Patterson was on a tear the next morning, which was actually a good thing for a change. Mulder was pulled into the case, and didn't look up for hours. He ate the sandwich the admin placed on his desk along with the cola - not something he would have chosen, but time was critical.
"Patterson!" he called out when the next screen popped up. Patterson looked up annoyed on several levels - not the least of which was that Spooky had called him Patterson. "Look at this."
Patterson leaned over, the tone of Mulder's voice staying his snide comment. Shit! A pattern, this spooky son of a bitch had found the pattern. "Get Walsh on the phone, the team needs to move." Patterson was in charge now and they were moving.
"Do you want me to fly - " Mulder started.
"I'm going. You stay here and coordinate the effort."
Mulder nodded. Normally, he'd be pissed that Patterson would be taking credit for his work, but he still did not want to be out of town. "Let me know what you need."
Patterson managed to hide his surprise quickly, and immediately wondered what Spooky was up to, but he needed to be out there for the take down. "Yeah." He was already moving to the door.
Mulder was back at work before Patterson was out of sight. Several hours later he looked up when a hand touched his shoulder. "Guess I was stood up." Mulder looked up into Diana's face and it took him a moment to even understand what she was saying.
"Lunch. I forgot lunch."
"Boy, you really know how to flatter a girl."
He rose from the desk. "I'm sorry. Did you hear we caught a break?"
She nodded. "That's why I forgive you. How about tonight?"
"Diana . . . "
"Okay, you're busy tonight, but call me, okay? We need some time together."
"Promise. I need to get back to this."
She ruffled his hair, knowing that a public kiss would not be a good idea for either of them.
He watched her walk away, but he had been distracted now. And it wasn't Diana he was thinking about. Dana's lips were what came to him. He wanted more of that. He shook his head to clear it; there was work to be done. He'd have to think about this.
It was around seven when they got the call. It had been messy, but they had him. One agent had been wounded, but no one killed and the woman, his latest victim, had been rescued. She'd need a life time of therapy, but that wasn't what he wanted to dwell on right now. He was watching the press conference that Patterson had hastily called, and shook his head. The man did understand PR.
"Guys, I'm outta here," he spoke to the other agents leaning on desks or sitting watching 'the man'. They didn't say much, they knew Spooky had done it again, and decided not talking about it was for the best, for now anyway. Mulder grabbed his suit coat off of the back of the chair and headed for the parking deck.
He was about half way when his cell phone rang. "Congrats on the case."
Mulder smiled when he recognized Byers' voice. "Shouldn't you be asking for Patterson?"
"We prefer the truth. Stop by, we have some news."
Mulder paused in his steps. "Yeah, I'll be right there." He disconnected and hurried to his car. He shouldn't be surprised at the speed of their discoveries, he knew they put their stuff aside for him, and that humbled him. They were good friends.
He knocked and was more than a little surprise when Frohike answered the door without a welcoming word. He stepped inside and turned to look at him. "You okay?"
The little man looked him up and down, then headed for the work room. Bemused, Mulder followed him. Mulder spotted Langly and Byers. "Is something wrong?"
"Was this some sort of test or something?" Langly snarled at him.
"Mulder, she is the mother," Byers said, trying to soothe the atmosphere.
"Uh, good. What's going on?"
"The guys are a little, uh, put out that you didn't tell us he was yours as well."
Mulder froze, staring at Byers with his mouth open. "M-mine? How the hell - "
"I told you he didn't know," Byers faced the other two. "He's not that good an actor. He didn't know."
"Okay, okay." Frohike shook his head. Langly still looked unconvinced.
"Wait a minute," Mulder sank into the empty chair. "It can't be my kid. I didn't even meet the woman until the hostage situation. She had already been impregnated when she was returned. How - "
"You never heard about artificial insemination?"
"So where did that get my sperm?" Mulder demanded.
"Dunno, where you been leavin' it?" Langly asked with a sneer.
"Nowhere. I don't - "
"What about your chickadee?" Frohike asked.
"Yeah, has it been safe sex?" Langly watched him.
"It has, not that it's any of your business," Mulder retorted.
"So who disposes of the toy balloons?" Langly wouldn't let it go.
"Diana? You think she - "
"I think she doesn't like the fact that you haven't given up your idea of taking on the 'X-Files' and has tried to thwart you on several occasions. But you've been thinking with your cock and ignoring it."
"Hold it! What I do in my personal life is none - "
"Personal life - my left nut! She's in it for what she can get for herself."
"And that's my sperm?"
