Anson was never rescued.
The little boy hides when the loud noises start. He curls up tight and puts his hands over his ears but he can still hear them. There is banging and a sound like glass breaking and Mama and Jack are shouting. The boy begins to cry. He must have been bad. He must have done something to make Jack mad and when Jack is mad, Mama gets mad too. The boy whimpers. He's afraid of Jack's belt, of the big hands that slap and grab and pinch. He's afraid of the closet. He has to stay in there when he's bad. He cries in the dark, alone and scared, but they don't come to get him for a long time. Sometimes he is afraid they will never come.
The man stops in the doorway, his expression somber as he looks around the little room. There are no pictures on the walls, no shelves full of toys and books. There is only a little bed in the corner, a scarred bureau against one wall, a single window looking out at bare trees and a muddy yard. The man steps into the room, the old floor creaking under his feet. He has seen many rooms like this one.
The man kneels beside the bed, leans down so he can see under it. The little boy is wedged into the corner, his knees drawn up tight against his chest. The man can hear the boy's terrified breathing, the soft gulping cries muffled behind tiny hands. For a long moment, the man just looks. Then he speaks, softly, so as not to frighten the boy further.
The boy freezes. He lies there, his heart pounding, his eyes wide behind his fingers. He doesn't know that voice. Why is there a stranger in his room? Has he been so bad that Mama and Jack are sending him away? He whimpers and presses himself further back into the corner. The man watches. Slowly, carefully, he lowers himself down so that he is lying on his stomach. He keeps his hands in sight, folded flat in front of him. He tilts his head and speaks again, keeping his tone low and gentle.
"Look at me. Can you do that, Anson? It's all right. I'm not going to hurt you."
The boy doesn't move at first. Then, slowly, he lifts his head. He doesn't take his hands away from his face, not yet, but he moves his fingers just enough to see. The boy's eyes are wet and afraid. There's fear in them but there's something else, a weariness, a sad acceptance of the suffering that is his due.
Anson watches the man warily. The man looks back but does not move. He simply smiles, his eyes crinkling behind his glasses.
"Good boy," the man says. He opens his mouth to speak again but stops as the boy flinches violently at the words. The man narrows his eyes for a moment, confused at the boy's reaction, then his jaw tenses and his hands curl into fists. Bastards. He takes a deep breath, slowly and deliberately pushes the anger away. There will be time for that later. Right now all that matters is the boy. "I scared you just now, didn't I, Anson? I didn't mean to do that. I'm sorry." The boy doesn't answer but he doesn't hide his face again. That's good. The man smiles again. "My name is Mike. I'm a policeman." He holds his breath, watching to see how the boy reacts. God knows he's seen enough of these sick bastards who've brainwashed their kids to be scared to death of the cops.
The boy is silent, but Mike sees the boy looking at his clothes, solemn green eyes moving over the tan coat and the trouser legs of his suit.
"You're wondering why I'm not wearing a uniform," Mike says. "Smart b…ah, very smart." He smiles encouragingly. "I'm a detective, like on TV. You like TV, Anson?"
The boy nods. He likes to watch TV. Mama and Jack don't like him around when they're watching, but he is good at being quiet. Sometimes he watches from the doorway, darting back inside his room when one of them gets up.
Mike grins, relieved that he finally got a real response from the boy. All right, McGarrity. Don't get cocky and blow this. You can celebrate later. Get the kid out from under the bed first.
"What's your favorite TV show, Anson? You like Dragnet? That's my favorite." Mike chuckles. After a moment, Anson nods again. Detectives on TV are nice. They send the mean people to jail and they never hurt kids. He looks at the man. He never saw a real live detective before. He wonders why the man is here. Maybe Jack told the policemen how bad Anson is. Maybe the man came to take him to jail. Tears spill and Anson pulls in tight again.
Mike watches, worried. Damn. What set the kid off now?
"What's wrong, Anson? Come on, son. Talk to me."
When the boy answers, his voice is so soft Mike can barely hear it.
"Are you going to take me to jail?"
Mike stares at Anson for a moment.
