[fic] Case X-1843: Unresolved (1b/2) X-Men/X-Files; Mulder, Scully, Scott
- CASE X-1843: Unresolved
Continuing direction from part 1a/2
Climbing the stairs two at a time, he peered into the
three bedrooms, found the boy sitting on his bed in
one of them. "Hi."
The kid looked up.
"What's your name?" Mulder asked, though he aready
"My name's Fox. Can I come in?"
"Sure, I guess. And what kind of a name is Fox?"
Entering, Mulder ignored that as the obligatory
schoolboy attempt at bravado, took a seat on the other
bed in the room �- by all appearances, that of the
missing foster brother. It was not a very big room
for two boys; the Franklins had larger hearts than
bank accounts. Scott's tastes had been simple,
judging from his decor. He liked the color green, and
he had elaborate models of planes on his dresser, and
airplane posters over his bed. On the headboard
bookshelf sat Frank Herbert's DUNE series, Isaac
Asimov's FOUNDATION trilogy, and Greg Bear's EON.
Also a picture of Selena Ki. The other books were
science-related or about planes. Scott Summers
clearly had a thing for objects that went zoom through
the air. "Your brother is into jets, isn't he?"
"He's not my brother."
Mulder glanced around at him. "You two don't get
"We get along fine." Stubborn jut of chin on the other
boy. "He still wasn't my brother."
"Do you know why he ran away, Jeff?"
"No." Very sullen.
"Do you think he did run away?"
The kid just glared, then abruptly he exploded to his
feet. "Why can't you just leave Scott alone? He
didn't do anything, okay? I don't care what they say,
he didn't do anything wrong!"
Mulder kept deliberately calm. "And I'm not accusing
him of anything. I just want to know what happened
and where he went, so maybe we can find him before he
"Yeah, right. You're going to take him away and lock
him up again. And you'll never find him if he doesn't
want to get found." It was said with a mixture of
resentment and pride. "He won't get hurt. Scott's
"I wouldn't be too sure of that, Jeff. He may be
tough, but there are a lot of mean people on the
street �- meaner and older than he is. He's not in
trouble right now, but he could be if he stays out
there for long. He could get killed. We've been told
that he ran away blind; it's hard to defend yourself
if you can't see. Are you sure you don't have any
idea where he might have gone?"
The kid chewed that over, then shook his head, sadly.
"No." This time, Mulder was fairly sure the answer
was honest, not merely rebellious. "If it were Omaha,
I might know. But not here."
"Where might he have gone, in Omaha?"
"Downtown. There's some pool halls there and all.
Down in the Hispanic area. He knows some Spanish."
Mulder doubted Scott could play pool with his eyes
shut �- assuming whatever was wrong with his eyes had
lasted -� but even if the boy couldn't hustle pool, he
still might return to Omaha if he knew the town
better, or at least knew how to disappear there better
than in San Diego.
Whatever the case, the boy Jeff was acting entirely
too skittish. He sat with his head lowered, his hands
working nervously against each other and one leg
jiggling up and down. Just waiting for Mulder to
leave. He knew something he wasn't telling and Mulder
had a suspicion of what it might be. "Did Scott
return home last night, Jeff?"
The boy must have jumped six inches off the bed.
"Jeff, you need to tell me the truth. I'm not here to
arrest Scott. Like I said, I'm trying to find him
before he gets hurt. But you have to help me. If you
know where he went, or saw him after the prom . . . .
" He trailed off and waited. The atmosphere in the
room grew heavier and heavier. Finally the kid caved.
He was just a kid, after all.
"Okay, yeah, he came back last night. There's a tree
outside our window. Last night, he climbed up it to
knock on the glass. I let him in and helped him pack
his things 'cause he couldn't see. He had his eyes
all squeezed shut and said he couldn't open them or
he'd hurt me. I didn't understand what he was talking
about but he was scared and really nervous. He said
he had to get out of here and asked me to put some of
his clothes in his backpack, and get his money. He
had some saved. He made me order the bills, too, so
he knew how much he had -� fold the corners and stuff,
in different ways for ones and fives and tens and
twenties. Then he had me get him some scissors, duct
tape and his sunglasses. But honest to God, he didn't
tell me where he was going. I asked, but he wouldn't
"What time was this?"
