Welcome To The Harem
The Rainbow Connection by Emily Miller Part 2 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.
THE RAINBOW CONNECTION BY EMILY MILLER
PART 2 OF 3
SEE PART 1 FOR HEADERS
JULY 14, 1999
Fox was the first one awake. Dana was still curled up beside him, Daina Kathryn was in the room's other bed, and when he checked on the other kids, they were both sound asleep. They'd left the TV on.
He dressed quickly in the shorts and T-shirt he'd brought just for such a moment and left the rooms quietly, beginning his morning jog even before the door had clicked shut behind him. He could think better while he ran, for some reason.
Most likely, Chris had NOT been killed by the same person who'd gotten his sister. He'd been shot in the chest; Kimberly had had no obvious cause of death. He went over and over the details of both deaths in his mind, unconsciously going back to what he'd learned when he was doing profiles and letting himself into the minds of the killers and their victims.
It had been years, and he'd forgotten how completely wrapped up in it he could get. He was lost in his thoughts for quite a while- until he ran head on into a woman trying to drag a little boy, about 5 years old, with her down the street. She almost went tumbling, but Fox reached out at the last moment and grabbed her arm.
He shook his head to clear it as she glared at him. The little boy was wailing and pointing at a store across the street, yelling something about toys.
"I'm sorry," Fox said, looking at the woman for the first time. She was beautiful, in an odd way, and something about her seemed very familiar. Maybe it was the hair, long and dark and thick. It kind of reminded him of Samantha. Every summer, just before they left for Rhode Island, his mother had pleaded with her to get it cut, just for the hot months, but she'd always refused. And here was a woman, in summer, in Texas, with hair that hung halfway down her back.
Her expression didn't soften at his apology. "You could hurt somebody like that." The first thing Fox noticed about her voice was the lack of any trace of a Texas-southern accent.
"I'm sorry," he repeated. "I wasn't looking where I was going."
She didn't say anything in reply immediately; she cocked her head slightly and appeared to be studying him. "You look familiar... do I know you?"
"I wouldn't think so. I'm not from around here, I'm here on... business." He didn't like to tell people he was with the FBI unless it was absolutely necessary. You never knew who was a killer or an accomplice.
"Oh... you just looked like someone I know..."
"I don't think so."
"Well, uh... nice talking to you..." she seemed dazed, having completely forgotten the reason she'd spoken to him in the first place.
He nodded and started backing away. The word 'schizophrenia' ran through his mind, even though he knew that was unfair. He knew next to nothing about this woman. "Yeah, you to. I really am sorry."
"Uh-huh... no, we're not going there," she had turned to the little boy again. "Later, okay? Yes, I promise. We'll go later..." And they were gone, into another store.
Fox shivered, wondering what had just happened... and why he had such a strange feeling that whatever kind of chance encounter that had been, it would lead to something bigger. MUCH bigger.
JUNE 1, 1977
Marita was waiting for the rest of her family when they got home, nearly ready to jump out of her skin with impatience. It didn't help that Jamie was completely Star Wars-struck, jumping around and pretending he had a light saber and begging John to play with him.
Ann was laughing at something Jamie had just said to John when she came in, and once again Marita was painfully reminded of the smiling pictures of that little girl from the pictures. "Hi, M'ita," she said, the only one to notice Marita sitting (as patiently as she could) on the floor directly in front of the door.
Taking a deep breath, Marita got to her feet. "Hey, Ann, wanna come see what I found in the attic?" she asked, trying to sound like it was nothing.
"I wanna go," Jamie said, putting down his imaginary light saber for a while.
"It's girl stuff."
He stuck out his tongue and went back to John. Marita sighed inwardly with relief, usually if he even THOUGHT he was being told 'no' he would insist on coming. Maybe this new craze wasn't so bad.
"Sure," Ann said.
Marita ran upstairs, but had to stop and wait for Ann at the top. Ann seemed in no hurry to get there, she was acting really weird.
"Hey, M'ita," she said when she finally got to the top of the stairs. "Do you believe in destinies? Like a planned future? I mean, maybe I'm destined to change someone's life forever or something."
Marita groaned and rolled her eyes. "Not you too!" she said, and they both laughed. But Marita suddenly realized that Ann had already changed her life. The trust she'd had in her parents was a thing of the past. Who knew how Ann would react to the truth... or what was going to happen to them? "Come on, let's go!" she cried, and took off again. This time, Ann ran with her.
JULY 14, 1999
Dana was awake when Fox got back to the rooms; the kids were still asleep. She was reading the file for their case for her at least fifth time, searching for anything they'd overlooked that might prove once and for all that it wasn't alien abduction, it was a serial killer. Still something that had to be stopped, but very much explainable. Sort of.
