Assignment

Assignment



 

He looked around at the hustle and bustle of a kidnap investigation, and tried not to show his boredom. It was an important case Ė prominent attorney, son of a state senator, grandson of a former mayor. But why him? There were enough agents here to stuff a mattress.

 

He wandered through the house getting the feel of it. Good taste, expensive, old antiques - probably family items. Huge master suite, what looked like three guestrooms, no childrenís rooms. Yeah, the information heíd been given said no children, but he was married. Where was she? He headed back downstairs. There seemed to be a cluster of people in what was probably referred to as 'the library'. This family could make a ransom.

 

There was a woman sitting in the center of the sofa, a redhead. At first his thought was that she was composed, but when she lifted her hand to brush her hair back he saw the hand was trembling.

 

Before he could move forward to join the group around her he felt a hand on his shoulder. "What are you doing here?"

 

Mulder turned toward the voice. "I was assigned."

 

The first agent rolled his eyes and moved away. Mulder made no comment and continued toward the sofa. He rounded the furniture and finally saw the woman. She didnít look up at him but he saw for the first time how lovely she was, even with the red eyes and nose he saw her beauty.

 

"Spooky?" Mulder suppressed a sigh and turned toward the offending agent. "Weíre pretty sure this isnít an abduction."

 

"Ha ha." He responded with no amusement. "Want to bring me up to date, Jerry?"

 

"You taking this one over?" Mulder shrugged and they both stepped away so that the woman on the sofa couldnít hear them. Jerry flipped open his notebook. "Our victim is 48, attorney, married, no kids, great pedigree." His eyebrows rose, "You know who this guy is?"

 

Mulder nodded so he continued, "He was taken in broad daylight outside of his office, headed toward his car. They were pros; no one can give a clear description of the perps or the car. Apparently they were about as nondescript as you can get."

 

"Sheís no where near 48," he commented.

 

"You noticed, huh? Yeah, but sheís not just a trophy wife. This oneís got brains; sheís a doctor, MD, over at Georgetown. Nameís Dana Scully."

 

"She didnít take his name?" He glanced over at the woman again, intrigued now.

 

"Nope, already had a career when they married. Socially sheís Dana Winthrope, but she introduced herself to us as Scully."

 

"How long have they been married?"

 

Jerry glanced at his notes again, "Three years."

 

"Okay, I need to talk to the witnesses and I want to see the scene. Was anything preserved?"


"Not much. Itís a public street and it was over before a lot of people realized anything was happening."

 

"Great." He was more disgusted than ever. Why had Skinner wanted him on this case? This wasnít his thing, yeah, like anyone cared. He ran his hand through his hair and looked over at the wife again. She was watching him now. Whatever she was seeing didnít seem to give her much hope. He squared his shoulders and approached her. "Dr. Scully?" That drew a slight smile from her lips but didnít reach her eyes.

 

"Iím Special Agent Fox Mulder with the FBI. Iíll be handling this case. I want you to try not to worry. Weíll do everything possible to find your husband and bring him home safely."

 

"Thank you," she said faintly. He liked her voice, even under these circumstances she sounded strong if not completely in control.

 

"Iím going to keep a couple of agents here at the house with you. Theyíll be here to answer the phone and record any contact we have with the kidnappers. Youíre going to have to trust us to handle this."

 

She nodded and looked down. He found himself wishing she would look at him again. Dumb Mulder, he glanced around to see if anyone had noticed her effect on him. No, it was okay. He turned and headed for the door, where he gave instructions to the assembled agents and motioned for Jerry to follow him outside.

 

They headed downtown where Mulder looked over the street and then on up to Stan Winthropeís office. Well, nothing was jumping out at him. The guy was in corporate law, not trial, so he shouldnít have released clients after him, but heíd have Jerry make a note to check anyway. After about twenty minutes in the office he closed the desk drawer in disgust. This guy was boring. What had she seen in him? This just didnít feel right. He shook his head.

 

"Brainstorm, Spooky?"

 

"Why this guy, Jerry? Heís got money but heís not fabulously wealthy. I want to check the family connections."

 

"His father?"

 

"Yeah." And his wife Mulder added to himself. That marriage didnít ring true to him. He had nothing but a feeling to go on, but thatís usually where he started. Heíd give the office a little while longer.

 

After an hour he called it quits. "Jerry, I need to head back to the house. Maybe weíll find something there."

 

"Iím surprised the team hasnít called."

 

"Yeah," Mulder agreed as they moved out. That was strange. Back at the house the team had settled in and were playing cards in the kitchen while waiting for a call.

 

Mulder found himself looking for the wife as soon as he entered the house. She was still in the library and he wasnít sure she had moved since he left. She seemed to sense his presence and turned to him.

 

"Iím sorry, Dr. Scully, we havenít learned anything yet."

 

"Dana, please. Why havenít they called?"


"I donít know. Do you have any family, anyone youíd like to be here with you?"

 

"My sister is here. Sheís making me some tea." On cue another redhead entered the room carrying a cup of steaming tea. "This is my sister, Melissa Scully. Missy, this is Agent Mulder."

 

"Just Mulder." He nodded to Melissa. Attractive, but not like her sister. He couldnít put his finger on the difference yet, but he would. He turned back to Dana, "Could we talk a minute?"

 

"Of course. Would you like some tea or coffee?"

 

"Iím fine." He followed her back into the library and she was faintly surprised to feel his fingers on the small of her back. He seated her and joined her on the sofa. "I know youíve talked to the other agents, but youíve had a little while to think now. Do you know if your husband has any enemies, anyone who would want to do something like this?"

 

"I canít think of anything or anyone. Iíve tried, but his clients are all corporate, practically financial rather than law, taxes, that kind of thing. His friends are mostly partners in the firm or other attorneys here in town, government people. Oh, he is in a fraternity, I don't know those men."

 

"What kind of fraternity?"

 

She smiled slightly, "I donít know, I used to tease him about it. Itís a Ďsecret clubí kind of thing, but the few men I have seen are older gentlemen, very genteel and sophisticated. I imagine them getting together to drink brandy, smoke cigars and discuss world events."

 

"How often do they get together?"

 

"Not that often, less than once a month. Though they did meet Monday night. I was a little surprised, it had only been a week or so since the last meeting."

 

"Do you mind your husband going off with the boys like that?"

 

"No. He needs his diversions. We live a fairly quiet life. My work schedule can make planning hard."

 

"No children?" She looked away quickly and he realized his question had caught her off guard and upset her.

 

"No, we have no children." End of conversation from that tone. What was the problem? "Are you sure you donít want anything, Agent Mulder? A sandwich, something?"

 

Change of subject. Why had that topic shaken her? A lot of people didnít have children. "Have you eaten?"

 

She shook her head. He stood then and took her hand, "Why donít we both get a bite." Again she noted his hand on her back, heíd already touched her more than her husband usually did, but it was kind of comforting.

 

Over turkey sandwiches which the stone-faced housekeeper made and he semi-forced her to eat at the dining room table, he continued his questioning. "Does your husband keep an office here at home?"

 

"Yes. The study is his. Stan lived here before we were married, not much has changed."

 

"Iíve not met your husband, but somehow I donít think he decorated the library."

 

She smiled a little at that. "No, I did take over the library. I just added a little color and light. It needed it."

 

"Finish your sandwich, then Iíll go through his office, if you donít mind." After eating he left her with her sister and checked on the team, telling them where heíd be.

 

After about ten minutes he came out looking for Dana. "Do you have the combination to your husbandís safe?"

 

"Safe? I . . . I didnít know he had one."

 

He was watching her now. What kind of marriage was this anyway? "Itís in the floor under his desk. A nice one. I need to get into it, see if thereís anything that could help us."

 

"Of course. What do we do?"

 

"Well, if youíre agreeable, weíll call a locksmith and open it. If we need to get a warrant - "

 

"No. I canít think that he would have anything in there that . . . I donít understand why I didnít know about it." She was staring at her hands now and looked more lost than ever.

 

"Youíre exhausted. Why donít you go on to bed? We can handle everything down here. I promise Iíll let you know if thereís any change." She looked up then and after a moment nodded.

 

"Thank you." It was a whisper.

 

"Is your sister still here?"

 

"Yes, sheís already gone up. If you need anything . . . "

 

"Weíll be fine. Try to rest." Again he touched her back and it took all of her strength not to lean into him. He walked her to the stairs and watched her as she made her way up. She looked tiny against the backdrop of the foyer and staircase. Once she was out of sight he returned to the office. It was beginning to look as though this man had a secret life. Well, that made sense. His public one was boring as hell. Was he cheating on her? Down Mulder, that would be her business, not yours, unless it tied into his disappearance.

 

The locksmith arrived almost immediately; at these rates he was more than happy to take the job. It was taking longer than Mulder wanted it to. This wasnít some simple little safe and he wondered again just what the man was hiding. Rather than hover over the locksmith, Mulder wandered back to the front of the house. Why the hell had no one called with a ransom demand? This was really looking iffy to him.

 

He looked up startled to see her descending the stairs in her robe. "I couldnít sleep. Will I be in the way down here?"

 

"Of course not." He walked with her back to the library, obviously her favorite room in the house. She sat in the corner of the sofa and tucked her legs up under her. She looked like a little kid and he wanted to smile, but managed to control it.

 

They sat in a comfortable silence. He listened in the background for the locksmith. Obviously a tougher job than the guy had imagined. Finally he turned to her, "Do you mind talking?" She shook her head and turned slightly toward him. "How did you two meet?"

 

"Through a mutual friend."

 

"Thereís quite an age difference."

 

She nodded, "Sixteen years. I was just getting out of medical school and his pursuit of me was most appealing."

 

"Iím sure there were plenty of men pursuing you." She looked up surprised and blushed suddenly. "Sorry. What kind of medicine do you practice?"

 

"Iím a pathologist."

 

"Dead bodies?"

 

She chuckled at the look on his face. "You donít lose nearly as many patients that way. Actually I do research and work with the coroner on some cases."

 

"Wow. You donít look the type."

 

"Sometimes that helps. The big boys donít expect much, so when I bowl them over it makes an impression." Her face sobered, "Why havenít they called?"

 

"I donít know. Have you been able to contact his family?"

 

"Yes, his father and step-mother are in Europe. Theyíre trying to get back now."

 

"Dr. Scully, may I - "

 

"Dana, please."

 

"You may want to rescind that after my next question." He felt her tense slightly, but she didnít turn away.

 

"What?"

 

"Are you in love with your husband?"

 

"What does that have to do with this investigation?"

 

"I have to check into everything, Dana."

 

"I care for him and I know he cares for me."

 

"Thatís not what I asked."

 

"Ours isnít a marriage based on passion, Agent Mulder. You mentioned the age difference yourself. My husband wanted a presentable mate, a good hostess when the occasion called for it, someone he could have a stimulating conversation with. And it was nice that he was also fond of me."

 

"And youíre willing to settle for that?"

 

She shrugged, "I suppose I am. I donít know any different."

 

He knew he had to look horrified. "Why? That has to be your choice, Dana."

 

"I - "

 

"Agent, Iíve got the safe open." Mulder came back to the present with a thud and had a momentary fantasy of putting a bullet in this guyís head. "It was a real bitch. Excuse me maíam." He glanced over at Dana.

 

Mulder took a steadying breath. "I guess I better check it out."

 

"May I . . . Iíd be in the way, wouldnít I?"

 

"No. No, you wouldnít be in the way." But it might be a good thing the subject had been changed. The locksmith headed out and the two of them entered the study.

 

Mulder donned rubber gloves and opened the safe. He pulled out a large accordion file with a band around it. He opened it and carefully withdrew the contents. There were ledgers, computer reports, assorted papers and two small sealed envelopes.

 

"Well, have you ever heard of this Gary Harris?"

 

She shook her head. He reached for the first small envelope. He opened it carefully and after looking at the contents turned it so that she could see it as well. Her gasp was totally spontaneous. Her hand came to her mouth and he saw moisture pool in her eyes. What was going on?

 

"I donít know for sure, but it looks like your husband had a secret life." He was looking again at the identification documents in his hand. He flipped open the ledger; "It looks like youíre quite wealthy."

 

"No! Thatís not my money. I donít want it." He glanced back up at her. Her voice was verging on hysteria.

 

"Iím not trying to get rid of you, Dana, but maybe you ought to lie down."

 

"I donít want to be alone."

 

"I could get your sister for you." She seemed to shrink in front of him.

 

"Could I stay here?" She sounded like a little girl. "I wonít bother you, I could sit over there." She pointed to the large leather easy chair near the window.

 

"Of course." He helped her to the chair. If this was an act she deserved an academy award. She curled up in the chair, looking younger than ever.

 

He moved back to the desk and began going through the ledger page by page. The man was selling something and it must be valuable. These entries were for hundreds of thousands of dollars. After a while he looked up, she had drifted off in the chair, but it wasnít restful. She was even lovely without makeup and why the hell was he noticing that? She wasnít his type and she was married, maybe not to the worldís best husband, but the one she had chosen.

 

He forced his eyes back to the ledger. This was fascinating information, so why was he distracted? He shook himself and reached over to warm up the copier. Heíd lost enough evidence in the past to know what he might need and with whom to secure it.