"I don't know. Not long after the accident, I think.
We hadn't heard it on the news yet, and the police
hadn't come. Nine o'clock? Ten o'clock, maybe?"
Mulder nodded. The high school wasn't that far from
the Franklins' house. If the Summers kid had come
home as fast as he could get here, he might have
managed to make it before anyone had figured out what
was up and come after him. "And he didn't open his
eyes while he was here? Not once? Even by accident?"
"No, sir. He said he'd hurt me bad if he did. He was
all white, like a sheet. I've never seen him that
"What else did he say?"
"Nothing, really. He said something awful had
happened at school, and he was in trouble again so he
was leaving before he hurt me or Gene or Beth -� um,
Mr. and Mrs. Franklin. We call them �- "
"That's fine, Jeff. Please go on."
"That's about it. Most of the rest of what he said
was 'get this' or 'get that.' He was in a big hurry.
The scissors and duct tape was the weirdest, until I
heard what happened at the school. I guess he put it
over his eyes, didn't he?"
And at that moment, Fox Mulder decided that he liked
Scott Summers. Panicked as the boy had been, he'd
been thinking of how to keep himself from hurting
anyone else by accident.
"What kind of clothing did he take?"
"What kind of clothing? Did he take warm clothes, or
summer clothes? Did he take a jacket?"
"Just t-shirts and jeans and stuff. But yeah, he took
a jacket. And his red hooded sweatshirt. He likes
that stupid thing even though it has holes under the
arms, calls it his lucky shirt."
Mulder stood up, fished a business card out of his
wallet, wrote his cell number on the back and gave it
to the boy. "If Scott comes back home, even briefly,
I want you to call me. See if he'll talk to me, but
if he won't, you call me just the same. I think you
realize that I don't want to hurt him." Mulder caught
the boy's eyes and tried to put all his conviction in
that look. "Tell Scott that I know he *didn't*
destroy that wall on purpose. I want to help him.
Will you tell him that for me?"
The kid accepted Mulder's card and studied the front.
"Yes, sir. And I know he didn't, either."
Mulder left the room, gathered Scully with a glance
and they made their farewells to the Franklins. "So?"
he asked her as soon as they were in the car. "What
did you find out?"
"Lots of stories about what a good boy he was. Not
much else of use, but I took copious notes. You can
review them later. I'd still like to know why he ran
away from the orphanage the first time. And you?"
"I found out that he went home right after the dance,
had the younger kid pack him clothing, his money, some
duct tape, scissors, sunglasses, and then took off for
Scully smiled. "And you're always telling me that you
don't have a way with kids, Mulder. But �- duct tape
"For his eyes, Scully. To tape his eyes shut. You
still think this is a hoax?"
She didn't reply. After a moment, Mulder added, "I
think he's protecting them. That's why he ran. Did
you get a picture of young Mr. Summers?"
"About twenty of them."
Mulder smiled. "Any of him in sunglasses?"
Scully didn't reply, just studied Mulder's profile.
"So if he's not going home again, where is he going?"
"Back to Omaha. It's the one place where he knows how
to live by his wits."
Scully didn't question that. Before taking over the
X-Files, Mulder had worked as a profiler in the
Bureau, had built a reputation on his instinct for
second-guessing the criminal mind. Trouble was,
Mulder didn't believe this boy's mind was criminal,
just confused and frightened, and he hoped that his
instinct was still leading him in the right direction.
He wanted to find Scott Summers before anyone else
did, anyone inclined to see him as a potential weapon.
Still, the kid was not going to be easy to find.
