dark she'd felt for years and hidden from everyone. She had a sister in the room with her in the dark; she had no reason to be afraid if there was somebody else there.
The door to the attic was still open a crack, just enough that she could squeeze in, so it wouldn't creak when she opened it. She flipped on the light and went up.
The box was where she'd left it, behind larger boxes so John and Ann wouldn't find it. There were still toys and books scattered around where they'd gone through them earlier; they'd done more messing up than cleaning up.
She sat on the floor near the box and picked it up, weighing it in her hands. It felt full, or nearly full. She carefully peeled the yellowed tape off the sides and took the top off.
On the very top of the pile was a photograph. A picture of Ann with some older boy who looked a lot like her, her brother maybe. Were these the things her mother had told her about, the few mementos Ann had from before her family had been killed?
Marita and her brothers had been told all about Ann before she came to live with them. She'd lived with her family in a place called Chilmark in Massachusetts all her life, with her parents and her older brother. There had been a terrible car accident and her whole family was killed; she'd almost died, too. Because of how traumatic the accident had been, she remembered nothing of her life before living with the Covarrubias' and nobody was supposed to tell her about it. She was going to think that her name was Ann Covarrubias and that she had been in a car accident and that had erased her memory of her adoptive family, except to her it wasn't her adoptive family. Marita had never really thought about what it must have be like to not remember anything before you were 8 years old, but seeing the picture in the box, she realized how horrible it must be. Poor Ann.
The boy was actually sort of cute. He looked 12 or 13 at the time, Ann about the age she'd been when she came to live with them, so it had probably been taken just before the accident. If he hadn't died, he would've been about 16, maybe 17. Marita was almost 12, she didn't think that that was too much of an age difference.
She turned the picture over to make sure there were no names on the back, but there was only a handwritten date and place: July 3, 1973; Quonochontaug, RI. Quonochontaug? What kind of name was that? She put the picture on the floor beside her and looked at the next thing in the box.
A birth certificate, it looked like. But parts had been marked out, things changed. There were black lines over almost everything, words written out to the side for room. It was Ann's.
NAME: -------------- ANN MULDER
DATE OF BIRTH: ------------------------------ AUGUST 15, 1965
PARENTS: WILLIAM AND TENA MULDER
SIBLINGS: ------ MULDER
Nothing else interested her. Why was Ann's first name marked out, and wasn't Ann her first name? What about her birthday and her brother, the boy from the picture? Why would they need to mark that stuff out?
She held the certificate up to the attic's single light bulb and smiled a little as she found she could read everything. But the smile quickly faded.
NAME: SAMANTHA ANN MULDER
DATE OF BIRTH: NOVEMBER 21, 1965 AUGUST 15, 1965
PARENTS: WILLIAM AND TENA MULDER
SIBLINGS: FOX MULDER
Fox? Her brother's name had been Fox? So it wasn't a fox, like an animal, that Ann was screaming about in her nightmares. It was her brother. Maybe she remembered him in the car wreck, his body next to hers, remembered it in her dreams and she was trying to wake him up... Marita shuddered and forced herself to forget it. She had to see more; something was being kept from her and her brothers and sister, maybe even from her parents.
JULY 13, 1999
Dana took a deep breath before knocking hard on the door. She'd offered to tell the family, but she'd thought Fox would come with her. Instead, he'd tossed her the car keys and stayed behind to do more investigating at the scene.
It didn't even look like the same killer to her. All the other kids had been missing for long periods of time and THEN turned up dead, in the exact same place they'd disappeared from. This time, the victim had been shot and left on the side of the road. Probably somebody from out of town, heard about the killings, and decided to try and get away with his own murder and thought nobody would ever suspect it was unrelated. One of the guys who read a lot of police fiction but knew no police fact: it wasn't hard to find obvious differences from murder to murder.
The door opened slowly and Dana felt her heart stop for a moment. This was the worst part of her job. She wasn't sure if she'd be doing it more on this job or one as a doctor. "Ms. Witt, may I come in?"
Ms. Witt opened the door cautiously, like she was afraid that Dana had a SWAT team behind her or something, ready to shoot at the slightest movement. She closed it again so fast Dana jumped when she was inside.
"What do you want, my son's asleep?" she asked immediately.
"It's about Chris. He was shot."
Ms. Witt sucked in a breath. "He dead?"
