He thought back to that night as he sat here, sweating in the car. This was insane. How the hell had she put a spin on things that would get him here? He sank further down in his seat and pulled his baseball cap down over his face. Any passerby would think he was asleep. How the hell had he gotten here?
It had been strange, holding her in his arms, knowing that Skinner was in the next room. How many years had he kept his feelings for Scully secret from Skinner, not to mention himself? But Skinner was sleeping in their son's bed and had come to them for help.
Scully held Danny's hand. They looked like any other mother and son on the tour. She had on a short brown wig and glasses, as well as shorts and t-shirt - completely different from anything she had ever worn here before. And of course Danny was watching out. That was the most protection anyone could have.
She could see the boy's excitement. He had 'seen' this place countless times from their memory, but to see it for himself . . .
They had about ten minutes before the tour was to start. "Why don't we use the restroom?" She asked Danny.
"Yeah, okay." He hated going into the ladies' room, it was unnecessary usually, but they needed some privacy.
*Do you sense any of them?* She asked with her mind. That made her uncomfortable, as though admitting something she didn't want to face, but Danny was used to that.
"Eight." He spoke in a low voice. They were in the handicapped stall together, but someone was at the sink.
Her eyes widened. She'd thought one, maybe two might be here, but eight?
*Can you get their names?*
He nodded and she pulled some paper from her bag. She knew seven of the eight he gave her, had worked on cases with two of them. *Honey, are they, the real men, still alive anywhere?*
He shook his head. "They kill them, then become them."
She had the urge to pick him up and run out of here and never look back. Her children shouldn't be a part of this, shouldn't have to help save the world.
"Mom." He took her hand. "We want to."
She looked down at him, looked into those eyes so like his father's. After a moment he spoke, "Come on, the tour's starting."
She took a deep breath and followed her son back into the lobby. The tour was actually interesting to her - she'd never taken it and Danny was fascinated, though quiet. She could see he was bursting with questions, but who better than his father to answer them later. He was disappointed he couldn't see 'the office', but he'd known from the beginning that was impossible.
When they finally left the building and headed toward where they had left Mulder, Danny took her hand. "We need to hurry. Dad needs us."
"Is he okay?" She asked quickly.
"He will be when he touches you."
She felt some color take over her face, but didn't dispute his words. She'd feel the same if she had been forced to wait somewhere to worry about them. "How's Katy?"
He grinned, "She thinks Uncle Frohike is funny."
She huffed slightly, "He better be keeping his thoughts clean."
"He's doing the best he can." Danny said, then laughed as his mom's eyebrow rose.
Mulder saw them coming and had to force himself to stay in the car. In any case, the relief of seeing them alive, healthy, safe and walking toward him sapped his strength. Scully let herself into the front seat as Danny scrambled into the back and buckled himself in.
"Took you long enough." Mulder groused, though his hand was grasping hers tightly.
"I know, Honey. But we had to wait for the tour to end. And Danny was enjoying himself."
Mulder took a steadying breath. “Well, were any of them there?”
Scully nodded and handed him the list. His eyes widened. “Eight?” He looked up at her. She could read that expression. He was giving himself hell for letting them out of his sight.
“Mulder, we’re here, we’re okay.”
He nodded and pulled out into traffic. Don’t dwell on what could have happened. They’d risked themselves to get this information. Concentrate on what they had. “I worked with Pincer once.”
Scully relaxed slightly, he was calming down. “Yes, I knew Montgomery and Setzer.”
Mulder looked in the mirror at Danny. “You did good Kiddo. I should’ve said that right away.”
“S’okay.” He grinned at his Dad.
Mulder winked at him. “Are the real guys hidden somewhere?”
Danny’s face fell, “No. They have to kill them to take over their bodies.”
Mulder glanced back in the mirror and nodded once. They were quiet on the way to the motel after that. Even with Danny watching, Mulder took several evasive turns before finally pulling in.
Scully was becoming uncomfortable and hoped that Katy was awake and hungry. She was first out of the car. “Scully?”
She smiled back at him, “I need to see Katy.”
He relaxed, he should have thought. But he wanted to take her in his arms and hold her. It wouldn’t be long.
By the time he and Danny entered the room, Scully was disappearing with Katy into the bathroom. Byers moved toward them. “Everyone okay, Mulder?”
“Yeah.” He glanced toward the bathroom, “things are bigger than we thought.” He brought the three of them up to date.