Mulder would bet his next paycheck that however
Summers might have spent the last four years with the
Franklins, he was inherently distrustful of authority,
and now was desperately frightened, too. If he
contacted anyone, he'd contact the boy Jeff. Mulder
didn't think he'd take Jeff's word and call Mulder
directly, but Mulder had covered that contingency
anyway. What Mulder did hope was that Scott would
listen to Jeff long enough so that when Mulder did
finally catch up with him, he wouldn't bolt before
Mulder could get past introductions.
That Mulder would catch up with him, Mulder never
Omaha, Nebraska, June 1, 1996
"Any luck, Mulder?" Scully asked, as he slid back into
the passenger side.
"And how many places does this make?"
"Eleven. But we've still got a few to go, plus the
downtown." Mulder checked the map. "Head to Farnam
Street and then east to 13th . We'll ask around the
Old Market. Probably too high class a neighborhood,
but you never know."
Te Old Market was a revitalized area of downtown
Omaha, off the Leahy Mall Park, not far from the old
railroad yards by the Missouri River. Interesting
area. High class, despite the age of the brick
buildings, some of which dated almost back to the
city's founding. Omaha, dead in the middle of the
Heartland, had been the new gateway to the West after
St. Louis had become too settled. Corn and cattle
country, and surprisingly hilly here on the very edge
of the Great Plains. For several days now, Mulder and
Scully had canvassed the bus and train stations and
the low-rent districts, with no luck. Now, they
walked around the Old Market with a picture of Scott
Summers, asking a lot of questions. Some, they asked
"Are you sure he came here, Mulder?"
"I'm sure of nothing but death and taxes, Scully."
"And little grey men." She grinned, almost against
her will -� one of her trademark Scully-smiles that so
He went on, "I'd say the probability's high that this
is where he'll turn up. Nonetheless, we may have
beaten him here. We had the advantage of plane
tickets, and he's traveling blind."
"You seem awfully convinced of that."
"Why else take duct tape?"
"What if this is just an elaborate ploy to get away
from his foster family?"
"Like the girl Carley said, Scully �- why? It doesn't
add up. He was about to graduate from high school
with honors. He had a college scholarship waiting for
him. If someone can give me a good reason why he'd
pull a prank like they're crediting him with and then
run, I'll entertain the idea. Until that time, I'm
going to assume he ran because he's scared and doesn't
think anyone's on his side, even his foster parents.
They're foster parents, after all. No matter how
sincerely they care, he'll doubt them. He spent a
long time on his own; he's going to revert to that.
We need to find him before someone else does. I doubt
we're the only ones looking for him. Can you imagine
what Cancer Man could do with a kid able to pulverize
a wall just by looking at it?"
He caught her shudder out of the corner of his eyes.
It was later that same afternoon when they finally ran
across someone who'd seen Scott Summers.
"Yeah, I remember the kid. Blind kid, right?" The
speaker was a caricature artist who'd been working the
Market sidewalk for several years. "He showed up two
nights ago -� first time, sat around playing guitar
for spare change. We get us a lot of musicians here;
they all kinda blur after a while. But I remember
this one. People stopped to listen to him. He in
some kind of trouble?"
"No. We just want to talk to him," Scully assured the
man. "Do you know if he'll show up again tonight?"
"No idea, ma'am. You sure he's not in some kind of
"No, why do you ask?"
"Well, there was another guy here earlier, asking if
anyone had seen a blind kid. He didn't have a
Mulder and Scully traded a glance. "This man asking
about him," Mulder said, "did he smoke? Was he thin,
with graying hair and a long, kind of craggy face?"
"What? No, not at all. Guy was in a wheelchair.
Bald as home plate, too. Real well-dressed sort,
y'know? Old money."
Mulder blinked. He'd never met, seen, nor heard of
anyone in the Consortium who matched that description,
but he was under no illusions that he knew everyone.
"Thank you for your time." And he and Scully walked
"So, we wait for tonight."