"Yes. I'm sorry." There was no answer, which wasn't surprising. What WAS surprising was the way Ms. Witt only stared at her, waiting for her to continue. "I need to take you and Kyle to the police station to answer a few questions and... and you have to identify the body."
The expected outburst didn't come. "Gotta go wake 'im up. Be right back."
JUNE 1, 1977
Marita was immersed completely in the papers she'd found. Old schoolwork of Ann's, school pictures, other pictures of her and her brother, Fox. But all the work was signed "Samantha". She thought it MIGHT be possible Samantha was Ann's first name she just went by her middle name, but why would she put a name she didn't use on things?
She was at the bottom of the box; there was another picture there. A little boy, about 4 years old- Fox again-, holding a baby. Ann. Fox was grinning at the camera like he was the luckiest kid in the world, having a little sister; Ann looked like she was laughing.
Why did things like car accidents happen to people like Fox and Ann? They always looked so happy in the pictures, at least in the earlier ones. In some of the later ones, the smiles looked stiff, forced.
Marita was pretty sure something was up, but she had no idea what. She would have to go through all the stuff again and-
She whirled to see Ann at the top of the stairs, rubbing her eyes in the sudden light after the dark hallway. It was almost strange, seeing the girl out of the pictures standing right there. She felt like she was looking at a stranger. Was her real name Samantha, had she really been born in November of 1965, and had she had a brother named Fox?
"What're you doing?" she sounded just like she always did, maybe a little sleepy.
Marita quickly put the top back on the box. "Nothin'. I couldn't sleep, so I came up here to keep cleaning up."
"Didn't get much done, did you?" Ann asked, and smiled. Just like the girl in the pictures.
"No... I'll be down in a minute, I'm going to put this up."
Ann yawned. "Yeah, okay, g'night."
"More like good MORNING," Marita said, forcing a giggle. But Ann just yawned again and left. Come to think of it, she rarely laughed. Marita had never really noticed it before. Maybe somewhere in the deepest, darkest parts of her mind she remembered the car accident and what had happened to her family.
With a sad little sigh, Marita stood on stiff legs and took the box back to the corner, covering it again with the sheet. She was just about to leave when she noticed something else, stuffed so far back she could barely see it for the shadows. She reached over and gingerly pulled it out, fearing spiders.
But there was no dust, no spider webs. It was a folder, as clean and neat as if it had been put there yesterday. She opened it; it was full of envelopes. All were addressed to her father, there was no return address.
She wanted to read them, but she'd told Ann she'd be right down. She could read them later; she was getting tired, anyway.
JULY 13, 1999
Dana hid a yawn as she unlocked the door; she was exhausted. She heard noises when the door opened a froze, glancing back at Fox. He was already pulling out his gun. Again, she hadn't taken hers with her and wished she had. She stepped back to let him in the room.
Seconds later, a blur flew at Dana and attached itself to her leg. It looked strangely similar to Daina Kathryn, who'd been asleep when they left.
"You didn't tell me there was a killer, Mom! You didn't tell me, I want to go home!" She wailed. Dana managed to pull her off her leg and pick her up, as heavy as she was getting, and did her best to comfort her, but it didn't sound to her like Daina Kathryn heard a word she said. She was crying too hard.
"Shh, D. Shh... the killer's not going to get you. I promise, okay? Okay? D., listen to me, calm down, he's not going to get you. Fox and I are going to protect you, just like we always do. Remember we protected you in Canada?"
But Daina Kathryn, apparently having heard more than she let on, shook her head vigorously. "You got shot in Canada. You could have died and I could have died and there wasn't even a killer there!" She was as angry as she was scared, feeling betrayed by the person she trusted more than any other. Suddenly Dana knew how Fox had felt when she'd shot him, during that horrible week so long ago when she'd thought for a while she was going to lose both her partner and her sister. In the end, she'd lost neither, she had both Fox and Melissa.
"But we didn't die. And we're not going to die here. You're 4 years old, you have years and years of life left to live."
Daina Kathryn finally pulled her head from Dana's shoulder and looked into her eyes. Dana could see she was terrified. "But what about Emily?"
Dana didn't know how to answer. It was all too complicated. She tightened her arms around Daina Kathryn and together they cried for all that they'd lost.
JUNE 1, 1977
For a change, it had been Marita instead of Ann who'd wanted to get out of going to see a movie. She'd lied about a headache while the rest of her family went off to a third showing of Star Wars and went to the attic as soon as the car pulled out of the drive. It was too hot to go outside, anyway.
