She let herself into her apartment and sighed. She was tired; no, she was weary, and she always was now. She knew it was a sign of depression, but she’d lived with it so long it seemed normal.
She dropped her briefcase by the door and glanced toward the kitchen. Dinner, she should eat something, but she just wasn’t hungry. Maybe later. Instead she turned toward her bedroom.
A movement from her kitchen caught her eye and suddenly a tall man stepped into her sight. He had dark hair that curled slightly at his collar and a full beard. He was wearing a plain gray t-shirt and jeans. That’s all she took time to note as she automatically reached for her gun. The man took a careful step toward her and held up his hand, as though to show her he meant no harm. “Scully, it’s me.”
She froze, her eyes widened, and her mouth fell open. He kept his distance, giving her time to assimilate the shock.
“M . . . Mu . . . Mulder?” She grasped the back of her couch to stay on her feet. He moved then to support her and her hands clutched at his arms. “Mulder?”
“It’s really me Scully.”
“What are you . . . ” she swallowed hard, “What are you doing here?”
“I needed to see you.”
“Is he . . . “ He saw the fear come into her eyes then.
“He’s great Scully.”
“Really? He’s okay?”
Mulder smiled then, and she was able to believe him. He moved her to the couch and seated her, sitting close.
“But how can you be sure? If you’re here . . . who has him? Who do you trust with him?”
“Scully, he’s safe - “
“But - “
“Scully. He’s safe. He’s here with me.”
“Here?” She glanced around and his eyes grew damp at the hope he saw flare on her face.
“He’s asleep on your bed.”
Her head jerked in that direction. “Here? He’s here?” She seemed ready to levitate off the couch as a smile lit her eyes.
“Want to see him?”
The fear was back then, almost overriding the longing. “I . . . I don’t want to wake him.”
“You won’t wake him Scully.”
She shook her head slightly, and he rose. “Mu . . . Mulder.”
“It’s okay. Come on, we won’t disturb him.” He lifted Scully to her feet, and put his arm around her for support. After a moment she managed to take a step toward the door.
The second step was easier. At the door she hesitated again, and he reached for the knob. He tightened his grip of her and felt her nails sink into his arm.
She was unaware. Her total focus was on the small form sleeping peacefully on her bed. He had dark hair, but she could see the red highlights as she took a step closer. He looked so angelic, his long dark eyelashes resting on his cheeks.
Her hand went out to touch his face, but she stopped herself. Mulder looked at her questioningly. “He’s so beautiful.” She whispered, barely making a sound.
She looked up at Mulder and nodded. He gave her a quick hug and they left the room. He seated her back on the couch.
“Is he . . . is he a good boy?”
“He’s great Scully. You couldn’t ask for a better kid.”
“What’s his name?”
“Daniel. It was as close to Dana as I could get.”
Tears obscured her vision again. “Thank you.” She mouthed the words, unable to make a sound. He watched, giving her time.
Finally she spoke again, “Is he well? Has he been healthy?”
Mulder smiled again, “He hasn’t had so much as a case of the sniffles, Scully. He’s very special.”
Her eyes questioned him then, and he decided to give her a little more time. “I was pretty happy when he got potty trained.”
She laughed then and he heard the edge of hysteria. He wasn’t sure how to make any of this easier on her. He turned the subject to her to try to relax her. “How about you? Have you been okay?”
“Fine.” She shrugged at the inadequate description.
He let it go; it was the word he’d been expecting. The fact that it obviously wasn’t true was unimportant at this point.
“How’s Agent Doggett?”
She nodded, “Okay. He’s a lot more mellow than when you last saw him. He’s seen a lot.”
“They calling him “Spooky’ yet?”
“Actually, that’s me now.”
That elicited a chuckle from him. “The X-Files still going, huh?”
“More than ever. You
He nodded; he certainly did know. He glanced away from her then for a moment and she felt herself tense.
He decided to bite the bullet. “Scully, are you . . . are you seeing anyone?”
The question startled her; it was the last thing she had expected him to ask, and to be honest, the last thing she had thought about doing in years.
“No, no I’m not. You?”
“Do you remember the last words I said to you?”
She nodded, “That you love me.” Her chest was tight and the words were only breaths.
“Scully, nothing’s changed.”
With a sob, she threw herself into his arms and they tightened around her. His eyes closed in relief as he took in a deep breath of her.
They sat in comfortable silence then, one or the other’s arms tightening periodically, just absorbing each other back into their lives.
