He let himself in the front door and saw her reach for the baby. "It's me. I should have let you know."
"It's okay. I'm still a little jumpy."
He approached her and caressed her arm. She leaned against him and his arms went around her. "I'm sorry."
He gaped at her. "For, for everything. For the mess I've made of your life."
"I feel like you saved it last night and Will's."
"It wouldn't have needed saving if - "
"I wouldn't have Will without you. Remember?"
He closed his eyes. "I need to check out the house."
"No one's been here today."
"I still need to check. Who all has been inside the house since we moved in? The furniture guys, the neighbors. I need to call to get the glass replaced."
"I called. You left the number you got from Marge. I told him not to come until this afternoon, so you would be back."
He nodded. He wasn't going to let any strangers near his family again.
"What are you looking for?"
He held out the instrument he'd received in the package. "Bugs," he mouthed and she nodded. Will was very interested in the process and followed Mulder around the house, laughing as Mulder crawled into spaces, playing with him as he went. Dana sat on the couch, foot up, watching them. After an hour Mulder rose and stretched. "Nothing."
"That's good news, isn't it?"
"Yes. These guys sent their best." He plopped down on the couch next to her, holding William.
"Then what's wrong?"
Again he just blinked at her. "What's wrong?"
"Yes. We're safe - "
"For now, maybe."
"And we're together. I feel pretty safe having you around. After what I saw last night - "
"That didn't scare you off?"
"Obviously not. Mulder, I admit I don't know what's going on and it is more serious than I had realized, but you're here."
He looked at her for a long moment, then leaned forward and took her lips with his. They only drew back when William's laughter penetrated. Dana rubbed her wrist.
"Did I hurt you?"
"No, I was just thinking how in the way this is." She smiled up at him and watched his pupils dilate as he understood her words. "I shouldn't have to wear it long."
"No, not long at all," he agreed. Will again drew their attention as he climbed down from the couch and headed for the sliding glass door. "I think it's outside time," Mulder commented. "Come with us?"
She nodded and let him help her to her feet. Holding her arm, he let William out the door and watched as he scampered over to the swings next door.
"Go on, Mulder. I'll take it slow," Dana offered as they watched their son
"He can wait a minute." They both looked over as their neighbor's back door opened and Marge stepped out on her patio, an older woman on her arm. She waved at them, then helped the woman into a chair.
"Come have a seat, Katy," Marge offered adjusting a shawl around the woman's shoulders. She held the seat as Mulder helped Dana take the seat.
"Katy, William, this is my mother-in-law, Mildred. Mildred," she raised her voice slightly, "these are my neighbors, Katy and William. That's their son Will at the swings."
The woman nodded slightly but didn't really seem to get it. Marge lowered her voice and kind of mouthed 'Alzheimer's'. Marge settled a shawl around the woman's shoulders and let Mulder pull up another chair for her.
He glanced over at Will again and saw the boy was staring at the house. He headed for the swings when George raced into the yard. "Hi! There's a truck in your driveway. It has g-l-a-s-s on it 'gull-ass', glass, right?"
"Perfect, my man." Mulder slapped hands with him. "I better go let him in. Can you keep an eye on Will? Mrs. Hale can't get around too well."
"Thanks." He turned to Dana and winked, then headed for their house. He let the man in and stayed, not willing to let anyone be alone in their home.
It didn't take long and the man made no move to do anything except change out the window. When Mulder rejoined them Kevin and Candice were playing with Will and George at the swings.
George and Will headed toward the patio as Mulder headed back to them. Will bypassed him and headed for Mildred. Without a word, George placed him in Mildred's lap. She looked confused, but her arms automatically went around him protectively. "Kevin?"
"No, Mildred, that's Will from next door."
She looked down at the boy and he met her eyes. For a long moment they stared at each other, then Will smiled at her and started to scramble down. George helped him and they returned to the swings. Dana looked over at Mulder but he shook his head slightly.
"Sleepy," Mildred murmured, closing her eyes and letting her head fall back.
Marge blinked at her. "That's new. At least I think it is. She lives with Stan's sister and her husband. I go over there most weekends to give them a break, but she's gone downhill quickly. They were going out of town; it had already been planned, so I brought her over here. I hate how uncomfortable it makes the kids. Do you think she's okay?"
Dana leaned over and checked the pulse in her wrist. "Firm and steady. I think she just fell asleep."
"Would you like me to take her inside?" Mulder asked.
"Oh, would you mind? We've made up the study downstairs. She really doesn't do stairs too well anymore."
"No problem." Mulder lifted the older woman into his arms and carried her inside. The children came running over.
