Mulder headed for work as usual the next morning. The others went about their regular lives as well. Walter went shopping for his apartment.
They gathered for dinner. “How was work?” Walter asked as he leaned over and smiled at Katy, letting her take hold of his finger.
Mulder put the large casserole on the table for Scully. “Normal. Everyone was at work.”
Walter straightened up and looked at him. “Do you think he doesn’t know?”
Mulder shrugged and looked over at Scully as he slipped into his seat.
“Danny, dinner’s ready.” Scully called down the hall.
He hurried into the kitchen and gave Walter a quick hug, then took his seat.
They spoke of Walter’s shopping excursion and Mulder had to laugh at his tale of adventures in the linen shop. It was light hearted and fun. After dinner Walter and Danny did the dishes while Scully nursed Katy and Mulder checked email.
They gathered in the living room when they were through. It was time for the business part of the evening. Walter looked over at Mulder after taking a seat. “Obviously I’m not your boss any longer, but I thought that things went very well this weekend.” He smiled at Danny. “I want to suggest that we continue. Scully, the kids and I can go down to Atlanta this week. I know you have to work, Mulder, but I think we can handle it.”
Mulder’s face registered his disbelief and it was a minute before he could speak. “You want to take my family off to stalk and - without me? Are you serious?”
“I . . . Mulder, that’s not what I - “ Walter realized his error instantly. This wasn’t something he could assign to his top agents. “I was thinking that you shouldn’t be missing again when something like this goes down. No one knows I’m here and Scully is a stay at home Mom. I . . . “ He stopped. Mulder’s look of outrage was growing. “I’m sorry. Obviously I’ve overstepped.” He rose from his seat.
“Walter,” Scully reached out to stop him. “I think you just caught us off guard. Let us think about it.”
Mulder’s head swiveled toward her, then he abruptly rose as well and stalked to the bedroom. Scully closed her eyes.
“Scully, I’m sorry. I never meant . . . “ Walter seemed at a complete loss.
“I know, Walter. Let me talk to him. I hadn’t thought about this either.”
“I really am sorry.” He moved toward the door. Danny ran over to him and hugged him. Walter returned the hug, then let himself out without another word.
“Let me talk to Dad. Could you get your bath?”
He nodded, “Uncle Walter’s right. We need to do this.”
She looked at him with sad eyes for moment, then kissed his forehead and went to her bedroom. Mulder was pacing, unable to calm down. He looked up when Scully opened the door. “Do you believe that? How the hell - “
He stopped and looked at her. “No. Scully, you can’t even consider this! I cover your back.”
“Yes, you do. But think about it. We need to take some steps before they realize something’s going on. We need to move on this.”
“You were the one that didn’t want our kids saving the world.”
“I was outvoted.” She said sadly.
“But I should be there.”
“You don’t still think that Walter would . . . You know I’m not interested in anyone but you. “
“No. I don’t like the idea of your traveling with him, but I know you love me.”
“Well finally.” She smiled.
“When?” He asked reluctantly.
“It’s twelve hours to Atlanta. We should leave first thing in the morning.”
“Tomorrow?” He jerked toward her.
She nodded. “Think of it as a reverse ditch.”
He growled at that.
“Payback’s a bitch.” She said mildly as she rose onto her toes to kiss his cheek. “I’ll call Walter.”
“No, I’ll go tell him.”
“Mulder, don’t . . . “
“I’ll be nice. Then I’ll come help you pack.” He took a step toward the door, then turned. “Will you miss me?”
It surprised them both to find tears in her eyes. “Horribly.”
His arms went around her, holding her close as their lips met and melded. She was breathless when he eased up on the embrace. “I’ll be right back.”
As soon as he left the room, she began packing.
He knocked firmly on Walter’s door.
“Yeah. May I come in?”
Walter stepped back, without a word. Mulder walked to the folding table he had borrowed, but didn’t take a seat, just looking down at the salt and pepper shakers sitting there.
“Mulder, I was out of line. I apologize.”
