“I think I can - “ Mulder froze, his heart in his mouth, when the large man reached for the door. Mulder spotted the small person in front of him. “Danny - “
He instinctively jerked forward, but Walter’s hand stopped him. He threw off the older man, but the door was closing behind them.
Again Walter grabbed him and Mulder rounded on him, fury taking speech from him. “Mulder, Danny is okay.”
Mulder’s eyes narrowed and he tried to draw a breath.
“You know he can handle Ed. You’ve seen what he can do.”
“Where’s Scully? And Katy?”
Walter blinked then, “Danny wouldn’t let anything happen to them. Think, Mulder. I know you’re scared, I am too. But Danny will be okay. Let’s . . . let’s go back to the car. I’m sure Scully and Katy are there.”
“I can’t - “
“We need to check on Scully and the baby, find out why Danny’s here.”
Mulder looked at the door to the clinic again, the anguish of his decision plain on his face.
Walter took his arm and turned him away toward the garage. Once moving, Mulder really moved. Walter had to hurry to keep up. They were both running when they approached the SUV.
Scully jerked the door open and exited, meeting them before they got to the car. She had seen immediately that Danny wasn’t with them. Mulder’s expression caused her face to pale.
“Where is he? Mulder, where’s Danny? Why did you call him?”
The last question caught him. “Call him? What did he tell you?”
“He said you called him. That you needed him, but you were okay. I should have stopped him, but . . . “
“But if I needed him . . . “ Mulder’s face was devoid of emotion, but his fists were clinched.
Scully’s hand caressed his arm. “What?”
“We saw him. He was with Ed. We didn’t call for him.”
His words penetrated and her gasp, her look of terror tore at him. Katy’s cries drew their attention.
“He’s in trouble.” Scully could barely speak as she ran to and then lifted the baby into her arms.
“No. Listen to me.” Walter had his AD Skinner voice on. “Danny can handle one of them in his sleep. Katy’s upset because you two are freaking out. I don’t blame you, but think about it.” Walter’s hand clamped down on Mulder’s shoulder. “Take a deep breath, both of you.”
The order was unexpected, but he had a point. Mulder embraced his wife and daughter, trying to follow Walter’s advice.
The tiny girl did calm down. Walter gave a grim smile.
“Now what?” Scully asked.
“We wait.” Walter said quietly. The only sound was Mulder’s ragged sigh.
It seemed forever, but less than ten minutes later Mulder spotted Danny emerging from the stairwell, alone. The tensing of Mulder’s body alerted her and she turned to look as well.
The boy looked fine, he was smiling and moving toward them until something caused him to falter and his steps slowed. The smile disappeared.
Scully stepped around Mulder and hurried toward him, encompassing him in a fierce hug.
Mulder stayed where he was, so Scully herded Danny back in that direction. He looked up at his father with wide eyes. He stood silently in front of the very tall man.
“You lied to your mother.”
Danny trembled slightly. “Yes sir.”
“Get in the car.” Mulder turned away from him and got in the car himself without another word. Scully and Walter exchanged glances, then moved to get in themselves.
Danny pulled his door closed, buckled himself in, then huddled in the back seat. No one spoke as Walter pulled out.
They were only a couple of blocks away when Mulder pointed. “Pull over here.” Mulder barked. Walter accepted the order without a word and pulled into the parking lot of the arboretum just off campus. Mulder had the door open and was out before the car came to a complete stop.
“Mulder.” Scully looked over at Danny who seemed curled in on himself and as frightened as she’d ever seen him. “Danny, it’s going to be okay. Let me talk to him.”
He didn’t respond. She looked over at Walter, who nodded to her and motioned for her to follow Mulder. Mulder was already nearly out of sight, headed toward the walking trail.
After one last glance at Danny, Scully let herself out and hurried in that direction.
Walter opened his door and walked around the vehicle to Danny’s door and pulled it open as well. “Let’s walk a minute.”
“Katy.” Danny said in a low voice.
“We’re just going to walk around here.”
When Danny still made no move, Walter reached in and unbuckled him, then took his hand.
“You know how scared he was.” Walter looked down at the boy.
Danny nodded miserably.
“Do you understand that your father has spent his entire life ready and willing to rip the throat out of anyone who puts his family in danger?”
Again that mournful nod.
“Who put you in danger this time, Danny?”
The boy looked up startled. “I . . . I did.”
“Yeah, you did. So who does Mulder pound for it?”
Danny’s eyes widened for a moment, then he looked down. “I . . . I just wanted . . . “ He went quiet then, going inside himself. Walter moved closer to him, concerned. “How can Dad love me when he’s so mad?”
Walter’s hand came to rest on Danny’s shoulder. The boy looked up and Walter smiled. “That’s easy. You’re his son. You are the child he and Scully never thought they would have.”
Danny nodded slightly. “Mom thought she couldn’t have babies.”