 

She drew his attention again, and he realized she was crying. A nightmare probably, and no wonder. He rose and moved over to her. "Dana? Dana, wake up." When her eyes opened she was totally disoriented. "Its okay. Itís Mulder. You were having a bad dream."

 

She knew then where she was. "No worse than reality." She accepted the handkerchief he held out to her. He couldnít disagree.

 

"Theyíre not going to call are they?"

 

"Itís too early to say that, Dana. You canít give up hope so soon."

 

She looked away, for the first time he didnít sound sincere. She rose from the chair and he reached out automatically to steady her. What was it that made him want to touch her?

 

"I guess Iíll go upstairs."

 

"Dana, are you going to be okay?"

 

She gave him a sad smile, "I donít know. I donít even know my own husband, or if heís still alive."

 

"Dana . . . " But she was walking out of the room and didnít look back.

 

It was for the best, he was letting himself get involved. He wasnít usually stupid, at least not that stupid. He packed up the evidence in the envelope in which he had found it. The copies he made he slipped into his coat pocket. He sealed the study as a crime scene and headed for the kitchen. One agent was asleep at the table; the other was reading beside the equipment.

 

"Iím going to take some evidence over to the Bureau lab. You have my cell phone, call me if anything changes." The younger man nodded and returned to his book. Mulder let himself out the front door after one last look up the stairs.

 

The lab was sparsely populated this early in the morning, but Mulder ordered prints and as much analysis as they could get from the envelope. The investigation of the ledger and transactions went to another department.

 

He left a short report on Skinnerís voice mail then headed to the place where he figured he would find the most help.

 

*****

 

He knocked again. "Come on guys. Let me in."

 

"Jesus, Mulder, do you know what time it is?"

 

"Yeah. I need you guys to look this stuff over before anything disappears. Iím getting that Ďuh ohí feeling about it." They let him in at that and while they went over the information heíd brought he grabbed a nap on their couch.

 

"Mulder, wake up." He roused reluctantly. "Here."

 

He took the coffee Frohike thrust at him. After a couple of sips he looked up at Frohike. "Yeah?"

 

"What kind of weirdo are we investigating?" Mulderís eyes narrowed. "What the hell is black cancer?"

 

"Black cancer?"

 

"Yeah. This guyís selling information about it, and a formula for a vaccine. And some really funky mechanical schematics."

 

"Vaccine? For cancer?" Byers shrugged. "What else?"

 

"Lots. Weíre going to be studying this for a while. Heís selling the stuff internationally. Big bucks too. You think he queered a deal and someone decided to get mad?"

 

"I donít know. Itís not making sense to me yet. I need to get back to the house. Iíll check with you later."

 

"Hey Mulder, you think your evidence is gonna disappear?" Langly looked up from his computer.

 

"I can pretty much guarantee it. Be careful." He heard the bolts being thrown even as he walked away from the door. It caused a grim smile to appear on his face.

 

Back at the house not much had changed. There had been no word from the kidnappers. He found himself looking for her though he had no information he could share. The agents under him gave their reports, which didn't take long. He couldn't stretch it out, so he used that as his excuse to look her up.

 

She was back in the library and looked smaller than ever. She was dressed and just sitting silently with her sister. When he walked in, the look of hope on her face caused him to falter. "Dana. Melissa." He nodded to her sister, who immediately excused herself.

 

"Mulder?"

 

"Weíre still at a standstill."

 

She looked away trying to control her tears. After a moment she brushed them away and turned back. "Could you not learn anything from what you found?"

 

"Not yet. I donít want you to give up hope."

 

"Hope? I donít even know who he is." Her fingers were knotted together. "Ahab was right."

 

"Ahab?"

 

"My father."

 

"Maybe he should be here with you."

 

She didnít look up; "I havenít seen my father since I married Stan. He couldnít accept . . . " She shook her head and didnít continue.

 

After a beat he touched her hand. "What about your husbandís parents?"

 

"They should be here soon." She didnít sound all that pleased, but he made no comment.

 

"I wish . . . I wish there was something I could do." That earned him a sad smile and he realized he was squeezing her hand. He reluctantly released her and stepped back. "Iíll be in the study with a couple of agents. Weíre not giving up."

 

"Thanks." She watched him leave the room and realized she felt less safe.

 

*****

 

Assignment - Part 2



After an hour or so, Melissa knocked on the door of the study to offer coffee or food. The two agents with him accepted. He decided to use the break as an excuse to check on her.

 

He was approaching her when they heard a disturbance in the entry. She stiffened and he automatically took her arm.

 

"Whatís the meaning of this? I want you out of this house." Mulder and Dana could hear his footsteps approaching. He entered the room like a small tornado and advanced on Mulder.

 

"Are you in charge here?"

 

"Yes sir. Special Agent Mulder." He held out his right hand to shake, his ID in the left, both were ignored. "I want you and your people out of this house." This was a man used to getting his own way.

 

"Iím sorry Mr. Winthrope, weíre investigating a kidnapping and - "

 

"Thereís been no kidnapping. Has a ransom demand been made?"

 

"No sir, not yet; however - "

 

"My son is just taking a few days off to himself."

 

"Excuse me, sir," Mulder countered, "Eyewitnesses saw your son forcibly removed from the sidewalk in front of his place of business and placed in a car. A small struggle ensued. That is included in our definition of kidnapping, which is Bureau jurisdiction."

 

The smaller manís eyes were snapping. He turned on Dana. "Did you call these people?"

 

"No sir, she did not." Mulder spoke before she could. "The police were alerted and they contacted the FBI." Dana chose to remain silent.

 

Now the older man seemed to realize his attitude and attempted to assume the persona of a politician. Thatís when Mulder realized how frightened the man was. "Agent Mulder, this has all been blown out of proportion. Iíve been in touch with my son and he is perfectly safe."

 

Danaís head came up but still she didnít speak. Mulder managed not to turn and look at her. "Thatís very good news, sir; however, I would like to speak with Mr. Winthrope myself to ascertain that he is not under coercion." Damn, he wasnít usually this politically correct. Was he trying to impress her or just keep things from blowing apart?

 

"He is unable to speak with you at this time, but the next time he calls I assure you I will have him contact you directly. Would that be sufficient?"

 

"Iíd like to check with my superiors."

 

"Fine, fine. Why donít you do that." Mulder thought for a moment the man was going to rub his hands together. He sure was anxious to have everyone out of the house. He looked over at Dana who would not meet his eyes. "Go ahead and have your men pack up their equipment, Iíll talk to my friends at the Bureau and get this all cleared up." He moved past them now, back out into the hall. It would have been undignified to run, but he was moving as fast as possible.

 

Mulder turned toward Dana. "Do you believe him?" She shook her head but didnít speak. "Me either. Will you be all right?"

 

Before she had a chance to respond they heard the roar from the back of the house. "Whatís the meaning of this!"

 

"I think he saw the study," Mulder commented to Dana and was rewarded with a slight smile that quickly disappeared. They both headed toward the sound. The older Mr. Winthrope was nearly apoplectic.

 

"Why has my sonís office been violated?"

 

"As part of our kidnap investigation. We had to see if your son had any enemies; someone who might have had him abducted."

 

"I need to get in there." Mulder dutifully pulled the yellow tape from the door and opened the room for him. Mr. Winthrope Senior immediately headed for the desk. The sight of the open and empty safe underneath turned his face an unhealthy shade of gray. Dana took a step toward him but he waved her away.

 

"I need to make some phone calls. Privately." With those words Mulder and Dana were dismissed and he turned his back on them.

 

Mulder followed Dana from the room and she realized she was disappointed not to feel his fingers on her back. She gave herself a mental shake - stupid. But this man made her feel safe, safer anyway.

 

They headed for the kitchen where he brought the team up to speed and then called Skinner. He was unavailable, so he left a message and sat down to wait. Dana brought coffee over for the two of them and offered it to everyone. They couldnít talk here, so after a few minutes Dana excused herself to find her step-mother-in-law.

 

Mulderís phone rang as he was watching her walk from the room. "Mulder."

 

"Youíre to clear out of the Winthrope house, Mulder. Apparently this isnít a kidnapping."

 

"Do you believe that. sir?" There was a slight pause.

 

"Those are our orders and they come from above me. I want to see you in my office in an hour."

 

"Yes sir." Mulder stabbed the end button and pursed his lips. Interesting, damn interesting. Everything was packed and out of the house shortly. He couldnít find her to tell her goodbye and that worried him greatly. He didnít feel at all comfortable about leaving her here alone.

 

*****

 

"Agent Mulder, come in." Skinner opened the office door and led him in. He entered and managed not to wave his hand in front of his face to move the cigarette smoke around. How did Skinner stand having that creep in his office?

 

"I donít believe Mr. Winthrope. He has not spoken with his son or he wouldnít have cut his trip short."

 

"Iím not going to call a former state senator a liar. He doesnít want us to handle this and he has the friends to make it happen. Also, he wants all evidence removed from the house returned. He was especially insistent on that point. What the hell did you remove?"

 

"Mr. Winthrope had a safe hidden under his desk. In it were identification documents for a Gary Harris; however the pictures were of our boy Stan."

 

Skinner looked at him for a moment. "He had another identity?"

 

"Fully documented. And I think his father knew or at least suspected. Thatís why he doesnít want us investigating. Itís not going to look good for the family. And when the IRS gets involved . . . " Skinner nodded, but they were out of game now.

 

*****

 

Mulderís own personal investigation did not halt and the information, three days later, of a body discovered drew his attention. It was apparently a middle age man, white, but identification was going to be damn difficult.

 

He called the house; heíd been wanting to anyway, more than he wanted to admit to himself. He didnít recognize the voice of the person that answered, but his visualization of her brought up visions of East Germany. "Iíd like to speak with Mrs. Winthrope."

 

"Iím sorry. She is unavailable."

 

"Is she there?" The woman hadnít even bothered to ask who he was, she was unavailable to everyone? He could hear a disturbance in the background, people talking, was that her? Voices were raised, then suddenly she was on the phone.

 

"Hello?"

 

"Dana, is that you?"

 

"Yes." There was a pause, "Is this . . .?" He heard the caution in her voice.

 

"Yes. Is there a chance I could speak with you?"

 

"Yes. I could meet you. Where would be convenient?" He mentioned a coffee shop and she agreed. "It may take a little while."

 

He was prepared to wait a lot longer than he actually had to. In fact he realized he was prepared to wait a very long time. He rose when he saw her enter, more pleased than he was willing to admit.

 

"Are you doing all right?" She shrugged. "When I got that woman on the phone . . . "

 

"My watchdog? My father-in-law decided that I was irresponsible and needed a keeper."

 

"Are you kidding?" When had he taken hold of her hand?

 

"Not really. She appeared within an hour after you left and has been there ever since. Iím not allowed to receive phone calls and she listens in when I make them. Iím still on leave from the hospital. I got fed up today and rose up on my hind legs." She laughed but he caught the bitter tone. "She may have had me followed, so I probably shouldnít be here long. Was there anything specific you wanted?"

 

"I wanted to see you. But, yes there is something that has come to my attention regarding the investigation."

 

"Is anyone still looking for him? I mean, my father-in-law . . ."

 

"I didnít stop completely, just officially."

 

"And youíve found something?"

 

"I donít have good news, Dana, but I do think I have news." He hesitated and realized that she was now squeezing his hand. He nodded, "A, uh, a body was discovered and I think maybe you should . . . "

 

"You want me to ID the body?"

 

"It wonít be easy." Now he wondered why he had thought to do this.

 

"Mulder, itís what I do, I am a pathologist."

 

"Yeah, but . . . This body has been mutilated, thatís why no ID has been done so far."

 

"Mutilated how?"

 

"The hands were removed and . . . the head. Thereís been no DNA work ordered because he might just be a John Doe, a street person."

 

"But you donít think so. I . . . I see. Iíd like to help you. Could we go now, before my leash is pulled?" He watched her straighten her spine and his admiration grew. He hadnít exactly asked an easy thing here.

 

They left her car and took his to the city morgue. She was actually more composed about this than he was. His credentials got them inside and now that he was on her turf, followed her in. She donned a gown, mask and gloves and after checking with the doctor in charge had the body brought out.

 

She had assumed a doctorís persona that he was unfamiliar with and it impressed him. He managed not to flinch when the body was exposed on the metal table. She took a deep breath and began her examination. She was quiet and he didnít want to disturb her concentration. This had to be taking more out of her than she was letting on - she had lived with the man for three years.

 

"Could you help me turn him?" He looked up startled but nodded and immediately put on his own rubber gloves. She examined his right shoulder carefully, then rolled him back to his original position.

 

"Itís him," she spoke quietly, matter-of-factly.

 

"How can you be sure?"

 

"His shoulder. Thereís an abrasion there that at first glance looks like the others but is actually more precise. Stan had a birthmark there and it has very carefully been excised from the skin. See, the skin has been cut here, not torn? You need to go ahead and order the DNA testing, but Iím convinced."

 

Mulder nodded, watching her. She tried to hide the fact that her hands were shaking as she removed her gloves after covering him. Mulder ordered the tests and took her arm to get her out of the place.