Mulder nodded. “Scully wants to leave first thing in the morning.”
Walter’s mouth dropped open. “Are you . . . what?”
“She agrees with you. So does Danny, so I have to assume Katy does too. They have a point, you have a point. Another strike should be made before they have time to regroup. The CDC would be the best place.” He turned to look at his former supervisor then. “She thinks you can cover her back. She better be right.”
Walter nodded and watched as the younger man left his apartment.
Mulder grabbed the phone on the first ring.
“It’s me, Mulder.”
That wasn’t the voice he wanted to hear. Fear flooded him. “Is . . . is everything okay? Where’s Sc . . . Where is she?”
“Getting the kids settled in her room, probably feeding the baby. I know she’ll be calling you in a few minutes. I just wanted to let you know we got here safely, and ask if anything had happened.”
“Yeah, Joe got a call after lunch. He didn’t leave, but he was distracted this afternoon. I don’t think alarm bells have gone off, but I think they know Ed’s missing.”
“Okay. Danny was looking for the two here, seeing how we could work the logistics. Mu . . . I won’t let anything happen to them.”
“I’m holding you to that. I’ve got a beep. I’ll talk to you later.”
Walter let him go and stretched out on the bed to rest his back. They’d barely stopped, taking turns driving, bathroom and food stops. He wished he had more information on the two that were here in Atlanta. As if hearing his thoughts, which he knew was what happened; there was a light knock on the door.
Walter rose and let Danny in. “Mom’s talking to Dad. I thought we could plan.”
Walter smiled and resumed his seat on the bed.
By the time Scully and Katy joined them, a rudimentary plan had been sketched out. One of the men they were hunting had been informed of the disappearance in Kentucky. The two of them had made plans to meet at a bar after work so that they could discuss the situation and get back with their individual groups. Danny had given the name of the bar to Walter and he was checking the phone book for a location.
“We can wait outside in the parking lot. Mom, I can get them in our car and we can move them, then turn them off where we’re going to dispose of them.”
Scully winced. “What about their cars?”
“We ignore them, Scully. No DNA, no fingerprints.”
She nodded. “You can really keep them . . . docile until we get to a good place? They’ll be in the car with your baby sister.”
Danny smiled, “Don’t worry about her. Was Dad okay?”
“He’s lonely.” Scully said softly.
“This is the first night I’ve ever spend away from him.” Danny said wistfully. “In my whole life.”
Scully’s eyes widened. “I didn’t . . . Why don’t you call him?”
“I just did.” Danny smiled. Walter blinked; there were 700+ miles between them. Danny shrugged. “I know him the best.”
Walter nodded. “Sounds like we’re going to be up late tonight, in case they want to close down the bar.” He looked up over at Scully, “Nap time?”
She chuckled and agreed.
Things went as smoothly as Danny had promised. At Walter’s insistence, she had driven as they left the bar, while he rode in the back with Katy. Their two captives were placed into the middle seat, immobile now. Danny was up front with Scully.
Walter directed her to their disposal site, a junk yard full of vehicles waiting to be crushed. Scully hadn’t actually witnessed this part of the process before. She was obviously shaken. Walter urged her into the car to sit with Katy, while Danny helped him maneuver the bodies into the trunk of a car at the front of the conveyor belt for the next morning. Danny reconnected the straps around the trunk so that tampering would not be noticed.
Danny crawled into the back seat with Scully when they were through. “Mom?”
She forced a smile.
“Do you want me to stop?” He sounded his age for a change, so young and uncertain.
She smoothed the boy’s hair back. Like Mulder’s it always seemed to flop down over his forehead. “You’re doing important work, Danny. Your father and I are proud of you. It’s just difficult for me to see . . . “
“I’m not killing them.”
“I know you’re not. Danny, I know you’re not. I know they’re not human. It’s just hard to . . . “ She pulled him close to her. “Have you let your Dad know that everything’s okay?”
“Let’s get everyone home.” Walter said from the front seat.