"Yeah, it might be. If she's working with them." Langly and Mulder were nearly nose to nose now.
Mulder fell silent in shock. Yeah, they had brought this up before, but not . . . all of the things they'd tried to point out to him before were suddenly clear. Had he been that clueless? She didn't know all of the story, at least he hadn't told her, not like he had Dana. That little boy, Will, was his son? He had his coloring; he'd bonded with him almost instantaneously. The role of Dana's husband had just appeared in his mind during the hostage situation and it had felt right, but this . . .
Langly eased off and took his seat. "The kid is yours. We ran the test three times."
"Does Diana know you've met this woman?" Byers asked.
Panic filled Mulder's face for an instant. "No, I haven't discussed the case with her."
"And she hasn't asked. But does she know?"
"I don't know." His face was hard now, anger growing.
"And you don't know how many times this has happened."
"How many kids do you have? How many times have they - "
"Stop it." He wanted to shout it, but it was a whisper.
"Leave him alone for a minute," Byers ordered. "Just back off." He left the room for a moment and returned with a beer for Mulder, but not the others. Frohike started to say something, but fell silent at Byers' look.
Mulder downed it in one drink. "I have a kid, a kid with a woman I've barely met."
"You don't have to do anything about that, Mulder. It's a miracle you even met her."
Langly drew back at the look on the man's face.
"I need to go."
"Mulder, what are you going to do?"
"I don't have a clue." Without another word, he was out of their place and jogging toward his car.
He drove straight to her place and parked, but didn't get out. He sat staring at the door. His son, well, their son was probably asleep. She was comfortable, she didn't need any money. Langly was right, if he drove off he could forget all about this. Only he, and the guys, knew he had a stake in . . . The phone ringing startled him. He pulled it out of his pocket automatically, but looked at the display. Diana.
Disgusted he shoved the phone back into his pocket. He needed to think about everything. If he went in there tonight he could only blow it.
He exited the car and headed for the building. Instead of taking the elevator, he took the stairs, trying to work off a little energy. He hadn't slept well, too many thoughts going in too many directions. He woken early for a Saturday, without having set the alarm. Now he didn't hesitate once he reached her door, knocking before he could talk himself out of it.
It took a moment, but she opened the door with the smile and Will in her arms. "Well, hello. We were in the middle of a diaper change."
"I'm sorry to just drop by so early."
Dana shook her head. "You're very welcome. We’re normally up at the same time on weekends anyway."
To show his approval, Will reached for the man. Mulder held out his arms to the boy and took him and Mudder Air against his chest. For just an instant, Dana's brow furrowed, but Mulder looked up and smiled at her.
"Could we go somewhere, maybe the park?"
"Uh, well, yes I guess so. Let me get Will's shoes and jacket."
"Mulder, is everything okay?"
"Sure. It's just a pretty day."
She looked at him, but nodded. He wasn't handling this well, but he wanted to get her out of here, to somewhere they might not be overheard. Shit, why hadn't he thought of this before? Should the guys run a sweep of her place? Was she under surveillance? Or, now that the child was born and healthy were they just leaving her alone?
While Dana left them to get the diaper bag, he pulled his cell phone out. "Can you sweep her place?" No hello, no time for that.
"Is she home?"
"We're going to the park."
"On our way." The connection went dead and Mulder smiled grimly, then remembered the boy in his arms. He seemed to be watching Mulder, even . . . understanding. That was projection on his part, but . . . The boy suddenly smiled at him and Mulder couldn't help but answer. He tucked the phone back in his pocket and gave Will his full attention.
He hadn't seen it before, but the eyes that he'd thought of as darker than hers were exactly his color, the hair as well. No wonder the kid didn't have a button nose, he grimaced slightly but when Will laughed, he joined him.
"What's the joke? May I join in?" Dana returned with a jacket for Will, wearing a light sweater herself.
"Just guy stuff," Mulder replied offhandedly and took the diaper bag from her. "Since I don't have a car seat, may I join you?"
Again she seemed to be trying to read him, but she nodded. "That's makes the most sense. I heard you had a good day yesterday."
He looked over at her surprised. She couldn't know what he'd found out.
"The guy in Indiana?" she reminded him.
"What did you think I was talking about?"
"I'll tell you later."
She decided to go with her instincts. This was a man she felt she could trust. Yes, he had looked into her private medical records, but it was because of his concern for his sister, and maybe for her. The fact that she was physically attracted to him, very attracted, needed to be swept aside. She was in good health and Will was too. So far he hadn't even had a case of the sniffles, even though he was attending the day care at the hospital.