 

They drove in silence back to the coffee shop and she exited his car quickly to head for her own. "Dana, wait please. I donít think you should be driving yet. Letís get something to drink here and just give yourself a few more minutes."

 

"I should - "

 

"You donít need to face the watchdog right now. Is there anyone you can call?"

 

"Do you want me to talk about this?"

 

"Maybe to your sister. Iíd rather his father not know until we have confirmation. The body might vanish if that happens, before the tests can be run."

 

"Does that happen to you a lot?"

 

"Well, yeah. It happens on some things."

 

"Do you think you can find who did this? Have them punished?"

 

"The truth. No, whoever did this, if itís what I think it is, wonít ever be prosecuted. Maybe some day I can explain it to you, but not now. I wonít put you at risk."

 

"Are you at risk?" He enjoyed the note of compassion in her voice.

 

"I doubt it. Iím too high profile, but keeping anything I can from the people that do this, helps my investigation. This information will eventually be published in the media if I time it right."

 

"Let me know how I can help."

 

"Youíve already done more than you should have. If you need anything I want you to call me. If theyíre listening in you donít have to leave a message, just a couple of words. I know your voice." That startled her a little, why would he know her voice? She decided it was a compliment and smiled.

 

"I need to be getting home. Iím okay, really." She responded to the look in his eye. "Iíll be watching the papers for information." At that she rose, left him in the coffee shop and didnít look back.

 

*****

 

He pushed his plate away finished and rose. "Is that all youíre going to eat?"

 

"Sorry, Iím not hungry. I think Iíll head on home."

 

"Youíre not going to stay? Whatís going on with you, Mulder? You havenít been over in nearly a week and now youíre leaving?"

 

"Diana, Iím sorry. I have something on my mind and - "

 

"Why donít you let me help you get it off your mind?" Her hand was on his chest, caressing his nipple through his shirt.

 

"Diana." He caught her hand and removed it from his chest.

 

"I donít understand you, Mulder. This isnít like you. Is there . . . are you seeing someone else?" Her voice sounded tight.

 

Mulder looked up startled. Someone else? He shook his head. That wasnít it. It wasnít, really. Why the hell had she said that? Her eyes had narrowed and she was watching him closely now. "No Iím not seeing anyone else. Look, Iíll see you tomorrow."

 

*****

 

That had put an idea in his head. One he realized had been there for a while and he had been avoiding. Now it was there and unavoidable. He wasnít going to try calling again, but he knew where she worked.

 

It was early afternoon when she heard the tap on her door. "Come in." She didnít look up from her paperwork. It had to be Julie with even more work.

 

"Hi."

 

The masculine voice startled her. "Agent Mulder?"

 

"Yeah. Didnít mean to startle you. I didnít want to go through your watchdog again so I thought Iíd come by."

 

She was rapidly regaining her composure outwardly, but her heart was still racing at the sight of him. "The watchdog is gone. Well, actually I am. I moved out. I have an apartment in Alexandria now."

 

"You didnít want the house?"

 

"The estate will be tied up for years since the IRS knows about his Ďotherí interests now. Iím just glad we never mingled our finances. If I never see a dime itís fine with me." She smiled then and he couldnít help but respond.

 

"Do you have any news about the case?"

 

"What? Oh, no thatís not why Iím here."

 

"Oh, another body you need some help with?"

 

"Actually I came to see if we could have dinner together tonight."

 

"What?" That caught her completely off guard.

 

"Yeah, kind of a date if that doesnít offend you."

 

"Uh no, that . . . that would be very nice." The color was high on her face.

His smile grew wider. "Would seven be okay? I can pick you up or - "

 

"What if I meet you. Where are we going?"

 

He mentioned a very nice restaurant that she had been to many times with Stan. "Would . . ." She looked down, "Would you mind terribly if we went out for pizza instead?"

 

He put his hand over his heart, "Ah, my kind of woman." She actually laughed at that.

 

"Okay then, how about Tonyís at seven."

 

It was the beginning of a real relationship. He hadnít been out with anyone he cared about in ages and she, of course, hadnít been out at all. She was the most stimulating woman he had ever spent time with. She could hold her own in any debate and he did begin mentioning some of his Ďinterestsí to her. She was fascinated but didnít mind telling him how wrong she thought he was on some occasions.

 

Since the death of her husband, a whole new world had opened up to her, both pleasant and unpleasant. Her naivetť about the way things really worked was shaken and she knew he had more experience in that area, but it didnít seem to destroy him as it had her in the beginning. He just seemed to accept that there was a dark underbelly on the world and he moved around the fringes of it, trying to expose it when it was possible.

 

She also knew she was more attracted to him physically than she had thought possible. He seemed to be attracted to her as well which puzzled her; she couldnít help but see the women that watched him when they did go out together. The women in her own office positively drooled over him if he stopped by. He could have any woman he wanted, undoubtedly several a night if he were so inclined, why spend time with her?

 

She still remembered the first good night kiss heíd given her and how surprised she had been to realize they were really dating. He hadnít tried to go any farther which both relieved and disappointed her.

 

*****

 

"Dana? Hi, would I be taking you for granted if I assumed you would see me tonight?"

 

She laughed lightly, "No, but it does make my date book look a little thin."

 

"Good," he stated it emphatically and her smile grew. At least he couldnít see it. "Iíll pick you up at seven, okay?"

 

"Iím looking forward to it. Oops, gotta go. Later." And she hung up. He was still smiling half an hour later when Skinner tapped on his door.

 

"Aliens land and youíre vindicated?" Skinner asked.


"What?" He looked over at Skinner puzzled.

 

"I donít think Iíve ever seen you look that pleased before. Do you know the secrets of the universe now?"

 

"Maybe Iím beginning to get a glimpse. What can I do for you?"

 

"Agent Fowley has a case she wants your assistance on. She went through channels to request your assignment. What?"

 

"Nothing." He had tried to keep his expression bland, obviously it hadnít worked.

 

"Whatís the case?" Skinner handed him a folder and waited. After a minute he glanced up, "Well it could be an X-file. How did Diana get it?"

 

"I donít know, but Iím curious myself. Keep me updated on this. By the way, you changed the subject, gonna tell me what has you in such a good mood?"

 

Mulder just grinned at him and he finally turned to leave, smiling himself. Mulder shoved the folder aside; heíd look at it later. He didnít want to spoil his mood and he was not giving up his weekend no matter what the case was. That surprised him, since when had a social engagement been more important than work?

 

Dana met him at her door in jeans and a sweater, he smiled broadly, she picked up on his thoughts so well. "Would you mind if we didnít go out tonight? I thought I could cook and we could just stay in and I could leave my shoes off."

 

"Umm, think Iíll be safe?" he leered down at her.

 

"We could leave the door cracked if you like," she responded with a smile.

 

"No way!" He had draped his jacket over the chair. "Long day?"

 

"Yeah and too many cases."

 

"Are you sure you want to cook? We could order in."

 

"Itís already in the oven, hope you like lasagna." She turned back toward the kitchen. She was even smaller without the heels. He followed and reached above her as she stretched to get the plates from an upper cabinet.

 

"These?" He was looming over her, much too close if it had been anyone else. Why didnít his proximity bother her? "Dana?"

 

"Oh, yes. Those would be fine."

 

She opened the wine and they ate leisurely in the kitchen, then moved to the living room with more wine. He was very relaxed and enjoying watching her. He realized his eyes were locked on her lips. They were moving, she was speaking, but he wasnít hearing her. Those lips - he needed to taste those lips. Her voice trailed off, she knew he wasnít listening anymore. He was moving toward her and her eyes were locked on his lips as well. This was different; this wasnít a goodnight kiss. This was . . . and then they were together. His lips pressing their advantage when she offered no protest, in fact, seemed to be enjoying herself.

 

His hands were on her now, pulling her closer, molding her body to his. He noted the quickening of her breath, the rapidity of her pulse now that he had moved on to her neck. Her hands were pressing into the muscles of his back and he knew a moment of regret at the fabric that separated them.

 

"Mulder," she managed to gasp out as his thumb brushed her nipple. "Weíd be more comfortable, oh god, more comfortable in the bedroom." She managed to get out. He nodded; heíd never wanted anyone more.

 

 

Assignment - Part 3



He followed her into her bedroom, his heart pounding. She turned then and looked up at him, completely open to whatever he wanted. He brushed a knuckle along her cheekbone. "Dana?"

 

She nodded and he reached for the hem of her sweater. He gently removed it and looked at the creamy skin covered by the white lace. Front hook, his eyes smiled and he carefully unfastened it. His breath caught at the sight, better than he had imagined. His thumbs outlined the rosy aureole. He couldnít wait; his tongue encircled the nipple then his lips closed over it. She gasped, finally remembering to breathe. His hands were molding her back and holding her to him.

 

More, he wanted more. His fingers were now undoing the button on her slacks and lowering them to her feet. Her hand went to his shoulder as she lifted her leg, first one then the other so that he could remove them. The scrap of silk still covering her was damp. He made short work of it and she stood before him nude. She was breathing deeply, which he was appreciating fully.

 

"Mu . . . Mulder?" her voice trembled ever so slightly, but she couldnít look away from him.

 

"Youíre incredible, you must know that."

 

She said nothing, the color high on her cheeks. He pulled his own sweater off and her shaking hand came up to touch his chest gently. His sex rose to an even higher state of arousal, her eyes flicked down and immediately back up. His slacks were ineffective in disguising his anatomy now.

 

"Are you okay?" She nodded slightly. He moved her to the bed and lay her down on it. He looked at her for a moment then discarded his own slacks and boxers. Her eyes widened and her face lost color. "Itís okay, Dana. Youíre in charge here. Nothingís going to happen until youíre ready. You understand that, donít you?"

 

"Yes," she whispered to him.

 

He lay beside her then and began kissing her, her lips, her body, until she began to relax and then respond. Her own hands began exploring his body now, tentatively at first, then with more assurance.

 

His hand brushed her damp curls and then spread her thighs slightly, bringing his fingers to her moist cleft. She tensed slightly and he withdrew, "No, please donít stop. Mulder, please."

 

"Youíre sure?" She nodded and drew his hand back to her body. After a moment he began his exploration again. His long fingers teasing, bringing her closer and closer to the edge. She thought she would lose her mind. When he finally pressed against that bundle of nerves she gasped and her whole body tightened and began convulsing around his fingers. When she began to relax and breathe again, he gentled her. She finally opened her eyes and looked up at him.

 

"I never . . . I didnít . . ."

 

He looked at her with wonder. "Youíve never . . .?"

 

She shook her head, still unable to speak.

 

"Oh Dana." He pulled her close, letting her come back to herself at her own pace. How could her husband not have shown her this pleasure? She was made for love and loving. That fool had nearly destroyed her. If he hadnít already been dead, Mulder would have been tempted to do him in himself.

 

She was reaching for him now, her fingers around his shaft. Her touch was almost more than he could take and he groaned. She marveled that her touch could bring him to this point and brushed the tip of him against her. He accepted the invitation entering her slowly.

 

The barrier stunned him back to his senses and he withdrew quickly. "Mulder?"

 

"Dana, are you . . . youíve never . . . are you a virgin?" He hadnít stuttered during sex in over twenty years, he was that taken aback.

 

"Mulder, please."

 

"We donít have to . . . " His mind was reeling. Heíd barely believed she had never orgasmed, but this. What kind of man had she been married to?

 

"Please."

 

She wanted this? She wanted him? She moved closer to him, taking hold of him again. "Please, Mulder," she repeated again. He kissed his name from her lips and again entered her, penetrating that barrier quickly, holding her as she gasped.

 

"Are you okay?" She nodded pulling closer yet. He began the slow rhythm of the ancient dance and she joined him, moving as though they had always done this together.

 

She was so hot, hot and tight. No one before him, no one, the thought kept coming to him. He was close, damn close so he again stimulated that hot bundle of nerves at her core and was rewarded with the convulsing of her body within his arms. He thrust again, once, twice and then he too was convulsing, crying out her name as her body milked him of every drop.

 

He managed to roll to the side before collapsing. Crushing her would be bad form, but he was drained in more ways than one. He felt her arms go around him, cradling him as he had her earlier, planting small kisses on his forehead and hair.

 

"Are you okay?" she finally asked.

 

"I donít think Iíve ever been better in my whole life. How about you?" She blushed but her eyes were shining. "Come here." He tucked her in next to him and lightly massaged her back. "Sleep, Sweetheart. Iíve got you."

 

She did, relaxing within his arms and allowing him complete control, feeling safer than she could ever remember feeling.

 

She woke to daylight, his arms around her, his face smiling down at her. "Good morning. Did you sleep well?"

 

"Very well, you?"

 

"I didnít sleep. I wanted to watch you."

 

"Watch me?"

 

"Yes. Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?"

 

"You want me again," she sounded amazed.


"Yes. I think thatís going to be a constant from now on." He was already stroking her, bringing her back to the state she had discovered last night for the first time. She realized she was craving his body too. That thought enthralled her as his body covered hers again.

 

She hadnít known, she had avoided knowing what she was missing. She wasnít missing anything now as she cradled his shuddering body in her arms. "God, Dana. I . . . "

 

"Rest, Mulder. Just rest here." He nodded, his lips against her breasts and gave himself up to sleep. She pulled the sheet up over them, even though covering his body from her sight seemed somehow wrong. She didnít want him to get chilled, but from the heat radiating from him that shouldnít be a worry. He nuzzled his face into her breasts enjoying her body even as his own surrendered from consciousness.

