"Come on, Will. We're on a deadline." He buckled the boy back into the backseat of the SUV and turned left out of the parking lot.
He followed the signs to the Wal-Mart and hurried inside. After he put the boy in the cart, he began his shopping. First came the car seat, the same one she'd had in her car, then diapers and other supplies for Will. He grabbed up a package of boxers and t-shirts and one pair of jeans for himself. Then he headed for the women's area and picked up a six-pack of panties for her. He was guessing at size, but knew he was close. He grabbed a couple of t-shirts and a pair of jeans for her as well. A large gym bag joined the supplies.
Since it was a super store, he headed for the grocery side and picked up a box of Cheerios, those milk cartons that didn't need refrigeration and some toddler food that he hoped Will liked. He got some food for adults too and a small cooler.
He hesitated at the women's aisle. Hell, did she need 'supplies'? Looking helplessly at Will, he picked up a box of medium tampons. He'd taken the woman away without even her purse. He'd never be able to get her forgiveness now, but he might as well make things as easy on her as possible. Other supplies, toothbrushes, deodorant, made his mental list as well.
After one more aisle, he checked out, using cash, then hurried out to the car. With Will's 'help' he installed the car seat and strapped the boy in. Then he loaded the rest of the supplies, except for the bag of diapers, into the gym bag. He topped off the gas tank, then hurried back to motel.
He lifted Will out of the car seat, then hefted the gym bag onto his shoulder. The diapers could stay in the car. They had the ones he had snatched from the diaper bag. Damn, he'd forgotten a diaper bag. Well, they would need more supplies soon and he didn't want to draw any more attention than he could help.
He took a deep breath and unlocked the door to their room. Her head came up instantly and with a sinking heart, he could see the track of tears on her face.
"Dana - "
She wouldn't look at him, her eyes locked on the baby. He realized she was checking for injuries on the boy, and his mood sank further. He set the boy on his feet and dropped the bag on the bed. He held Will's hand as they walked to Dana. He removed the gag and then hurried to free her hands.
She shot out of the chair, grabbing up the baby and retreating from him. She saw the pain on his face, but didn't care. She was hugging Will, crooning in his ear.
She glared at him, staying at the far side of the room.
He couldn't blame her. He began unpacking the gym bag, putting the food on the table.
She watched from the distance she could manage, and blinked when she spotted the tampons he carried along with the other supplies into the bathroom. While he was in there she chanced looking into the bag.
She looked up to see him standing in the door of the bath, watching her, not approaching the bed since she was there. She reached into the bag and pulled out the book, In the Night Kitchen. She held it up. "Why?"
"You said it was his favorite."
Tears spilled out of her eyes again. "What's going on?" She heard the pleading note in her voice, but she had to know.
Now he looked away, but he had to tell her. They were in for the night, even though it was early. It was time. He nodded and made his way to the table. He offered her a bottle of water but she shook her head. He opened it and took a swig.
She sat on the bed farthest from him, Will in her lap.
"I told you about my sister." She nodded. "I told you I thought that the government was working with . . . them." Again she nodded. "I pointed out the similarities to your abduction and we discussed the tests they ran on you that made no sense."
"I don't - "
"I ran some more tests."
She stiffened then.
"Dana, I didn't expect - " his phone ringing cut him off and he pulled it from his pocket. He answered but didn't speak.
"Email two." The call disconnected.
"What?" She could tell the call had ended. Had it been a wrong number?
He looked up at her. "Email two," he responded.
"Okay, email too, what does that mean?"
"Not also, two." He raised two fingers. "I'll be right back." He stepped outside and returned quickly with a laptop computer that had apparently been hidden in the back of the SUV. He opened it, grateful that, cheap as this place was, there was wireless access, probably due in part to the restaurant next door.
While it was booting up, he looked back over at her.
"Is that what you were messing with at the car wash?" She asked.
"No, I was changing license tags. I didn't know if the original one was caught on camera, but I had to assume it had been. Now we have Pennsylvania plates."
Her eyes widened but she didn't ask any more questions.
He opened the account that led to email two and was quiet, watching what looked like pictures load. He closed his eyes after a moment and shook his head.
"What?" she asked again.
"They know we're together."
He just looked at her then.
She blushed, at his look of pity. He wasn't right; the government didn't conspire with aliens from other planets. The more she thought about that, the more absurd . . .
She rose then, Will tight in her arms, and approached the table. Mulder moved back to give her room, knowing his presence wasn't welcome. "Oh my god." Photos of her apartment, completely ransacked, were on the screen. Whatever they had been looking for didn't seem to have been found. She scanned through and came to another apartment. "Is this - "
"Who did this?"
"Whoever doesn't want us together."
"That other test I ran . . . "
She stood up and took the baby back to the bed, putting distance between them. "Tell me."
He resumed his seat at the table and studied his hands for a long moment. "Because of the circumstances of your disappearance, I, I decided to make sure that Will was your biological child."