Today they didn't have to think about any of that. It was Saturday; a man she wanted to get to know had come over to spend time with them. Maybe, just maybe he was attracted to her a little as well.
He didn't assume he would drive, which raised him a notch in her opinion. He just took a seat on the passenger side after watching her strap Will into his seat.
The park was mostly empty of kids this early, but Will certainly didn't care and made the most of his time on the swings. They took seats at a nearby picnic table after the swinging.
"What's wrong?" she asked, looking him straight in the eye.
"Do you already know me too well?" he evaded.
"Maybe beginning to. I hope that's not a bad thing. Please, if it's not highly classified, talk to me."
He observed her for a moment. He wanted to talk to her, confide in her. He had found himself thinking about her nearly constantly, even before he'd had any inkling about the child, their child. He'd already told her his most precious secret - Samantha, and she had still accepted his invitation to come out here with no warning. He opened his mouth to speak, but his cell phone cut him off.
He pulled it from his pocket with a wink at her and saw the familiar phone number.
"Sorry, I need to take this."
She nodded and he rose to put a little distance between them while he had this conversation.
"Her place was crawling with bugs. Whatever the two of you have talked about has definitely been heard. You can't go back there. We're pretty sure you shouldn't even go back to your place. Whoever did this knew you were the father, you need to disappear for a little while at least, and take them with you."
God, these guys were really rattled. They never said this much over the phone. "Can you get things moving?"
"Yeah, ready to start at your word."
"Do it now. Use number two. Is the car there?"
"Yes, checked it last week."
"Thanks. I'll be in touch." He slipped the phone back into his pocket and looked up. Dana was watching him with concern.
"Mulder? Is everything . . . "
He approached her then and managed a smile. "My lousy memory. I completely forgot that I was supposed to pick up a friend at the airport. He's there and - " Mulder shrugged. "Look, I know it's an imposition, but we're closer to the airport than your place. Could you take me over there and get him. I promise to buy you a tank of gas."
She chuckled then. "Of course. From your expression I thought something terrible had happened."
"No, just kicking myself that I forgot." He shook his head. He gathered up the diaper bag, while she picked up Will and Mudder Air.
"Mulder, would you like to drive? I don't mind, I know you're anxious to get there."
"That wouldn't be sexist?"
"Well, normally yes, but this time I guess you can get away with it."
He seemed to relax at this show of trust, and she was doubly glad she'd made the offer. "I'll be careful. Precious cargo."
He headed for National, weaving a tale about this guy that he'd known at Oxford who was in the States for a short visit, kiddingly accusing her of distracting him too much. Will watched them, especially Mulder, rather than looking out the windows as was his normal practice.
She was surprised when, instead of pulling around to baggage claim, Mulder headed for short term parking. She started to say something, but bit her lip. He surely spent a lot more time here than she did. He pulled in beside a dusty black SUV and parked. He got out and reached into the back for the boy.
He put his finger to his lips, in a hushing sign and pulled the boy into his arms. Instead of picking up the diaper bag, he reached in and grabbed a handful of diapers and the box of wet wipes. She was out of the car by now and at his side. He thrust the supplies into her hands and snatched up Mudder Air.
"What - " Again he motioned for silence, then to her utter shock, opened the SUV parked beside them and began buckling Will into the back in a regular seatbelt.
"Get in," he whispered. "Hurry!" He couldn't explain it, instinct maybe, but he knew time was short. Maybe the guys had tripped something, but they needed to hurry.
She stood there, holding the diapers and staring at him. "Dana, I promise you I will explain. Get in!"
For the first time since she'd met him, he frightened her. But the baby was already out of her reach. She did the only thing she could do; she hurried to get in on the passenger's side.
Mulder pulled out and headed for the exit. "Get down, so you won't be seen by the security cameras."
She looked at him, but he was completely serious. She unbuckled and crawled into the foot space. In a small voice she said, "I don't even have my purse."
"You won't need it. Be quiet."
It was an order, and she obeyed it, but she was beginning to shake. He chose an exit that wasn't manned and fed the money into the slot. When they were away, and he picked up speed, he looked over at her again. "You can get up now."
She did, watching him with true fear in her eyes now. "What's going on? Please, are you going to hurt us?"
He looked over at her, but didn't smile this time. "No."
"What are you doing?"
"Trying to keep you safe, you and Will. I know it's hard to believe right now, but please try to trust me. I'll tell you everything I can as soon as I think we're safe."