 

Now she understood what he had meant, watching her. She could observe him without self-consciousness, admire the lines of his body, that incredible lower lip. She felt like a kid in a candy store. So this is what her friends had meant by Ďeye-candyí.

 

She lay there holding him, feeling the weight and warmth of him, thoroughly enjoying herself. She drifted off into memories of last night, blushing even though there was no one to see.

 

She was startled back to the present when he jerked in her arms. "No, damn it, no!" He was struggling now, not hurting her but definitely restless. "No." When she saw the tears in his eyes she held him tighter.

 

"Mulder, wake up. Itís okay, please. Itís Dana, Iím here and youíre just having a bad dream."

 

"Dana?" He was waking, but obviously not awake. "No, oh god, what was I thinking?" He pulled away from her arms now, leaving the bed. "This was a mistake, Dana. This never should have happened. I, I want you to forget - " He was reaching for his boxers, as though racing to leave her presence.

 

"What?" It was a whisper, but as her shock grew into anger her voice returned. "A mistake? Thatís what this was to you? I see, this was a game to you, wasnít it?" Her nudity forgotten she stood now, her back straight, her eyes snapping. "Well congratulations, you scored with the poor little virgin, now you can just leave and Ďforgetí all about it. Is that how you do it? Is that how you entice all the women to your bed? Fine. Get out."

 

He stood there now, finally looking at her, stunned. Sheíd misunderstood, what had he said? It was like sheíd become a different person.

 

"Dana, no, thatís not what I - "

 

"I said get out." She hadnít even reached for anything to cover herself.

 

"Iíve put you in danger, Dana." When she didnít respond he continued, "Theyíll find out about us."

 

"Donít worry about that. I donít plan to talk about this, ever. I believe Iíve asked you to leave. Do I need to call the police?"

 

He approached her now and she took one step back, away from him. It was as though heíd been stabbed with an ice pick. He sank down onto her bed and her eyes narrowed. He was looking at the floor now, not facing her.

 

"I dreamed they did to you what they did to him. It was you on that slab with no hands, no . . . " He looked up again, "They could, they could kill you thinking that you know more than you do, that youíre telling me things."

 

She hesitated a moment, "Then I guess itís a good thing youíre not responsible for me." Her voice was icy.

 

"But I am, Iím the one thatís put you in danger, by falling in love with you." Her eyes widened, but she made no comment. "You werenít the only virgin here last night, Dana. You might not have had physical love before, but Iíd never had emotional love. What have I done to you? How can I ever keep you safe?"

 

"What . . . what are you talking about?" She had moved farther from the bed, but at least she was listening.

 

"I havenít told you about my work, not really. Iíve glossed over most of it. I didnít realize where this was going; or I refused to see. I donít date intelligent women, Dana; Iíve been so good about never getting involved. You blindsided me, the one woman they would care about me seeing and I go and fall in love with you."

 

"Stop saying that."

 

"What? That Iím in love with you? I believe in the truth, Dana, and thatís the truth. But seeing you, like that . . . "

 

"Like what?" She hadnít moved any closer, but she hadnít left the room.

 

He shuddered, "Like Stan. You donít know what he was involved with, that kept you safe from them. But being with me, theyíll start to suspect you know more than you do. Youíre in more danger now than you ever were with him."

 

"You donít have to go through this act to dump me, Mulder. Iím an adult. I might not be very experienced but - "

 

"Dump you! Damnit, have you heard anything I said?"

 

"Yes. I heard every word. Are you ready to leave now?" He buried his face in his hands.

 

"Maybe youíre right. I should leave." He heaved himself up off the bed and made his way to where his clothes had fallen last night. She remembered her own nudity then and turned to her closet. She pulled her robe out and put it on. She felt as though her body were made of lead, that she was avoiding feeling anything. Sheíd shatter if she allowed herself to feel.

 

He was dressed now. He turned to look at her. "Iím not going to ask for your forgiveness, I donít deserve it. I never will. But I am sorry." He shook his head and started to say something else, instead he turned and she heard him let himself out of the apartment.

 

She allowed herself to slip down to the floor, beyond crying.

 

He sat is his car, no energy to even place the key in the ignition. He looked around trying to figure out a reason to keep moving. His eye caught the file Skinner had given him earlier. Work, yeah he had to work.

 

He glanced back at her apartment one more time then started the car. Once home he showered and changed, then sank onto his couch and forced himself to open the file. He couldnít work up any enthusiasm, but he managed to read it. What the hell? He picked up the phone and dialed Diana.

 

"Where have you been? Iíve been trying to reach you since yesterday afternoon."

 

"I was busy. Whatís the deal on this case?"

 

She brought him up to date and he tried to listen. Finally he interrupted her. "Are we going out there?"

 

"Well, yes. I think we should."

 

"Fine. What time?"

 

"Are you okay?" she countered; he didnít sound like himself at all.

 

"Sure. Just give me the details." She hesitated a minute, something was definitely wrong with him and she needed to find out what. That would be easier to do out of town. She gave him the flight information and agreed to meet him at the airport.

 

He didnít even look like himself at the airport. Her first impulse was to take his hand but he moved away when she tried to get close to him. Once seated, he closed his eyes and leaned back, obviously rejecting the notion of conversation.

 

It didnít get any better. He was barely communicative, short, nearly hostile with her. At her suggestion that she keep him company that night to make him feel better, the expression on his face actually drove her back a couple of steps. And he hadnít said a word.

 

He managed to maintain a professional attitude when talking with the local authorities but it was taking all of his strength not to punch the yokels out. This was no X-file; hell it wasnít even a case. Why had she even sent him this file? He had nearly worked up the energy to ask her about it but decided to check in with Skinner first. It would be bad form to attack her.

 

"Skinner."

 

"Itís Mulder, I wanted you to know I think this is a waste of time."

 

"I see." There was a slight pause. "Are you okay, Mulder?"

 

"Fine. Iím thinking of dropping this back into local hands and clearing out."

 

"Does Fowley agree with you?"

 

"I havenít discussed it with her. I thought Iíd work through you since the request for my assistance came from you officially."

 

"I have to trust your judgment on this, Mulder. If itís not a case, come on in."

 

"Thanks, Iíll be in the office tomorrow."

 

"Okay. By the way, remember the Winthrope case?"

 

Just the name sent his blood pressure up several notches. "Yeah."

 

"Well, it almost happened again. The wife was attacked, but they didnít take her. She wouldnít let them, put up quite a struggle. It was almost as though she was ready for them. She was definitely on the ball and caught them off-guard."

 

If he hadnít been seated already he would have been on the floor. As it was he was having trouble finding his voice. "Is she okay?"

 

"A little beat up, the hospital didnít keep her. Just thought youíd be interested. Sheís a savvy woman for a little thing."

 

"Yeah. Yeah, she is. Iíll be in tomorrow." He broke the connection. Skinner saying she was okay wasnít enough. Should he call her? No, he had to see her; it was too late to protect her with his absence. He had to see her. He was already throwing things into his suitcase; heíd seen a cab at the office on his way in. Was it still there?

 

He was out of the room in less than five minutes and managed to catch the cab, leaving the rental car for Diana. He didnít even feel guilt at not advising her of his departure, in fact, he didnít think of it at all.

 

It was late when he pulled up in front of her apartment. She probably wouldnít want to see him but it didnít matter. He had to know she was really okay, then heíd watch from here in the car to make certain she wasnít bothered during the night. Heíd have to make better arrangements tomorrow but for now it was all he had.

 

After taking a deep breath he got out of the car. It felt like years since heíd seen her rather than 48 hours. He found himself wondering how heíd managed to stay away this long.

 

He hesitated at her door, but he was here and he had to see her. He knocked and waited. Sheíd look through the peephole, but would she open the door?

 

It did open but the woman standing there was Melissa. Good, she wasnít alone.

 

"Agent Mulder?"

 

"Yes. I heard what happened this afternoon. May I see Dana?"

 

"Of course." She moved aside. Well obviously Dana hadnít brought her up to date on their Ďsituationí. Was she too mortified to even talk to her own sister? Shame engulfed him again.

 

"Missy?" He heard Dana call from the bedroom. "Is everything okay?"

 

"You have company, Dana. Itís Agent Mulder." Dead silence from the bedroom. Mulder didnít bother to look at Melissa. After a moment she turned back to him. "Maybe she didnít hear me. Iíll go check."

 

"I heard you, Missy." Dana had entered the living room quietly. She had a bruise on her face and was limping slightly, but she was alive, she was here. He managed to take a breath.

 

"I . . . I heard about . . ." She just looked at him, not responding.

 

Melissa, sensing the tension, turned to Dana. "Look, if Agent Mulder is going to be here for a few minutes, I could run out now and pick up the stuff you wanted."

 

Danaís head went up as though to protest her leaving them alone, but then she relaxed her shoulders. "Fine."

 

"I wonít be long. Did you think of anything else you needed?"

 

"No, itíll be fine." Melissaís eyes went back and forth between them; then she shrugged and picked up her purse. You could cut the tension with a knife. As easy as he was to look at, she didnít want to hang around right now.

 

They were silent after she left, not moving; she didnít offer him a seat. Finally he couldnít stand it.

 

"Are you really all right?"

 

"Why do you care?"

 

"Damn it, Dana!" That galvanized him to take a step toward her, but she stepped back away from him. "This is what I was afraid of. I said theyíd come after you if they knew I cared. I was right, wasnít I?"

 

"We donít know that."

 

"We donít? Your family experience a lot of kidnappings?" She blushed slightly at that.

 

"Itís been weeks. Why couldnít it have been a coincidence?"

 

"Itís the first time Iíve gone out of town since we starting seeing each other." His eyes widened. "Oh my god."

 

"What?"

 

"She got me out of town. That why the case was so bogus. Sheís part of it."

 

Dana had mentally flinched each time heíd said the word Ďsheí. She hated asking, but it slipped out before she could stop it. "Who?"

 

"Diana Fowley. Weíve done some work together on the X-Files. Those cases where things disappeared." She didnít speak, he was obviously far away right now, thinking.

 

They both heard the door opening and before she could react he was in front of her, shielding her, his gun already drawn. "I forgot to get my - " Melissa froze as she looked at them. His gun was now pointed at the ceiling and he took a shaking breath.

 

"Sorry about that. I thought . . . nevermind. Iím sorry."

 

"Yeah, its, its okay. I just wanted to get my other bag. Iíll knock when I get back." She had grabbed the plastic bag from beside the door and was gone again.

 

He stepped away from her then, though she had not moved from him, holstering his gun. "Why did you do that?"

 

"I thought it might be someone . . . Look, as soon as she gets back Iíll go out to the car and keep watch from there."

 

"Keep watch? What are you talking about?"

 

"Iím not comfortable with only your sister here as protection. Iíll keep an eye on the place until morning, then I can arrange for more security."

 

"You donít have to do - "

 

"Yes, I do. This is all my fault. Theyíre after you because of me, just like I said theyíd be."

 

"You . . .you were serious. Thatís why you left that morning?" She looked up at him wondering, was it really true?

 

"Trying to save your life is the only thing that got me out of here. I couldnít save the only other person Iíve ever cared about. They get you over my dead body."

 

She was looking deep into his eyes now, trying to read what was there. He didnít look away, allowing her scrutiny, hell savoring it because he could look at her as well.

 

She took a deep breath. "You were telling the truth."

 

He nodded, afraid to speak.

 

"Who did you lose?" She steeled herself to hear the words former lover, wife, whatever.

 

"My sister," he spoke in a whisper. She saw the pain in his eyes. Heíd never mentioned a sister; he didnít mention his family at all come to think of it.

 

"Will you tell me about it?" The softening in her stance was noticed immediately. She motioned him toward the couch and after he sat, took a seat herself as far from him as she could on the same furniture.

 

She watched him as he talked, the pain, the frustration, the guilt poured out of him. She didnít interrupt with questions, just letting him get it all out.

 

He finally ran down, more from exhaustion than ending the story. There was no resolution to this. "Anyway, I joined the FBI and the first thing I did was pull her file. They did a half-ass job and now so many years have gone by . . . "

 

"Iím sorry, Mulder." Her posture was softer and she was leaning slightly toward him instead of the stiffness sheíd displayed when they first sat down.

 

He shook his head and rose. He began pacing then, unable to sit still. "Iím not comfortable with you staying here tonight. Youíre on the ground floor, two doors, and accessible windows. I canít secure this place alone."

 

"Mulder - "

 

"Theyíve already proven theyíll do it. Theyíll be better prepared next time. You caught them off guard by fighting back, you donít look like the kind of woman that would."

 

"You want me to check into a hotel?"

 

"What about my place?" She stiffened immediately and drew back on the couch. "Wait, this is not a come on, Dana. I swear. I know Iíve killed that part of you for me. My place is on the fourth floor, one door, no one would know you were there, and I know the layout with my eyes closed. Your sister could come too. The two of you can have the bedroom and Iíll sleep on the couch. I just, I donít want . . . " His voice trailed off and she still sat silent.