“That’s right. You’re their miracle. And then Scully gave you to him to keep you safe. That’s what he’s done since the day you were born.”
Danny hung his head again for a moment. “What do I do?” He asked quietly when he looked up again.
Walter glanced toward the opening of the walking trail. “Let him have some Scully time. That always seems to help.”
Danny couldn’t smile, but he did nod.
Walter sighed and looked again in the direction Mulder and Scully had disappeared. “It’s getting chilly. I better get turn the heat on for Katy.”
Danny didn’t look up at him, just followed him to the car.
It was at least twenty minutes before the two reappeared. Walter felt Danny’s head go up. He’d felt them approaching. He still looked upset and Walter sighed again.
Scully was gripping Mulder's hand and he still looked furious. Walter glanced back at Danny, but kept quiet.
The two climbed silently into the vehicle and Walter looked Mulder over, then turned to Scully. “Let’s find a place to stay. None of us is up to driving home tonight.”
“That’s a good idea.” Scully said, checking on Katy. Mulder didn’t speak.
Walter nodded and pulled out into traffic. He traveled down Harrodsburg Road and found a Comfort Suites. He pulled in without consulting anyone and parked.
“I’ll get a couple of rooms, then we need to talk.”
Mulder’s head came up, but Walter ignored him. Shortly he was back with two keycards and opened the back of the SUV. He pulled out his bag and Danny’s. “Coming?”
Danny opened his door then and scrambled out as though he were escaping. Scully closed her eyes for a moment, then unbuckled herself and the baby. “Mulder, come on.”
Mulder took a deep breath and did as she bade. He moved liked an old man. She took the diaper bag and he hefted their bag.
Walter was holding the elevator for them. When they reached the fourth floor, he led them to his room. “We need to talk.”
“Walter, we need - “ Scully started.
“No, now.” His command voice was in place again and Scully reacted instinctively, following Danny and Walter inside.
Mulder followed her and dropped their bag just inside the door.
“I know you’re angry, Mulder, but we have to find out what happened.”
After a moment Mulder nodded. He looked over at Danny, really looked at him for the first time since they’d left the medical center.
Danny froze, his eyes wide. "You . . . you love me as, as much as you love Mom." He barely whispered the words.
Mulder jerked at the words. "You didn't know - "
"Mom's the whole world to you." Danny insisted.
"So are you."
At that Danny flew into his arms. "You can trust me, Daddy, you can!"
Walter kept completely quiet, but looked over at Scully. Tears were flowing down her face, but she stayed where she was, allowing her men to hold each other.
“Why? Why did you do that?” Mulder finally found his voice though it was rough with emotion.
“I thought I could help.” He looked over at Scully, an earnest expression on his face. “I’ve never gotten that close. I wanted to read him, find out everything he knows.”
“You can read minds miles away. You knew about Joe.”
Danny nodded, “but I can get deeper. Ed came from the CDC and he knows the others. He doesn’t know where everyone was sent, but he knew them, he knew things about them.”
“What kind of things, Danny?” Scully asked quietly.
“Their names, how long they’ve been . . . like this. I got his address and his schedule. I know where he disposes of the animals after the experiments.”
Walter perked up then. “Can we get access to that?”
Danny looked over at Mulder, then nodded.
The adults exchanged glances. Mulder held Scully’s eyes for a moment, then he swallowed, “What’s his address?”
“He’s on English Street, 917. It’s a house that’s been divided into three apartments.” Danny responded immediately.
“Three apartments. That could make it a problem.” Walter said quietly.
Again Danny looked over at Mulder. They locked eyes for a long moment and Scully saw them both relax at whatever passed between them.
“It won’t be a problem. He has a different schedule than the other people that live there.”
Walter nodded. “Can we wait until he does his next shift with the animals? They won’t be looking for him for awhile then.”
Scully nodded. “Honey, can we coordinate the schedule?”
“Yes. We just have to make sure the guy that works at the incinerator is busy. Mom, he’s one of those guys that likes to look at ladies bottoms. I think you could keep him thinking about other things besides his job.”
Walter watched Mulder at that comment. The younger man closed his eyes, but then looked over at Danny and nodded. “We need to have Ed close when you take him out.”
“He’ll be taking some animals over tonight. They always schedule the disposal at night when the building’s mostly empty.”
“Okay, then we have a plan.” Scully spoke matter of factly. “If you’re going to be up late, you need to take a nap now.” She reached for Danny’s hand.
Walter looked up startled and saw the twinkle in Mulder’s eye. “He can’t save the world unless Scully clears it. Come on, let’s go to our room until dinner time.”
When they met for dinner, they walked to the Mexican restaurant across the street and took a table in the back corner. Once the waitress left them alone, Scully pulled out a small notebook. “Honey, do you remember the names of the people that were at the CDC with Ed?"
He nodded, then swallowed the chip and salsa. He rattled off eight names. Two of them were within Ed's current cell. He knew of the location of three people. One was now at the pharmacy school in Austin, Texas, the other at the school in San Francisco. Ed's only other contact was Ralph in Cincinnati.