"Good morning," she said to Fox as he wiped sweat from his face and peeled off the T-shirt he was wearing.
"'Morning," he mumbled. He looked lost in his thoughts, not completely unusual when he was in the middle of a case. At least he hadn't run off on a lead that would almost get him killed yet. Maybe he was thinking about others besides himself for a change. She didn't think he was self-centered, not at all, but when he wanted to follow up on something, next to nothing except physical force could stop him.
"Take a shower," she said, deciding not to say anything about ditching her. "Then we'll go get some breakfast, alright?"
"Yeah, sure." He disappeared into the bathroom.
She went back to the file. She was getting nowhere, but something could always show up, some tiny, little, miniscule detail she hadn't seen any of the times she'd read it before. The only problem was, the same material was getting a little boring.
There were profiles on each of the children, a picture of them before death and taken when they were discovered in their beds. Dana noticed for the first time that Kimberly Harbings looked a lot like Chris. They had the same 'Me? I'm completely innocent!' smile.
Donald Barker was the next child. The picture was of him and what Dana guessed was a little sister. She had her arms around his waist; he was struggling to get away.
Catherine Canpey, with missing front teeth and a wide grin that stretched over much of her face.
Ellen Armstrong with a group of friends- she was circled to show where she was-, laughing and goofing off for whoever was taking the picture.
Timothy Tian with his Asian family- she wasn't sure of the exact country that his grandparents, seated in chairs on either side of his parents, had come- solemnly standing around him. The poor kid, Dana noticed with a smile she couldn't quite stop, had three sisters.
Mark Sachston, smiling proudly with a fish he'd apparently recently caught clutched in one hand. An older boy, most likely a brother, was making an unbeknownst face behind him.
Robert James Whitnon's junior class picture. He was giving a tight smile to the camera, but appeared horribly uncomfortable in his nice clothes.
All these children, and now all that was left of them were these pictures. Just like Emily. All that was left of her were pictures- or rather, for Dana, a picture. And that picture was now Daina Kathryn's most treasured possession, more cherished even than the idea of having a family.
And, Dana, realized with a sudden strange rush of understanding, all Fox had of Samantha. Pictures of her as she grew up, until she was 8 years old, then nothing. No more pictures, no more smiles, no more memories.
She knew Fox kept a picture of Samantha with him all the time, just as Daina Kathryn did with her picture of Emily. She'd seen the picture so many times, when he reached into a coat or jeans pocket for money and pulled it out instead. It was a class picture, apparently from the last year she'd been with him, where her smile seemed a little more forced, her expression a little older and harder than in the earlier ones Dana had seen. Apparently the stress the family had been going through had had affects on all of them, even the one who couldn't possibly have been old enough to understand what was going on, that her parents were fighting because something horrible was going to happen.
So much could be contained in a picture. You could learn so much about people from their expressions. Dana continued to gaze at the last picture, of Robert James Whitnon. Her urge to save this case had suddenly increased by quite a lot.
JUNE 1, 1977
Ann took the picture from Marita with a trembling hand. THIS was what Marita had wanted to show her? An old picture? It had to be at least 10 years old, if not older. A maybe 3-year-old girl, clutching to the hand of an older boy, about 7. She was looking suspiciously at the camera, or whoever was taking the picture, obviously not willing to give him her trust. The boy was grinning.
"What's this? A friend of yours or something?" Ann asked. If the girl was 3, she would be about their age now... maybe the picture wasn't QUITE 10 years old.
"Kind of," Marita said mysteriously. "Look on the back."
Wondering what this was all about once again, Ann turned the picture over and read the neat writing on the back: Fox (6 1/2) and Samantha (2 1/2), August 9, 1968, Chilmark, Massachusetts. "So what?" Ann asked. She was beginning to get annoyed. So Marita had found some old picture, big deal.
Marita handed her another one. It showed what Ann guessed were the same two kids, a few years old. Now the girl had pigtails that hung down almost to her stomach. The boy was pulling one good-naturedly while the girl glared at him and tried to pull away. And on the back: Fox (9) and Samantha (5), December 10, 1970, Lake George, New York.
"I still don't get it. Who are these people?"
"And these," Now Marita was handing her a group of pictures. Probably no more than 5, but Ann was sick of playing games with Marita. She wanted to play with John like they'd been planning on the walk home.
More of the same kids, of course, getting progressively older. Fox (10) and Samantha (6), April 8, 1972, Chilmark Massachusetts; Fox (11) and Samantha (7), January 21, 1973; Fox (11) and Samantha (7), August 7, 1973; and the final one, Fox (12) and Samantha (7), October 30, 1973. It was the last one that finally caught Ann's attention.