“Please.” Scully said.
Walter held her arm and Katy’s carrier as they returned to their rooms. Danny held her other hand. Walter was at a loss, looking to Danny for clues of what to say. Danny shook his head and reluctantly Walter left them to go to his own room.
Almost immediately after settling Katy in the portacrib, the phone rang.
“Are you okay?” His rough worried voice soothed her instantly.
“I am now.”
She looked over at Danny and mouthed ‘thank you’. He nodded and went into the bathroom. “Everything went off perfectly.”
“Then why is Danny so worried about you?”
“Because he’s an excellent son. Mu- I’m fine.” She could feel his wince. “I am fine. I just hadn’t seen . . . “
“Shit, I didn’t think. When are you coming home?”
“Good. I need to feel you.” His voice was low, tempting.
Her answer was a not quite suppressed sob.
“Oh god, Sc-Baby, I’m sorry.”
“I’m okay.” She looked up as Danny hurried from the bathroom and rubbed her arm. “Really. We’ll be home tomorrow night.”
“Try to get some sleep. I love you.”
“I know. It makes everything bearable. I can’t wait to be in your arms. You get some sleep too, Love. Goodnight.”
Danny’s arms went around her when she hung up the phone. They held each other for few minutes, then she sat up, brushing his hair back again. “Get in the bed, Honey. I need to get ready for bed myself.” She tucked him in and retreated to the bathroom.
He struggled to stay awake, but had drifted off before she returned. She checked on Katy and stood looking over him before finally easing into the bed beside him.
Mulder, alone in their apartment, lay awake for a long time.
The next morning, Joe didn’t show up for work. Mulder was grimly amused and passed the information on to Danny immediately. The site supervisor was angry and tried repeatedly to phone him. The number went unanswered, but Mulder was able to see the number as it was dialed, and made a note to investigate it as soon as he got home.
It was well after dark when they finally pulled into the parking lot. Mulder was outside to meet them before they could open their doors. Walter was driving and looked exhausted. He hadn’t allowed Scully to spell him nearly as much as on the way down.
He had Scully in his arms before she could speak. She seemed to cling to him and he looked over at Walter, who avoided his eyes. Mulder immediately glanced over at Danny. The boy smiled weakly, and nodded.
“I’ve got you, Scully.” He started to lift her into his arms, but she demurred.
“I’m okay, Mulder. Just tired.” She put her arm around his waist. He kissed her forehead and nodded.
He lifted Katy’s carrier from the back seat. Danny took his mother’s other hand again. Walter trailed them, but didn’t enter the apartment. “Walter?”
“It’s late. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Get your family settled.” The older man walked away with a heavy tread.
Mulder watched for just a moment, then led his family inside. “Scully, take a shower, I’ll get the kids in bed.”
She nodded wearily and moved to their bedroom. Once she was inside, he turned to Danny. “What’s wrong?”
“She’s just tired. I don’t think she slept much last night, thinking about what she saw.”
Mulder took a deep breath and nodded. “I missed you last night. Come on, you need to be in bed. We’ll talk tomorrow.” He kissed the boy’s brow and gave him a tight hug. “Go on.”
Danny headed into his bedroom. Mulder lifted Katy from her carrier. She opened her eyes, then closed them again. He couldn’t help but smile. His daughter obviously felt secure with him. He changed her diaper and put her down in her crib.
He heard the shower cut off, and let himself into the bathroom. He pulled the towel from the rack and she stepped into his arms. He dried her off gently, then wrapped the towel around her and picked up the comb. They hadn’t said a word.
He carefully smoothed her hair back and kissed her brow. After he dried her hair with the towel, he led her to the bedroom and pulled back the covers.
“I need a nightgown.”
“No you don’t. Come on to bed.” He wrapped himself around her and in the comfort of him, she drifted off.
In the morning, he slipped from the bed and took Katy with him into the kitchen. He fed her a bottle while he brewed coffee. Danny stumbled out and Mulder fixed him a bowl of cereal. “You okay?”
