"What?" He moved so he could see out the window himself and froze for an instant. Diana was walking toward their front door in full power suit mode. She was wearing a navy suit with a white blouse. There was a navy and red scarf around her neck. "Fuck."
He didn't bother to apologize and Dana didn't say anything. Mulder looked down at Will. "Is she alone?"
"Look, I don't know if you can do this," he spoke quickly to Will, "but I need to know what she knows. If you can, please read her mind. We'll figure out a way for you to get me the information later, but anything will help." He looked over at Dana and she didn't attempt to tell him that he was crazy. He gave her Will and turned toward the stairs. "Stay up here. Sarge, look after them."
"Don't you - "
"Get your gun and hold onto it." He tucked his own into the back of his jeans and trotted down the stairs. He was half way down when he heard the knock. He moved to the door and opened it. "Diana."
"Fox." She hesitated; he didn't seem as startled at her appearance as she would have thought or hoped. "May I come in?"
He nodded and moved aside. She stepped inside and looked around, but made no comment.
"I figured with a little one, you'd be up by now."
He absorbed that; she wasn't playing coy about that information at least. He motioned for her to move into the great room and followed her. "Why are you here?"
"The letter you sent Patterson didn't ring true to me."
"How did you see it?"
She ignored the question. "The Bureau needs you and I'd like you to come back."
"Come back? Why?"
"Well, Patterson could use you. Word is his area is struggling right now without you there to do the work so he can take credit." She smiled slightly at that, but his face remained impassive. Her smile faltered. "You should come back, Fox."
"Want to tell me how you found me?"
"I work for the FBI."
That did cause a grim smile. "So 'Smoky' didn't tell you?"
*Spender? How the hell does he know about Spender?*
Mulder blinked, he had heard that as clearly as if she had spoken. In fact he'd thought she had been speaking in the beginning, but her lips hadn't moved.
"Who's Smoky?" she said.
He ignored that. "Little one?"
"I know you're here with the Scully woman and her son."
"Our son," he corrected.
"I understand you not wanting to have a kid with me, Diana, but I never thought you were the type to share my . . . essence."
For an instant her face went white with fury, her eyes black and hard. He turned away to hide his shock and moved toward the kitchen. "Coffee?"
He headed behind the counter, keeping his back to her. He couldn't let her know what he had seen. She had tried to get pregnant by him. She hadn't want his child, but she had wanted to be the one to give this 'valuable commodity' to the people she really worked for. It hadn't happened. It hadn't happened with any of the other women they had tried. Only Dana had conceived, only Dana had given birth to his child. The burst of relief he felt would have to be examined later.
They wanted the boy, no she wanted the boy. She had tracked them down somehow and she would have killed Dana eventually to get him and he would have been completely ignorant of everything. Pure fury shook him. He couldn't pull his gun, the neighbors were awake now, they might hear and he didn't think his luck in getting rid of bodies would hold. His hand reached for the drawer that held the knives.
He actually felt the small warm hand come to rest on his forearm. *Mulder, don't do it. We're here and we'll work through this. You have a family that loves you. We're in this together.*
The tightness left his shoulders and he closed his eyes, feeling her in his mind. He took a deep breath and poured a cup of coffee for the woman. Slightly steadier, he carried it over to her, not bothering with a cup of his own. Oh yeah, he needed caffeine, not.
He took the chair beside the couch and watched her. She didn't know what had happened to her two employees, they hadn't checked in and that was bothering her, and the only reason she had turned up herself. She took a sip, then set it on the coffee table. "This won't work, Fox."
She looked exasperated then. "This, living in the suburbs with the little woman and child." Her hand waved to encompass the house. "This isn't you. You and I know each other, we think alike. By now you have to know he was created. Fox, he's an X-File."
She didn't seem to even notice the tightening of his body. "Why?"
"Why? Why was he created?" she asked, stalling for time. She had said too much.
"Born. Why did Smoky want him?" He was listening to her mind now, not her lips. She didn't know. It steamed her, but she wasn't in the upper levels of this conspiracy, so they hadn't told her why they wanted Mulder's child. That galled her, that and the fact she'd not been the one to have the child.