The little girl, leaning against a tree with her brother, grinning, now looked uncannily familiar. It only took another moment for her to see that she was looking at herself. And the boy... Fox... suddenly her dreams, all of them, came flooding into her mind and she was trembling. The lights, the house shaking, the terror. Crying his name and hearing him calling her, paralyzing fear... She moaned and curled up on the floor, terrified as she hadn't been in years.
When she opened her eyes, she was in her bed. Marita, John, and Jamie were staring worriedly down at her. "Ann? Are you okay?" John asked. He actually sounded worried.
She tried to sit up, but felt dizzy. "What happened?"
Marita held up the picture again, the one with Fox and Samantha and the tree. "You were looking at this and you just fell over... fainted, I guess. And I went and got John to get you down here, because if Mom and Dad found out we know about this stuff- that I know about this stuff, I'll have to explain it to you later- we'd be in big trouble."
"I remember that boy," Ann said. "I remember him laughing at me when I fell out of a tree... I remember that he was mean sometimes, but sometimes he was nice... like when I hurt my shoulder falling off a swing... but I don't know who he is."
Marita looked at the picture again. "He's your brother."
JULY 14, 1999
"Drawed shows are stupid, Lucas," Samantha said, arms crossed, glaring at her brother and daring him to argue over whether or not 'drawed shows', also known as cartoons, were stupid. Daina Kathryn glanced over her book to see if a real fight was going to start, then at Dana to see if she was going to stop it. But Dana was deep in conversation with Fox, bent over their files again.
"Are not. I like them."
"ARE stupid! Stupid, stupid, stupid, just like you."
Lucas still didn't pull his gaze from the television, choosing instead of arguing to ignore her. So Samantha took another approach to the problem. "Fox, he won't let me watch any good stuff!"
It was Dana that looked up, not Fox. "Then go watch in the other room," she said.
Samantha considered this. It sounded a lot like giving in to Lucas to her, but she couldn't figure out exactly how. Finally, she sighed loudly and disappeared into the kids' room.
Daina Kathryn sighed also, but it was of relief. She'd thought that Lucas and Samantha would be the perfect older siblings. After all, they had worked all their lives until a few months ago. But all Lucas ever wanted to do was watch TV or listen to the radio and Samantha liked nothing better than to start a fight with somebody. Daina Kathryn HATED fights.
She went back to her book. It was finally getting exciting, just like Dana said it would. She whispered the words to herself as she read them, imagining herself on the Pequod in place of Ishmael, with Queequeg and Starbuck and Stubb and Captain Ahab... she almost trembled at the idea.
Melissa had told her, a long time ago, about how Dana and her father, Daina Kathryn's grandfather, had called each other Starbuck and Ahab. She wished Dana- or Fox- would do something like that with her. But she was just Daina Kathryn, or D. Boring, boring, boring.
And suddenly EVERYTHING seemed boring. She needed to get out of the motel room. "Mom?"
Dana looked up again. She looked exhausted, Daina Kathryn saw. Was being an FBI agent really that hard? "What?"
"When're we going somewhere?"
"I don't know..."
"I saw a toy store downtown," Fox spoke up, never taking his eyes off the paper before him. "It's not real far, we could walk."
Daina Kathryn doubted there could be anything at a TOY STORE of any interest to her, but there was always that chance... and it would get them out of this stuffy little room. "Okay," she said.
Fox nodded slowly. "We'll go in just a little while. Let me check on one more thing." And he was again immersed in his stuff. Dana followed him.
JUNE 1, 1977
Marita finished explaining everything she had discovered in the attic. "So Ann isn't really Ann... she's Samantha Mulder."
"But you said I was your sister... you never told me I was adopted," Ann muttered, more to herself than anyone else in the room. Jamie was watching her with wide, worried eyes, but John looked a little skeptical.
"How do you know that's what it meant?" he asked. "Just because Dad wanted to take in a little girl... Ann... whose family was having problems doesn't mean he's involved in any government conspiracy."
"Then how come they didn't just tell Fox, then? Why did they make him think she was... was... abducted by aliens?!" Marita demanded.
John shrugged. "How should I know?"
"Just don't tell anybody, okay?"
"Sure... don't know who I'd tell, but sure," John said.
"Jamie, you can't either."
Jamie nodded slowly, never taking his eyes of Ann, who had her eyes closed and seemed to be struggling against tears.
"Good, then. I'm going to put this stuff up before Dad finds out we have it." Marita left, and John soon followed, still mumbling something about conspiracies and Watergate.
