Scully entered the alley at a sprint and abruptly came to a dead halt. The fact that the van was still there was damning enough evidence that she was too late.
She had to fight an overwhelming urge to turn and run, without further confirmation of what had happened. She resisted and slowly started towards the van and its three owners who she’d hoped would be able to protect her son.
They hadn’t seen her yet and she watched them as she approached.
Byers was pacing back and forth across the width of the alley, clearly distraught, glaring at a cell phone in his hand. Langly sat on the ground by the van, his elbows resting on his knees and his head in his hands. Frohike stood beside him. He had one hand resting loosely on Langly’s shoulder but was watching Byers.
Byers was the first to notice her, turning as he reached the edge of the alley. He froze for a moment then started towards her, his face stricken.
“What happened?” She cut him off before he could start into the flood of apologies she could tell were coming.
Frohike had turned to face her as Langly clambered to his feet. The pair of them moved to stand beside Byers in silent support.
“They came out of nowhere.” Byers voice was quiet and it shook as he explained precisely what had happened.
Scully listened silently, throughout.
Byers finished and stood silently, looking at the ground. “There was nothing we could do.”
Scully forced a small smile and reached forward to squeeze his arm. “I know. It wasn’t your fault.”
Inside she felt like screaming. It would have been much easier to have someone to blame, to scream and rail at, to take out all the frustration and anger and fear on, but it couldn’t be these three. They had, after all, risked their own lives for her son’s and it was clear from looking at them that there was no blame she could lay on them that would make them feel any worse than they already did.
She released Byers’ arm and glanced at Frohike and Langly standing staunchly beside him. Both looked shaken and downcast, reluctant to meet her eyes. Frohike was bleeding from a cut on his forehead he didn’t seem to have noticed and Langly was swaying slightly where he stood. Scully frowned.
“Langly, look at me.”
He blinked at her, an odd, glazed look in his eyes.
“Did you hit your head?”
“On the dash, when the van stopped,” Frohike confirmed for him.
“I don’t remember.”
“Well you look like you have a concussion.” She glanced back at Byers who was shivering. “And you’ve all had a bad shock. I want the three of you to get checked out at the hospital.”
“Fine,” Frohike grabbed Byers and Langly by the elbows and shoved them gently towards Scully’s car. “I’ll just see to the van.”
“All of you, Frohike. That means you too.” Scully said firmly. She reached out to touch his forehead and show him the blood on her fingertips. “I’ll get someone to pick up the van.”
Byers caught her arm.
“No. Scully. There’s something else…”
“Tell me on the way,” she replied firmly. She suspected that further protests were only stifled by the reluctance to upset her, but they did capitulate and allowed her to drive them to the ER.
Scully watched as a young doctor flashed a small light into Langly’s eyes, testing pupil reaction. Nearby, Frohike and Byers sat sipping coffee, having been patched up and declared shaken but unharmed.
“A mild concussion, but you’ll be fine,” the doctor pronounced. “You can take some painkillers for the headache but nothing that’ll make you sleepy, okay?”
Langly nodded then winced and rubbed the heel of his hand against his forehead.
“I’ve got some aspirin in my purse,” Scully offered. “Come on, I’ll give you guys a lift to the office. The agency is going to want to ask you a few questions.”
Scully was silent during the drive.
There was still another favour she needed to ask of them and she was
reluctant to presume further on their willingness to help.
She stopped the car in the agency parking lot and watched them get out. After a moment she steeled herself and joined them outside the car.
“Guys,” she started awkwardly, “I need to ask
Her discomfort was only made more acute by the eager, almost hopeful expressions the three of them turned on her.
“Anything we can do…” Byers was the first to speak. Behind him, Frohike and Langly nodded.
Scully sighed heavily before explaining.
“As I said, the agency are going to want to talk to you about what
happened. They may have some photos
for you to ID.”
“I’d definitely recognise them again,” Byers confirmed, with Frohike and Langly again nodding agreement.
“I don’t want you to tell them,” Scully jumped straight to the point.
The three of them stared at her.
“Scully…?” Frohike trailed her name into a question.