He found himself completed disgusted. He had slept with this woman. Well, no not slept with, not cuddled up and comfortable like with Dana, but he'd had sex with her. Right now he couldn't imagine getting hard for her, the thought nauseated him. Shit, he was going to lose it. His anger was growing again.
He heard the sound and almost shouted for her to stop, but Dana was coming down the stairs holding Will's hand. She was not wearing the boot and not limping at all. When they reached the bottom, Will broke free and ran to his father. Sarge was nowhere in evidence. Mulder stood and scooped the boy into his arms. Dana came to stand beside him and his arm went around her shoulders. Her arm snaked around his waist and they all three turned to look at Diana.
"He's a toddler, Diana. He's bright, he's energetic and he's healthy. What are they looking for that makes him 'special'? He's not reading Shakespeare, or dunking basketballs. I'm pretty sure he doesn't understand string theory, but since he can't talk yet - "
Diana watched Dana look up at him, not speaking, but he calmed down. He, he was in love with this tiny little woman. Diana gave her a longer look, eyes narrowed, and was unimpressed: too short, not especially bright looking, though she had been a resident at Georgetown. She had been an incubator, that was all, but she was certainly comfortable with Fox, and seemed to be struggling not to laugh at something. What was the joke?
She had come to get Fox, and leave her vulnerable with the child. When she got hold of those two idiots she'd hired maybe she could wrap this up. That was going to be harder with this complication. He thought he cared about these people.
Diana saw both of their faces go impassive, shielded.
"How did you find us? How did Spender know where we were?"
In her mind, Diana huffed. Spender hadn't found them and he didn't know she had. It had been a wild guess. He'd only mentioned Lexington in passing one time. She was amazed she'd even remembered it. He really had fallen off the grid. If she hadn't heard the recording, even she wouldn't have known he had found the woman. He hadn't said a word to her, damn him! But he hadn't known, not about his involvement, at least not in the recordings she'd heard. It had been incredibly bad luck that he had happened on a damn hostage situation.
"You go back, Diana. Tell them, tell him, I'm out of the way. I'm not working on the X-Files; I'm not chasing down conspiracies. I want to live here, with my family and keep them safe. I'm low profile and he can be as well, but I'm going to protect my family, with whatever it takes and if means going public with things I know, or even things I can only speculate on, know that information is available at the touch of a button."
Good, Diana thought, he was focusing on Spender. He really could be so clueless when it came to women.
Dana watched her silently; she really was reading the woman's mind. She forced her face to show no emotions, but she was reeling from the hatred Diana felt towards her. She had been the target of the hit and run, not Mulder. Diana had wanted her dead, then she would have their son and Mulder. She was furious that her men had disappeared with her money.
When Diana had realized that they must have gone underground together, she had dismissed his feelings for Dana. Now she was seeing them stand beside each other, so comfortable, so right together. Diana was burning, bouncing between fury and jealousy. Dana realized that this woman had never loved Mulder, he had been a means to an end, but the relationship with a woman she saw as inferior was in her face. He had never felt anything like this for her. She'd been a piece of ass to him. That thought alone was shaking Diana to the bone.
Dana realized Mulder was speaking, and he wasn't making it better. His words were only fueling the fire. "I want my wife to be able to go back to school, get her MD, I want my son to be able to go to school, make friends."
"She's not your - "
"Not my wife? Legally that's true, for now."
Fire flashed through her eyes for just an instant, but they both caught it. Now humiliation was feeding her fury. "They'll take him. You have no idea what they can do." She actually cringed as he seemed to probe her with his eyes. Damn, it was giving her a headache. She forced her eyes away from his. He was lost, they would kill him. Fine, as long as she got the boy. That would raise her position in the hierarchy.
Dana knew Diana was telling herself that she had no real emotion around it. Diana had never tried to delude herself that she loved the man, but damn could he fuck. He was without a doubt the best she'd ever had in bed and she'd had her share. It was like he was made for it, hung like a bull and with the stamina to match. Why were his cheeks coloring? And suddenly the little bitch seemed uncomfortable in his arms.