But Jamie sat down on the bed beside Ann. "Do you really think you have a brother and everything somewhere, besides me and John?" he asked quietly, unsure of himself for one of the very few times in his 8 years of life.
She opened her eyes, looked at him for a moment, then sat up, hugging her knees to her chest. "I don't know."
"If... if you do... would you quit loving us?" Love wasn't something the Covarrubias family spent a lot of time talking about, and it was hard for him- especially hard, considering his age- to bring it up without making a lot of dumb jokes.
"No," Ann said. "No, of course not. I barely remember him. He probably doesn't remember me at all."
JULY 14, 1999
Samantha laughed as she dodged away from Lucas, who had half-heartedly reached for her when she wouldn't quit poking his arm. "Slow!" she called.
Fox, walking a short distance behind them with Dana and Daina Kathryn, holding the former's hand loosely, watched them with a feeling of memories that hadn't surfaced in years coming back. Samantha- his Samantha- had done the same thing with him, teasing him until he was ready to kill her.
"She's a lot like your sister, isn't she? Besides looks, I mean," Dana said as if reading his thoughts, squeezing his hand.
He squeezed back. "Yeah, she is. But the tests show we do have similar DNA, similar genes. She IS Samantha."
"Did Samantha like to get arguments started with you the way she does with Lucas?"
"Yeah, she did. And she did it often, too. Dad hated it; it was about the only thing he DIDN'T like about her. Everything else, it was perfect."
"Was she perfect?" Daina Kathryn spoke up. She was holding Dana's other hand, like she often did. Fox had never met a kid who loved their parent more than Daina Kathryn loved Dana, but he guessed that could be expected. When he was younger- MUCH younger, as in before Samantha had disappeared- he'd gone through periods of time when he wanted nothing more than to please his parents. But it had been much harder for him than for Daina Kathryn. If he'd had Dana for his mother- scary thought, but just an IF- he had a feeling he would have turned out much differently.
"No, she wasn't," he said. "She was just like any other little kid. But sometimes parents have a hard time seeing the flaws in their children."
"I'm not perfect, either," Daina Kathryn said, so solemnly that Fox couldn't help but smile.
"But you're pretty close," he said, and the grin she rewarded him with was worth more than any words.
"Samantha, STOP!" Lucas finally called from up ahead, nearly succeeding in ruining the mood. And Samantha's laughter again filled the air as she danced in circles around him.
"Make me," she said, and he made a move to grab her. She didn't even flinch, completely trusting. That was different, different from the first Samantha. From the time she was a tiny little girl showered with love and affection from both her parents to right before she disappeared, when they'd distanced themselves because they knew they weren't going to have much longer with her, she'd been suspicious of everybody.
"Is that the store?" Daina Kathryn asked, squinting to try to read the signs on the buildings far in the distance.
"That's it," Fox said.
"Can I run ahead and get there first?"
"Sure, go ahead."
And she was off, running past Lucas and Samantha, who immediately took off after her. Samantha was still laughing.
JULY 14, 1999
Daina Kathryn reached the toy store just a few second before Lucas and Samantha, who were actually racing each other, big surprise. She went in the open door and found herself in something exactly like one of the stories she'd read about people living a long, long time ago, like a hundred years. It was about a little boy whose parents had a store that sold toys, but he never got any because they couldn't afford them.
This store was just like she had imagined that one would be. It was small and kind of dark inside and it smelled nice. Like wood, or stuff you put on wood to polish it. She loved it immediately, letting the air of it envelop her.
Still, she could hear Lucas and Samantha somewhere else, as noisy as always, and other little kids crying or whining because they couldn't have something. Kids from a hundred years ago had PROBABLY whined just as much as kids did now, but they never did in stories. The sounds kept Daina Kathryn firmly anchored in the present.
She walked slowly through the store, down row after row of shelves piled high with dolls and wooden cars and even some puppets- marionettes, she though they were called- that she couldn't resist stopping to pick up and examine.
She was still wandering, lost in thought, when someone started screaming. Immediately her head jerked in the direction of the sound and she was running that way, looking down rows for the source of the screams. She finally found it in the very back of the store, where a little boy was struggling to get his shoe out of some kind of weird boot. Daina Kathryn could see immediately what had happened- the boot was too small for him, but he'd tried to get his foot in anyway. He looked about 5, a year older than Daina Kathryn was.
Dana showed up seconds later, followed closely by Fox. She went to the screaming child and tried to calm him down while at the same time twisting the stubborn boot off his foot. By the time she'd accomplished this, a small crowd had gathered, including the boy's mother, who was standing next to Dana, looking very worried. As soon as the boy was free, she grabbed him and hugged him so tightly that Daina Kathryn wondered if she'd thought he was dying.
