Danny was still visibly upset the next morning. Even apple pancakes, his favorite, didn’t get much response. Scully watched Mulder with sympathy. He was suffering as much as Danny.
After breakfast, Danny asked to be excused and returned to his room. Mulder shook his head. “I need some time with him Scully.”
“I know.” She looked out the window; “It’s awfully cold to go to the park.”
He nodded, “But we may go some place like that, and just not stay too long.”
She watched him, “Mulder . . . “
“What are you going to say to him?”
“That I don’t know. I just hope he can read how sorry I am, and how much I love him.”
She rose and kissed him. “Go on. I’ll clean up.”
“Take a nap while we’re gone.”
“You know I’m okay, don’t you?”
“Yes, but don’t ask me not to worry.”
“As long as you don’t overdo it. Go get Danny.”
He rose and looked toward their son’s room. She squeezed his hand and he squared his shoulders, then moved in that direction.
Mulder tapped on the door and stuck his head inside. “Hey Kiddo, am I welcome?”
Danny didn’t look at him, but nodded.
Mulder entered and sat on the bed, after smoothing out the Harry Potter bag. “What if you and I go some place together, just the two of us.”
“You don’t have to.”
“I want to Danny. You and I need to talk.”
The boy seemed to stiffen slightly.
“Danny? God, you’re not afraid of me, are you?”
The boy shook his head, but Mulder seemed to deflate. “You are.”
Danny looked at him closely for a minute. “No Daddy, I’m not scared of you. I know you really love me.”
“I do.” He patted the bed beside him and Danny took the seat. “I know things have been different since your Mom joined us, but don’t you think they’ve been better?”
Danny looked up surprised. “Yes! You’ve been so much happier and - “
“Do you think I wasn’t happy with just the two of us?”
Danny shook his head, “You were always sad, even when you didn’t know it.”
“That wasn’t because of you, Danny. I just missed your Mom.”
Danny nodded, looking at his hands.
“Danny, look at me.” A thought crossed his mind, “Was your Mom in danger when we went to get her?”
Danny’s eyes darted away and his face grew red.
“You did that for me?” Mulder stared at his four-year-old son stunned.
“I wanted her too. And they were thinking about her.”
Suddenly Mulder scooped the boy into his arms chuckling. “You did that for me? I can’t believe . . . “ He hugged the boy tight.
Scully appeared in the door, curious but smiling. “What’s going on guys?”
“Scully, you and I created the best little boy in the whole world.”
Danny’s eyes gleamed at those words.
“I knew that four years ago. Where have you been?”
Her two men laughed and pulled her down on the bed with them, carefully, and Mulder held his family to him.
After a little while, Mulder spoke. “Scully, Danny and I still need some guy time. Do you mind?”
“No, I think it’s a good idea. If you do go to the park, put something over your ears.”
Mulder pulled into the parking lot behind the high school and stopped the car. He got into the backseat with the boy. “Kiddo - “
“Daddy, no! Don’t make me hurt you again!”
“Hey, hey calm down, Kiddo. You’re not going to hurt me. Remember what I said to you last night? I said for you really try hard to get through to me because I was so thick.”
Danny nodded, but he looked miserable.
“Well, I know now that what you can do is stronger than my thickness. What I need you to do is just barely try to reach me.”
Danny looked around.
“That’s why we’re here Danny. There’s no one around. You don’t have to worry about hurting anyone. This is important Danny. Just try a little poke. Okay? That’s a good image, think of it as poking me with your finger. Can you visualize that?”
Danny seemed interested in that. “If I hurt you - “
“You’ll stop. I’m not worried. I know you don’t want to hurt me and that what I’m asking you to do is hard. I also know you can do this Danny. Come on, just a poke.”
The boy licked his lips and swallowed, then took a deep breath. He looked directly into his father’s eyes.
Mulder was aware of something that truly felt like a finger poking at his brow. There was pressure, but not what he would call pain. His eyes widened and the finger went away instantly.
“That was you, wasn’t it? Danny I felt that, right here.” He pointed to the center of his forehead. “It didn’t hurt at all Kiddo. Do you hear me, it didn’t hurt at all.”