 

"Youíre that concerned about this?"

 

"Youíve got no reason to trust me, I know that. But youíre part of me, Dana and I canít go through that again. It cost me most of my sanity the first time. Thereís no telling what would be left if you were taken."

 

She swallowed hard, he was either a very good actor or . . . or he did love her. She wasnít sure which scared her more.

Assignment - Part 4



 

She swallowed hard, he was either a very good actor or . . . or he did love her. She wasnít sure which scared her more.

 

"Dana?"

 

"Iíll come to your place. Missy had other plans anyway. This would free her to do that. Iíll get a few things together." She rose from the couch and disappeared into her bedroom. He just stood there, too relieved and stunned to comment.

 

Melissa knocked quite loudly on the door when she returned and Mulder opened it with a sheepish grin. "I suppose I should be glad youíre this protective of my sister, right?"

 

"Absolutely." He watched her take the bag on into Danaís bedroom. Her expression when she emerged was more than a little bemused but she made no comment until she reached the door.

 

"Donít hurt her." And she was out the door before he could comment. He was still figuring out what he should say to that when Dana returned to the living room.

 

She was carrying an overnight bag; ready to go off with him despite how he had treated her. He felt humbled by her; she wasnít the type of woman he was accustomed to. "Iím ready."

 

"We have to do a few things first." Her voice bringing him back to the present. "I want to leave the lights on and find an all-talk radio station." She obediently went to her stereo and manipulated the dials while he adjusted the lights in the apartment to his satisfaction. He returned to the living room and bent down, removing his second gun from his ankle holster.

 

"Have you ever shot a gun?"

 

"No, not like this. I used a BB gun as a child."

 

"Well, this oneís simple." He released the safety and ratcheted a bullet into the chamber. Then he handed it to her.

 

She stepped back. "Why?"

 

"I have to leave you alone for a few minutes. I donít want you going out the front door. Theyíll know youíre gone then. I want to move my car like Iím leaving. Iíll make sure Iím not followed and pull into the service alley. If youíll let me have a key to your back door, Iíll let myself in and get you out of here."

 

"Mulder, I - "

 

"Listen, this is the best way. Your sisterís gone for the evening and I wonít be coming back to the front door. Donít answer it, no matter who comes to the door. Donít even be in line of fire from it."

 

"Are you trying to scare me?"

 

"If it will keep you alive, yes. Can I have the key?" He held out his hand. She reached into her purse, took out her ring of keys and handed it to him. "No, just the key to the back door. You keep your car key. If anything happens to me, you take off, go to this address." He handed her a scrap of paper. "They can protect you."

 

Her hand was shaking as she reached for the paper. "Do you think somethingís going to happen to you?"


"No. But I want you safe regardless. These guys are more paranoid than I am. Theyíll find a place to hide you for as long as necessary. I trust them."

 

She nodded slowly and he motioned her away from the door, then let himself out. She tensed, expecting gunfire. How the hell had she gotten herself into something like this?

 

Since she wasnít allowed to get near the windows or doors, she finally settled at the kitchen table. She felt the paper crackle in her coat pocket and pulled it back out, memorizing the address. How long had he wanted her to wait for him?

 

Probably not all night, he hadnít wanted her to be alone. Who were these guys he was entrusting her to if anything . . . no, donít even think it.

 

The next eighteen minutes were the longest of her life. When she heard the key in the door she jerked to her feet, the gun in her hand, pointed at the backdoor. He let himself in and stopped at the sight of her, holding his hands out from his sides. "Dana?"

 

She let her arm fall back to her side. The gun slipped out of her hand and onto the table. Then she threw her arms around him. His hesitation was minimal, and his arms encircled her as well. When she got her breathing back under control she stepped back and he allowed it.

 

"Iím sorry, I - " She didnít look up at him.

 

"Donít ever be sorry for that." He was already struggling not to pull her back against him. "We need to get out of here. You have everything?" She nodded. "Okay, put the gun in your pocket, but keep your hand on it. When we get to the car, youíre getting in the back and lying down, out of sight. Iím the only one I want anyone to see in the car." She nodded again and he took her arm with his free hand, his gun drawn.

 

He sped away even as she was closing her door and it was several minutes before he spoke. "Are you okay?" Even now he didnít turn to look.

 

"Iím fine. Do you see anyone?"

 

"No, but Iím not willing to trust myself alone."

 

She decided not to respond to that, just remaining silent. The trip wasnít that long, at least it didnít seem that way after the wait back at her apartment.

 

They slipped into his building again through the back and he escorted her to the apartment. He let her in and locked the door behind them. She stood in the entry looking around.

 

"Not much to look at, is it?" He stood behind her, observing her.

 

"Well, itís not what I expected."

 

She realized he was looking down at her now, standing much too close, but she didnít move away. "What were you expecting? A mirrored ball in the living room, leather and chains?"

 

"Yeah, I guess something like that."

 

He gave a mirthless chuckle, "No. In fact, I believe youíre the first woman Iíve ever brought here."

 

At that she looked up at him, startled. He shrugged and moved past her to take her suitcase into the bedroom. She followed in time to see him gathering clothes up from the chair and floor. "Sorry, I wasnít exactly expecting company."

 

"If itís too much trouble having me here - "

 

"No! I mean, no, its not too much trouble. I should keep the place up better anyway. I just donít spend a lot of time here." He leaned over and began stripping the bed.

 

"I can do that."

 

"Itís okay. Theyíre probably clean, just dusty. I usually sleep on the couch."

 

"Why?" She was watching him now. Here was the only man sheíd ever slept with and she was learning more about him standing here than making love with him.

 

Again he shrugged, "Itís just easier and I usually fall asleep to the TV if I sleep at all."

 

She decided not to push, they werenít involved any longer and it was none of her business. She took her side of the sheet and helped remake the bed.

 

When they were finished he straightened up, "Well, I guess youíre tired. The bathroom is through there. Iíll . . . IĎll see you in the morning. Keep the gun by the bed, okay?"

 

She nodded and waited for him to leave the room before easing herself down on the bed. What an incredible twenty-four hours. She was still reeling from the fact that she had actually fought off her attackers, thanks mostly to the paranoia he had placed in her mind and now she had left her home under cover of darkness and was hiding out - with him.

 

Dana pulled out her nightgown. Sheíd wanted to bring pajamas but they were in the dirty clothes and she couldnít take them out and bring them here. Well, it wasnít really a provocative gown; not that he would see it anyway. Stan had liked the provocative lingerie, not that it mattered in the long run, but heíd bought her enough of it. She shook her head to rid herself of thoughts of him. She was tired, at least emotionally; bed was probably the best thing.

 

 

She jerked awake at the sound. What? Where was she? Before panic could take a firm hold she remembered, Mulderís apartment. But what was the noise? She reached for the gun on the bedside table and rose. Was he in trouble? Had they come for her?

 

She eased the door open, the gun in her hand. He was on the couch but she didnít see anyone else. The TV was on, she could see the light flickering, but that wasnít the sound that had woken her. That was only white noise. Then she heard it again, it was him, moaning, fighting something.

 

Just to make sure she glanced over at the door. The chain was still on and it was the only door. They were four flights up. Dana laid her gun on the table and moved closer to him, "No, no!"

 

"Mulder wake up." He didnít hear her; he was listening to something else. She moved closer still. He was becoming more agitated. The afghan covering him had slipped to the floor. He was wearing boxers and a t-shirt, but she was remembering him nude. She shook her head, that was over. Hadnít she been duped by him, slept with him and then he had bolted with that stupid story that being with him put her in danger.

 

But heíd been right, she had been in danger. Was in danger. Theyíd tried to take her like they had Stan and he was dead. Stan had crossed them, sold information about them. She had done neither.

 

"No . . . Dana . . . donít . . . no."

 

That decided her, whatever it was she was part of his nightmare. "Mulder." She placed her hand on his chest. He jerked awake lunging for his gun. "Mulder, itís me. You were dreaming."

 

He fell back, his hands over his eyes. "I could have killed you. Donít - "

 

"You were calling out my name."

 

He didnít comment, looking away from her now. His eyes were forced back to her when she sat down on the edge of the couch and rested her hand on his stomach. His physical response was beyond his control though she seemed to take no notice.

 

"I wasnít just a conquest, a one-night stand."

 

"No!" He managed to get out, though it sounded more like a growl.

 

"What surprised me the most," she continued as though he hadnít spoken, "is that even through my anger and humiliation, I still craved your body. Iíd say right now that the same is true of you."

 

"Dana - "

 

"You said you loved me."

 

"I do."

 

"But you donít want to be with me."

 

"I want to be with you, but I didnít want to put you in danger. Thatís a moot point now. Youíre already in danger and itís my fault. They found out we were together, and they got me out of town to make their move. Iím back and Iím going to keep you safe. Iím going to teach you how to look after yourself too. Youíre going to learn to shoot, learn hand to hand combat, learn to drive aggressively. Youíve got to be ready. If anything happens to me - " her hand seemed to clutch at his skin at those words. "Dana?"

 

"I donít want anything to happen to you. Is being with me putting you in the same danger you say Iím in?"

 

"Iíve been in danger a long time, I guess Iím used to it. When you donít care about anyone it doesnít really matter."

 

"Are we going to be killed?"

 

"Iím not going to let them have you, I told you. Iíll do whatever it takes to keep you safe."

 

"Iíd feel safe out here with you."

 

"What?" He could not have heard those words, not those.

 

"That night, in your arms, I never felt safer." He just looked at her; too stunned, too hopeful to make a sound. "Mulder?"

 

"I . . . I hurt you."

 

"I know what you did. I understand it now. I want you to teach me those things, like you taught me a couple of nights ago. I want to learn more about that too."

 

"Dana - " She leaned forward, her breasts pressing against his chest as her lips pressed against his. "What are you . . . "

 

"I have no experience seducing a man, if Iím doing this wrong -  "

 

"Not wrong, never wrong. Dana are you sure about this? I canít push you; I canít even ask you . . . " Her lips took the rest of his words. Her hand moved down from his stomach and he moaned as he caught it, stopping her. "I donít deserve you."

 

"We seem kind of intertwined now, donít you think?

 

"I want you, Dana, you know I want you, but how can I even - "

 

"Shut up and kiss me, Agent Mulder. Itís my decision and Iíve made it." Her hand closed around his inner thigh and all of his good intentions vanished. His hand now on the back of her head, pressing her lips closer to his.

 

He broke away a few minutes later. "The bed would be more comfortable."

 

"No. I want to stay here, where you sleep. Itís what you really want." He blinked, how did she know that fantasy? Heíd wanted to be here with her since they . . . he groaned again, she didnít need any further tutoring as far as he was concerned.

 

*****

 

They were both in the kitchen, attempting to prepare something to eat from the supplies on hand. It was becoming comical. He heard his cell phone and retreated gratefully from the fray, dusting his hands.

 

"Get out Mulder, get out now!"

Assignment - Part 5



 

"Get out Mulder, get out now!" Byersí voice sent a jolt of adrenaline through his body. He didnít bother to acknowledge the warning, turning back to the kitchen and grabbing her arm.

 

"Get on your shoes, weíve got to get out of here."

 

"What?" She was just standing there, staring at him.

 

"Now! Theyíre on to us. We have to leave!" He was pulling her toward the living room. Whatever he was talking about he was nearly frantic and heíd been right every other time. She spotted her shoes and began shoving them on. He had left her side and was in the bedroom. He emerged seconds later carrying her overnight case. "Come on!"

 

They were out the door, not bothering with the elevator. He was practically pulling her on the way to the car. He opened the back door and threw her suitcase in as she scrambled into the front. He peeled off and she hung on, seat belts hanging loose, forgotten at their sides.

 

She wanted desperately to ask what was going on, but all of his attention was on driving and at this speed, it should be. She sat trying to calm herself, he knew what to do and he was used to making split second decisions. She had to trust him.

 

The farther they were from the apartment the calmer he seemed to become, finally reaching over and taking her hand but still not speaking. When she opened her mouth to ask a question he squeezed her hand and shook his head. Donít speak? Okay, this was Mulder, do as he says. But her anxiety level rose yet another notch.

 

To her they were driving aimlessly around the city, but she realized he was trying to spot a tail. This was the kind of thing he wanted her to learn, so she too began watching the traffic. She couldnít see anything suspicious but apparently neither could he.

 

When he was convinced they werenít being followed he pulled into a large parking lot. He drove directly to an outer edge and parked next to a dusty SUV. He motioned for her to get out as he grabbed her bag.

 

Once in the other vehicle he finally spoke. "We should be okay now."

 

"Was the other car bugged?"

 

"I couldnít be sure. Itís not worth taking the chance. Weíve got a couple of stops to make."

 

"What happened? Who called?"

 

"The guys I told you about last night - we work together unofficially. They help watch my back and they know youíre important to me. Byers called, he said to get out. He wouldnít do that without a good reason."

 

"You trust him that much?"

 

Mulder looked surprised, "I guess I do. At least when it comes to your safety."

 

She was looking him straight in the eye now. She could no longer doubt his words where she was concerned. He loved her, it wasnít up for analysis anymore, it was. And the best part was, she loved him too. It was nothing like the feelings sheíd had, or imagined sheíd had for Stan. This was . . . this was all consuming.