"Thank you so much," she said to Dana.
Dana put a hand on the boy's back as he clung to his mother. "You might want to take him to the hospital for X-rays, to make sure the bone's not broken or cracked."
"I... I can't afford any of that... he'll be fine..." the woman sounded embarrassed.
"I'm a doctor," Dana said, trying her best to sympathize. She'd never been in a situation when money was so tight that an injured child couldn't be taken to a hospital. "If you'd let me look at him..."
The woman looked at her. "Would you?"
"Well, not here... I'm here on business, if you could bring him back to our motel room, I'd be glad to."
Fox stepped forward then. "Would you like me to carry him?" he asked, and, as the woman he'd literally run into that morning stared at him, smiled and said, "Nice to see you again."
JULY 14, 1999
Dana carefully pulled the boy's shoe off and pressed the bones in his ankle. "Does that hurt?" she asked him.
He was watching what she was doing with curious eyes that almost reminded her of the look Mulder got when he saw something that interested him. "No," he said.
"I think he's okay," she said, helping him put his shoe back on and getting up off the floor.
"Thank you so much," the woman said. "He doesn't have to buy the toys, he just likes to look at them... I never thought he could get hurt in a toy store."
"You can never be sure, with kids," Fox said. "They could get hurt walking down the street."
"I see that." She seemed to have relaxed a little as she saw that her son was okay and to have warmed up to them, or at least to Fox, who'd kept her occupied while Dana checked the little boy. "My name is Ann Cantson... well, Ann Covarrubias."
Fox's mouth dropped. "Did you say your last name is Covarrubias?"
Dana raised an eyebrow; the woman- Ann- looked confused. "Yes..."
"Do you know... do you know of anyone named Marita?"
"Yes I do. She's... she's my sister. Do you know her?"
Daina Kathryn had slipped into the room and was leaning against the wall. She and her siblings had been told to stay in their room, but Dana didn't tell her to leave. Chances were, she'd been listening to the whole conversation.
"She is... was... an acquaintance," Fox explained. "But she disappeared, about a year and a half ago."
Now Ann was nodding vigorously. "Do you have any idea where she might be?" she asked.
"No. But I was thinking you might."
"Only that neither of our brothers have heard from her, either."
"Mommy, I'm TIRED," the little boy whined, tugging on Ann's arm. Dana saw Daina Kathryn make a face, and knew exactly how she felt. Whiny kids were the worst kind.
"I know, Adam, I know," Ann said. She smiled apologetically at Fox and Dana. "We'd better be going. Thanks again for checking his ankle."
"Well, if it swells or anything, you need to get it checked out," Dana said.
"We'll probably be here another week, at least. Call the hotel, and ask for one of us, and we'll do whatever we can to help," said Fox.
Ann smiled again. "I'm... I'm sorry, but I don't know your names."
"Fox and Dana Mulder."
And Ann, who'd been ushering Adam out the door, stopped suddenly and turned back. "Did you say your name is Fox Mulder?"
"Uh-huh. Fox Mulder. Why?"
"Nothing... never mind..." and she was gone, pulling Adam along faster than she could walk.
"Strange woman," Dana said. "Seems almost mentally unstable, paranoid."
JUNE 1, 1977
"Hey, Ann?" Marita whispered into the dark. She wasn't sure if Ann was already asleep or not. Ann had spent the rest of the afternoon in their room, staring at the picture of Samantha- herself- and Fox, the last one, the one she wouldn't let Marita put up.
"What?" came the small reply, muffled by the pillow Ann had her face in. Even in the semi-darkness of the room, Marita could see the picture still clutched in her hand, hanging over the side of the bed.
Marita sat on her own bed, facing what she could see of Ann- the hand and her thick, dark hair. "I'm sorry," she said. It sounded pathetic, but she didn't know what else she could say.
Ann sat up after a moment of consideration and Marita could see her eyes were red where she'd been crying. She met Marita's worried eyes for a moment, then turned her gaze down to the smiling faces of Fox and Samantha.
"They look happy," Ann said softly.
Marita held out her hand and Ann gave it to her, a little reluctantly. "Yeah, they do," she agreed.
"Fox was 12 years old. Our age," Ann continued, like she hadn't even heard Marita. "And I... Samantha... I was 8. It's been 4 years since that picture was taken, probably 4 years since we've been that happy." She paused for a moment as the tears started. "I don't think we'll ever be that happy again."