Danny relaxed back into the car seat and exhaled loudly.
“You okay, Kiddo? Did you hurt yourself?”
“No. I just wanted to make sure it didn’t hurt you.”
Mulder pulled him out of the seat and into his arms. “I need you not to hurt yourself more than I need you not to hurt me. Do you understand that?”
“You love me.”
Mulder smiled widely, “Yep.” He nodded. “I’ve got a question. Last night, when you let me have it,” he grinned, “was that as strong as you could have tried to get through to me?”
“I don’t know. I was trying pretty hard.”
Mulder nodded, “It spilled over to Mom.”
Danny’s eyes teared immediately.
“Hey, that was an accident and no one blames you. No one, Danny. I’m wondering if she would have felt what you just did to me.”
“No, Daddy! I can’t hurt her again.”
“I agree Danny, calm down. But this was so gentle and right at me. I wonder if anyone could have felt it.” He thought about it for a minute. “Danny, I want you and I to practice this. Let’s find out how strong you have to push at me before it hurts. Just you and me all alone here, where no one else can be hurt. Okay? This will be our thing. We can tell Mom about it, we don’t keep secrets from Mom, but because of the baby, she can’t help us with this.”
Danny nodded seriously, agreeing with that part of it anyway.
By the time Mulder strapped the boy back in the car, they had discovered that just a glance at his Dad could now create the mild feeling of a small finger touching his brow. It took little or no effort for Danny to create the same feeling when Mulder stood at the far end of the parking lot, nearly half a football field away.
“Danny, old man, I think we’ve got it!”
Danny was grinning now as well. Mulder had made him feel like his accomplishment was truly wonderful and he could feel good about it himself.
“I have got to wonder, Kiddo, just how strong a blast you could give if you really tried. But don’t.” He held up his hand, grinning.
Danny laughed. “Okay, Daddy. I promise.”
They were both laughing when they entered the apartment, Mulder holding Danny’s hand. Scully watched them grinning. “So, male bonding going on here, huh? Did you go cruising for chicks?”
Danny looked puzzled for an instant, then “No! You’re our woman, right Dad?”
“Right!” Mulder took her in his arms and dipped her, then kissed her thoroughly. Danny laughed out loud.
“Well, I need to send you guys out together more often. Something exciting always seems to happen then. Come on, lunch is ready. I want a full report.”
Scully asked a lot of questions, some that Mulder hadn’t thought of. She would be useful for these tests, but neither he nor Danny was willing to let her even observe the testing.
Finally she leaned back, “Okay, I’m out of the game for now. But one of the big questions is, can it be directed? Can I stand next to you and not feel what Danny’s doing? We need to know and yes, I understand you don’t want me involved. But what if you try this really mild touch when others are around? We need to see if anyone else can feel that.”
Mulder looked over at Danny, who gave him one big nod.
“Well, we’ve got something else to practice next weekend, looks like.”
Mulder and Danny developed a routine. Every Saturday morning, they went off to practice Danny's skills. Scully wasn't allowed on these excursions and was under orders to use this as her day off - no housework or laundry, and to take it easy.
Mulder felt that he was repairing the damage he had done that night when they had first tested Danny's power. The only other thing that gave him as much pleasure was watching Scully's body change as their second child grew in her womb. He'd miss this with Danny, so he reveled in every moment.
They were at dinner, Mulder's hair still wet from his shower, when Scully looked over at Danny. "Someone's got a birthday coming up."
"I was wondering what you'd like to do to celebrate, and what you'd want as a present. I saw you looking at the Chucky Cheese sign the other day."
"Scully - “ Mulder’s voice was warning.
"I'm not going to overdo, so don't say it." She shook her head. "You know I worked practically until Danny was born, and things have been much easier this time. Besides, those places do all the work."
Danny smiled, "I don't need a party."
"You're only five once, Danny. We didn't get the chance to do much last year and I think we ought to celebrate. We could take two or three of your friends from here and have a good time."
"It would be okay if it was just us." The boy offered.
"This should be a party. You didn't say what you wanted." Scully reminded him.
"You mean something I really want?" He looked eager and Scully smiled, envisioning a bike or a video game of some kind.