"Trust you? How can I do that?" Her voice was shaking, though she tried to hide it. "You lied to me. It was that phone call. You lied about having a friend at the airport."
She looked back at Will, who was watching them. She tried to lower her voice, at least have it not get shrill, but she was beginning to freak out. She'd gotten in the car with him - he'd had Will, so she had to, but . . . What was going on!
"I'm sorry. Really, I am, but I didn't have a choice."
"You didn't have a choice to take us captive? Mulder, please, Will is just a baby. He can't hurt you, I . . . Just, just let us out at the next filling station. I'll call for someone to - "
"No, you can't go back to your place. It's not safe."
She just looked at him then. Finally she spoke. "Are you . . . "
"Mulder, you haven't hurt us. Please, just let us go. I can walk. It doesn't have to be - "
"No. I know you don't understand, and I'm probably handling this as badly as possible, but please let me get us to a safer place and we can talk."
"It's not a conversation we can have while I'm driving."
He didn't look crazy, he wasn't wild-eyed or anything, but . . . He had protected them before. She wasn't blindfolded and Will was quiet. She held her tongue, for now, what else could she do?
He stopped once, at a car wash and got out. He didn't wash the car, just rinsing off the dust, but he spent some time at the back of the car.
He drove for over an hour after that, much longer than she was comfortable with, considering Will was in a regular seatbelt. The boy had finally cuddled up with Mudder Air and fallen asleep without protest. She had only looked out the window and toward the backseat, never focusing on the man beside her and keeping her mouth shut, no matter how hard that had become.
She was surprised when he pulled off the highway at a nondescript exit near Quince Orchard, Maryland. He found a small motel, one story and parked away from the office. He had the keys and his phone, but as an extra precaution, took the boy into his arms.
"We'll be right back." She wouldn't leave without Will. Could he handle this any worse? Every glance at her had shown him the back of her head, and he could see her exasperation and fear were cycling back and forth even faster now.
He quickly got a room with two double beds and returned to the car. He moved the SUV even farther from the office, and after surrendering the baby to her, escorted them into the room. It was nothing fancy, but it looked clean. There was a small table and two chairs to one side. The bath was at the back of the room and there was a small coffee maker sitting on the smallest microwave he'd ever seen. There was also a dorm-size refrigerator just outside of that door. The walls were covered in fake grass-cloth and the 'art work', at least two steps above Elvis on velvet, were of the paint by number landscapes genre. He took all of this in with a glance; she barely even looked.
Will was squirming to get down, so she put him on his feet with both beds between them and Mulder. With her hands free, and Mulder pulling the drapes, she lunged for the phone. When she looked up, he was pointing his gun at her.
"Put it down."
She dropped the receiver from nerve-less fingers and stepped back, grabbing up Will.
He disconnected the receiver from the phone and tossed it on the bed.
"What happens now?" She was holding her son tightly, and he was beginning to squirm.
He sighed, he'd blown it. She would never trust him now; in her eyes, he had put her son in danger. How did he tell her Will was his son too, and he had to keep them both safe?
"Sit here." No please, he didn't dare let her contact anyone at this point.
Slowly she took a seat at the small table and he took Will from her. He could feel her resistance. "Put your hands together behind your back."
"No. Mulder, I don't know what's wrong. Let me help you - "
"I'm not planning to jump off a ledge, Dana. I don't have time to win your confidence again right now. Just put your hands behind you."
She looked up at Will in his arms and knew true fear. He had done nothing to actually harm either of them, but he had drawn his gun. Reluctantly she placed her arms behind her, and felt the cuffs snap around her wrists. He had placed the baby on the floor to do it. While she tried to remain quiet, he scooped the boy back up.
"Dana, I will be asking your forgiveness, though I don’t expect it. For now, I have to do this and I swear to you, your safety and Will's are the only reason for my actions."
She didn't say anything. Maybe he'd snapped, maybe he had never been what she had thought he was. She pulled on her wrists and realized he had wrapped the cuffs around the chair as well, so she was unable to rise.
He returned from the bathroom with a hand towel. With a sigh and look of deep regret, he gagged her with the towel. Her look of hurt made him turn away. "We'll be back shortly."
Her eyes widened as he picked up Will again. Now she was struggling against the cuffs in earnest. "No!" It was muffled but he could easily understand.
"We won't be long. Dana, I'm so sorry. I . . . We'll be back." He left the room then, placing the Do Not Disturb card on the outside knob. He closed his eyes for a moment, and felt Will's hand rub his face gently.