"No, Anson. I promise I won't. I won't let anyone else, either." He pauses. "Why do you think that? Can you tell me?"
The boy rubs his eyes, his chest hitching.
"…'cause I'm bad," he whispers.
"No, Anson. You're not bad. Sometimes grownups do bad things and they have to go to jail, but you're only a little kid. You haven't done anything wrong."
Anson looks at him, uncertain. He wants to believe, wants to trust, but he's afraid.
"Detectives on TV don't take little kids to jail, do they?"
Anson shakes his head. Mike beams.
"I don't either. I like little kids. Got two of my own. Wanna see?"
Anson nods. Moving slowly and deliberately, Mike reaches into his back pocket. He pulls out his wallet and opens it, plucking two photographs from their plastic sleeves. He holds the first one out, close enough for Anson to see.
"This is Mike Junior. We call him Mikey. He's six, just like you. He's in first grade at St. Andrew's."
Anson looks at the picture. The little boy grins confidently back at him in his blue baseball cap, a bat perched jauntily on his shoulder. Mike smiles and shows Anson the second photo.
"And this is Nicky. He's three. Wants to be a zookeeper when he grows up." Mike laughs. "I keep telling him there's no dinosaurs in the zoo but he says when he's in charge he's going to get some."
Anson looks at the little boy in the picture. He thinks about what Mike said about dinosaurs in the zoo and smiles shyly. Mike sees the smile and answers with one of his own.
"Hey, Anson? I've got something else you might like to see." He puts the photos down, then leans up on his elbows and slowly reaches into his coat pocket. He pulls out a small teddy bear and shows it to Anson. "Got a little guy here who sure could use a friend." He puts the teddy bear down on the floor and carefully pushes it under the bed, just close enough for Anson to reach. "What do you say? Would you like to be his friend?"
Anson hesitates, then quickly grabs the bear. He hugs it to him tightly, staring at Mike over the bear's head. Mike grins.
"Good." He waits a few minutes, then decides it's time. It might not work, but he has to try. "You know what, buddy? I like talking with you. But I'm an old guy, a lot older than you, and it's hard for me to lie on the floor like this. It sure would be a lot easier for us to talk if you came out from under the bed." He pauses and smiles. "What do you say, Anson? You want to come out?"
The little boy hesitates, his eyes flickering uncertainly toward the bedroom door. The rooms beyond have gone oddly quiet, save for the occasional low murmur. He looks at Mike. The detective is smiling at him, holding out his hand.
"Come on, Anson. It's all right. I promise."
Slowly, clutching his bear, Anson wriggles out of the corner and crawls toward Mike. Mike reaches carefully for Anson, taking him by one hand and guiding him out. He gets to his feet and helps Anson up, brushing a cobweb from the boy's dark hair. He doesn't let the boy catch him staring at the bruises on the boy's skinny arms and legs.
"Good. Very good. I'm proud of you, Anson."
Mike strides through the living room, Anson in his arms. Anson clings to Mike, his other arm wrapped around his bear. He looks around, his eyes wide. The living room is full of policemen. He sees one of them standing beside Jack. Jack's head is down and his hands are cuffed behind his back. Anson turns his head and sees another policeman taking his Mama by the arm.
"Mama!" he cries, squirming in Mike's arms.
"Shhh," Mike says, using his hand to shield Anson's face so he can't see. "It's all right, baby. No one's ever going to hurt you again."
For all the children who were never rescued.
Anson was never Alex Krycek's brother.
Mulder awoke, blinking in the afternoon sunlight that poured through the living room window. He sat up, the newspaper falling from his lap onto the floor. He rubbed his eyes and froze.
He was looking down the barrel of a Glock.
"What the fuck are you doing here, Krycek?" Mulder growled. "And get that gun out of my face."
Krycek didn't answer. He just gestured to the chair. Mulder turned to look and his mouth fell open. Sitting there was a second Krycek, in a rumpled T-shirt and jeans. His hands were cuffed behind him.
"What the fuck…?" Mulder said, looking at Krycek in amazement. "Clone?"
