Disclaimer: His, mine, theirs, no ones. Take your pick.
Author's Notes: I apologize for being so behind in my writing but I can hardly express the level of disappointment I have been feeling in regards to the X-Files. The lack of productivity from some of the older writers hints at their agreement with me. I'm trying, really. Please let me know if it was worth it. XScout@hotmail.com
The First Truth
Today is the day I am going to find out what my dad does for a living, no matter what the consequences.
Normally such a lack of knowledge would be considered abnormal or out of place in your average family. But I wouldn't exactly call us average. My dad has a government job and is often gone for periods of time, traveling all over the continent to do things that my parents insist are too complicated for me to understand at my age. My age? I'm nearly eight and I have the vocabulary of a college professor. Too complicated? Who do they think they're kidding? I've always been smarter than the other kids, skipping third grade entirely and now I'm in fourth with kids taller and older than me. It really sucks being smart sometimes.
Both my parents are smart, so I guess I inherited my intelligence from them. Yet they don't seem to get the fact that I see right through their efforts to keep me unaware of my dad's job. I'd have to be blind not to come to a basic understanding after all these years of him bringing his work home. When he's not out of town he often comes home late, his arms laden with boxes of paperwork and files that I'm not allowed to see. He takes them to his study and locks the door behind him so that all I can hear is the tap tapping of his fingers on the keyboard. Once I tried to pick the lock with an old lock picking set I found in the closet but Mom caught me and I had to do the dishes for a week as punishment. She usually makes sure that I don't bother my dad when he's working, keeping me entertained with stories about her old job and the adventures she used to have. Eventually I'd get too tired to keep my eyes open and Mom would take me upstairs and put me to bed, making sure I say my prayers. She says them with me, blessing my grandparents, my cousins, aunt, uncles, and several other relatives I've never met, thanking God for all that we have and wish for a happy future. Sometimes Mom would whisper an extra special prayer to have God look after Dad. She'd never explain why but I know that it was usually when his work gets really bad.
How can his work be bad? Well, I'm not quite sure. All I know is that when it gets bad he always seems to be tired, going to bed after midnight and getting up really early in the morning, even before the earliest cartoons come on. Mom has to make him eat and a few times even made him drink something instead because his stomach couldn't handle real food. She tries to make him go to bed early and at times I can hear him having nightmares in the darkest hours of the night. Every now and then they have a fight about whether this is all worth it. My dad always wins. Mom tells me that Dad is helping make the world a better place for everyone and I believe her.
Considering the situation, a social worker might think that I need more fatherly attention or that his odd habits are psychologically damaging. But he or she couldn't be more wrong. When my dad is having a good period at work, things are great. He comes home on time, plays ball with me, watches TV with me and listens to me talk about my day. We work on the treehouse that we have been steadily improving since last summer and on warm nights we go outside and lie on the roof looking at the stars. My mom brings us snacks and sometimes we stay out there all night. Every couple of months, if Dad isn't out of state, we all go camping and have the greatest time; hiking, fishing, swimming, games, barbecue. Occasionally my dad invites his friends over for dinner and they all stay up late talking exuberantly about weird stuff that doesn't interest me in the least. I avoid his friends. Though they've always been polite to me, they're a bit too much on the strange side for me.
When everything is going well at work, Mom and Dad are a whole lot more touchy feely, kissing and hugging and going to bed early. Sometimes I can persuade them to stay up late and watch a movie and we all snuggle up on the couch with a huge bowl of popcorn and watch black-and-white movies until I fall asleep and Dad has to carry me upstairs. I love it when work is good.
But lately it has been bad. Worse than I can ever remember and I have a very good memory. Mom was really worried, I could tell by the way she constantly looked at the closed door to the study and the many phone calls she made while he was in the office. He looked so thin and pale when I saw him, his clothes messy and his eyes darkly blank. Several times he didn't even come home - spent the night at the office. The nights he did come home were anything but restful, his cries at night keeping my mom and I awake, her comforting him with words and me comforting myself with a flashlight and a novel. Last night I heard a commotion outside my door as footsteps ran past my room to the bathroom. Minutes later I heard to toilet flush and water running. This morning when I went in to do my daily duty I noticed the water in the toilet had a pink tinge around the edge and there were a few drops of sticky red liquid on the seat. It didn't take a genius to figure out that it was blood. Right then and there I decided I was going to find out what my dad did that was so bad that he would vomit blood. I have no doubt that my father is a good man and that my mom is telling me the truth when she says his job is important, but what could be so important that he is willing to do this day in and day out? What is so important that his family is forced to live through such extremes? I love my father very much but some days I get so angry with him for placing us second to his job.