Her sniffles eventually slowed down and finally stopped as the comfort of him seeped into her.
When she finally lifted her head from his chest, she felt his lips on her forehead again. “You said . . . you said he was special.”
“Yeah.” He nodded, “More than just being yours. I know you gave him to me that day; but it turns out I gave him to you too.”
“I know.” She managed a smile then, “I saw his lower lip.”
He chuckled at that and squeezed her to him again. “It’s more than that Scully.” He tilted her head up to look at him then. “He’s Gibson Praise multiplied.”
“He can read minds?”
“Oh yeah, and he can tell them from us. I know you gave him to me to protect him, but I’ve got to say he’s probably protected me at least at much as I have him.”
“Is it safe for you to be here Mulder?
I . . . you can’t know how much I’ve missed you, but is it safe?”
”As safe as anywhere Scully. He insisted we come.”
Her surprise was obvious at that. “He insisted?”
“He says you’re in danger. We’ve come to get you.”
“He knows about me?”
He pulled her close again, “Scully. Of course he knows about you. He’s kissed your picture goodnight every night for years. And he’s seen you in my mind every hour of every day.”
She felt the tears form in her eyes again, and she rested her head against his shoulder. She jerked back upright as the door to the bedroom opened and the boy came into the living room.
The child stopped and stood watching the two adults.
“Danny, come say hi to your mother.”
The boy dropped his head and stubbed at the carpet with his socked foot. That’s when Scully realized that, as special as he was, he was still just a little boy. Her little boy.
She rose from the couch, Mulder’s hand supporting her, and approached him. She knelt in front of him, “Danny? I’m Dana and I’m your mother.” Her voice quivered slightly on that last word, but she got it out.
Danny glanced over at Mulder, who nodded, then looked back at Scully. “Are you afraid of me?”
Her hand caressed his cheek for a moment, “No. I’m afraid for you, and I’m afraid I don’t know how to be a . . . a mother to you, but I’m not afraid of you.”
The sigh moved his little chest and they could see the relief in his posture. A small, bashful smile appeared on his face.
“You love my Daddy.”
“Very much.” She answered honestly and Mulder’s smile grew. Danny looked at him and grinned.
“I told you so.”
“Yeah, Kiddo, you did. I shouldn’t doubt you.”
Scully turned then to look at Mulder, “You doubted that?”
“It’s been three years, Scully. I . . . I didn’t know who you might have found.”
“You should have known I wasn’t looking.” She kind of sniffed at him and turned back to the boy, who was watching this with growing delight.
She looked at the small miracle in front of her. “Are you hungry?”
She rose to her feet again. “What do you like?” It hurt a little to have to ask that. This was her son.
“Peanut butter and jelly. You can leave the crusts on.”
She gestured over at Mulder then, “Does he usually cut off the crusts for you.”
“Yeah, but he doesn’t like to.”
Mulder rolled his eyes then and Scully’s composure grew steadier. Maybe she wasn’t Donna Reed, but she could handle this.
Mulder followed the two of them into the kitchen and leaned against the counter watching them. She made the sandwich, cutting off the crusts and cutting the sandwich diagonally before placing it on a plate on the table. As he sat she poured him a glass of milk.
Danny picked up the small triangle and grinned, holding it up to show Mulder. As Scully watched, Mulder again rolled his eyes and shook his head. That caused the boy’s grin to grow even larger.
Scully stood and watched these two interact so comfortably with each other. They were good together and she felt a sense of relief.
The boy took a sip of milk and looked up at her. “I like your hair better in the picture.”
Her hand came up to touch her hair. “What . . . what picture?”
“The one Daddy gave me.” And he was out of his seat, pulling at the athletic bag near the door. He unzipped the main pocket and pulled out a 5 X 7 frame. Then he was back at the table. He handed it to her and returned to his sandwich.
She looked at the picture, then back up at Mulder. “Where did you get this?”
“Your mother gave it to me.”
She looked back down at it. It was a candid shot of her. She thought Bill had taken it on a Thanksgiving afternoon several years ago. She’d stepped outside without her coat to watch her nephews do something. The breeze had ruffled her hair, which had been longer, and it curled against her cheek.
“Uh, well I was over there and I saw it on a table. I guess she saw me looking at it, because when I was leaving, she handed it to me.”
Scully nodded, she hadn’t even noticed it was missing. “But how did you get it after . . . “
“Oh, the guys sent me a package. I contacted them and asked for a few essentials.”
“This was an essential?”
He nodded and her eyes filled again.