"Twin," Krycek snapped. He exhaled sharply at Mulder's look of confusion. "Twins, Mulder. I know it's hard for you to believe but I was not conceived in a Consortium petri dish. Anson and I are twins. You know, one egg, two kids?"
"Anson?" Mulder said. He studied Krycek's doppelganger for a moment. "What's wrong with him?"
Krycek stiffened. He reached into his jacket and pulled out a disc. He threw it at Mulder. It smacked him in the chest and fell to the floor between his bare feet.
"It's all there," Krycek said, his voice shaking. "Everything they did to him."
Mulder stared up at Krycek, fascinated. He'd never seen Krycek like this. He seemed nervous, shaky…almost on the verge of tears.
Krycek looked at Anson and back at Mulder.
"They fucking tortured him!" he spat. "They…they programmed him. Made him think he had a kid, a little girl. They made him believe she was tortured and killed because of him. They showed him pictures, played tapes. He thinks she died because of him but she never even fucking existed!"
"Okay, calm down, Krycek," Mulder said. He started to get up.
Krycek cocked the gun. His hand was shaking badly now.
"Fix him," he said, his eyes locked on Mulder's. "You're a fucking psychologist, Mulder. You fix him."
Mulder looked at Krycek in amazement. "Uh…look, Krycek. I'm not a clinical psychologist, okay? Besides, a person isn't like a broken toy. I can't just fix what they did to him."
Krycek looked at him, unsure. His finger tightened on the trigger.
"Please," he whispered. "Help him."
Anson was never a Winchester.
The motel parking lot is quiet this time of night. Anson sits on the hood of the Impala, smoking and looking up at the stars. He doesn't turn around at the sound of footsteps on the pavement. He knows who it is.
Dean sits down next to him, glances over. He's smiling that quirky smile of his but his eyes are worried.
Anson shrugs. "Nah. Just needed some fresh air."
"Bullshit," Dean says amiably. "You had another nightmare." He sighs and looks up at the stars. "First Sammy and now you. I'm beginning to feel left out here."
Anson looks down, taps the ash from his cigarette.
"Trust me, dude. You're not missing anything."
Dean nods. "Wanna tell me about it?"
Anson takes a drag. "Nope."
Dean looks over at him. "You're gonna have to talk about it eventually."
Anson makes an exasperated sound. "Says who?"
Dean socks him in the arm. "Says me, that's who. Damn, I don't know who's more stubborn, you or Sleeping Beauty in there."
Anson stands up, grinding his cigarette under his boot. He shoves his hands in his pockets and looks down. The tiny bits of quartz embedded in the asphalt twinkle up at him, reflecting the starlight.
"They'll stop. They always do."
"Come on, Anson." Dean gets to his feet. "It's been weeks. Besides," he says, looking Anson in the eye, "I think I know what it is. It's about what happened to you back then, isn't it? Before Dad found you."
Anson's jaw tenses. He shakes his head. "Don't, Dean."
"I knew it," Dean says, taking a step forward. He shakes his head. "You know, Anson, all these years, Sammy and me, we never pressured you. We never asked what your life was like before Dad brought you home. We accepted you as one of us, no questions asked." He holds out his arms, his eyebrows raised. "When are you gonna start trusting us, dude? When are you gonna quit pretending everything's okay?"
Anson's eyes are bright with tears. "I'm not. I just…just don't remember that much. Okay? I was just a little kid."
Dean nods. "I remember when Dad came in that night. The smell of sulphur woke us up. We came out of our room and Dad was there in the doorway, covered in ashes, with you in his arms." He falls silent, remembering how it felt to find out he and Sam had another brother, one they'd never known about. How Dad wrapped Anson in a blanket and then sat Dean and Sam down and told them about the baby that had come before Dean, the one snatched from his crib in the dead of night. The one thought long since dead, the victim of some random intruder, until Dad found out what really happened. Until Dad tracked down the demon that took Anson and killed it and brought his son home.
Dean remembers the shock of finding out he wasn't the firstborn after all. Remembers the guilt he felt over the years when he found himself resenting Anson, sometimes even wishing Dad hadn't found him at all. But that's in the past now. They're Winchesters.
