Hellos - 4 (PG)
Mulder and Danny headed out for the grocery store. It was Saturday, and they wanted to let Scully sleep late. She kept insisting she felt fine. Even Danny was rolling his eyes when she said it now. In any case, they had insisted she sleep in and let them do the shopping.
“Dad? Why does having a baby make her sick?”
“Well, I’m not really sure. I think it’s just hard sharing your body. She says it won’t last long. At least it didn’t with you.”
“I made her sick!” Danny leaned as far forward as the car seat allowed.
“Don’t worry about it Kiddo. She really doesn’t mind, not in the long run.” He looked into the mirror and saw Danny’s stricken face. “Danny, you know she loves you. I don’t want you to feel guilty about this.”
Danny didn’t speak, and Mulder sighed. He pulled into the parking lot and found a spot near the door. When he opened the back door and released Danny from the car seat, he looked into his eyes. “Your mother is not upset that she was a little sick when you were in her tummy. She’ll tell you all about it when we get home. In fact, that’s how she found out you were coming. We didn’t have you to tell us, remember?” He grinned at his son.
Finally a small smile started growing on Danny’s face.
“I just don’t know how we got along without you Kiddo.”
At that Danny actually laughed, and Mulder grinned at him.
“Come on, we need to get some ice cream back to your Mom before she comes after us.”
Danny scrambled out of the car and took Mulder’s hand as they crossed the parking lot to the store.
Mulder pulled a cart free and looked at Danny, “Want to ride?”
Danny looked disdainful; “I’m too big for that.”
“Right, I forgot.” They steered toward the produce and began following Scully’s list.
They were in the cereal aisle and Mulder was trying to decide which box to get, when Danny’s hand slid into his. That was a little unusual and Mulder turned to look at him. He was stiff and pale, his eyes wide with fear.
Mulder glanced around, then knelt down and retied the boy’s shoe. “What? Is one of them here?”
Danny nodded and looked at the man at the end of the aisle. The man looked totally normal, but Mulder had no doubt that Danny was right.
Rather than risk being overheard, Mulder continued, tying his second shoe. He knew Danny would pick up his thoughts. *Can you get a name?*
Danny nodded, “Bob Saunders.” He whispered.
*Does he live around here?*
That took a little longer, but he nodded again. “Near the railroad tracks.”
Mulder smiled up and winked at him. *Doing great kid, just stay with me.*
Danny managed a little smile. “He’s worried.”
*Worried? About what?*
“He can’t find the others. He was supposed to meet them and they didn’t come.” Danny glanced toward the door. “He’s gone. He left.”
Mulder straightened up then. “He didn’t notice us?”
“No. He wasn’t looking for us; he was just looking for the others like him. He’s been to a lot of places today.”
“Let’s finish the groceries then, and get back to your Mom.”
Danny nodded, but he still looked traumatized. Mulder glanced down at the list again. They were almost through. It would be better to try to act normally; help Danny get over this. It was the first time they hadn’t dropped everything and run.
Mulder took little time to get the rest of the groceries and had them in the check out line as soon as possible. When they got back to the car, Danny actually buckled himself into the car seat to speed things up and Mulder wanted to chuckle at that, but didn’t.
When they arrived at the apartment, Danny took a couple of the little bags. Mulder gathered up the rest, not wanting to have to come back outside.
Scully was in the kitchen and looked over to smile at them when the door opened. She spotted Danny’s pale face and moved toward them.
“Is everything okay?”
“One of them was at the store.” Mulder said quietly.
“Do we need to - “
“No, he wasn’t looking for us. He didn’t even notice us. Why don’t you sit with Danny while I put away the groceries? He wants to know why having a baby inside of you makes you sick.”
“Dad.” Danny looked over at him embarrassed.
“Then he can explain it to me.” Mulder grinned.
Scully looked a little confused, but Mulder seemed to be handling everything. She sat on the couch and pulled Danny close to her. “What is it you want to know?”
“Did I really make you sick?”
“Well . . . “ She glanced toward the kitchen. “A little. It’s normal.”
“I didn’t mean to.”
At that she smiled. “I know that. I certainly didn’t blame you. In fact, I’m a little glad you did. I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant. If you hadn’t made me sick, I wouldn’t have checked and I might have done something dangerous and put you at risk.”
“Isn’t that what I said, Kiddo? We didn’t have you to keep us up to date then.” Mulder joined them on the couch.
Scully smiled at both of them and ruffled Danny’s hair. It was dark and thick, like Mulder’s and she never tired of touching it. “Want to bring me up to date, guys?”
Mulder pulled Danny into his own lap. He needed to be held, but the boy had become leery of sitting in Scully’s lap, afraid he would hurt her despite her reassurances.
“Danny here spotted one of our friends at the store.”
“That must have been very scary.” Scully touched their son’s cheek.
“Dad wasn’t scared. He had me look into the man.” Danny looked up at Mulder with something like awe. Scully smiled, she remembered what this man was like.
“Tell me what you saw.”
“His name was Bob Saunders and he lives over near the railroad tracks. And he was worried.”