“Are you gonna cry?” The small voice sounded worried.
She turned back to the boy, “Probably, but only because I’m so happy.”
He looked at her a moment, then nodded solemnly. He finished his sandwich and his milk, then stood again. “I have to go to the bathroom.”
“It’s right down the hall.”
“I know.” He tossed back over his shoulder as he headed in that direction.
When he was out of sight, she turned to Mulder. “He doesn’t sound like a three-year old.”
“No, I suppose he doesn’t. He hasn’t been around a lot of three year olds. He’s stuck with just me most of the time. We hang out.”
“You let him watch your videos?” Her eyes twinkled.
Before he could answer, loud giggles reached them from the bathroom. Mulder turned toward the sound. “Peeking, huh?” He called down the hall. The giggling became muffled but didn’t quit. Mulder looked back at Scully to find her hand over her mouth to stifle her own laughter.
At his look, she was in his arms again. “He’s wonderful Mulder. You’re an incredible father.”
He sobered at that. “He’s needed you Scully. Every time we had to . . . to move, your picture was the first thing he grabbed.”
She drew a shaking breath. “How am I going to live without you again? How long can you stay?”
They heard the toilet flush and the running steps of their son.
Scully brushed a tear away. “Did you wash your hands?”
Danny glanced over at Mulder. “Hey, don’t look at me. I can’t save you from her.” The boy giggled again.
“I washed them.” Her eyebrow rose a little and he held out his still damp hands.
“Okay. You want anything else?” Danny shook his head. “Then why don’t you go look around a little, Kiddo? Your Mom and I need to talk.”
Mulder heard her breath catch on the word ‘Mom’ but made no comment.
“’kay.” The boy turned back toward the living room. “Are you gonna get mushy again?”
“If I get the chance. You better believe it.”
That brought a delighted smile to the boy’s face and color to Scully’s, though neither commented. Danny moved on out of sight and Mulder turned back to her.
“Sit with me, we need to talk.”
“Will he be all right?”
“Yeah, he’s only three chronologically.”
She nodded accepting his judgment, and slipped into the chair Danny had vacated. Their hands were intertwined though she had no memory of reaching for him.
“You asked how long we could stay; not long.” Her hand gripped his tightly for an instant. “We just came to get you.” Before she could speak he continued. “You’re in danger here now and you need to leave with us.”
“Leave? Just go?”
“Yes. Like I did.” He waited, watching the thoughts literally scamper through her mind.
"My job, Mom, Skinner, Agent Doggett . . . "
"None of them are worth you. I'm sorry about your mother, and maybe some time . . . "
"What kind of danger?"
He sighed, "Apparently you're a major bone of contention among the factions in power. On the one hand, they think you very nearly gave birth to a special child that they helped engineer."
Her eyes showed her fear then, not for herself, but for the boy.
"It's okay Scully. He's human, just more so. On the other hand, they don’t know whether to kill you, take you for study or try to use you again. He and I don't like any of those options, so we've come to disappear you."
She slowly nodded, almost as though she had known this and never bothered to say it out loud. He held his silence, letting her work through the options as he had over and over the past several days.
After a few long moments, he ducked his head to see her eyes. "You have to come Scully. He . . . we need you."
"I know." She squeezed his hand and rose from the table. She looked toward the living room, then moved in that direction. He followed.
Danny had her picture album opened on his legs. "Do you have any pictures of me?" He asked hopefully, as she sat beside him.
"No, Darling. There wasn't time and it wouldn't have been safe. But I never forgot how you looked the last time I held you." She tentatively touched his hair, ruffling it slightly.
He nodded sadly, then "Who's Emily?"
The question caught her completely off guard, knocking the breath from her and draining the color from her face. Mulder took her hand as he seated himself on her coffee table.
"Danny, she was your sister. She died a long time ago." Mulder answered for her.
"Why didn't you take her and disappear?"
"We didn't know about her when she was born.
And she wasn't like you. She was a very
sick little girl." The boy was nodding long before Mulder had finished speaking, having gotten
the information from their minds.
Danny turned to Scully then, "I'm sorry I made you sad."
"It's . . . it's okay. I just didn't get to love her long enough. I want to be able to love you and your father for a long, long time."
The boy nodded, and looked back at the album. "Who's this?"
"That's my brother, Bill."
"He doesn't like Daddy." He looked up at his mother again.
She looked over at Mulder, who held up his hands. "Hey, I can't lie in my thoughts."