That's all that matters.
Anson was never just another criminal.
The hospital corridor is a hive of activity. Police, security and hospital staff move in and out of the psych ward, dealing with the aftermath of the hostage situation. Lt. Matty Navarro paces back and forth, his head in his hand. After a moment, he stops abruptly and turns to the two men who stand before him, waiting patiently.
"So let me get this straight. I got a guy who murdered a hospital orderly. The same guy assaulted one of my men and held another hostage, not to mention a nurse and a dozen patients. My department's SWAT team risks their lives going in there to get the son of a bitch, and now you Fibbie guys show up and think I'm just gonna hand him over to you?"
"Lt. Navarro, I understand how you feel," one of the men says. He gives Navarro an understanding smile. "But Anson Greene is wanted on federal charges."
"What kind of federal charges?" Navarro says, narrowing his eyes. "I didn't see anything federal on his rap sheet."
"I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to divulge that information." The man reaches into his jacket pocket. "My A.D. isn't either," he continues, handing Navarro a business card. "But he can verify mine and my partner's identity if you want to give him a call."
Navarro glances at the card, then looks up at the man with a weary expression.
"I suppose you're gonna tell me it's a matter of national security."
The man gives him a tight smile.
"Something like that."
Navarro sighs. He turns, hands on his hips, and looks over at the bench where the uniforms are standing guard over the suspect. Greene sits, his head down, his shoulders hunched awkwardly from the handcuffs. Navarro turns back to the agents. He frowns. He knows he's got to hand Greene over. It burns his ass to have to do it but he doesn't have a choice. Still, something just doesn't seem right. Sure, the kid's done at least two murders that Navarro knows of, but before that, it was strictly penny ante stuff; break-ins, stolen credit cards, nothing that would attract the Feds' attention. He shakes his head. Well, whatever it is Greene has been up to, it's not his problem anymore.
"Go on," he grumbles. "Take him. Get him out of here."
The agent smiles, nodding his head in acknowledgement. "Thanks, Lieutenant. You've been very cooperative. I'll be sure and mention that in my report."
The two men walk quickly through the hospital parking garage, their shoes clicking briskly on the pavement. Anson stumbles along between them, cursing under his breath as the cuffs bite into his wrists. The black sedan idles quietly, waiting for them. They reach it and open the door, shoving Anson into the back seat. Anson hisses and curses under his breath as he lands painfully on his cuffed hands.
"Hey, aren't you gonna take these things off me?"
The men ignore him. The taller one slides into the seat beside him, his face impassive. The other gets into the front seat. He glances at the driver and murmurs something. The car begins to move.
Anson looks at the man sitting across from him.
"I…I did what you wanted, right?"
The man studies him for a moment, a smile curling the corners of his mouth.
"Yes, indeed, Anson. You did very well. You provided an excellent distraction." He pats the cooler sitting on the seat beside him. "Because of that, my men were able to infiltrate the hospital laboratory and secure the material."
Anson swallows nervously. "So I can go now?"
The man's smile broadens. He raises his cigarette to his lips, then exhales a plume of smoke.
"No." Watery blue eyes flicker over Anson's face, amused. "You're going to be very useful to me, Anson. Perhaps more than you think."
Anson never ran away with Annabelle.
The phone call is quick and furtive, like all of them are. Anson expects it to end the way they always do, with Roxy screaming at him and slamming the phone down. But not this time. This time, she answers. He hears her voice.
Funny, how she immediately starts chattering away as if they'd never been separated, as if it hasn't been two years since he last saw her. He listens, tears standing in his eyes, his hand wrapped around the receiver, gripping it so tightly his hand shakes. He doesn't know how he managed to get through without Roxy stopping him, he just knows he's grateful for whatever it was that let him hear his little girl's voice again.
He stands there on the street corner, his eyes closed, smiling as he listens to his little girl talk about her teachers and her friends, when suddenly her tone changes.
"Daddy, can I tell you a secret?"
Anson frowns. There's something in her voice, something wrong. "What is it, baby?"