Marita wasn't the physical type; none of the Covarrubias' were. But at the sight of her sister- her adopted sister, yes, and sister of only 4 years- finally breaking down from all the pain and terror and lies that had been thrust at her that day, she had to do something.
She reached out and took Ann's hand, just holding it while she cried.
JULY 14, 1999
"Okay, the kids can stay with you, right?" Dana asked, trying not to let her exhaustion show. The children she'd insisted on brining, that she'd been so adamant about not leaving with Melissa, were quickly becoming burdens. She had been talked into doing the autopsy on Chris Harbings , and of course she couldn't take Lucas, Samantha, and Daina Kathryn THERE. And Fox wanted to get more interviews done, with the parents of Donald Barker and Catherine Canpey.
Fox, like he had been doing for the better part of the day, was buried in files, including the one that had just come as a special delivery on Chris Harbings. "Sure," he muttered, though Dana doubted he'd heard a word she'd said.
"I'm leaving then," she said, a little louder, but he just nodded.
It was Daina Kathryn, stretched out on the bed she'd claimed the night before and appearing as lost in Moby Dick as Fox was in his work, that Dana got a reaction from.
"Where are you going?"
Dana scrambled for an answer that wouldn't be a lie. "Ah... to check on something."
Dana remembered asking millions of questions for HER parents to answer and knowing perfectly well they were giving her the same half-truth answers she was giving Daina Kathryn and how that had only made her bug them twice as long.
"To do an autopsy. I'm going to do an autopsy."
"Oh," said Daina Kathryn, and that was all there was to it. She had no interest in autopsies.
MAY 8, 1979
John was trying not to look like a guy that was a junior in high school stuck picking up his eighth-grade, middle-school sisters. Marita, between jerking Ann along to try and make her hurry up, made sure to wave at him and grin widely.
She as still grinning when she got in the car, leaning out before she shut the door to yell at Ann, who looked slightly lost as she wandered in their direction.
It was obvious, and had been for almost 2 years, to John, Marita, and even Jamie, that Ann had never gotten completely over the truth about the missing 8 years of her life. But then, none of them, though it was never discussed, had really gotten over it. They'd just managed to go on with their lives, to put it out of their minds.
But Ann hadn't been able to do that. Her innocent trust had been betrayed, and she felt now that she'd wasted her years with the Covarrubias' living a lie. She wanted nothing more than to find somebody who knew the truth, but could be trusted.
Marita couldn't really believe that there was anybody like that out there, even if she told Ann differently during their late-night whispering. If her own father thought the truth should be kept secret, if Ann's father felt the same way, could there really be someone out there who knew AND would talk about it?
Ann was finally in the car, lost in her 13-year-old thoughts. Most 13-year-olds, though, would have had their minds on a boy or the latest rumor they'd heard about a guy they didn't like. But Ann was intent on picking through her own brain, searching for memories of her life as Samantha.
A handful- very small, but still SOMETHING- of things from her life before had come back to her and she'd told them to Marita, desperate to tell SOMEBODY about a part someone had tried to make her forget.
"I remember the day this picture was taken," had been the first, or at least the first she'd told Marita about. She meant the last picture, the one she kept hidden under the mattress of her bed. "It was the day before Halloween, this was taken at my uncle's house. He grew pumpkins and sold them, but he always saved the biggest one for me and Fox. Dad was in a good mood that day, which he almost never was anymore, and he told Mom to bring the camera. That tree was the tree that Uncle Tony said he had a clubhouse in when he was a little boy and him and his friends threw water balloons at Mom."
Then, almost 4 months later, had come another one. "I remember one Christmas. When I was 6 years old. Me and Fox begged and begged and begged Dad for a puppy, even though we already had a dog. He was getting old. And we were so excited because Dad said 'maybe' and not 'no.' That usually meant 'yes.' Only on Christmas Day, there was no puppy. He said he couldn't find any cheap enough ones, even though Fox had looked through newspapers and found where they had them for free."
And the last complete one just 6 months ago. "We went to visit Dad's brother, Art, in New York City. I was so big I was scared I'd get lost the whole time. But I didn't. Fox almost did. He was always daydreaming and he wandered off even though Dad warned him not to. But Uncle Art found him."
That was all she had, not counting the fragments of events or pieces of conversations. And for some reason, to Marita, that seemed worse than the fact that it had happened at all.
JULY 14, 1999
Dana had taken the car, since the closest hospital was in the next town. Not more than a 20-minute drive, but too far to walk. So it was Fox who walked, trailed by the three kids, to the home of Donald Barker's parents and 6-year-old sister.
"Is this like that lady we talked to yesterday?" Samantha asked, for a change not having to stop and think before stringing the words together. She was making progress.