“Worried?” She looked up at Mulder, who nodded.
“Yeah, he was supposed to meet the others like him and they were going to . . . to . . . like the birds.”
“Yeah, migrate south for the winter. But they didn’t show up and now he’s looking for them and can’t find any.”
“Do you think they forgot about him and just left?”
Danny shook his head, “they don’t forget, not like that. Something happened to them.”
Mulder looked between the two of them, “it might be a good idea for us to find out what that was.”
“Well, we don’t have to do that right now. I think it’s lunchtime, then a quick nap. I know, you’re getting too old for a nap, but I think this morning’s activities may have worn you out. Okay?”
“Moms.” Was Mulder’s comment, though he smiled and Danny grinned up at him.
“Yeah.” But Danny was the first one at the table.
Scully had made lunch, which they ate quickly and Mulder cleaned up while she read to the boy. She didn’t quite get to the end of the chapter before he nodded off. She joined Mulder in the kitchen.
“He’s asleep already?”
“A lot of adrenaline this morning.”
“Yeah. When I looked down at him . . . “ He glanced in the direction of the bedrooms. “He was a real trooper. When I asked him to look for specific things, he calmed down and did what I asked.”
“You put him at ease. You’re good at that.”
“Don’t dismiss this Mulder. You’re an incredible father.”
“Scully, about half way home I realized that . . . that thing might have been able to feel what Danny was doing to him. He didn’t, but I still put our son at risk.”
She pressed her hand against his cheek. “We’ve talked about this. You took an opportunity. I might have done the same thing. We have to get all the information we can. Danny should be able to someday look after himself; he can see them coming. We don’t know if this one can.” She caressed her slightly swelling abdomen. “We do know the rest of the world can’t.”
He nodded, watching her eyes. “Why don’t I make a quick trip over to the tracks and see if I spot Mr. Saunders.”
“No. Not without us.”
“Scully, there’s no way I can let you - “
“Stop there. I worked the entire time I was pregnant with Danny. A little reconnaissance is not . . . “
“We know one of them is there.”
“All the more reason not to be separated.”
“How could I let you go without an alarm system.”
After a long moment he nodded, bowing to her wisdom. Not having them beside him would distract him. “Okay, when Danny wakes up.”
Danny was obviously leery about looking for the creature, but he understood the need, and his role in it. His grip on Scully’s hand was tight and without being asked, she slipped into the back seat with him. He managed to give a little smile, then.
“Okay, Kiddo. If you feel him, let me know.”
Danny nodded and as they drew closer to that area of town, concentrated even harder on looking out of the windows. Scully took his hand and he squeezed it.
Mulder didn’t even hesitate, flipping on the blinker and taking the street Danny indicated. “Over there, the house with the porch. The one without any plants.”
Mulder nodded. “Anyone home?”
“No, he’s gone. He’s not coming back.”
“Yeah, he’s gone looking for them.”
“Scully, I need to go inside, look around.”
Rather than answer, Scully looked over at Danny. He didn’t argue.
“I want you to get in the driver’s seat, keep the motor going. If you need me out of there . . . “
Scully nodded and unbuckled her seatbelt. “Mulder, don’t be long.”
He held the door open for her and took her hand to seat her, then leaned down and kissed her. “I’ll hurry.”
He moved around to the back, out of sight and Scully turned to look at Danny. “He’s okay.” Danny looked at her for an instant, then turned back toward the house.
It was a long wait, made even longer by the tension. Rather than take the time to change, Mulder slipped into the passenger’s seat when he returned.
“Let’s go home.”
She nodded, more than ready to leave. They were all quiet on the way back to their apartment, though Mulder turned to smile at Danny.
Once inside, Mulder pulled Danny back onto his lap as they all sat on the couch. “You did great, Kiddo. I have his phone number, so the guys can try to get his call records. He had atlases lying around, and city directories. He was obviously doing a search, but there was no computer. It looked like all of his clothes were there.”
Danny nodded, “He never came back here after we saw him.”
“Do you know where he went, or how he went?”
“He didn’t know where to go, but he had a car.”
“Well, I guess I need to get this to the guys.” He started to rise, then stopped, “Danny, I know you can read me, but do you think you could do anything that I could hear? You know, a signal or something, like when I was in the house?”
“I don’t know. I could try.”
Mulder looked over at Scully. She nodded.
“Go ahead. Remember, I’m pretty dense.” Danny giggled, then concentrated on his father’s eyes. Danny grew very still.
Without warning, blinding pain lanced through Mulder’s head, but before he could cry out, Scully moaned. He turned to her and saw that she was clutching her head as well.
“Danny!” He moved toward Scully. The pain cut off abruptly and he picked up speed to reach her. “Scully?” He was on his knees in front of her.
She, however, was on her feet, her hand over her mouth and running to the bathroom. Mulder looked over at Danny who looked stricken. “It’s okay, Danny.” He sounded breathless, which seemed to scare Danny even more.
Mulder wasn’t sure which way to turn, but his concern for Scully won out. He held out his hand to Danny and they moved to the bathroom door. Mulder tapped, “Scully, you okay?”