"Could we take a family picture, the three of us? Like in the album?"
Scully blinked, then looked up at Mulder, completely stunned at this request.
"If . . . if you want to wait until she's born - " Danny started.
"No, Sweetheart. There's no need to wait. We can have another one after she's born."
The smile on Danny's face brought tears to her eyes, but he was used to her emotions now and the tears didn't scare him as much. Why hadn't she thought of this before, ages ago? He'd been so thrilled with the album when he'd received it.
"We'll do that this week. Whatever night is best for your Dad." She glanced at Mulder who nodded, appreciating his family even more.
The day after the party, it was still the only thing Danny could talk about. A large copy of their family portrait graced the shelf over the couch. A smaller copy, also framed was housed in his bag along with Scully's picture and the album.
When Mulder returned home that evening, he seated Scully at the table and put her feet up, despite her protests, while he and Danny finished up dinner and served it. He ignored her grumbling, she was larger than when she had delivered Danny. She knew the fact that he had missed Danny's birth bothered him, but his overprotectiveness did touch her.
As he cleaned up, with her watching from the table, and Danny watching a little TV, they compared days. She had come to realize how important her work was. Being with Danny, beginning the home schooling was essential to a child as special as their son.
Mulder watched her talk about the boy and didn't attempt to hide his pride at both of them.
"I just wish I could help with the 'other' training."
"You will, in a little while."
"From what I hear, he wouldn't hurt me."
"No, he never would on purpose. But we're probably talking about a matter of days here, Scully. Just take it easy." He watched as she caressed her belly.
"I hope it is just days. I'm ready for her to be out."
"She giving you a fit?"
"No, she's been relatively quiet today."
He dried his hands then approached her, kissed her, then bent down to kiss her abdomen. "Be good to your Mom, little girl."
Scully ran her hand through his hair, and he looked back up at her. "What you thinking?" He asked her.
"I was just remembering Danny at the party. He's so different from the little boy you brought home to me. He's growing so fast and he's so outgoing now."
Mulder nodded, "He's had the time to learn how to be a kid, thanks to you." He grinned, "I loved watching him interact with the other boys. It doesn't hurt that he knows what the other kids are thinking. That makes him a good peace maker. I'm just glad he's not taking advantage."
Scully shook her head, "I don't think he'd do that." She sighed and stretched, "Aren't you going to check in tonight?"
Mulder nodded as he helped her to her feet. "I'll do that now. You should go on to bed."
She rolled her eyes and didn't bother to protest. Instead she moved into the living room and joined Danny on the couch. Mulder grinned at the two of them, then turned toward the computer.
*Hi, what's happening*
*Glad you checked in. Baldy was over and he's very concerned.*
*New buddies at the office. They don't seem like the other children.*
*Just two. He's more concerned about some of his old friends with new personalities.*
Mulder glanced over at his family on the couch, but didn't speak. Danny had learned not to listen to him during these sessions, and Scully was preoccupied with something.
*What does he want?*
*For you to come visit asap. Things are changing pretty fast.*
*Can't come now.*
*We think you should. We've got plenty of room and Baldy is concerned enough to contact us.*
*Not now. Maybe in a month.*
*That might be too late.*
*Then have Baldy take a vacation, get out of the way.*
*Why not now?*
*It's out of the question right now. Do you know who's got a new personality?*
*We'll find out and be in touch in 24. If you change your mind, let us know.*
*Won't change now. Find out and I'll be in touch. Later.*
He signed off, but his mind was reeling. Skinner had contacted the Gunmen? That meant he at least suspected they were in touch with him. And for him to confide that there were strange things going on at the Bureau . . . Were these beings trying to find his family, or had they reached critical mass and were moving into positions of -
"Umm." Scully hunched over slightly.
"Scully?" He was on his feet, moving toward her.
"I'm okay. She's, she's kicking really hard suddenly."
Mulder caressed her stomach and the kicking seemed to slow down a little. "Why don't you get ready for bed."
"Maybe, maybe I should." He looked at her with concern. "Don't worry, it isn't labor - at least not yet."