Scully looked back at the boy, "Bill doesn't understand your father. A lot of people don't." She looked at Mulder with narrowed eyes for an instant.
Danny looked at them both for a minute, then nodded and turned the page. "Who is she?"
"That's my mother; your grandmother Scully."
He leaned over to look more closely at the picture. Then without warning his head swiveled toward her. "You have to come with us. Mommy you have to! She's got Bill and . . . and Charlie. Daddy and I only have you!" Then he burst into tears.
"Oh Danny, don't. Please don't cry." Her arms went around him, pulling him into her lap and holding him close. His distress finally giving her the courage to do what she’d wanted to all along. She looked up at Mulder helplessly.
Mulder touched the boy's shoulder. "She knows that Kiddo. Just give her a little time." Then he stood to give them some privacy.
She watched him disappear into the kitchen and tightened her hold on their son. "Danny, I don't know what you heard me think, but you do know how much I love you and your Daddy, don't you?"
The boy nodded through his tears. "And you have to come with us."
She took a deep breath, "I am Sweetheart, I am. I can't let you leave without me again."
He sniffled and looked up at her, then buried himself against her again, holding her as tight as his young arms could.
When they had both cried themselves out, he pulled slightly away from her. "Daddy and I will keep you safe. I promise."
"Oh Baby, that's my job, mine and your Dad's. We're supposed to keep you safe and that's what I’ve always wanted to do. That’s why your Daddy took you away in the first place."
He smiled though his face was still wet.
"Honey, would you like to have this album for your own."
His eyes gleamed at that. "Really?"
"Yes Honey. It's your family and you should have it."
Mulder joined them again then. "You guys okay?"
"She's coming with us."
Mulder's smile rivaled his own. "I thought she might." He held out his hand as she did the same, and their fingers intertwined.
"Should we leave tonight?" Scully looked up at Mulder, but he looked over at Danny.
The boy answered after a moment. "No, we can stay here tonight. It'll be okay."
Mulder nodded, "that'll give you time to pack. You can't take too much, you don't want anyone to know you're running, but take the things you really want."
"No, put your stuff in shopping bags, trash bags even. Make it look like you're going to Salvation Army if you want to. We're going under the assumption that you're going to be watched. Danny will let us know if they're around."
"What about dinner then? I know one of us just had a sandwich, but . . . "
"I would so love a Mulder Special." He sighed.
She grinned, "I thought as much. I'll call it in."
"Won't that look suspicious?"
Her smile dimmed at that, "No. I order them every once in a while."
He sobered at that as well and after a moment, nodded.
"I'll call. You want to clean up or anything?" She asked.
"Should I wait for the pizza man to jump in the shower?"
Her eyes widened, he even remembered that? She'd been so very pregnant. And that was the night he'd rushed her to the hospital with the partial abruption. She looked into his eyes and saw that he was remembering too.
"I'll take that shower now I guess. Wish I could offer to shave, but - "
"No. You need to stay as disguised as possible, especially in this city."
He smiled then and headed for the bath.
Danny delighted in the pizza, though Scully wasn’t at all sure it was good for him. Mulder watched her indulgently as she kept her mouth shut about it, for the present. Mulder leaned back and listen to the two of them talk, learn about each other, now that they were more comfortable, touch each other and felt a peace like he had never felt in his life. She had agreed to come with them.
He grinned as he heard Danny explain to her, “he’s not really spooky you know. You should have told Bill that. I’m never scared of him.” And watched as Scully nodded solemnly.
When she carried the scraps back to the kitchen and cleaned up, Mulder roamed around the apartment, touching things, occasionally adding an item to the growing pile of things she would take with her. And explaining his choices occasionally to Danny.
When she joined them again, the boy was drifting off to sleep on the couch. Scully stood and watched him, the wonder of him washing over her yet again. Mulder came up behind her and she leaned against him.
“I can’t get over it. I never thought I’d see him again.”
“I know. You and I make a great looking kid Scully.”
She looked up at him and smiled. “Maybe we ought to move him to the bed.”
“No, he can sleep there. He’ll be fine.” He quietly moved the coffee table closer to the couch in case he became restless.
“But - “ She started an automatic protest.
“Scully, I want to be the male presence in your bed tonight.” He watched the color take over her face, but the smile grew as well.
“He won’t . . . “
“He may have some strange dreams, but they’ll be pleasant.” He nuzzled her neck. “Um, very pleasant, I hope.”
“I wouldn’t worry about that Mulder, not at all.” She took his hand and led him toward her room.