A long pause. He can hear her breathing. Then, she says it. Six soft words that make Anson's blood run cold.
"I don't like my new Daddy."
The house looks older, sadder than he remembers. Roxy has clearly let it go. The porch sags and the paint peels. Anson's heart pounds as he knocks on the door. Two years. Two years since he's stepped foot on the property and Roxy could have called the cops already for all he knows but he doesn't give a damn about that. They can have him, after he makes sure Annabelle is safe.
For a moment he wonders if he's going to have to kick the door in. But then he hears it, the soft snick of the latch and the creak as the door begins to swing open. Annabelle stands looking up at him. Anson stares at her. He opens his mouth to speak but suddenly realizes he doesn't know what to say. He's dreamed of this moment so many times, longed for it, but now that she's standing there in front of him all he can think of is how much she's grown.
And then Annabelle smiles and flings herself at him, wrapping her arms around his waist.
Anson blinks back tears, touching her hair, her face. It's hard to believe she's real.
"Hi, baby," he says, smiling despite his fears. "Are you okay?"
Annabelle bites her lip, looking over her shoulder toward the couch. Anson can see the ragged edge of a blanket hanging over the side.
"Mommy's asleep," Annabelle says, her eyes downcast. "She sleeps a lot."
"And your…" Anson can't say it. The thought of those words makes bile rise in his throat. "Her…boyfriend?"
Annabelle nods, her eyes dark and solemn. "Rick. He's at work."
Anson kneels down in front of Annabelle. "Wait right here for me. Okay, baby?"
Annabelle smiles. "Okay, Daddy."
Anson walks into the living room. Jesus, the place is a mess. The carpet is stained, the furniture shabby. He can see into the kitchen, the sink piled with dirty dishes, the counters lined with empty soup cans and the remains of TV dinners. He looks down at the coffee table, covered with dirty plates and glasses, old newspapers anchored down with overflowing ashtrays. He curls his lip in disgust. What the fuck is going on here? The place never looked like this when they were together. Roxy was never going to win any housekeeping awards but this is beyond belief.
He stands looking down at the couch. There is a mound under the blanket, a wisp of brown hair showing at one end. Slowly, carefully, he lifts the blanket and pulls it back, exposing the sleeping figure. For a moment, he just stares at her, shocked at what he sees. She lies curled on her side, snoring slightly, her mouth hanging open. It's only been a couple of years since he last saw Roxy, but she looks ten years older. She's lost weight and her cheeks are sunken in. There are dark circles under her eyes and her skin looks bad. Leaning closer, Anson sees why. The track marks are clearly visible, marring both arms and the backs of both wrists. He grits his teeth, anger welling up inside him. He wants to shake her, wants to demand to know how she could possibly condemn their daughter to a life like this. He shakes his head. What's the use? It doesn't matter now. What matters now is Annabelle.
He goes to the front door. Annabelle stands there, waiting anxiously.
"Mommy's sick," she whispers. "She's sick all the time now."
Anson nods, gritting his teeth against the pain. "It's all right, baby." He cups her chin, tilts her face up to him. "Now, I want you to do something for me. I want you to go to your room and pack your things. Anything you want to bring with you. Okay?"
She looks up at him, green eyes clear and trusting. "Where are we going, Daddy?"
"I'm not sure yet, baby," Anson says. He's not going to start out lying to her. "Just go fast, okay?"
Half an hour later they are headed north on the interstate. Annabelle sits beside him, looking out of the window. The little black kitten has finally stopped meowing and is curled up asleep on her lap. She turns to Anson and smiles.
"What's Canada like, Daddy?"
"Well," Anson says, trying to remember what he knows about it. "It's big. Really big. And it's beautiful. There's lots of trees and mountains. And big cities, too, like Vancouver, where we're going. When we get there I'll take you to the beach and we can watch the ships come in."
"Really? Cool!" Annabelle says. She looks down at the kitten. "Can Petey come too?"
Anson grins. "Yes. Petey too."
Annabelle goes quiet for a moment. "Daddy?" she says again. "I missed you."
Anson reaches over and gives her knee a squeeze.
"I missed you, too, baby."