"What will it take for them to leave us alone?" Mulder asked. "What the hell do they think they'll get from a toddler? Tell them to leave him alone. You know them."
"You think they'll listen to me?"
"Go back, Diana. Tell him what I said. We can leave each other alone."
"They won't go for it, Fox." She rose and brushed her skirt, not wanting to face him, face them, because she realized, she wasn't entirely sure of that. Spender was too involved with Fox, she didn't know how or why, but . . . mentally she shrugged, shoving down her anger. She couldn't let emotion lead her now. She had to get the boy. If Mulder got in the way, too bad for him. He'd suspect Spender, not her.
Mulder would have smiled if this weren't so important to his family's safety. This woman had no idea he and Dana knew what she was planning. He could kill her; he'd have no trouble doing it to save Dana and Will.
"I'll go, I'll see if he'll take your offer, but don't count on it."
Mulder watched her rise and turn toward the door. He moved closer watching her, but he was still caught off guard when she whirled, her gun out. His eyes widened. She had given no warning. Things moved in slow motion then. Mulder started to move, to get his body in front of Dana and Will's. Before he could actually get there, a black shadow flowed past him and before he could blink, Sarge's jaw clamped down on Diana's wrist. The gun fell to the floor as Mulder heard the crunch of her bones.
Mulder flashed back to Sarge moving his bowls out of sight, taking his toy upstairs and it staggered him, the dog had hidden his existence. He hadn't come down with Dana and Will, he'd held in place until he was needed.
Shaking that off, Mulder raced to Diana, taking her good arm and twisting it behind her, placing her in a choke hold. "I've got her, Sarge. Thank you."
The dog huffed and let go of her arm. Mulder shoved Diana into a chair and using her handcuffs, cuffed her to the chair. She was moaning, cradling her injured arm to her chest. Finally he looked over at Dana. She had grabbed up Will and moved to the fireplace, as far away as she could get in the same room. Sarge had taken up a place in front of them, facing Diana, obviously standing guard.
Mulder moved over to them, not turning his back on the woman. "Are you okay?" Dana nodded. "Come in here. Sarge, watch her."
The dog barked once and took a seat on the floor closer to the chair. Mulder led Dana and Will to the other side of the wall, into the unfurnished formal side. He took both of them into his arms and just held them for a long moment. Dana's arm not holding Will went around him as well.
After a minute or two, he stepped back and they sat on the rug. "What happened?"
"I don't know. Will?" The boy looked up and smiled. "Want to explain what all that was?" he asked the boy.
Will smiled at him. *You got it all.*
Mulder looked over at Dana and she nodded. "We were reading Diana's mind. Dana, you agree with that?"
She hesitated, but what other explanation could she offer? Finally she nodded and he gave her a lopsided grin. "I know, but we both experienced it." He turned toward Will. "Did you . . . do something like with George or Mrs. Carpenter?"
*You weren't broken.*
Mulder looked over at Scully. "Glad you think so, but are we 'changed'? I mean can I read everyone's mind now?"
*You have to try. Not be overwhelmed.*
"Oh, I hadn't thought about that. So I can receive only when I want to."
Will smiled brightly and laughed.
"You haven't said much," Mulder said quietly to Dana.
"I don't have a clue what to say. I was beginning to get used to the idea that Will had helped George. I don't understand it, but something obviously happened. With Mrs. Carpenter it's a little harder to see, but she was definitely better when she went home than when we met her. This is not something that I ever even imagined. I don't know what to think."
"I don't have a lot of experience with this either. I think you're handling it very well."
She huffed then. "I'm not an actress, and I'm freaked, but he's my son." She sighed then.
"Dana, she says she's the only one that knows where we are. I don't think she can 'think' a lie. I need to take care of her."
"Mulder - "
"I can do it, for the two of you."
"Can you? You cared for her until recently."
He shook his head. "None of it was real."
"But you didn't know that, not for certain until just now. And I'm not sure I can live with you doing it for us. I, I have another idea."