“Just a minute.”
Mulder looked down at Danny and managed a grin. “It’s okay.” Danny just stared at him with big eyes.
When the door opened, Mulder snapped to attention, putting his arm around her.
“I’m okay, really.”
He made no verbal comment, just leading her to the couch. “Danny, can you get her a glass of water?”
The boy nodded and hurried to the kitchen. He returned quickly with a glass of ice water, which he handed to her. She took it with a smile. “Well, I guess that worked.”
“Mommy, I’m sorry.”
“I know. We didn’t know what would happen; we do now.”
“I won’t ever do that again, I promise.”
“No, Danny. We may need this. I know you won’t use it without a good reason, but there may come a time . . .”
Mulder nodded, “It’s good to know Danny.”
“You’re angry with me.”
“Danny, I’m not. You did exactly what I asked you to do.”
“I hurt Mommy. Nobody hurts Mommy. I’ve heard you think that a million times.”
“You didn’t hurt Mommy on purpose. I know that and she knows that. We needed to know that you could do it.” The boy did not look reassured.
“Danny, Sweetheart, Daddy’s shaken. He’s not mad at you. You know how proud he is of what you’ve done today. We’re going to have to do more of it in the future.”
Danny shook his head. “No, I won’t do it.” He jumped off the couch and ran to his room.
Scully looked over at Mulder, who let his head drop back on the back of the couch.
“I’m sorry, I was angry at him. He saw that. I couldn’t help it, you’re pregnant.”
“Yes, I’m pregnant. But he didn’t harm me; he gave me a headache. A bad one, I’ll admit, but I’m fine.”
“I know.” He glanced over at Danny’s door. “I’ve really screwed up. I’ve never been angry with him before.”
“You better go talk to him.”
After a moment he nodded. “You’re sure you’re okay?”
“Yes. I’m sure. It was the headache that made me sick and it’s gone, just like yours is. Go check on Danny.”
“I love you.”
“I know, I love you too.”
Mulder stood and took a deep breath, then walked with a heavy tread to Danny’s room. He tapped on the door and entered. Danny was lying on his bed, crying.
“Danny, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I had no right to get mad at you.” He stretched out on the bed beside Danny and pulled him into his arms.
“I didn’t mean to hurt her, or you.”
“I know that Danny. I was just scared. You know exactly how precious your mother is to me. When she was in pain and getting sick, I . . .” He squeezed the boy against him. “But I had no reason to get mad at you. And she’s right. It’s good that you can do this. It’s a super alarm and I’m not going to mistake it for something else. I know you’ll only use it when it’s an emergency, like Mom or you are in danger.”
“What if I hurt her again?”
“If it saves her life, it’s worth it, Kiddo. You know that.”
Danny nodded solemnly and Mulder wiped the tears from his cheeks. “Come on, let’s go be with your Mom for awhile.”
Mulder rose from the bed and reached for his son. The boy came into his arms and Mulder carried him into the living room. Scully heard and joined them, carrying two mugs of hot chocolate, one brimming over with miniature marshmallows.
“I thought you guys could use this.”
“Everybody okay?” She sat beside them.
“I hope so . . . Danny?” Mulder looked down at him.
“I’ll be real careful. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Oh, Baby, I’m not worried. Why don’t we read for a little while, and let Daddy get in touch with his friends?”
“I’d forgotten.” Mulder looked up.
“I thought so. We got some important information today. We need to follow up.”
“Yes ma’am, Agent Scully.” He hugged his son again, “Love you Kiddo. You know that.” Danny nodded. “I’ll tell the uncles hi for you.” Mulder rose and tousled his son’s hair. The boy was still upset and it was his fault. He knew he’d failed a big test here. The boy had to think he’d chosen Scully over him, and in a way he had.
He loved both of these people beyond measure. What would happen if it ever came down to a choice? How would he handle it? No, he could think about this later. He did need to get the information Danny had found transmitted to the guys.
Danny was asleep with his head in Scully’s lap when Mulder returned. “Is he okay?”
“I think so. Are you?”
Mulder ignored that, lifting the boy into his arms and carrying him into his room. Scully followed him and tucked Danny in. Mulder stood, looking down at their son. After a minute, Scully slipped her hand into his and led him into their bedroom.
“A little early, isn’t it, Scully?”
“I think it would be okay tonight. It’s been a hell of a day. And I think you could use a little holding yourself.”
Mulder looked away then.
“Please don’t feel guilty, Mulder. You reacted instinctively; you were scared.”
“What if he thinks I think he’s a freak or something now?”
“No.” He didn’t hesitate with his answer. “But I was angry with him for hurting you. He felt that. A different kid couldn’t have done what he did.”
“A different kid wouldn’t be ours.” She said gently.
He did smile then, “Good point. You know I wouldn’t trade him for anything.”
“He knows that too. He was feeling guilty. I think we’ll all feel better in the morning. Maybe the guys will have some information for us as well. Come here, I want to be in your arms before I’m too big for that to happen.”
“Like it ever could.” He began removing the clothes from her body.