Danny nodded, rubbing his eyes.
“Is your Mom okay?”
Danny’s eyes went unfocused for a second, then he smiled slightly. He nodded, “She’s dreaming about you.”
“A good one, I hope.” Mulder said lightly as he returned the milk to the refrigerator. He saw the color grow on Danny’s face. “Nevermind.”
Danny dove into his breakfast.
“I’m gonna take a shower. Can you keep an eye on Katy? I’d like your Mom to get some more sleep.”
“Sure.” The boy said with his mouth full.
Dressed, he gave Scully a light kiss on the forehead. She had moved into the spot he had left and was cocooned in the covers. He smiled down at her, wondering at the dreams Danny had seen, then shut the door quietly behind him.
“I won’t be late tonight. Keep an eye on our girls?” Mulder ruffled his hair.
Mulder opened the door and saw Scully hurrying toward him. She looked much better, rested and she was smiling. He relaxed and took her into his arms. “Hi.”
“Hi. You shouldn’t have let me sleep so - “
His lips cut her off. When he released her he grinned. “I heard you were having good dreams.” Her blush brought a chuckle to his lips. “What do I smell?”
“Lasagna. Danny said you’d like that tonight.”
“Mmm, remind me to thank him.” He looked over and saw Katy in her carrier. He stepped over to her and lifted her into his arms. “Hi Precious. Were you good to your Mom today?”
“She was a dream. I think she was so happy to be out of the car. She and Danny spread out in the living room. I heard him reading to her for awhile.”
“Good. I didn’t want you to overdo. Where is he?”
“I sent him to get Walter for dinner.” She turned back to the stove. “We haven’t seen him all day.”
Mulder nodded. Seeing him last night, he wasn’t surprised the man needed some time. They both turned as the door opened, but Danny entered alone.
“He won’t come.”
Mulder and Scully exchanged looks. “I’ll go get him.” Mulder said.
“You can’t force him.”
“He needs to be with us. He’s had all day alone. We need to talk.” He gave her a quick kiss. “We’ll be right back.”
His knock on the door wasn’t answered immediately. “Walter, it’s me. Come on, man, open the door.”
Walter opened it, placing his arm across the threshold and leaning against it. It didn’t look as though he had slept. “Come on down, Walter. Dinner’s ready.”
Walter shook his head, “Go eat. Be with your family.”
“Last time I checked, that included you. Come on. We need to talk about things, what happened in Atlanta, whatever.”
“You don’t need me - “
“Don’t worry, I’ll throw you out at bedtime.” Mulder grinned.
“Mulder, come on. I don’t - “
“If I go back without you, she’ll send Katy next.”
That drew a startled laugh from Walter. He sighed, “Mulder . . . “
“Come on. We can argue about it over lasagna.” He touched Walter’s shoulder and Walter stepped out, letting the door close behind him.
Mulder opened the door to his apartment and Walter followed him in. “Honey, we’re home.”
Scully stuck her head around the corner. “About time.” She sat Katy’s carrier in a chair by the table and the other four took their seats.
They talked of family things, Mulder asked what Danny was reading to Katy, he told them about work. When the meal was over, Mulder helped Scully stack the dishes while Walter took the kids into the living room. “I’ll help you with the dishes in a little while. Come on.”
She nodded and took his hand.
“Guys, I guess you know Joe didn’t come to work again. I had the guys check the phone number he gave the office and drove by on my lunch hour. He wasn’t there, but I didn’t try to get too close. I think we need to contact John and see what’s happening in DC. Danny?”
“I think they’ve all gone away again, like before.”
“We really stirred things up?”
Danny nodded. “No one’s where they were.” He focused inward, “I’ll find them.” He reached for Katy’s hand. Scully stiffened and he stopped. “Mom?”
She shook her head and smiled. “Go ahead. Mulder, Walter why don’t you try to reach John and the guys.”
“I’m fine. Go ahead.”
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.