Instead of answering she turned to Will. "Remember what you did for Candy's grandmother? She couldn't remember things and you fixed her. Could," she swallowed then continued. "Could you make Diana forget things, like you and me, and finding us?"
Mulder's eyes widened and then a smile grew on his face. "You're bloody brilliant!" He turned to the boy as well. "Can you?"
Mulder and Dana looked at each other. She reached for his hand and said, "I believe him and I certainly trust him."
"Me too," she said faintly and let Mulder help her to her feet. They each took one of Will's hands and returned to the table where Diana sat, furious and in pain.
"This is the boy you want to take, to use, to experiment on. He's my son and you'll never have him. Look at him, Diana, look at him!"
Against her will she met the boy's eyes and froze. No one spoke, even Sarge remained silent and still, though he had jumped to his feet at their return.
The moment stretched and it was Diana who broke the gaze by closing her eyes and letting her head fall to her chest.
"Are you okay?" Dana immediately asked Will, who smiled at her, then put his arms around Sarge's neck and hugged him. Mulder joined him, scratching behind Sarge's ears.
"You're a hero, Sarge. Thank you." The dog looked up and gave a short bark, then licked Will's ear to his giggling delight. Dana sank onto the couch.
"What do we do now?"
"Now I get her out of here," Mulder announced. "And fix it so she has no ties to Lexington at all."
Mulder thought for a moment. "I'll drive her to Cincinnati; that should be far enough. I'll put her on a bus to Dallas or somewhere, then leave her car at the airport. It should take quite a while before it's noticed there. I'll rent a car and drive back here. I'll be gone most of the day."
Dana just looked at him and, concerned, he took a seat beside her.
"Did I ask my son to give that woman Alzheimer's?"
"No, you asked him to make her forget you, him and the fact that she found us. Only she knew where we were because of a stupid comment I made two years ago. You were a hell of a lot more humane than I wanted to be."
She looked up, grateful and still concerned.
"Will you be okay, if I'm gone all day?."
"Lonely, but we have Sarge here to look after us."
The dog turned and looked at them and then, Mulder was ready to swear to it, he nodded.
"Let me get going so I can get back. I don't have a clue when a bus to someplace far away will leave and I can't leave her alone at the station. I have to make sure she gets on."
"You'll need cash, for the ticket. What about the rental car home?"
"I have some other IDs. I'll be okay and I will not bring anyone here to our home."
She moved forward then and kissed him. His arms pulled her tight for a longer moment, then he forced himself back and headed upstairs.
He returned shortly in jeans and t-shirt with a light jacket and baseball cap. He had covered the logo on the jacket. The cap had only a swish. Mulder glanced at Diana who was still sleeping in the chair, then turned to Dana. He saw that Dana had bandaged her arm and used her scarf as a sling.
"Are you sure you'll be okay?"
"Yes. All three of the people that knew our location are taken care of. Sarge and I can handle things here for a little while. Did you get the cash?"
He nodded clearly torn about actually leaving her.
"You need to go, Mulder, so you can get back."
He made no comment, just looking back at Diana. With a sigh he approached the woman. He removed the handcuffs, but Diana barely stirred. He got her to her feet and walked her toward the door. Dana opened it and headed outside with them. She opened the passenger's door and Mulder seated Diana inside, buckling her in.
They both looked around but no one was outside and they didn't feel anyone watching them. Dana moved around the car with him and kissed him. "Be careful."
"You too. I'll call when I'm on the way home."
She nodded and stepped back. He let himself into the driver's seat and adjusted it, then buckled up and pulled out of the driveway. He watched in the mirror until he turned the corner. She had waited until he was out of sight. Finally he looked over at Diana. She was asleep again. He took a deep breath and headed for the interstate.
He didn't bother with the radio. He just drove, eating up the miles to Cincinnati. It would take around three hours and he wasn't about to break any speeding laws.
He reached the bus station around 10:30 and parked away from the front door. Diana continued to doze in the front seat. He went inside and scanned the board. Dallas was out; no buses were headed there until tomorrow. He made his choice and headed for the window. Paying cash he bought one ticket for Boise. He was slouching and kept his face away from the camera, not removing his baseball cap. The bus was leaving in less than an hour and that had been his final basis for selection.