Fox turned to look at her, but quickly turned away. At first, just the sight of this little girl, with her dark braids and her eyes almost brimming over with the laughter she tried to hide and even the haunted horror of an almost stolen childhood hanging over her, had brought up ancient, buried memories of his sister. But it had finally stopped; at least until he had looked at her just now and for a moment had been 12 again.
"Well?" Samantha demanded, completely oblivious to his discomfort.
"Yeah," Fox said, even though he was no longer sure of the question.
Samantha stuck out her tongue. "I don't like. They're boring," she said, then ran back to where Lucas and Daina Kathryn were deep in conversation.
JULY 14, 1999
13-year-old Dave didn't look up from his stretched-out position on the couch when his mom and the brat got back. "'Bout time," was all he said, eyes glued to one of his many horror movies on TV.
Adam, his annoying 5-year-old half-brother (and he'd never let anyone forget the half part), pulled on his mother's arm. "Dave's watching the scary movies again!" he whispered urgently.
"Not while your brother's around," Ann Covarrubias repeated for about the three-thousandth time that week.
Dave kicked the TV and the screen went black, then he walked back to his room in the way rebellious teenagers do, slowly and leaning against the trailer's walls like he was trying to stay in shadow. "And he's NOT my brother!" he yelled before slamming the door.
Ann sighed and sat on the couch her older son had just abandoned. Adam curled up next to her, putting his thumb in his mouth and contentedly sucking it like she'd told him so many times to stop doing. Right now, she didn't have the strength.
Her eyes wandered over the cheap place, which she'd done her best to fix up after her second husband died and she'd had to sell the house and most of what was in it.
Her gaze came to rest on the object so carefully placed on the table beside the TV. A picture. A picture of a group of children, one no older than maybe 13, another about 9, and the littlest about 5. They all had light blond hair, and the last child- almost exactly the same age as the 9-year-old girl- was a stark contrast, with her solemn eyes and dark hair. As if she'd seen more than any child could possibly bear to see. As if she'd seen enough that she could no longer remember all of it.
JULY 14, 1999
Fox checked the scrap of paper where he'd written down the Barkers' address as he stood at the edge of the short, dead-end street. "Be on the lookout for number 103," he said.
"Bet I can find it very first!" Samantha cried, just like he'd hoped she would, and Lucas accepted the challenge, running after her.
Daina Kathryn chose to look alone, crossing the street and walking slowly by each house, examining it for a moment before reading the number and moving on. And, of course, she found it first- Lucas and Samantha were too busy racing each other to the end of the road.
Fox was still on the same side of the street, looking at every house even though he knew the Barkers' were on Daina Kathryn's side- his numbers were even- when she found it. "Hey, Fox! Here it is!" she yelled.
He took his time getting to her, knowing Lucas and Samantha would take theirs, and put a hand on her shoulder. "Good job, D."
She looked pleased and he was reminded again just how little it took to make her happy. Like with the toy store that morning. Samantha had started begging to go back the minute Ann Covarrubias and her son had left, and Lucas had joined her with the sudden remembrance of something he'd seen that he just HAD to have.
It was normal behavior for 7- and 10-year-old kids to want toys, to be kept entertained. Fox could very clearly remember he and Samantha attacking their mother for hours to go HERE or THERE until she was exhausted and gave in.
But it was just as normal for a 4-year-old. Especially a 4-year-old who'd never had anything, suddenly surrounded by siblings and parents, a mother who would rather die than see her injured. Proof of that had been her gunshot wound in Canada.
And yet Daina Kathryn almost never asked for anything. Fox had seen her in the toy store, wandering past everything as if in a trance. Soaking it all in, like the memories she would have of it were more important than anything she could buy. Occasionally running her hand over or picking up something.
Fox had been as intrigued by the place as Daina Kathryn. It wasn't the kind of store you came across in a tiny town in Texas. Seeing it crammed among the places selling cowboy hats and T-shirts, a desperate attempt to draw tourists to the fading town, had been a complete surprise. It was more the kind of place he expected to see at home, in Chilmark.
The word Dana had used was "quaint." She'd obviously liked it, too, thought it didn't hold the same sentimental value for her, a California native, that it did for him.
"Good job," he repeated. He could see Lucas and Samantha now, racing each other back.
JULY 4, 1979
Jamie's face was glued to the window, every cell in his 10-year-old brain focused on the fireworks they could easily see from the house. John was old enough this year to help with it and Jamie had begged for days to go, but John had said there was no way he was going to show up with his baby brother. So Jamie was where he always wound up, watching with his sisters.