"Who do you think the guy in the wheelchair is,
"Your guess is as good as mine. As long as Krychek
doesn't show up with him, I'll be happy."
They went back to their hotel, and Mulder left Scully
at the door to her room. "Dress casual. If we're not
the only ones seeking Summers, I don't want to draw
attention to ourselves. But let's get there early.
I'll pick you up at five."
She nodded and they parted. At five, they met again
in the hotel lobby, in jeans and khakis and
long-sleeved shirts. Their guns were holstered out of
sight. Mulder prayed they wouldn't need them. "Ready
to find our mystery kid?" She made a wordless gesture
towards the door and they went out together.
Even so early, the Market was crawling with people by
the time they arrived. It was a lovely June evening,
the Midwestern sky a clear blue quartz overhead,
though a few clouds shaded the western horizon, and
the wind had picked up. "Might rain," Mulder said.
Scully just looked at the sky, and raised an eyebrow.
"This is Nebraska, Scully. Want different weather?
Wait fifteen minutes."
"And what would you know about the Midwest, Mulder?
You grew up on Martha's Vineyard." She paused and
looked around. They stood outside a restaurant with
an old train trolley parked beside it. �The Spaghetti
Works,' announced the sign. The man at the hotel desk
had said it was a fixture, then confided privately
that the food wasn't all that good. "Go to the
Upstream," he'd said. "They brew their own beer."
Across the street, three horse-drawn carriages had
parked, ready to take young lovers, or families with
kids, on a nostalgic road trip through the brick-laid
streets. "Do you want to split up?" she asked.
"We'd probably cover more ground that way. You go
north and west; I'll go south and east. Keep an eye
out for that guy in the wheelchair. Or Krychek, for
that matter. If you find Summers, call me before you
"Just trust me on this one."
They parted and went their separate ways. Mulder had
been moseying around the sidewalks for about half an
hour while the sky overhead had gotten dark, when he
thought he caught sight of a wheelchair half-in the
doorway of a wine shop. But by the time he got
through the crowd and over to the shop to see, he
found no one. He was about to phone Scully, to let
her know, when the cell rang in his hand. He flipped
it open, "Mulder."
"It's me. I've found him. He's got his guitar and is
wearing a red sweatshirt. I'm at the corner of . . ."
-� she paused to look -� "Howard and 12th Streets."
"I'm on my way."
"He really can sing."
"Be on the look-out, Scully. I think I saw a guy in a
Mulder had already been moving in the direction of
Scully; now he closed the phone and slipped it back
into his belt holster, picked up the pace, jogging a
little. It had begun to sprinkle and overhead,
lightning split the dark sky. A deep excitement
thrummed in him. He felt on the edge of learning
something remarkable. It was the same sort of feeling
that often gripped him near the end of a chase, but on
the X-Files, there was the added element of wondering
just what they'd find. This was what he lived for.
Mulder arrived at the corner of Howard and 12th just
as the skies opened up with a heavy rain.
But there was no blind boy in red with a guitar.
And there was no Scully.
There was not even a man in a wheelchair.
"What the hell?" He turned round and round in his
tracks. "Scully!" he called out. "Scott Summers!"
It probably wasn't smart to alert the kid that there
was someone here who knew him by name, but maybe it
would scare him into bolting.
Unfortunately, nothing moved beyond the slow rolling
pace of the crowds. People eyed him sideways, opened
their umbrellas, and continued their peripatetic
evening despite the weather. Mulder stood in the
street while rain filled his leather loafers, and
He finally found Scully a block south, wandering
aimlessly. Grabbing her arm, he hauled her to a stop.
She looked . . . drunk. "Scully?"
"Mulder?" Abruptly, she came back to herself, shook
her head. "Where are we? What's going on?" She
shook her head again.