He returned to the car to wait. That seemed longer than the drive up, but he kept quiet, not drawing any attention to himself. With ten minutes left, he began waking her. No need to draw attention that he was putting a damn comatose woman on a bus.
She roused slightly and he sent her into the ladies room, then led her to the bus. He got on with her and led her to a seat about three quarters of the way back, seating her. She still hadn't spoken and that was fine with him. He seated her next to the window, stashing her purse between her and the window and placing the ticket in her hand.
"Go back to sleep."
She seemed to look at him for a moment, then her eyes closed again. It would have to do. He left the bus taking advantage of the confusion of the people taking their seats. Boise was the last stop, and hopefully most of these people would never even remember the sleeping woman near the back.
He waited until the bus pulled out, then headed for the airport. A rental car in the name of Vince Dillon was easy enough to obtain and Diana's car could sit out in the long term parking lot forever as far as he was concerned. It had been wiped down thoroughly.
Finally back on the road to Lexington, he had time to think and found his mood plunging. They had 'taken care' of everyone who knew where they were. He suspected that Will had gone a little farther than necessary and that Diana wouldn't be remembering much of anything. If she was found, and returned to Washington, he'd have the guys check up on her. If she was never heard from again . . . he couldn't be sorry about that. But if they were safe, would Dana want to stay with him? She had only come along under duress. They still weren't really a couple, not like a real couple.
On the other hand, she couldn't go back to her former life because Spender was obviously in the mix. She needed to stay hidden, but did she want to stay hidden with him? If she wanted him to leave . . . She'd seemed happy with him and she'd been very appreciative of him when he'd taken care of those two guys.
He'd told her he was falling in love with her and she'd seemed to listen, even to maybe accept it, but nothing had moved forward. Was she letting him down gently? Shit!
It was the longest three hours of his life. He didn't bother to stop for lunch, he wasn't sure he could keep anything down. He wanted to be home with Dana and their son.
Instead of driving straight home, he headed for the airport and turned in the car, taking a cab to his neighborhood, and then jogging home again.
She had the door open before he could reach it, Will in her arms. "Dadada!" He took him, then them into his arms, kicking the door closed behind him. Her grip on him was fierce.
"That took forever," she said finally and he realized she was crying.
"Are you okay?"
"I am now." He felt the gloom that had envelop him lighten.
"You mean that?"
She blinked, "You can doubt it?"
"No, I don't. Dana, if we're really off their radar . . . will you stay with me?"
"There's nowhere else I want to be."
"Do you want me sleep on the couch tonight?"
"Why would I . . . " She decided to lightly check his thoughts. Diana's description of him. "Oh. No, I believe I'd rather you sleep upstairs."
"Look, the advertising doesn't necessarily - "
"Mulder, I don't want to fuck you." He reddened and looked away but her hand on his arm brought his attention back to her. "I want to make love with you."
It took a couple of heartbeats, she saw it happen. The smile that lightened his face made him absolutely beautiful. Her answering smile shone.
He looked over at Will, wondering when the boy would go to bed. Will's laughter caused Dana's cheeks to pink and Mulder's eyes gleamed.
Will ran to the window. "They're here!" Sarge barked twice.
George joined him at the window and then moved out of his way as Will rushed to the door and jerked it open. Mulder was already moving around the car to open Dana's door.
"Hi, Big Guy." Mulder smiled over at him.
"Can I see her!"
"You sure can. Give your Mom a hug." Mulder turned to the back seat. Dana gave Will a big hug, seated sideways in the front seat. When Mulder straightened up, she rose and he gave her the bundle. His arm went around her, one hand on her elbow and he walked her inside.
Lou met them at the door wiping her hands. "Welcome home," she whispered looking at the bundle in Dana's arm.
"Do you want to go upstairs?" Mulder asked.
"No, I'd rather stay down here for a little while." She smiled at his slight frown. "I'm fine."
He said nothing, the day before still in his mind along with the realization of how strong this woman truly was. He nodded. "Will, come meet your sister."