“I want to find them myself.”
“Scully,” Byers tone was filled with concern. “These people are clearly dangerous. I don’t think—”
“I know they’re dangerous! They tried to kill my son. That’s why I have to find them.” Scully’s emotions finally escaped the tight grip she’d kept on them since finding them in the alley.
“Hey, easy, Scully.”
Frohike raised his hands placatingly.
“If that’s what you want we’ll help.”
“’Course we will,” Langly added.
“Anything we can do,” Byers assured her again.
Scully felt instantly mortified by her outburst.
“I know you will. I’m sorry. It’s just…” She trailed off, trying to fight back the tears that threatened.
“Hey, it’s okay.” Frohike drew her into a hug.
“Just tell us what you need, G-lady.”
Scully smiled despite herself at Langly’s use of the nickname.
Scully gave the gunmen a questioning look as they left the office. Byers gave her a small nod. They’d recognised the woman.
“Can we get out of here now?” Langly asked. “The sooner we try this trace the better chance we’ve got.”
Scully nodded. Byers had told her about the phone he’d stashed in William’s car seat back in the hospital but she had been adamant that they went through the FBI procedure first. She didn’t want them being interrupted by an irate Skinner demanding to know why they hadn’t turned up to ID the woman. Besides, in spite of her fear for William she knew he’d been taken for a reason. They could have just killed in him the van, they clearly had a reason for not doing so.
“I’ll meet you out by the car. I need to call Agent Reyes.”
“They failed you once with your child. They're going to fail you again.”
Oh and what were they supposed to do?
Get themselves killed too?
Scully bit back the retort that rose to her lips.
Even so the jab hurt. It hit
too close to her own doubts and the nagging guilt she still felt for getting
them involved in the first place. She
glanced back over her shoulder at them, hoping they hadn’t heard the comment.
If they had, they gave no sign of it, all three of them giving their undivided attention to the computer on the table. Langly was leaning intently over the keyboard, staring at the screen in spite of what Scully guessed was still a thumping headache. Frohike again stood at his shoulder and Byers had finally ceased his restless pacing and pulled up a chair to sit beside him.
Their usual banter was almost entirely absent Scully noticed. They had to be exhausted as well as still suffering from the crash. They could have been killed tonight. They’d known when she entrusted William to them that there were people trying to kill him, people who probably wouldn’t baulk at taking out recalcitrant babysitters too. The risk hadn’t deterred them for a second.
She didn’t really expect Reyes to understand the trust she placed in the unlikely trio, but she was certain they’d do everything they could to find William.
There had been moments during the long drive following the signal when her own doubts had been close to overwhelming but now as she cradled William in her arms and made her way back to the road, her mind was fuzzy with relief and gratitude and the sudden absence of the adrenalin she’d been running on for the past few hours.
As she approached the van she could see the three Gunmen standing outside it, and heard raised voices. Langly’s plaintive, frustrated wail was clearly audible as was Frohike’s irate tone and Byers’ voice clearly striving for calm. She realised that caught up by the destruction, then the discovery of William neither her nor Reyes had bothered to inform the guys what was happening. They had clearly assumed the worst.
“Guys!” Scully let out a yell, which roused William who let out a bawl.
They spun round to look at her. Then as one their eyes lit on the wailing bundle in her arms. They broke into a run towards her and she found herself and William enveloped in three pairs of arms. They broke the embrace awkwardly after a moment.
“Thank God.” Byers
was the first one capable of coherent speech.
Frohike was pounding Langly on the back but the younger man didn’t look too happy, shuffling his feet and looking uncomfortably at her.
“Err, Scully, we were lucky. I lost the signal…”
He flinched as he made the admission and kept his eyes on the ground, not meeting her gaze.
“It was a guess we had to turn,” Frohike confessed as well after a quick glance at Langly.
She shook her head and drew them both back into a hug.
“You got us close enough. Thank you.” She looked up to include Byers. “All of you. What you did for me tonight…”
By now they just looked embarrassed so Scully cut short the thanks and just smiled at them instead.
“I knew I could trust you.”
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