 

"So what do we do now?"

 

Mulder relaxed a notch. We, sheíd said we. "Iíve known Iíd have to disappear some time, maybe not for long but you never know. Iíve got some money stashed and some identification. The guys are working on some for you already, weíd discussed it before . . . Weíll have to go underground for awhile."

 

She swallowed hard, underground? "Okay. Tell me what to do."

 

He nodded and pulled out of the parking lot. "Thereís a bag under your seat, get it out and go through it." She unzipped the bag; papers, two guns, extra clips, and cash. A lot of it. He nodded as she listed each item. "Weíll need more ammo, some clothes, a money belt for each of us." He began listing off the top of his head.

 

"Why more ammunition?"

 

"Your lessons start immediately; shooting, driving, hand-to-hand. Itís not play, itís for your life."

 

"Our lives." He nodded.

 

After an hour of driving south they pulled into a large outlet mall and made the purchases they needed for now.

 

*****

 

The lessons went well. He was amazed at her progress, but then she was completely motivated. There was no way she was going to let him down. There had been fun along the way as well. Heíd done an excellent job of coloring her hair, which had led to some wildly erotic fun. Of course just being together seemed to lead to the same thing.

 

They had made cautious contact with his friends and her IDs had arrived along with the information that had been accumulated in their absence. Even Dana was having trouble discounting some of the information, especially after running her own somewhat cruder tests. She'd checked and rechecked Byersí findings and could find no error. Whatever this "black cancer" was couldnít be identified readily by her.

 

The names that appeared in the information surprised her as well, though she couldnít say why. Her father-in-law had been a state senator yet he was involved with this conspiracy. Maybe not anymore after his sonís betrayal, but at one time. So these names should have come as no shock.

 

It was actually her suggestion that they investigate the laboratory the guys had located in eastern Indiana. It was probably already deserted if the location was known, but they could still check it out.

 

It would take a couple of days to get there; they never drove straight to anywhere. He looked over at her fondly as she napped beside him in the car. Heíd never thought going underground could be a honeymoon, but it had been. Okay, no actual ceremony yet but heíd asked and sheíd agreed. He just didnít want her to have to take a false name and he didnít feel it was safe enough to apply for a license yet. Maybe they could make their way to Nevada soon.

 

She stirred and sat up straighter. "Was I asleep?"

 

"Yeah. I must be keeping you up too late at night." She smiled and looked away. "You going to let me take all the blame?"

 

"No." She looked back and placed her hand on his thigh.

 

"You okay?" He was watching her now, concerned.

 

"Very okay. Maybe a little nervous about heading toward them instead of away."

 

"You donít have to go. It shouldnít take me more than an hour - "

 

"No! Not without me." His hand was now on hers still resting on his thigh. He squeezed her hand.

 

"Donít worry, youíll be there - where I can keep an eye on you."

 

"Not the other way around?" she asked lightly. There was something bothering her but she wasnít ready to talk about it. Heíd try to reassure her tonight.

 

Their lovemaking was as spectacular as always that night and as he held her close he murmured reassuring words in her ear.

 

She drew back from him, "Mulder, will it always be like this?"

 

"What? The way I love you, want you?"

 

She smiled and relaxed slightly in his arms. "Iím not worried about that."

 

"Good." He nuzzled her neck.

 

"I mean underground. Will we ever . . .?"

 

"Yes. Iíll take you home when I know itís safe. I want us to have a home, have our work and you to have your family."

 

"I know. I guess - " He interrupted her with another kiss.

 

"I promise to give you a normal life as soon as I possibly can. You know that donít you?" She nodded and burrowed into his chest.

 

*****

 

He had her hand, hurrying her along. She couldnít keep up with his strides. She was going to get them killed if she didnít pick up the pace. She tried to lengthen her steps but the pain grabbed her again and she doubled over, pulling her hand from his.

 

"Dana? Dana, whatís wrong? Are you hurt?"

 

She couldnít respond, the pain was too intense, it was all she could do to breathe. He had her by the shoulders now, supporting her. "Dana!"

 

The pain was lessening; she could draw a breath again. "I . . . Iím okay." Well, he obviously didnít believe that, and she was grateful he hadnít let go of her. She was pretty sure she would have fallen if he had.

 

"The carís just over that rise. Then maybe we can relax." Without asking he had scooped her up in his arms. She should protest but didnít have the strength, allowing her eyes to close and just be in his arms.

 

He laid her gently in the backseat and then took off. No one had appeared yet, but he couldnít take the chance. The place hadnít been as deserted as they had thought. Now they had seen the black cancer, the victims strapped to tables. If they had been found . . . And what was wrong with her? His first thought was that she had been shot even though he hadnít heard the sound of a weapon. Then, that the black cancer, whatever it was, swimming in the victimsí eyes had gotten to her. The ice that had sent up his spine had nearly paralyzed him.

 

He spotted a dirt side road up ahead and pulled into it, then off the road behind some trees. That should hide them, it was getting dark anyway. He had to make sure she was okay.

 

He opened the back door of the car and slid in beside her as she sat up. "Dana, whatís wrong?"

 

She shook her head and wouldnít meet his eyes. He saw the tear escape and track down her face. "Dana, please!" He pulled her close to him, willing her to talk to him.

 

She wouldnít look up and he had to lean in to hear her. "I think Iím having a miscarriage."

 

"A mis . . ." The rest of the word stuck in his throat and his mind threatened to blow entirely. She was pregnant? But theyíd been careful, except that one time, the first time. Speak, he had to say something to her. "Just relax, Sweetheart. I think thereís a hospital - "

 

"No Mulder. If Iím going to lose a baby this early thereís nothing they can do."

 

"Why didnít you tell me?"

 

"There hasnít really been a good time."

 

"Good time? To tell me youíre carrying my baby? God, Dana, I should be taking better care of you, you should be at home with a doctor you trust. I . . . "

 

"Youíre taken excellent care of me. These things happen."

 

"Would it happen if we were in a stable environment? A safe place without the stress of running, being underground?"

 

"It could have. Weíll never know." She looked up at him now, her hand on his cheek. "This is not your fault. Youíve kept us alive, you and me. If children are in the future, then itíll happen."

 

"Are you sure youíve lost it?"

 

"No, not yet. But the cramps are getting worse."

 

"How long have you been having them?" He was appalled. How the hell could she have been going through this without him even being aware? What kind of a man was he, for the woman he loved more than life itself to be in this pain, emotional and physical and him to be unaware?

 

"Stop it! Stop it right now. I could have found a way to tell you. But youíve had so much on your mind. Youíve had twice the stress Iíve had, and Iíve been of little or no help. Weíre still alive because of you, your skills, your brilliance. Donít you dare try to take blame for this."

 

"I am to blame, damnit! Completely to blame. If I hadnít asked you out, gotten involved with you, they would have left you alone. I got you pregnant, I didnít use protection, now Iím dragging you around the country - "

 

"To save my life."

 

"And kill our child?" He held her against his chest, smoothing her hair. He felt her tense against him.

 

When she got her breath back, she pulled away. "We need to get going. Come on, if weíre caught now Iím not going to be much help." He closed his eyes, but she was right. They needed to put some distance between them and this place. He laid her down gently in the back seat and reluctantly left her side.

 

He thought she was resting, even asleep, until he heard her moan again. He had to get her some help but they were in the middle of nowhere. He changed course suddenly; they could be in Chicago in less than an hour. She was in no shape to protest anyway.

 

Eventually he realized she did actually drift off. When he was sure she was asleep he pulled out his cell phone. They used it rarely, always afraid, but he needed some help. A quick call to the guys got the wheels in motion. Theyíd come through; he had to trust someone.

 

She jerked awake with a gasp. "Mulder, Mulder this is something different. This is not a miscarriage."

 

He nearly drove off the road. "What? Tell me how to help you."

 

"I shouldnít be in this much pain, Mulder. I think . . . " she was fighting for breath again, "I think it may be an ectopic pregnancy."

 

"I donít - "

 

"A tubal pregnancy. The baby may be growing in my fallopian tube. If thatís it, the baby will grow large enough to rupture the tube."

 

His knuckles were white against the steering wheel. "What happens then?"

 

"Iíll probably die."

 

He closed his eyes against that pain. He had to sound positive, he had to keep her calm. Right, she sounded calmer than he did already. "Weíll be in Chicago shortly. Iím taking you to Mercy General."

 

"Theyíll find us."

 

"No. Iíve gotten some help. Hang on, Iím going to get you help." She eased back down on the seat. There was nothing she could do to; in fact she wished she werenít even conscious.

 

She barely was when he pulled into the emergency entrance of the hospital. He gathered her into his arms and hurried inside. "I need some help here." He had it immediately. They moved her into a trauma room.

 

"Talk to me." The ER doctor was already examining her, an IV being inserted, blood pressure taken.

 

"Sheís pregnant. It may . . . she might be having a tubal pregnancy."

 

"Get the OB resident down here. She canít be too far along, set up the ultrasound."

 

They hadnít thrown him out, not that he would go anyway. He had been moved out of the way but where she could see him when she opened her eyes. They were bringing more equipment in now, and another doctor had joined them. They could have been talking Hindu for all he knew. They had exposed her stomach and were moving an instrument around on it. The sound of a rapid heartbeat filled the room.

 

"There, back there. The babyís fine, good position, strong beat. So whereís this pain coming from?" Mulder had to grip the counter beside him to stay on his feet. The baby was still alive? He missed the next few minutes, unable to focus on anything but the sound of that heartbeat echoing through the room and now his head.

 

" . . . but surgeryís out. Find Dr. Blake, letís get his take on it."

 

"Dr. Blake? Whoís he?" Mulder finally had his voice back.

 

"We think itís a kidney stone, sir. But with the pregnancy . . . Dr. Blakeís the expert. Sheís gotten some pain meds now so sheís not so uncomfortable."

 

Uncomfortable? Was that what they called it? An older man had entered the room now and was being briefed on her condition.

 

"Okay, letís see the position of the fetus again." He had a decisive manner; Mulder didnít know whether to be pleased or annoyed at his attitude. Then the room was filled again with the sound of his childís heartbeat and his brain functions narrowed to watching her, wishing she were hearing this with him under other circumstances.

 

"Letís move her to the tub, get his signature. Come on." And the older man was out of the room. The original doctor was approaching him now, standing in his way as they moved her out of the room.

 

"Sir, Mr. Uh . . ." The doctor looked down at her chart, "Mr. Lail, we need you to sign authorization for the lithotripsy." At Mulderís totally blank look he continued, "Itís a procedure to break down the kidney stone, so that she can pass it."

 

"The baby?"

 

"Dr. Blake will handle the procedure himself. Try not to worry. Heís the expert. We need your signature right away."

 

Mulder retreated into himself. She was the doctor, what decision would she make? But they knew about the baby and they were the experts. As the doctor touched his arm he shook himself, and took the proffered pen. Lail, they were using the Lail identity now, and the guys had come through.

 

"You can wait in here, Mr. Lail. This shouldnít take too long. Someone will come for you as soon as you can see her." Mulder nodded dumbly. He was still in shock. Yesterday none of this had been a possibility, not even an unrealized dream and now Dana, his wife in every sense of the word was going through a Ďprocedureí he had never heard of with the added complication of pregnancy.

 

Theyíd never talked about children, not under the circumstances. He didnít know if she wanted kids, or wanted kids with him at least. There had been no time to talk about it, no time to savor the fact that this had happened between them. His first knowledge of the child was the realization that she was losing it. But she hadnít lost it, at least not yet. What was happening in there?

 

He wasnít asleep; it was more of a stupor when the doctor from the ER approached him. "Mr. Lail? Can you hear me?"

 

He was on his feet and nearly went over, the doctor taking his arm. "My wife?"

 

"Sheís doing very well. Theyíve moved her to a room and sheís resting. Would you like me to take you to her?"

 

"Please."

 

"I take it this is your first baby?"

 

"Yeah. It was kind of a surprise." The doctor grinned and they entered the elevator.

 

Just outside her room they stopped, "Just so you know, the procedure went very well. Theyíve done another ultrasound and the babyís doing fine. Iíll check in on her in a little while."

 

Mulder opened the door quietly, she was still asleep and he didnít want to disturb her. He sat in the chair by the bed and just watched her. She was going to be okay, he could believe it now - the color was back in her cheeks, her breathing was easier, the lines around her eyes were gone - onto his face no doubt. He couldnít remember ever being so scared.

 

But then there had never been anyone in his life like this woman. The most amazing thing though was that she wanted to be with him. She was carrying his child. He stared at her with awe. Heíd never even considered children; it honestly had never been anything he thought about. Had she thought about it, dreamed about it? She certainly would never have had kids with Stan. Had that been part of her decision to marry him, that she wouldnít have to . . . He wanted to touch her, but was afraid to wake her.

 

It seemed like forever, but according to his watch he had only been there about thirty minutes when she stirred.

 

He had his eyes locked on her abdomen, trying to visualize how she would look in a few months. This was so strange. When she opened her eyes she saw where he was focused and couldnít halt a tear that slid toward her hairline.

 

"Iím so sorry."