“Man,” Langly spoke finally. “How many in the rest of the government?”
Frohike nodded mournfully.
“I didn’t feel anyone else.” Danny said hopefully.
“Then there aren’t any.” Frohike said. “Want me to show you this new game I found?”
“Sure!” The two of them moved off and, after a minute, Langly joined them.
“Are you going to contact Skinner?” Byers asked him as he watched the three settle in front of the computer.
“Yeah, but not by phone. He usually goes to dinner around six. I figure Danny and I can trail him and see him then.”
“Sounds like a plan. We can stay here with Scully if you want.”
“Yeah. That’d be good. I don’t want her alone. Katy can’t really be much of an alarm yet.”
“Listen guys, I need to spend a little time . . . “
“Sure. We’ll keep an eye on Danny.”
Mulder smiled his thanks and joined Scully and Katy in the small bathroom.
He sat on the edge of the tub and watched Scully nurse their daughter. Scully leaned over and kissed him. “You okay Mulder?”
“I’m sorry Mulder, but it had to be done. Danny was so wonderful.”
“Of course he was, he’s your son. I just hate that you . . . I want to protect my family.”
“I know.” Her hand caressed his face.
They sat together quietly, until Katy was full. Mulder took her then and changed her while Scully watched, a small smile on her face.
“What about Walter?”
He sighed, “I’m going to go talk to him tonight.”
Mulder shook his head, “I’ll take Danny. I want the guys to stay here with you. Katy can warn, but it’s tough to understand sometimes. I know.”
Scully moved into his arms, “Yeah, you do. Does Walter know we’re even here?”
“No. Just that we’re coming. At least we have some confirmations for him. Some of these names weren’t on his list.”
“Let’s just veg until Danny says it’s time to go. Come on, we'll see if Danny’s trouncing both Frohike and Langly on whatever game they found.” He cuddled Katy to his chest and held out his hand to help Scully to her feet.
She took his hand and looked at him, at the ease with which Mulder held their daughter. It was so different than the way he had held Danny that day she had given him to Mulder to disappear.
“I was, I was just thinking what a wonderful father you are. What a wonderful everything you are.”
He blinked, “You believe that?”
She nodded, her throat suddenly tight.
“Hey, I thought those hormones were under control now."
“This isn’t hormones.”
“Oh. You like me a little?”
He pulled her tighter against him. “Good, I’m kinda fond of you too.” He leaned over and took her lips with his own. “Can I show you how fond after we get rid of the stooges tonight?”
“That might be arranged.” She kissed him again and opened the door.
Mulder turned to Danny. “Is he on his way?”
“Yeah, he’s walking down the street now.”
Mulder grinned, “I could’ve told you he’d eat here.”
“Yeah, right Dad. Didn’t need me at all.” He grinned, “You know, we did hurry as much as we could this morning. Mom had you on her mind the whole time.”
Mulder looked at him then, “I know. I just . . .”
“I know, you love us.”
“I do you know.”
Danny smiled, then froze. His smile faded. “One of them . . . he’s following Uncle Walter. Dad!”
Danny had the car door open before Mulder could stop him. “Danny!” But the boy was racing toward the alley. Mulder scrambled out of the car and caught him before he could turn into the darker area.
“No!” Mulder grabbed him, pulling him off of his feet and into a close embrace.
“Dad, he’s gonna take him. He’s gonna make Uncle Walter one of them!” He was talking fast, but low.
The conflict on Mulder’s face was heartfelt. “Dad!”
“You stay right here. Do you hear me? Don’t move. If anyone - “
Mulder’s hand caressed his hair and he hurried into the alley. There was no way he could win this one. Hell, he wasn’t even armed. The best he could hope for was to distract the soldier long enough to get Skinner and bolt. And he couldn’t get killed, Danny was here.
The super soldier had Skinner against the brick wall at the back of the diner. Skinner’s feet weren’t on the concrete and one of the man’s arms was blocking Skinner’s windpipe, while he held him easily with the other hand.
Mulder didn’t bother with a warning, tackling the soldier low and hard. He went down and Skinner dropped to his knees, gasping for air.
The man was on his feet first and had Mulder by the shoulders, then threw him across the alley into the trashcans. Mulder hit hard, crashing through them and into the wall behind.
“Mulder!” Skinner was on his feet now.