Marita was watching, also, but her mind was mostly on Ann, who looked as entranced as Jamie but was probably lost in some daydream. Ann had always been a little spacey, more so in the past few years, and it had gotten worse than ever in the month since school got out. She was always staring off at nothing or at her picture of Fox and Samantha or writing in the little notebook she carried around all the time.
"I wonder if Fox ever watched fireworks with me. Maybe we had hamburgers and Cokes and sat at a picnic table in the backyard on the Fourth... but I think I remember the backyard, and I don't remember a picnic table. There was a swing, though, " she said, thinking aloud.
Jamie glanced at her, but even the idea that he might have a sister who was crazy wasn't enough to pull him away from the lights.
"Did you like the swing?" Marita prompted, because when Ann came up with a whole memory, she was usually with it long enough to give Marita all the details.
"Yeah..." Ann said, then paused. "Yeah, I loved it. But I remember it... it hurt me..." she closed her eyes, obviously thinking hard. "Fox was pushing me on it... I guess I was about 6... he was pushing me... he almost never did that... and I kept telling him to push me higher and my hands slipped..."
She stopped and touching the bone where her shoulder met her neck, her eyes still closed.
"Did you fall?" Marita asked.
"Yeah... I fell and... broke something. My collarbone. I had to wear a cast... Fox drew pictures on it. I liked them, but Dad got mad at him."
"Did you cry?" Jamie asked, He was still watching the fireworks, but obviously his mind wasn't on it. Crying was a big thing to him right then: did you cry, would I cry, would you cry if your best friend died?
Ann opened her eyes and looked at him. "Of course I did."
JULY 14, 1999
It took a while for someone to come to the door, long enough that Daina Kathryn got bored, though she didn't say anything about it. This was work, it was what Fox did, and he probably needed to concentrate.
She wondered exactly WHY they were here. She'd read the case details Fox had written, and it said nobody had seen anything. At least, not anybody in the family.
A woman who looked as if she had been through a war finally opened the door. She would have been pretty, Daina Kathryn decided, if she hadn't looked so exhausted.
"Can I help you?" she asked. Even her voice sounded tired. This woman had obviously been through almost more than she could handle.
"I'm Special Agent Mulder, with the FBI," Fox said. Daina Kathryn could see her was about to launch into his we-just-need-to-ask-you-a-few-questions speech when the woman spoke again.
"This is about Donald, isn't it?"
"Um, yes. I'd just like-"
She sighed. "I'm his mother." She stepped back to let them inside.
"Is your husband home? Or your daughter?" Fox asked as she led them into the living room.
"My husband's still at work, but my daughter- Carry- is up in her room."
"Could you call her, please?"
"What could you possibly talk to a 6-year-old girl who was so severely traumatized we had to get her therapy after her brother's death about?"
"We just need to ask her a few simple questions."
She didn't look very happy, but Mrs. Barker got up form the seat she'd taken and went to the staircase. "Carry! Some people here that want to talk to you!" She rejoined Fox, Lucas, Samantha, and Daina Kathryn. "Now, I want you to be real careful what you ask about. Like I said, she was traumatized-"
She was cut off by the appearance of Donald's sister Carry in the doorway. She was grinning at the sight of someone to talk to. Daina Kathryn's first thought was" she doesn't LOOK very traumatized.
"Hi!" Carry said, in a bubbly, cheery voice that obviously belonged to a future cheerleader. "My name's Carry Maria Barker. I'm 6 years old. Who're you guys?"
Samantha caught Daina Kathryn's eye and made a face; Lucas was trying not to laugh. Even Fox looked a little startled at this kid's directness.
"Uh..." Fox cleared his throat. 'Uh, my name is Fox Mulder. I'm an FBI agent. And these are my children..." he paused and Daina Kathryn knew he'd seen her happy smile at that last statement. "Lucas, Samantha, and Daina Kathryn."
Carry came into the room and stuck her face in Daina Kathryn's. Daina Kathryn, the expression on her face a prefect copy of Dana's when she was beginning to get annoying, managed to stare her down.
"You're little," Carry said as she blinked and pulled away. Daina Kathryn raised her Scully-eyebrow, but didn't say anything.
"Sit down, please, Carry," Mrs. Barker said, reaching out for her daughter. She didn't seem to care how rude Carry was being. "You know how weak you get."
Carry rolled her eyes and for a moment Daina Kathryn could almost feel sorry for her. The death of Donald had obviously affected the Barkers more than Kimberly Harbings' death had affected her family.
When Carry did as asked, Fox started his questions, asking Mrs. Barker first. Daina Kathryn concentrated on every word.