She'd pulled her hair back in a ponytail to get it out of her face, during the year she'd let it get almost as long as Ann's, but she didn't really like it that way. She'd get it cut to her shoulders again before school started, when they all got back-to-school haircuts, even John, who wanted his hair long.
And she'd remembered to wear old shorts and a grubby T-shirt of her older brother's. Her mom had noticed the dirt and dust from the attic on her nightshirt that morning and hadn't been too happy.
She crouched in the corner, a small flashlight in hand so she could settle here, and dug out the folder of letters. She felt a little guilty when she opened the folder and took out the first envelope. What if they were love letters her parents had written to each other before they got married or something? She resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at the thought, she couldn't imagine her parents as dumb teenagers like John and like she and Ann would be in just a year.
But it wasn't a love letter. It was addressed to her father on the front, there was no return address, just a name written in the upper left corner. Bill Mulder- Ann's father, before she'd been Ann.
I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW I APPRECIATE YOUR DEDICATION TO THE PROJECT. YOU WILL LIKELY BE AWARDED IN FAR MORE WAYS THAN THE EVENTUAL FAME THAT ALL OF US WILL ONE DAY HAVE. SAMANTHA IS RIGHT NOW STILL IN TESTING, SHE IS DOING FINE, BUT HAS NO MEMORY OF WHO SHE IS, JUST AS WE WANTED IT TO BE. SHE BELIEVES ME TO BE HER DOCTOR, MY WIFE AND SON STILL DO NOT SUSPECT MORE THAN A SIMPLE KIDNAPPING. FOX, OF COURSE, DOES NOT REMEMBER WHEN SHE WAS TAKEN. WE HAVE IMPLANTED FALSE MEMORIES OF AN ALIEN ABDUCTION IN HIS SUBCONSCIOUS USING THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY, IN CASE HE EVER DREAMS OF IT OR GETS A DOCTOR TO HELP HIM. HE TELLS ME IT IS HIS FAULT SAMANTHA DISAPPEARED, I WILL CONTINUE TO LET HIM BELIEVE SO.
SAMANTHA WILL BE COMING TO YOUR HOME IN JUST A FEW WEEKS TIME, WHEN THE TESTS ARE FINISHED. SHE WILL NOT KNOW WHO SHE IS, I WILL SEND IN MY NEXT LETTER INSTRUCTIONS THAT MUST BE FOLLOWED PRECISELY DETAILING WHAT YOU ARE TO TELL HER. TELL YOUR WIFE AND CHILDREN TO TELL HER THE SAME THING, CONTINUE TO DRILL IT INTO THEM UNTIL THEY, TOO, BELIEVE IT TO BE WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.
Marita folded up the letter and shoved it back into the envelope slowly, her mind racing. So there hadn't been any car accident, Ann's parents and brother were still alive, somewhere. Where was it Ann had lived? Chilmark, Massachusetts.
How could her father have agreed to let them do tests on her? Her father would never do that, he loved all his children, even Ann, she was sure of it.
But from the letter, it sounded like he was as much a part of it all as Bill Mulder was. She felt sorry for Ann, but she felt just as sorry for herself and all the other kids whose parents were lying to them. And there had to be more.
She went through the rest of the letters in record time for someone who complained about reading aloud in class, absorbing all of the lies and stories she found there. The last envelope was bigger than the others, and the letter inside was short.
I'M SORRY I TOOK SO LONG IN SENDING YOU THESE. FOX IS GRADUATING THIS YEAR, AFTER ONLY THREE YEARS IN HIGH SCHOOL. HE'S THINKING OF TAKING A YEAR BEFORE GOING ON THE COLLEGE- I WANT HIM AT HARVARD, BUT HE'S INSISTENT ON GOING TO OXFORD- TO SEARCH FOR SAMANTHA. I'M DOING ALL I CAN TO STOP HIM, BUT ONLY BECAUSE I DON'T WANT HIM DISAPPOINTED. HE'D NEVER THINK TO LOOK IN SUNFLOWER, TEXAS FOR HIS MISSING SISTER.
The date at the top was from mid-May, less than a month ago. Bill Mulder was still writing to her father, and chances were her father was still writing to him.
Her hand brushed something as she was putting the final letter back in. She pulled it out. A picture. Fox, older now. She turned it over, and sure, enough, there was a date on the back: April, 1977.
Without a doubt, Ann's brother Fox Mulder was still alive.