The man stopped then and looked at Mulder. “Mulder?” The soldier’s face actually lit up. “An extra prize. Wait your turn Fox Mulder, I’ll be with you next.”
He turned back toward Skinner and advanced on him. Mulder rose to his feet and nearly collapsed when he stepped on his right foot.
Suddenly their assailant stopped and blinked. Mulder looked where he was looking and saw Danny approaching them.
“Danny! No!” Mulder roared at him, but the boy ignored him, concentrating on the soldier. The man’s hand came up to his head and his eyes narrowed. He tried to take a step toward the boy. Mulder tensed ready to attack again. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Skinner do the same.
But the man’s only step was a stagger and both of his hands tightened around his head. He dropped to his knees then, groaning. He struggled for a moment more, then collapsed to the ground.
Mulder held his own breath as the man’s chest quit moving. He knew better than to think he was dead, but this would give them some time.
Then the man’s neck arched and there was the sound of metal twisting. Mulder and Skinner looked at each other, then both were moving toward Danny, ignoring their own injuries. Mulder had Danny up in his arms. He tossed the keys to Skinner. “Can you drive?”
Skinner nodded, opening the door to let Mulder and Danny into the back seat, then slipped into the front. Mulder gave him quick directions and Skinner pulled out.
“You don’t have to hurry. It’s dead, for real.”
Mulder blinked at the boy, then caught Skinner’s eye in the mirror. “You, you were able to . . . “
“I’m okay, Dad. I didn’t ‘kill’ it. It’s a machine and I broke it. He killed the man he looked like over a year ago.”
Instead of speaking, Mulder just pulled him into his arms and held him close. After a moment he sat up. “Does Katy know?”
Danny looked surprised. “Yeah.”
“Maybe you better calm her down.”
Scully patted the baby’s tummy lightly as she lay in her crib, gurgling around her hand. Frohike looked up as Scully moved away from the crib. “Want something to drink?”
Before she could answer, Katy screamed. All four of them froze. Scully recovered first, racing back to her side. Katy stopped screaming only long enough to draw a breath, then let go again, her body arching in her fury.
“Katy, Katy, Mommy has you.” That did nothing to calm her down. Neither did pacing or bouncing. "What's wrong with her?" She asked the three men helplessly. "What's going on? What . . . what does she know?" Her voice quivered on that last word and all three of them converged on her, to offer reassurances and comfort.
of them were at wit's end quickly. Frohike's suggestion about a pin sticking
her was met by scorn from Langly and part of Scully wanted to be amused at
Langly's attitude but she was too near tears herself.
Then, as suddenly as it began, she was quiet again. It seemed as though she quit crying in mid-scream and relaxed in Scully's arms. Scully was too afraid to speak, staring down at her infant daughter. The baby gurgled up at her and gave what looked like her first real smile.
"What? What does it mean?" Scully looked up at them.
Byers moved quickly back to her side, leading her to the bed. "It's a signal Dana, from Danny. Everything is okay. Yes, something happened, but its okay now. Look, she's fine. Why don't you . . . why don't you lie down here with her. Put your feet up. I'm sure they're on their way back." Frohike and Langly nodded behind him.
Frohike took Katy from her arms and Byers helped Scully recline on the bed. "Try to calm down, Dana. Katy's telling you its okay.
She nodded and closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened her eyes, she reached for Katy. Frohike put the baby on the bed beside her and she cuddled her. Everyone was quiet then, waiting.
When Danny opened the door, Scully vaulted from the bed. She was on her knees, examining him even as he was still trying to get inside. “I’m fine Mom. They need your help.” He looked back at Mulder and Skinner, who followed him into the room.
Scully scanned them both quickly. They had cuts and bruises, and Mulder was doing his best to disguise a limp. Scully was on her feet instantly and grabbed her bag of first aid. Both men sank onto the foot of the nearest bed. She asked no questions, merely began ministering to their injuries. Both submitted, wincing when she cleaned and then butterflied the cuts on their faces and scalps. She noted the bruises and finally met Mulder’s eyes.
He glanced away, “We need to get out of here.”
The three men didn’t hesitate, anxious for something to do. Langly took the crib down, while Byers and Frohike packed up the bathroom and clothing.
“Where do you want to go, Mulder?” Byers asked.
“We don’t have to go far, but we need a bigger place.”
“There’s one of those suite places just down the highway. Each room has a sitting room and a separate bedroom.”