Danny watched, picking up on his Dad's concern, but kept quiet. Scully kissed him goodnight and let Mulder escort her to the bedroom.
Mulder tucked her in. "Has she calmed down?" Scully nodded, but didn't speak. "Rest Scully. Let me know if you need anything." He kissed her again and caressed her stomach once more.
He returned to the living room and saw that Danny was looking toward their room. "She's okay."
"Having a baby hurts a lot doesn't it?"
Mulder nodded. "But it's not something you need to worry about. Why don't you go take your bath and make sure you wash your hair."
Danny grinned and rose from the couch. "Don't want to talk about it?"
"Not really." Mulder agreed ruefully and Danny nodded.
Once Mulder was alone in the living room, he let his thoughts return to the message he had received from the Gunmen. Men, beings, infiltrating the Bureau. He couldn't call to get more information. It wasn't safe and they would want to know what would keep him away when he was needed. There was no way Scully could travel, she was due any day now. But they didn't know about the pregnancy, no one did.
Still it was disturbing, frightening even. Skinner knew what was happening, he'd seen the beings. He'd seen Billy go into that trash compactor, he'd seen the others in the parking garage take punishment that no human could take. If they were making their presence known at the Bureau, Skinner was in trouble. Would he listen to the guys to get out? In a few weeks, maybe a little more, Mulder might be able to come in for a few days. If he left Danny here with Scully and the baby . . . not a good solution. He realized he was frightened, for his family certainly, but also for his friends in DC. This was -
"Mulder. Oh god, Mulder!"
He looked up to see Scully trying to get to him. She was holding the wall with one hand, the other cradled around her belly.
"Scully!" He was beside her instantly. "Contractions?" She looked like she was in too much pain for early labor - at least according to the websites he'd read.
"No." She shook her head, "she's, she's having a fit. God, she . . ." Mulder had her in his arms, carrying her back toward their bedroom. He laid her gently on the bed and arranged pillows to prop her up. She was too large now to lie on her back. "Mulder - "
He had his hands on her stomach now. Damn, he felt the baby turn a somersault and she seemed to be flailing around. What the hell?
He kept his hands on her, but heard the bathroom door slam open and Danny's footsteps running down the hall.
"Danny, can you calm the baby down? Something's wrong, she's all agitated - "
"Yeah." Danny climbed onto the bed, hair dripping wet and only a towel around him. His own hands joined Mulder's on Scully's stomach. His lips moved slightly, but he made no sound. Mulder moved one hand to Scully's cheek.
She was panting, trying to calm down as Danny continued to communicate with his sister. "It's going to be okay Scully."
She looked up at him, the panic beginning to leave her eyes. He pulled her against him and caressed her shoulders as he kissed her head, murmuring what he hoped where soothing words.
She seemed to droop slightly in his arms and he saw her eyes were drifting closed. "Sleep Scully. It's okay, we're right here." She seemed to nod and closed her eyes. Her even breathing finally penetrated his own panic and he realized she had fallen asleep.
Mulder looked over at Danny, who looked like he was calming down a little himself. Mulder motioned with his head for Danny to move back and he made Scully comfortable on her side and covered her again. Danny and Mulder left the room quietly, Mulder leaving the door wide open so that he could hear any sound she might make.
His hands were shaking when he joined Danny on the couch. "What the hell was that?"
"Are you scared about something, Dad?"
Mulder blinked, "What?"
"She was scared because you were scared. I told her we'd take care of it, but I don't know what - "
Mulder pulled Danny onto his lap. "She's like you."
Danny nodded. "She doesn't know how to not listen yet. She'll learn but . . . " He shrugged. "What's scaring you? Is it them? I haven't felt any of them around."
Mulder shook his head. "The uncles are worried, and Skinner."
"Are 'they' taking over where you worked?"
Mulder nodded, no longer caught off guard with what his five year old son knew.
"Are we going to go help?"
The self-confidence of the boy had grown exponentially with the development of his abilities. Mulder looked at him with pride and affection. "Not now. Your mom can't ride in a car that far right now. And your sister could be born any day." He glanced back toward the bedroom, still shaken by what had happened.
"Mom's okay, she's asleep."