"What happened?" Candice asked in a hushed voice.
"Nothing," Dana reassured them. "She fell asleep and we thought she'd be more comfortable in her bed than the chair."
"Oh, she's really old. We thought maybe she'd died."
"No, no, she's fine, really."
"She doesn't know who we are anymore. She's forgotten us. Sometimes she thinks Kevin is my Dad."
"I'm sorry," Dana caressed her hair.
Mulder came back out then with Marge. "She's all tucked in and I think Will needs to be too." She looked over to see Will in the toddler swing, his thumb in his mouth and his eyes drooping. Chuckling, Mulder retrieved him and then returned to the table and helped Dana to her feet.
"You need any help?" Marge asked.
"I got 'em. Thanks. I think I'll put them both to bed and get some work down." They walked slowly back to the house and followed her up the stairs with the sleeping baby on his shoulder. He changed him and put him down then moved to their bedroom. She was sitting on the side of the bed.
"He did something to her."
"Yeah, I think he did. But I don't think he harmed her."
"So what did he do?"
"Maybe the same thing he did for George; fix her."
"You don't think . . . "
"I don't know. We need to wait, see what happens with her. You said yourself her pulse was strong and steady. Marge told me she was healthy as a horse except for her mind. Right now you need to rest."
"I'm okay except for my wrist and ankle. Sleep won't - "
"Try it. I'm going to check in with the guys. Lie back." He pulled the blanket from the foot of the bed up over her and kissed her brow. "Relax."
To her surprise, she did fall asleep. When she woke she limped to the office to find Mulder still working on his computer. "Find anything?"
He turned a grinned at her. "There's not a lot on this particular field. Have a seat." He rose and gave her his chair. He perched on the desk. "Will was able to help George; I've been working with him on Tuesdays and let me tell you, he's already at grade level and wanting more. They're connecting and Will has helped. I, I've got an idea and I need you to tell me if it's stupid."
"Did you notice that Will knew the guy from the glass place was here before George told us? He sensed him or felt him, I don't know. I, I think he could be an early warning device."
She blinked, but didn't speak.
"Really bad idea, huh?"
"Would it be dangerous? I mean, would it hurt him?"
"Excellent question, but I haven't seen any problem. I mean, after he did whatever it was he did for Mildred, he went back to playing. He's been working on George for
several weeks and I haven't seen anything."
"No, neither have I," but she sounded worried.
"Look, we can forget this. I would never do anything - "
"I know that. We could, could check it."
"We can stop at the first sign - "
She did smile then. "I know that." They headed downstairs then. A sound at the sliding door drew their attention. They turned to see a large black dog looking back at them.
"Have you ever seen him before?" Mulder asked.
"No, not in this neighborhood. He looks kind of rough."
Mulder took a better look at the dog. He was large and very dark, not truly black, but a dark brown. He was short haired and had his tail bobbed. His chest was deep and broad, but he wasn't fully grown; well beyond puppy-hood probably partially due to circumstances if his appearance was any indication, but young. He had obviously been in more than one fight, there were scars on his face and body and with his short fur they showed. He could also use a few good meals.
"What kind is he? Do you know dogs?" she asked.
"I'd say part bulldog, part sneaky neighbor's dog."
Dana laughed out loud and the dog turned to look at her, then he scratched at the door again. Mulder moved toward the door.
"What are doing?" she asked.
"I want to see what he wants."
"What? You think you can read his mind?"
Mulder blinked. "I hadn't thought of that, but no, I wanted to see what he wants from us."
He nodded and looked down at the dog, then slid the door open. As soon as there was room, the dog slipped inside and headed for the stairs.
"Mulder! Stop him!"
The dog was already half way up the stairs, but Mulder was right behind him. The dog turned unerringly toward the nursery and Mulder made a grab for him. He could hear
Dana racing to catch up. "Stay back! Let me - "
The dog had nosed the door open and Mulder spotted Will standing in his crib. "Og!" He reached through the bars before Mulder could reach him and the dog sniffed his
hand, then gave him a small lick.
Mulder grabbed hold of the dog's neck then to pull him back. He expected a growl, a struggle, but the dog calmly allowed him to pull him away from the crib.
"Og!" Will was reaching for him and the dog sat watching the baby, ignoring Mulder.
"Will? Did, did you call him?"
Will smiled broadly. *Guard.*
Dana was beside him now, gasping for breath and looking completely confused. "Did he try to bite - "
"No. He only sniffed him, then licked his hand."
She stared at Mulder for a moment. "He licked . . . "
"He's our new guard dog."
"Will called him."