"What? I wasn't pregnant when I - "
"Yes, you were. They didn't tell you, but it was part of the tests they ran at Walter Reed."
"That wasn't in what you gave me."
"I know. I wasn't sure you were ready for that." He watched her kiss the boy's head.
"He is your son. The DNA tests proved that."
"How did you get our DNA?" Her voice was nearly steady.
"You're missing the lid of a sippy cup. The cup was in your dishwasher . . . " He saw that she knew what he was talking about. "There was also a cup with a straw on the counter. I took the straw as well."
"He's mine. I could have told you that," she said defiantly.
"He doesn't look much like you. He really more resembles his father."
"How would you know that? You've never met Allen - " she stopped when she realized the implications. Allen wasn't the boy's father, not if she had already been pregnant. She met his eyes then. "Who?"
He watched her mouth fall open in shock.
"That, that's not possible," she stuttered.
"I know, but it doesn't change the facts. That's not what I was looking for. It never crossed my mind that I . . . I can see it now, when I look, but I wasn't looking and certainly not for that. I don't know why, and I'm not sure how, but, but you were impregnated during your abduction and you - "
"No! I've listened to your theories, I sympathize with you losing your sister to whatever happened to her, but - "
"We can do the test again. You can pick the place. But for now, we have to stay hidden."
She looked over at the laptop, at the pictures that were still showing. "Because of that?"
He nodded. "I'm positive that we were never supposed to meet, much less become involved. I don't know why either of us were chosen for an experiment like this. Hell, I don't know how many kids I might have out there right now because of . . . " He shook his head and shut up, then turned to shut down the laptop.
Now she was watching him closely. Was he acting? It didn't seem like it. She hadn't known him long, and certainly not that well, but this . . . He seemed to be truly devastated by what was happening.
She looked down at her son, who smiled up at her. She'd never made the connection, there had been no reason, but the hair was like Mulder's, even the cowlick and, and his eyes. Her head came up to find him watching her, wary of what she might be thinking.
"I never told you this, Dana, but that day, in the grocery . . . I had no reason to be there. I had driven by it and turned around. I didn't know why, it just felt . . . "
"Maybe you saw the men with the guns," she whispered.
He shook his head. "They came in after I did. I didn't see anyone there until after the shooting started and I crawled around the end of the aisle and saw you."
"You drove past . . . "
He shrugged. "I've learned to go with my instincts. Sometimes I feel like there are things I should do. I don't fight it any more. It's been that way since Samantha . . . "
Will made his presence known then, demanding to be let down. The glance she sent him pierced Mulder's heart, but he said nothing. Will, free again, toddled over to him and held up his arms to be picked up. Mulder looked up at Dana, as though for permission, then lifted him into his lap.
Will's took a fistful of Mulder's t-shirt into his hand and lay his head on Mulder's chest. "Dadadada."
Mulder looked down, his mouth open in shock. He managed to look up at Dana, and her expression mirrored his own. "Has, has he ever . . . "
She shook her head. "He's never said that before. He said Mama early. Dada is, is easier to say and usually comes first, but . . . " Her voice trailed off or ran down. She sat staring at the two of them. She hadn't seen it before, hadn't looked for it, but she couldn't deny it now. Mulder was Will's father.
After a long moment in which no one spoke, Dana met Mulder's eyes. "I guess I better give back the condo."
Startled, because that was not where his mind had gone, Mulder laughed and the atmosphere lightened.
"Yeah, I guess you could consider it. Dana, I - "
"Just wait. We need to talk, but not now."
Mulder nodded. "Do you want to eat? It's fast food, but - "
She shook her head. "Not right now. Let me feed Will, maybe later."
"Sure, we can heat it up or . . . " He shrugged and when she approached him, relinquished the boy to her.
He again retreated to the far side of the room and finished emptying out the bag while she fed Will. They studiously avoided looking at each other. When she took Will in for his bath, Mulder couldn't stop himself. He followed them into the bathroom.
"Uh, yeah, okay." Dana said, again not looking at him while she ran the water. She let Will stay in the water extra long, since he'd spent so much time in the car. He had a wonderful time splashing, even without his big bird, and got in some exercise finally.
"It's early for bed," Dana remarked.
"Yeah, normally, but I'd rather travel at night right now. I'm sorry he's going to be strapped in for so long."
"Where are we going?" She was wrestling the boy into the new pajamas that Mulder had purchased, but she stopped to look at him. "Mulder?"
"I have an idea, but . . . "
"Do you think I'll call someone and tell them?"
The color rose on his face. "No, I know you want to protect Will as much, more than I do, but I need to make sure about some things now."
"If I can get hold of some money, if I can make sure that we're not being tracked."
"How, how bad is it that, that we know."
"I'm not sure, but - " He looked over at the laptop. "I don't want to be on-line again tonight. I'll check in when I get up."