Mulder was frankly alarmed; what had happened to
Scully? "Scott Summers, remember? We're in Omaha,
looking for Scott Summers. Mr. Laser-Eyes from San
She shook her head again and rubbed at the bridge of
her small Roman nose. "I . . . feel like I've had two
pitchers of beer on St. Patrick's Day, Mulder. Scott
Summers -� I don't -� Oh yes, I remember now. We
were . . . . My god, where is he?" She started
swinging her head around. "He was right *there*,
dammit! But this isn't even the same street!"
"No. We're about a block away. What happened?"
"I don't remember."
"Did you see a man in a wheelchair?"
"What? No. Nobody in a wheelchair. Scott was
sitting on a little folding chair against a wall,
playing, the case open in front of him. It was easy
to get near him under pretense of listening. He
appeared to be okay, but you're right -� he had on
dark glasses and acted as if he were blind. I called
you immediately, and the next thing I knew, here I am.
*What* is going on?" she asked, peeved. Scully hated
to be played for a fool.
Now, Mulder looked up and down the street, though he
didn't really expect to see anything. "I don't know.
But I'm sure as hell going to find out."
Famous last words. For two more days, they searched
Omaha with no luck, and Mulder became increasingly
convinced that Scott Summers had been abducted �- but
not by aliens. The man in the wheelchair had managed,
somehow, to drug or mentally confuse Scully, and then
get to Summers before Mulder could show up. A mere
matter of minutes. The more Mulder thought about
that, the more anxious he became. Who was this guy?
And more importantly, for whom was he working?
Exactly two days after they lost Summers in Omaha,
Assistant Director Skinner phoned, recalling them to
Washington. "The case is closed, Mulder."
"What! On whose authority?"
"Mr. Skinner �- "
"No arguments, Mulder. I want you and Scully back in
Washington by tomorrow, and your reports on my desk
the day after that. This case is closed."
"And *unresolved*. Sir."
"And unresolved. But I see no further use in having
two of my agents chasing shadows in Omaha."
"We saw him, sir; that's not a shadow. *Why is this
case being closed?*"
"I said no arguments. Get back to Washington,
Mulder," and Skinner hung up.
"Damn," Mulder said, snapping his phone closed.
"What'd Skinner have say?" Scully asked from where
she'd been working at the table in his hotel room,
typing notes into her computer. She often worked in
his room, so they could share the file.
"He's closed the case and wants us back in Washington
Startled, Scully glanced up. "But we haven't found
"And we're clearly not supposed to, Scully." Mulder
collapsed on the side of his bed and bitterly related
his full conversation with Skinner.
"What do you think he's covering up?" Scully asked,
when Mulder was done.
"I've no idea. And I doubt he's going to tell us,
either." He got up and paced around, his way of
releasing his frustration.
"Do you think they have Scott �- ?"
'They' didn't need to be defined. 'They' were the
faceless men in the shadow conspiracy that Mulder and
Scully had been fighting since the beginning of their
time together on the X-Files.
"I don't know," Mulder said now. "Maybe." But in
truth, he doubted it. Even the Consortium couldn't
muddle Scully's memory in a matter of moments and
whisk away a street musician without causing a public
scene. Whoever the man in the wheelchair had been, he
had resources and abilities even more alarming than
those of Cancer Man. Mulder could only hope that the
boy, Summers, didn't wind up his pawn in some
elaborate, concealed power game.
It was a few days later, once back in his office in
Washington, that Fox Mulder called the Franklin
residence to inform Scott's foster parents that he
hadn't been located, and that the Bureau had closed
the file. "But why?" Elizabeth Franklin asked,
"I'm not sure, Mrs. Franklin. Those orders came from
over my head. But if you should hear from Scott
again, please call me immediately." It might be the
leverage he needed to get past Skinner's block on the
"I will," she said. "And Mr. Mulder?"
"If I sent you a letter, for Scott, would you keep it?
Just in case you find him? We want him to know that
we're not angry at him, that he can come home. We'd
like to know if he's okay."
"Sure, Mrs. Franklin. Send me the letter and, if I
find him, I'll be sure that he gets it."
"Thank you, Agent Mulder."
END, Part I
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