She moved around Mulder then and gathered the boy into her arms, then took a seat in the rocking chair. "Called him."
"Uh, yeah, I think so. Will told me 'guard'."
She closed her eyes at that and pulled the boy closer, cuddling him.
"Dana, I really think - "
She held up her hand and he went silent. He knew this was much more than she'd bargained for. She'd been a medical student, on track for her chosen career, then been
chosen by this unknown group for experimentation and . . . Now she was trapped in a global conspiracy, and her son was able to do things she would have never believed possible.
"Dana - "
"I just need a minute."
He nodded though her eyes were still closed. "Come on, Sarge, let's get you some water."
Her eyes flew open. "You named him?"
"What? Uh, no." He'd just realized what he'd said. "I, I think that was his name already."
She merely nodded and closed her eyes again. Mulder and Sarge left the room.
When dinner was over and dishes washed, Mulder asked if she felt okay alone with Sarge for a moment. At her quiet nod, he headed next door to return a dish to Marge and check on Mildred. He tapped on the sliding door and let himself in at her gesture.
"Hi," he held up the dish. "Thought I'd check on your mother-in-law."
"She's doing okay. She was confused when she woke up, but she came out here on her own and she did recognize Kevin. Her appetite was good at dinner. Unfortunately
Alzheimer's isn't a linear disease, so I just don't know what to expect."
"I'm glad she's doing okay. Look, we're going to look for a car tomorrow - "
"Really, there's no hurry."
"I know, but we heard from the insurance company. Since we still don't know who hit her, and they probably weren't insured anyway, we need to get started at least."
"Okay, but if you don't find what you want, give yourself a day or two. Would you like me to keep Will?"
Mulder managed to hide his surprise. The thoughts of leaving his son with anyone but Dana had caught him off guard, but now with Sarge. . . "Uh, yeah, I'll mention it to Katy. Listen, have you seen a dog hanging out around here, large, almost black?"
"No, there are strict rules about leashes in this neighborhood, with all the kids. I'd have noticed a stray. Why?"
"He came to our backdoor this afternoon. Seems to want to stay."
"What about the baby?"
"They're cool with each other. We haven't left them alone of course."
"Well, be careful."
He was relieved to see that Dana felt the same way about leaving Will, even with Marge when he brought it up. "No, I mean, I'm sure she's - "
"Yeah, me either, even with Sarge since we don't know him that well. We'll take him with us, Will might have an opinion about the car."
"Of course." She smiled and watched the boy indulgently as he watched Sarge eat his dinner.
They had settled into a good routine. Mulder had talked her into leaving her job, finally convincing her that looking after their son was more important than bringing in 'her' share of the household income. Besides there was always the hope she could go back to school in the future.
They still shared the bed and now woke up routinely in each other's arms but due to her injuries they hadn't moved forward. He thought he was picking up signals that maybe that could change, but hadn't worked up the nerve to address it directly.
They had contacted the police about the hit and run and been told that nothing new had been learned. At least they wouldn't think it strange that Mulder hadn't pursued it. Apparently the bodies had not been discovered, at least there had been no press.
Mildred had returned to her daughter's house and for now they were talking about a 'remission' or 'misdiagnosis'. He and Dana didn't disagree.
He was downstairs fixing coffee when he realized Sarge was moving his water bowl around behind the counter. Then he nudged the empty food bowl as well. "Whatja doing, Sarge? I thought you liked the window."
He heard Dana come to the top of the stairs. "Mulder?" It was a stage whisper and he hurried to the bottom of the stairs. She quickly motioned for him to come up. Sarge was ahead of him, his pull toy in his mouth. He took the stairs three at a time.
She pulled him to a window in the bedroom where the blinds were partially opened. "Look." She pointed to a dark blue sports car parked across the street and down two houses. The windows were completely blacked out. "It was there earlier too, around five."
"I woke up and went to check on Will. He was asleep, but I looked out as I was coming back to bed. I should have paid more attention, but I thought it was just someone picking Jerry up for work. Sometimes he goes in that early."
Mulder nodded, they had made a point of learning everyone's schedule just for the purposes of noticing things like this.
"I couldn't see that the windows were black before. Look, they've started the engine." She looked up at Mulder as the car moved into their driveway. Fear was plain in her face. They both looked down as Sarge growled low in his chest.
*Daddy* Mulder heard the voice clearly in his head. "Let me get Will."
He headed for the nursery and picked the boy up. "Oh my god." He heard her and glanced down at Will, already moving back to the room.
"What?" He moved so he could see out the window himself and froze for an instant. Diana was walking toward their front door. "Fuck."