"We need to take him tonight. He won't be expected in until late on Sunday, and since it's a weekend, it might not be noticed that he didn't come until sometime on Monday." Danny reached for another chip.
"What about Katy?" Mulder looked over at Scully.
Danny answered. "I can keep her calm while Mom's - "
"I don't want you distracted while you're turning off Ed." Mulder spoke quickly.
Danny looked him in the eye, "I can do it, Daddy. She can watch, through me. She needs to learn how anyway."
Scully opened her mouth, then shut it without a word. Mulder took a deep breath, but Danny kept talking. "You're not going to let Mom help you load Ed into the fire, so you'll need Uncle Walter. We can park just outside. No one will bother the car that time of night."
Katy made a little cooing sound, causing everyone to turn and look at her.
"See?" Danny said, "It'll be okay.”
It went off without a hitch, as Danny had assured them. When Ed left the pharmacy building, carrying the bag to be disposed, Scully got the attention of the attendant to help her with directions. Both of her men were disgusted at the blatant ogling and apparently the man's thoughts were an education to Danny. Mulder made a note to have a conversation with the boy as soon as they got home and things calmed down a little.
When Ed arrived at the incinerator, Mulder was behind the desk, with Danny at his feet. Walter waited out of sight.
The two men made short work of stuffing the body into the fire after Mulder had the twisted metal vertebrae in his hands.
By the time the real attendant returned, there was no sign that anything had occurred in his absence.
Upon their return to the hotel, Danny stopped just outside of Walter's room. "Why don't I sleep in Uncle Walter's other bed tonight."
Scully looked down at him quickly, "Danny, you know everything's okay now. We're not upset - "
He smiled up at her, giving her a quick hug. "I know."
She looked up at the calm smile on Mulder's face and realized what the boy was offering. Her face flushed, "Oh."
Mulder squatted beside him. "Thank you." He gave him a squeeze. "We need to talk soon, just us."
Danny nodded, then followed the quiet Walter into his room.
Mulder let Scully and the baby into their room and bolted the door. She laid the sleeping girl in the hotel's crib and turned to him.
He hadn’t moved since they entered, just standing there watching her. “Mulder? Are you okay?”
He nodded, but she knew better than to believe him. She moved into his arms and they closed tightly around her.
“Are you going to be able to sleep?” She asked quietly.
He shrugged, “Just let me hold you.”
She nodded and turned toward the bag on the foot of the bed. He caught her hand, “No, you won’t need that.” He stood over her then and began unbuttoning her shirt. She watched him, the concern not leaving her face.
When he unhooked her bra, she demurred, “I’ll leak.”
“I’ll take care of that.” He cupped her breasts, kissing them for a moment, then finished undressing her and helped her recline on the bed. She made no further protest and lay watching as he tossed off his own clothes. He crawled in beside her, naked, and pulled her close.
“Mulder, he’s okay. And I don’t think he’ll be pulling any stunts like that again; at least not for awhile.”
He closed his eyes and held her closer.
“Mulder?” He buried his face in her neck. “I know you were scared.”
He looked at her then, “Not scared, terrified. I saw what it would be like if he were gone, like Samantha. I lived without you for three years, but I knew you were alive, I knew you were . . .” He swallowed hard. “I know what he can do, but knowing it and feeling it are two different things.”
Mulder gave a sigh, almost a sob. "Scully, he didn't know how much I love him. Just like you . . . What's wrong with me that I can't show the people I love - "
"Oh Mulder," she caressed his face. "No, he never doubted that you love him. What astounded him, and me, is how much you love us. I've known you loved me for a long time. I survived on it when I had cancer and when I, when I buried you. Now I thrive on it. But it's so much that it's incomprehensible. No one loves like you do, it's all consuming." She kissed his lips lightly. "You heard him, 'You love me as much as you love M-Mom." Her voice wavered on that word and he kissed a tear from her cheek.
“We weren’t together when you had . . . when you were sick.” He said quietly, his hand caressing her side, the swell of her hips as she lay on her side, facing him.
“Weren’t we?” She gave him a gentle smile. “I think we’ve been ‘together’ since I did that strip tease in your motel room a million years ago.”
The memory caused his eyes to lighten.
“Up until then I thought you were an arrogant, annoying, snobbish jerk.”
He managed an innocent, ‘who me’ look. “Don’t worry it came back.” She pretended to glare at him. “But you didn’t laugh at my fear, and you didn’t try to jump me.”
“I thought about it.” He offered.
She cut her eyes at him, “I doubt it. I’m not a brunette with a big chest.”
His hand cupped her breast. “You got over it, and I prefer red hair, thank you.”
She kissed him lightly and he gasped into her mouth when she cupped the family jewels. “Why don’t I show you how much I love you too?” She nipped at his lower lip.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.