So here I am, about to break in to my own house. There is a high window leading into the study and I had to pull out the stepladder from the garage in order to reach it. Dad was gone before I woke up today and Mom is in the kitchen making cupcakes for the party my class is having tomorrow. I have about fifteen or twenty minutes of privacy to accomplish my mission. I take out a glass cutter that I found in the same box as the lock pick and slowly score a small circle in the pane of glass. A few taps and the disc falls inwards, clinking on the hardwood floors. I hold my breath, waiting for my mom to open the door and see what the noise was, but my brain tells me I'm being paranoid, that there's no way she could have heard it. Reaching my small hand into the hole, I flip the latch keeping the window locked and slide it open. It's only a short drop down to the old ratty sofa and in seconds I am tiptoeing across the room towards his desk.
There are folders and papers strewn all over it, a map with little red dots hanging haphazardly over the side and a thick stack of glossy photos almost completely covered by sheets of yellow legal pad papers. These papers draw my attention first, the familiar handwriting on them beckoning me like a siren to a sailor.
The UNSUB is approximately 20 to 25 years old. Comes from background of physical abuse from father. Feels inadequate as a man and was most likely verbally abused by mother. Needs to feel like a man, dominate those who he considers a threat. Strong build from working out every day, drives a large car, most likely SUV or truck. Has a manual labor job like construction or mechanic, something considered a male pursuit. Lives alone and has a girlfriend, perhaps several, who he treats like possessions and often forces them to have sex with him.
I flinch at the words 'forces' and 'sex'. Hey, I may be a kid but I know that those two words do not belong together. My eyes flick to the door and then back to the papers, scanning through them quickly. There's more about this man, detailing everything from his living conditions to his education. I flip to the bottom pages in the stack, noting that the handwriting has become scattered and loose.
Dark. So dark in here. I can hear Mom screaming at my dad and the sharp report of a hand on skin. I tried to protect her from him and when I couldn't he locked me in here. She taunted me, said I wasn't man enough to protect her. Ungrateful bitch. She'll see. One day I'll show her who's the real man. Cut her open and make her watch as I sow my seeds in the torn flesh of her body. Make her kneel before me and take me into her mouth so she can see and feel how much of a man I am. Then I'll crush the life out of her with my own bare hands, prove that I can take life and give it back at a whim.
My gorge rises in my throat and I have to swallow but my mouth has gone dry. I don't understand what I'm reading, pieces of a puzzle that don't seem to fit together. I know there is an explanation just beyond my reach and I grasp at it, shuffling the papers to the side to reveal the photographs beneath.
My eyes go wide and I throw the papers back on top of the pictures, stumbling backwards until I trip over a small table and land with a loud thud. My breaths are coming in huge gasps, my ears ringing in dissonance. Images of bruised and bloodied flesh, human forms twisted into unnatural shapes, blanks eyes and screaming mouths dance across my vision. I am only vaguely aware of my mother materializing before me and putting both hands on the side of my face, ordering me to take slow deep breaths. It takes a great amount of effort but finally I manage to get my lungs under control and my eyes focus on the concerned face of my mom. There is worry in those blue eyes and something else I didn't expect - understanding. She isn't mad at me and she doesn't seem to think there is any cause for alarm in my findings. Both of which are surprising.
She looks behind her at the desk then back to me. Pulling my to my feet, she leads me over to my dad's couch, sitting us both down on its worn cushions. Then she begins to tell me in a slow soft voice about how my father is a criminal profiler, getting into the minds of evil men so that he can track them down and stop them. She doesn't go into great detail but she gives me a basic understanding of what he does to profile them, why it affects him the way it does. Suddenly everything falls into place and I have an epiphany.
My father wasn't placing his job before his family. It was his love for us that kept him going, made him return day after day to face death and insanity. His need to keep us safe and protect us from all the evil that was in this world. He was willing to risk everything to make sure that nothing threatened his family. What I had read and seen showed me just a glimpse of the horrors that he faced every day to keep predators off the street. His love for his family and his respect for humankind drove him to punish himself in his efforts to protect us all from becoming one of those files or one of those pictures.
At that moment I was never more proud of my father - Fox Mulder.