 

"Dana, I didnít know you were awake. How are you feeling?"

 

She shook her head, unable to answer. Thatís when it hit him, she didnít know. She still thought sheíd lost the baby.

 

"Dana, you didnít lose him. Youíre still pregnant."

 

"What?" It was more breath than word. She knew he would never lie to her, but she couldnít believe this.

 

"It wasnít a miscarriage or a tubal pregnancy. You had a kidney stone. They did a litho . . . "

 

"Lithotripsy?"

 

"That sounds right. You and the baby are okay." He watched the hope dawn in her eyes, rapidly replaced with joy. She was happy! She did want his child. He was on his feet; he needed to hold her. Her arms came up around his neck and he kissed her deeply and thoroughly.

 

"Ahem." The doctor paused just inside the door. "You say this pregnancy was a surprise?" They could hear the humor in his voice. "This right here is a major cause of it."

 

Mulder grinned at him and moved slightly away from her, though not far enough to have to release her hand.

 

"How are you feeling, I can see how heís doing." The young doctor turned to Dana.

 

"Much better."

 

"Iím not surprised. You didnít look that good when you got here. Your vitals are very good and the latest ultrasound showed no problem. Any cramping?"

 

"No. When can I leave?" Mulder turned to look at her.

 

The doctor folded his hands over her chart, "Well, we really donít need to keep you at all, but I do recommend that you make an appointment with your OB-GYN to bring him up to date."

 

"I will. So . . .?"

 

"I can sign your papers now. Iíll be right back."

 

As soon as the door closed behind him Mulder moved back in. "Dana, donít be crazy. Weíre okay for now, I want you to stay here until youíre okay."

 

"I am okay, you heard him. Iíll feel better when weíre out of here."

 

"No one - "

 

"Mulder, please." She couldnít ease the worried look but he did nod. When the doctor returned with the paperwork and a nurse, she rose and tested her ability to stand, then smiled reassuringly at Mulder and got into the wheelchair.

 

Assignment - Part 6



 

He found a motel relatively close to the hospital and no amount of reassurance from her could convince him to go any further. He had her tucked back into bed before she knew it.

 

"Iím not sick, Mulder." She stated this calmly and slowly as though talking him down off a ledge.

 

"Well then this is because of me. Iím in no shape to drive anywhere."

 

"We need to talk, donít we?" She sat up and he arranged the pillows behind her. She allowed it but he could tell she was getting impatient with him.

 

"Okay." He sat beside her on the bed.

 

She took a steadying breath. "Mulder this added complication is my fault. I - "

 

"This Ďadded complicationí is our baby and regardless of what else is going on, Dana, Iím ecstatic about that."

 

"Are you? Really? I know you werenít prepared for it and weíve been so careful. I know better, hell Iím a doctor, but even I had to be thinking you canít get pregnant the first time - when you lose your virginity for goodness sake."

 

"Actually I kind of like it. Iím imprinted on you permanently."

 

She smiled at that, "you already were." She sobered then, "But now, on the run like this - "

 

"Iím happy whenever it happened. It is something we hadnít discussed though. Technically we arenít married. I want to be, I donít want him to ever think that he was the reason we married."

 

"Youíve said Ďheí a couple of times. What if itís a girl?"

 

"Sheíll have me wrapped tight in seconds no doubt, especially if she looks like her mother. Quit changing the subject."

 

"Iíve already told you Iíd marry you, even before I found out about . . . Itís not been safe and Iím willing to wait."

 

"Iím not. I never expected to find you, and a family . . . " He shook his head, "I never even thought about that."

 

"Thatís what Iím worried about. Youíre excited right now and weíre both relieved, but Mulder a baby right now isnít - "

 

"No. Dana, donít even think it. Weíre going to lay low, stop looking for trouble and just be a normal family."

 

"And you give up everything you believe in, your lifeís work? Youíll resent both of us and I canít live with that. I wonít allow it." He drew back then at the vehemence in her tone though she hadnít raised her voice. "Iíll be careful and I know youíll look after me, but we have to keep working. Once we stop these people, then we can relax."

 

"You expect me to haul you around the country, on the run, doing what we do, now? It can wait."

 

"Until when? Donít you get it, Mulder, now you donít want to endanger us, later you wonít want to leave us alone. Now, Mulder. We need to keep going with what weíve started. If you canít accept continuing to work with me, Iím leaving."

 

"You what?" His mouth fell open.

 

"I love you too much to do this to you. I wonít stay if you donít allow me to help you, because I wonít be a burden. I refuse."

 

He just stared at her, unable to believe the turn this conversation had taken. Leave him because of the baby? He was reeling. Too much had happened in the last twenty-four hours. Theyíd found one of the locations theyíd been searching for, heíd found out he was going to be a father, heíd thought she was dying and now she was threatening to leave him if he didnít continue to put her in peril.

 

He rose from the bed and she watched him with growing fear. Had she gone too far? Leaving him was the last thing she wanted to do. He had to be made to understand that she was not an invalid, that she could carry her own weight.

 

She rose from the bed and approached him quietly. She didnít speak, smoothing down his hair and then hugging his head to her middle. His arms went around her hips.

 

"I donít want to leave you." His arms tightened around her. "You know that." He nodded. "Then let me help you. Together we can do this faster. Then we can go home and be a family."

 

"Are you going to ask me not to worry about you?"

 

She smiled down at the top of his head. "No. As long as you donít ask me to stop worrying about you."

 

He rose then and lifted her into his arms. "You should be in bed." She sighed and let him return her to the bed then pulled him down to join her.

 

"I think you need rest more than I do. Come here." She pulled him against her, his head on her breasts. "Weíre together, Mulder, like we should be."

 

*****

  

They worked out a system. He insisted on doing more of the legwork and she got quite adept at the computer. They were beginning to link names from the fraternity that Stan had belonged to. It wasnít an ordinary club; the players shouldnít have had the ties that they did. These men had nothing in common other than being members of Stanís club. Most of the men were Stanís fatherís age, but other than that the connection was buried deep.

 

The connections they did have were confusing - none were married to their original spouses and only a few had remarried. None had a religious affiliation any longer, though most had grown up in a church. Family ties had been severed years ago with just a few exceptions. Stan had been one of those. He was one of three sons that had joined the group. No daughters had.

 

*****

 

The knocking on the door startled him. He had been headed for bed. Instead he flipped on the monitor. She didnít look familiar. "Please, let me in!" He picked up the tire iron near the door.

 

"Just a minute!" He began opening locks. When the door was finally open she sort of stumbled in. "Whoa, sister. Whatís going on?"

 

"Melvin Frohike?"

 

His eyes narrowed. "Who wants to know?"

 

"Iím Dana Mu . . . Dana Mulder." Then he was supporting her, his shock nearly immobilizing him.

 

"Byers! Langly, get out here!" They appeared from different parts of the apartment. Byers, belting his robe, Langly in t-shirt and sweatpants, his toothbrush in his mouth. They took in the woman he was holding and were at his side.

 

"Who?" They had her in their arms now.

 

"Itís Dana. Letís put her on my bed."

 

"Is she hurt?" That from Byers as they lay her on Frohikeís bed. Frohike shrugged. After a glance at the other two, Byers unbuttoned her coat and pulled it open. He stopped, in shock, and looked up at the other men. "Sheís pregnant."

 

"Mulder never mentioned that." Langly looked up from her.

 

"You blame him?" Byers was leaning over her again. "Dana? Dana can you hear me?" She stirred then and after a moment opened her eyes. "Iím John Byers. Can you hear me?"

 

"Byers . . . yes." She glanced over at the blond also hovering. "Langly?" He nodded.

 

Byers drew her attention back. "Are you okay? Do we need to take you to a hospital?"

 

"Iím okay, just exhausted."

 

"Can you tell us what happened?"

 

Tears formed in her eyes, but she didnít allow them to fall. "Mulder and I got separated. He thought they had found us and was going to lure them away. He didnít meet me at the rendezvous. My instructions were to find you."

 

"Well you did, and weíre on it. Where did all this take place?"

 

"West . . . West Virginia." Her eyes were closing in spite of herself.

 

"You rest, weíll find Mulder." She was asleep before they could leave the room.

 

 

They were taking a breather and having breakfast when they realized she was standing in the doorway, holding tightly to the door jam. Byers rose immediately and took her arm, leading her to the table. "Good morning. Did Frohikeís cooking wake you?"

 

She smiled tiredly up at him. The dark circles were still under her eyes. "Smells good." Then her eyes closed and she swayed slightly.

 

"How long has it been since youíve eaten?"

 

"I donít remember."

 

"Iíll get you a plate." Byers walked over to Frohike and made sure she couldnít hear him. "I donít think sheís up for the spicy stuff."

 

"Scrambled eggs and toast, coming right up." Frohike turned back toward the stove as Langly poured a glass of juice for her. She took it gratefully and when the plate was placed before her began eating immediately.

 

She really hadnít eaten that much when she sighed and laid down her fork. "It tastes wonderful, but I think I need to lie down again." Byers was at her side immediately. He took one arm and Langly the other to escort her back to her bed.

 

Once she was settled Byers took her hand. "We need a promise from you." She looked up at him. "If you need a doctor, or to go to the hospital, youíll tell us. Weíre kind of outside our learning curve here."

 

She smiled slightly, "Yes, I promise that."

 

"When is, uh, when . . . "

 

"Iím thirty weeks, ten more to go. Youíll find Mulder, wonít you?"

 

"Weíre in charge of worrying now. Get some rest, one of us will check on you in little while." She nodded and he was sure she was asleep again before he and Langly made it to the door.

 

*****

 

"Dana?" Byers tapped on the door.

 

"Come on in." She sat up with some difficulty and he moved to the bed.

 

"You doing okay?"

 

"Iím fine. Why? Oh my god, have you . . . "

 

"Yeah. Weíve got him. Heís at Georgetown."

 

"Is he okay? How did you find him?" She was using him to lever herself up, her eyes scanning for her shoes.

 

"Weíve had people watching. Heís unconscious and I donít know his status right now. Are you up for going down there?"

 

She almost laughed at him. "Youíre kidding right? Are you going to drive or am I?"

 

"I am, the guys will meet us there. Take your time, heís not going anywhere. Iíve got too many people watching."

 

Taking her time was not something she could do; the only reason she wasnít running was that she wasnít physically able to any more. Byers was never more than a step from her and had his arm around her as they entered his room.

 

"Oh John, he is alive!" She was clutching his arm, then she drew as deep a breath as possible and headed for his bed. "Mulder? Please Mulder, wake up. I need to talk to you." She had his hand and was caressing his face.

 

"Iíll get you a chair." Byers watched for a second then let himself out of the room.

 

*****

 

"Dana?" She acknowledged him but barely took her eyes from Mulderís face. "Youíve got to be exhausted. Let me take you home, Langly and Frohike will be here. Heís not going to disappear again."

 

"Iím staying," she said it firmly and didnít even look up.

 

"Dana, heíll have my hide if I donít look after you. Please, come home and lay down for a little bit. You can come back after youíve rested."

 

"John, I appreciate what youíre trying to do, but weíd be back here in a couple of hours anyway. I might as well stay."

 

"What are you talking about?"

 

She finally looked up at him, "John, Iím in labor. I have been for a while. In fact thatís why I was awake when you came to my room. I was trying to decide if I should get up and tell you. Since we were coming here anyway, I decided not to worry you."

 

His face had paled, "Youíre in labor right now?" She nodded. "We need to get you checked in. You should - "

 

"No. And I donít want you mentioning it to anyone. Theyíll make me go to labor and delivery. I can labor here just as well. I donít want to leave him yet. John, weíre already at the hospital, you donít have to worry."

 

He swallowed hard, but she had a point. They were only a couple of flights from the maternity ward. That was better than being back at the apartment. Still . . .

 

She smiled at him, "Why donít you sit here with me. You can help me time the contractions and keep me company. Okay?"

 

He pulled the smaller chair closer to the easy chair they had brought in for her and settled in to wait. They talked, about children, about his past with Mulder, about what might be ahead for them. They talked until he couldnít take it any more. After an especially brutal contraction that last over ninety seconds, he stood.

 

"Thatís it. We might be in the right building, but we are not on the right floor. Youíve got to be examined."

 

She took a cleansing breath. "Yeah, I think youíre right. Youíre going to have to help me up." He lifted her to her feet, but before he could release her, she was bent over the bed and crying out. Sheíd made moaning noises before, causing his balls to try to crawl back up into his body, but not a sound like this.

 

"Dana!" He didnít dare release her to go for help.

 

When she could speak again she looked up at him, fear plain in her eyes. "My water broke. John, the babyís coming. Now." His own eyes echoed her fear.

 

"Iím gonna get the nurse. Just stay calm." He raced for the door and she look at the chair. No, no way. There was an older plastic settee under the window, barely two chair widths. At least she could recline there. Holding onto the furniture she made her way there and gingerly lowered herself as another contraction took possession of her body.

 

Thatís when John burst back in, practically dragging the nurse behind him. "Oh crap!" The sour-faced older woman was wide-awake now. She snatched the phone from the cradle and demanded an OB resident stat.

 

John was kneeling beside her now. "Just hold on, Dana. Weíll move you down to maternity in just a minute."