“Let’s go. Byers, you’re going to have to check us in. You’re the only one . . .” He looked around, “unmemorable at this point.”
Byers grinned, “Yeah. Come on.”
Again Skinner drove, Mulder in the front, Scully in the back with the children. They followed the van and parked both vehicles away from the office. Byers was back quickly with their key and they unloaded the car.
The crib was set up in the bedroom and Scully put the baby down. She was asleep almost instantly; worn out from the fit she’d thrown earlier. At Scully’s insistence, Danny lay down as well. After reading her quickly, he didn’t bother to protest. He knew better. She kissed him then returned to the front room, pulling the door almost closed behind her.
There she stopped and surveyed the men in front of her. She took in each one, lingering slightly longer on Skinner and his injuries before settling on Mulder. “What the hell happened?”
Mulder saw her hands were beginning to shake. By the time he reached her, she was shaking all over. He leaned over her and led her to the small sofa. Skinner immediately moved to the easy chair and the other three brought over chairs from the small table.
He seated her and seemed to wrap himself around her, as though to physically shield her small body with his own. Unfortunately what they faced wasn’t something he could protect her from.
Mulder handed her the glass of water Frohike had gotten for her. “What about a brandy, Scully?”
She shook her head. Most of the color had returned to her face. Her reaction to Danny’s actions had been as strong as his.
“Do you think he’s dead?” She was watching Mulder
Mulder shrugged and looked over at Skinner. “Is there anyone you could trust . . .”
Skinner looked at him, then Scully. “John.”
“Is he still . . .” She started to ask.
“There aren’t any ‘X-Files’ as it existed, but when something ‘unexplained’ comes up, I usually assign him. He understands.”
“How can you be sure he’s not . . . “
Skinner shrugged, “Danny.”
Scully closed her eyes.
“If this thing is dead, or ‘broken’ like Danny says, it’s valuable information.” Langly spoke up. “We know how to kill them.”
“Yes. We send out my five year old.” Scully spoke bitterly. Langly paled and leaned back, away from the look in her eyes.
“Hey, I’m, I’m sorry - “
“It’s okay Langly. It’s what we’ve all been thinking.” Mulder spoke smoothly. Scully seemed to shrink in his arms. “Why don’t you turn in Scully? We can - “
“Get in touch with John. Have him observe the autopsy, make sure there is one.” Scully reasserted herself, ignoring Mulder’s suggestion.
After a slight hesitation, Skinner pulled out his cell phone. “No, use ours.” Byers stopped him, substituting his phone for Skinner’s.
Skinner nodded and dialed. “John, I need you to meet me in my office, thirty minutes. Yes.” He broke the connection.
“You shouldn’t go back there.” Scully protested.
“Yes, I need to make an appearance. Pick up my car and . . . and a few things. I’ll be okay.”
“Promise?” Her voice was low now, barely a whisper.
“Yeah, I promise. Let me wash up.”
“They’ll see - “
“No. It’ll be okay.” He rose and moved into the bedroom. The others sat in silence.
When he emerged, the three stood. “We’ll drop him off and head home. You can reach us anytime, but we’ll be back here around eight.”
Mulder nodded and let them out. Then, still standing at the door, he turned to face Scully. “Can you forgive me?”
Her look was puzzled. “Wha - “
“For taking Danny with me, you gave him to me to protect him and I - “
“Mulder.” She was on her feet now and moved into his arms. “I made us come to DC. I took him into the lion’s den. If he hadn’t been with you . . . if he hadn’t been with you we would have lost Skinner and, and . . . “
“Sssh. You need to lie down and I need to hold you.”
She saw the grimace on his face when he stepped on his injured ankle and pulled his arm around her. “Come on, I need to hold you too.”
Once in bed, they lay facing each other. Danny and Katy were deep asleep but they felt like whispering. She would still occasionally shiver, though he knew she wasn’t cold. His hand caressed her hip. “What can I do, Scully?”
She shook her head. “Danny told me he and Katy wanted to save the world. Did I tell you that?” She looked up into his stunned face and nodded. “We better get busy and have eight or ten more kids to give them backup.” The bitterness was creeping back into her voice.
He kissed her lips gently. “As much as I enjoy making babies with you, Scully, I have no intention of putting you through the end result again. We’ll find another way.”
“What other way is there Mulder?”
“I’ll find one.” He kissed her again and pulled her closer against his body.