"She could tell you were worried and she got scared. She's little, she doesn't understand."
"I'm not upset with her, I'm just - "
"Upset that Mom was hurting." Danny finished.
"Yeah." He managed a smile. "Hey, you're dripping wet. Why don't you go finish your bath and I'll go look in on Mom."
Danny nodded understandingly.
Mulder stripped down to his shorts and crawled into the bed with her. She seemed aware of his presence, though she didn't speak, just squirming back into his chest as he spooned around her.
Touching her helped him relax further. His hand on her belly told him the baby was asleep as well. Good, the violent movements earlier had completely unnerved him. Scully had been in real pain from it. Danny had never done anything like that while he was in her womb, she would have told him. No, she'd been as shaken, more, than he was.
Danny tapped lightly on the door and pushed it open. Mulder didn't have to warn him to be quiet. He tiptoed to the bed and kissed his mother gently on the cheek, then came around to Mulder's side of the bed. He put his hand on Mulder's arm as he started to rise.
"Stay here. I can put myself to bed." He whispered.
*You sure?* Mulder thought at him.
Danny nodded, then looked at his mother again. "Will it hurt like that?"
*Don't you worry about it. The hospital can give her something to make it better.*
Danny nodded, though Mulder could tell he wasn't convinced.
*Go on to bed, Kiddo. I'll come check on you in a little while.*
Danny nodded again and kissed his father's cheek as well, then headed for his own room.
Mulder lay awake most of the night, holding Scully and twice checking on Danny to make sure he was sleeping peacefully. He woke to find Scully watching him the next morning.
"Scully, you okay?"
She nodded, "I'm fine, maybe a little bruised internally. Mulder, what could have caused her to do that?"
Mulder brushed her hair off of her forehead and kissed it. "Danny says she was upset about something I was thinking about it. Looks like we have another kid on our hands that we aren't going to be able to spell in front of." He grinned at her.
She wasn't about to be put off. "What were you thinking about?"
He hesitated, but not telling her might upset things again. "The Gunmen want us to come home. Apparently the Bureau is being infiltrated. Skinner was concerned enough to contact them."
"If Skinner was upset, then we need to go."
"No way, Scully. You're going to give birth any day. You're not riding in a car to DC, and no airline would let you board. It can wait."
"Can it? What if they get Skinner?"
"Stop it, Scully. Stop it now. I told the guys to have him take a vacation. I'll check in again tonight to make sure he did. You are to concentrate on yourself and the little girl. I'll call in to the construction site and - "
"There's no need for that Mulder. Go on to work. I'll need you more when I do go into labor. We can't leave Danny alone while I'm in the hospital."
He didn't look convinced but she did have a point. His construction job didn't offer a lot of time off and they needed his income. The money she had brought was still being held for emergencies, or support for his family if something were to happen to him.
"Help me up, Mulder. Then get ready for work. We'll be fine. You know Danny will reach you if we need you to come home."
Mulder helped her to her feet, then took a quick shower. She was on the couch when he emerged, Danny sitting beside her, his hand lightly touching her stomach.
"I need to make you some breakfast." Scully started to rise.
"No, you stay there. I'm not hungry anyway."
She shook her head lightly at him. "Okay, this time. We're going to the grocery later, anything you - "
"No. I'd rather you stay in today. I can pick up whatever we need on the way home."
"Mulder - "
"No. After last night I want you guys to just hang around here."
"I could read to you today, Mom."
She smiled down at the boy. "You guys are determined to smother me with care aren't you?"
Danny grinned and glanced over at his dad, then they both nodded. Scully sighed. "It's a good thing she will be here soon. I can't take this for too long."
"Tell you what, Scully. If you get me pregnant, I'll let you wait on me hand and foot. Okay?"
Danny laughed out loud and Scully chuckled. "I'll work on that in a few weeks."
"Promise?" Mulder leered at her.
"Go to work. One overprotective male at the time is enough."
"I'll call at lunch."
She nodded and didn't attempt to walk him to the door. He'd protest anyway. She kissed him and swatted his ass as he stood. His eyebrow rose and Danny laughed again. She didn't bother to ask his thoughts.