 

She shook her head, "John, help me! Now!"

 

He glanced over at the nurse who, to his utter horror, disappeared out the door. He could see the babyís head now. Great holy shit, he was going to have to deliver a baby! "Dana, Iím here." His voice only shook a little.

 

He was supporting the babyís head now, what was he supposed to do? He didnít see anything wrapped around the neck, that was good, wasnít it?

 

"Come on, Dana. Itís almost over."

 

She had her eyes closed now. She took a deep breath and cried out Mulderís name, and suddenly he was scrambling to hold the infant that all but tumbled out at him. He stared down at the baby whose eyes were closed, it wasnít crying. He glanced over at the bed and saw that Mulderís eyes were open and heíd turned to look at them.

 

As though aware of the scrutiny of his father, the baby took a breath and a thin cry came from it. Byers was paralyzed. "John?"

 

Danaís voice brought him back to the present. "Dana, itís a boy. I - "

 

They both turned as the door burst open and a young man in a lab coat and two nurses entered. The man stopped just inside the door. "Whoa." He took in the scene in front of him. "Looks like Iíll have to split my fee with Dad. Get a cuff on her." And then he was all business. "Why donít you let me take him?" He took the baby from Byersí trembling hands and Byers stumbled back out of the way. He managed to take the towel the nurse handed him, and looked back over at Mulder. He was unconscious, it didnít look like he had moved, but he had been watching them, hadnít he?

 

The doctor had clamped and cut the cord by now and was handing the boy to the nurse to be wrapped. "Can you tell me your name?"

 

"Dana." She was getting her breath back now.


"Well, you do nice work, Dana. Iím Phil. Could you give me one more push?" He placed his hands on her abdomen and together they delivered the afterbirth.

 

"Okay, youíre looking good, Dana, no tears. We need to take him down and check him out while weíre getting you settled. Dad can go with him or stay with you." He turned to look at Byers.

 

"Iím not, I, I uh, Iím not," He shook his head to clear it, "Iím not the father." He finally managed to stutter. "He is." And pointed to Mulder.

 

"Well Iíd say youíre number one candidate for godfather then."

 

"Go with him, John. Keep an eye on him, please." Danaís eyes were wet and tired.

 

"Of course. Iíll round up the other guys to stay here with Mulder. Donít worry."

 

"Iím not." She even managed to smile at him. After a second he turned to follow the nurse carrying the child.

 

"Weíre going to move you down to maternity now, Dana. We want to keep an eye on you and let you get some rest, okay?" She nodded and he motioned for two of the orderlies now congregated around the door to enter. She couldnít stifle the moan as they lifted her and Byers stopped, torn between his duties.

 

"Iím okay, John. Stay with him." He nodded and continued out the door.

 

*****

Assignment - Part 7



 Langly was there when she woke and her memory returned immediately. "The baby?"

 

"Heís fine, Dana. Donít worry about him. Iím not sure Byers will ever be the same though." She smiled up at him, remembering Byersí face just before the baby had arrived. He was probably right.

 

"Can I see him? And is Mulder awake?"

 

"Iíll check and no. But Frohikeís with him. Thereís nothing you need to worry about."

 

"Mulder was right, you guys look after me very well." She watched the color stain his cheeks, which surprised her. He was the quiet one; she really didnít know how he felt about her and her intrusion into his life. She felt better about him suddenly and reached out to take his hand. "I canít thank you enough."

 

"Uh yeah, Iíll go see if theyíll, you know, the baby." And he ducked out the door. She grinned, and Mulder thought he was uncomfortable around women.

 

He and the nurse were back shortly wheeling a bassinet. Langly raised her bed to a comfortable position and the nurse handed her the infant. "Oh my god." She stared down fascinated. "Is he . . .?" She looked back up at the nurse.

 

"Heís doing great. Six pounds two ounces, and the first baby born on fourth floor ever. Congratulations."

 

"I want Mulder to see him. Can I take him up to my husbandís room?"

 

"Is that where he was born?" Dana nodded, "Itís against hospital policy for the babies to leave this floor, but let me check. Maybe theyíll make an exception."

 

"Iíd really appreciate it."

 

The nurse nodded. "Now, are you planning to breast feed?" Dana had to chuckle as Langly, whoíd just gotten comfortable again was on his feet and out the door in one swift movement.

 

The nurse helped her adjust her hold and observed them for a moment. "Iím going to give you a little privacy. Iíll be just down the hall, ring if you need anything, but you guys look like you can figure it all out. Iíll check on your trip upstairs."

 

It was Byers that tapped on the door after she finished nursing and entered at her call. He was shocked to find her on her feet, changing the babyís diaper. "Should you be out of bed?"

 

"Iím doing wonderfully, John, thanks to you." She noticed he was having trouble looking her in the eye, so she approached him. "I canít, we canít, ever thank you enough. If you hadnít been there . . ." She rose up and kissed his cheek. "Want to see him all cleaned up?"

 

He nodded, not daring to speak and followed her to the bed. The tiny red thing didnít have a lot of resemblance to the pasty thing heíd caught earlier. This is what a baby was supposed to look like; he was actually kind of cute. "His head isnít pointed."

 

"There wasnít time," she remarked dryly and he looked up startled, then smiled with her. "Think you could pilfer a wheelchair? I want Mulder to see him. I know he hasnít woken up, but - "

 

"I think he did. I distinctly remember looking over at Mulder when the baby was born and his eyes were open, he had turned his head. But now . . . "

 

"So it wasnít just me." He looked up from the baby, "I thought I dreamed that. He was with us for a little while anyway. I need to get back up there."

 

"You need to look after yourself. Frohike hasnít left him alone and I think thatís where Langly was headed when I came in here."

 

"But I need to see him and he needs to see his son. Come on, John, after what youíve already done today this should be a snap."

 

He chuckled then; she was right about that. "Iíll see what I can do." It didnít take him long. "The nurse is a friend of yours. Sheís going to look the other way." He placed the wheelchair next to her bed and helped her into it, then handed her the baby. He felt easier about handling him each time; maybe he would get the hang of it. He headed them to the elevator and werenít bothered by anyone even when they reached Mulderís floor. Both of the other guys were in his room and Frohike quickly stood and approached them.

 

"I wanted to see the little guy close up." After a quick inspection, "He looks like Mulder around the eyes."

 

"He does, doesnít he." She smiled down at her son sleeping in her arms. "I need Mulder to wake up. What are the doctors saying?"

 

"Heís coming up. The chemicals in his bloodstream are down. He has REM sleep now."

 

"What chemicals? I wasnít able to really focus earlier." Byers rolled his eyes at the statement as the other two laughed. Then Frohike pulled out a file. She handed the baby back to Byers and took the file from him immediately scanning the information.

 

"Well?"

 

"These are fairly common tranquilizers, but in massive doses," she sighed. "They were right not to try to stimulate him. His heart . . . " She had to swallow. "It should wear off shortly." She checked his oxygen.

 

"What if they gave him something now to wake him?"

 

"No. I donít want to risk it. Weíre lucky you got him to the hospital as quickly as you did."

 

"Huh, Dana. We didnít bring him here. He was found unconscious in the ER."

 

"He what! Who brought him in? Where has he been?"

 

"We donít know, but he didnít escape, not like this. He was released." He watched her reaction, there wasnít a lot more to say. Not yet, anyway. "Weíre gonna leave you two alone with him for a while. One of us will be right outside, call if you need anything."

 

She nodded, not taking her eyes from him. "You shouldnít stay long Dana." She nodded again but didnít commit to anything and took her son back from his arms. When the door closed behind them she lay the baby on the bed in Mulderís arms.

 

"Mulder, please wake up. You need to meet our son. Please." She gently touched his face as she ran his hand over the babyís body. There was no response and with a sigh she gingerly lowered herself into the chair she had used earlier. She glanced over at the window and noted that the small couch was gone from the room.

 

"Mulder, heís beautiful and he waited for you to return to us to be born. Your friends are incredible - theyíve taking such good care of us. Please wake up, I need to see your eyes, Mulder."

 

The baby squirmed, freeing one arm and waving it in the air. Mulderís arm tightened protectively. "Mulder! Mulder open your eyes." This time he tried to obey her, his eyelids fluttering with the effort. She leaned over him now, kissing those lids and cheek and finally lips - which responded with light pressure.

 

Now his eyes opened and took in the sight of her smiling face, tears running freely down her cheeks. "Dana," his voice was rusty, unused and the most beautiful sound she had ever heard.

 

"Iím right here, Sweetheart. We both are." That took a second to penetrate, then he seemed to notice the squirming bundle at his side for the first time.

 

"The baby?" His look of awe renewed her tears as she nodded. He started at the window for a long moment; then, "It wasnít a dream."

 

"No." His grip tightened on her hand.

 

"Byers?"

 

At that she chuckled. "Yes. Iím not sure heíll ever truly recover."

 

"I should have - "

 

"Mulder, stop. You were here, you were with me. You canít know how much help that was to me. Please donít beat yourself up over this."

 

He looked deep into her eyes and finally nodded. "Are you okay?"

 

"Iím wonderful now." The baby cried out, demanding his share of the attention and Mulder jumped. "Itís okay, heís fine."

 

"He?" No other sound seemed able to emerge as she nodded.

 

"We need to name him. I think John Melvin Ringo Mulder is a little much, what if we go with John Fox Mulder?"

 

"Fox?"

 

"Yes. I like your name even if you wonít let me use it." The smile seemed to fade slowly from her face and she lowered herself back into the chair.

 

"Dana?"

 

"Iím a little tired, but Iím okay."

 

"You should be in bed." He reached for the call button but she stopped him.

 

"The guys are right outside. Iím not here officially, we donít want to get a nurse involved." She looked over at the door. "John?" She had barely raised her voice but the door opened almost instantly.

 

"I was just coming to get you." He glanced over at Mulder and grinned. "About time you showed up."

 

"Do you know where Iíve been?"

 

"We can get into that later, Mulder. I need to get your family back to their floor and safely tucked in." They both looked over at Dana and each thought separately that she looked pale and exhausted. Without another word Byers moved to her side and lifted her to her feet, placing her gently in the wheelchair, then lifted the baby from Mulderís arms and placed him with his mother.

 

"Keep an eye on her," he whispered to Byers, who nodded solemnly.

 

*****

 

When Mulder woke again it was to see Byers reading quietly at his side. "Is Dana okay?" Byers looked up quickly.

 

"Yeah, yeah sheís going to be okay." He put the magazine down and stretched.

 

"Going to be?"

 

"Sheís tired. She had a long day following an exceptionally long night. The doctor checked her over, she just needs to rest."

 

"I need to see her."

 

"Not tonight. Youíre still stuck in that bed for awhile and she really canít make the trip right now. Sheís got the baby in the room with her and Frohikeís with her right now. Weíre taking turns. Langlyís passed out on the couch in the waiting room."

 

"I owe you guys."

 

Byers grinned, "More than you can ever repay. If youíre not good to them, weíll steal her and the kid from you."

 

"You donít have to worry." Mulder didnít smile and Byers nodded, pressing lightly to his friendís shoulder.

 

*****

 

"Hey Mulder, youíre gonna love this. Oh . . ." Langly stopped short when he realized Dana and the baby were in the room.

 

Mulder glanced over at Dana, then back at his friend. "What?" Heíd automatically taken her hand.

 

"Well, uh, it seems there were some shootings, while everyone was so busy last night and the news is just now leaking out. They seem to coincide with your appearance here."

 

"Who?" Mulder asked, causing Langly to look over at Dana again.

 

"Itís okay, Langly," she spoke firmly, "Who?"

 

"Your former father-in-law for one."

 

"What?" She couldnít have heard him correctly. "They shot him?" Langly shrugged. "Is he okay?"

 

"Uh no. He was . . . he was killed and he was in distinguished company."

 

"What do you mean?" Mulder glanced away from her though his grip on her hand tightened. He thought sheíd be okay, if anything sheíd feel guilty for her lack of grief.

 

"You know that list of men weíve been compiling? From the fraternity? Well, most of them died too - from all over the country, hell all over the world, some highly pedigreed men." He handed Mulder a list. "It was definitely an organized hit. First you get turned loose and then these guys buy it. Oh . . . and Diana . . . "

 

"What about her?"

 

"She was one of the victims."

 

"Dianaís dead?" That caused the wheels to spin in his head. "How? How were they killed?"

 

"Evidence looks like they were all killed with an ice pick to the back of the neck. Ever heard of that form of execution?" Mulder shook his head, his thoughts racing.

 

"Mulder, are you okay?" Dana sat on the edge of the bed ready to give what comfort she could.

 

"What? Yeah, Iím fine, itís just - that proves she was involved. Thereís going to be repercussions at the Bureau."

 

"Then theyíll need you to come back, Mulder. We can come home."

 

He looked over at her and smiled. Home, with her and their son. There would be a lot of work to do and he needed to find out who his friend was in the group - the person that had gotten him free, brought him here. The group they had been investigating had apparently been decimated, along with people they hadn't known were involved. Yeah, he had a lot of work to do but he also had a life to live now. Things were going to be different for him, for them. He couldnít remember when he looked forward to something this much.

Fin1

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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.