"You're going to bed now?"
"A nap, when I wake up, we can leave." He took the gym bag off of the bed closest to the door. "Are you planning to run off?" He tried to smile, but failed.
"No. I'm not. There's a lot I need to know."
"Me too," he admitted. "Is he ready to go down?"
"I'm going to go with routine and read to him."
He stretched out on his bed, pulling out the pillow. "May I listen?"
She gave a small smile then and gathered Will up into her arms. The two of them sat at the head of the bed with Will in her lap. After only a page, the thumb had gone into the mouth and his eyes began to droop. She looked up and smiled at Mulder without thinking. He watched as her smile faded, and he looked away.
He fell asleep fairly easy for him; he hadn't slept much the night before. She moved over to the little table and watched these two males sleep. They were in the same damn position. Mulder didn't have a 'Mudder Air', but his head rested on the pillow at the same angle.
How had all of this happened? All she had done was go into the market for milk and eggs. No, it had started long before that, she might as well admit it. Why had she been chosen of all of the people at that stupid picnic, taken for a month, and now . . . impregnated. She shuddered.
She looked at the tiny boy in the large bed. Her son. She had carried him, loved him from the beginning. It hadn't mattered that Allen hadn't wanted to be involved, to be a father. She'd wanted the baby. The disappointment of her parents, the delay of her education - none of it had mattered. Now it looked like she was 'on the lam' in order to keep him safe. She looked over at Mulder again. He'd done the same, even before he had known of any involvement, he had become involved. The birthday party, the bear where her son's head now rested . . . Would it have been better not to have met the man? She and Will wouldn't be in hiding. But if he was being honest - and despite everything she did find herself believing him - they would have met somehow. Had he really turned around and come back to the grocery store that day?
This was maddening. She got ready for bed, leaving her clothes on as well. At the last minute, she moved one of the chairs to fit under to doorknob. She wasn't sure whether she was more afraid of what was outside the room than what was inside, but in any case, the sound would give Mulder more time to pull that damn gun he had under his pillow. He would defend them; she had no doubt of that.
He was certainly the most complicated man she'd ever met.
Mulder woke slightly disoriented and took a second to recognize his surroundings. What was the dream? He'd been in some sort of suburban neighborhood; all the houses were basically the same, located on postage stamp size yards, a lot of young kids. One of the places he'd bought was in Lexington, Kentucky, yeah, that felt right. He hadn't seen the place, though he knew the address. But why had he dreamed of it? Was his subconscious telling him that was a safe place? It looked like they would fit in pretty well. She had been standing at his side while he held Will. She'd been blonde in the dream. Would she consider that? It was probably a good idea.
He took a quick shower and dressed, then booted up the computer as the coffee brewed. He watched her stir at the smell.
He had no new messages, so he sent a one word message to the guys. They'd know where to send the package, and logged off again.
"Is it morning?"
"No, it's night, almost eleven. I thought some coffee would help me get going since I'll be driving most of the night." She nodded. "Want some?"
"No, thank you. I guess we should pack the car."
"I can get it, there's not that much to pack."
"We still need a car seat. I don't - "
"It was the first thing I bought. I got the same one you had, since I've never investigated the things."
She was watching him with wonder. "Really?"
"Yeah, I want him safe. I want you both safe. Dana, I wouldn't be doing this . . . "
She nodded and rose, pushing her hair back. She slipped on her shoes. He fell silent, just watching her. For some reason the kiss they had shared came back to him. That was probably never going to happen again, not after this. The sharp pain of regret surprised him though he wasn't sure why. He'd already admitted to himself he was attracted to her - hell, they had a child together. A very small part of him wanted to laugh.
He loaded the car with their meager possessions and helped her fit the still sleeping boy into the car seat.
"You should try to go back to sleep. One of us needs to be awake for him tomorrow."
"And you don't want me to see where we're going."
"No, no that's not true. In fact I've decided where we are going."
"You don't have to - "
"I want to. I really didn't know until I woke up. Please, believe that. We're going to Kentucky. There's a house in a neighborhood, it's a starter home and all the houses look nearly the same - "
"On little green lawns and lots of kids . . . " She stopped as his mouth fell open.
"Where did you - "
"I dreamed about it. Is it a real place?"
"I, I'm not sure. The house wasn't built when I bought . . . You dreamed the same thing I did?"
"You . . . "
He took a deep breath. "We need to get moving."
She thought about stopping him, asking again what was going on, but from the look on his face, decided against it. She climbed into the front seat and buckled in. The tenseness didn't abate, so she finally closed her eyes just to escape a little. She did fall asleep, her even breathing let him know that. He looked over at her then. She was holding up pretty well, considering. He had thrown her back into her nightmare, she had been kidnapped, again, and this time her son had been taken as well. He wasn't going to hurt her, but she had no reason to believe that.
The thought he kept suppressing came up then. She'd had the same dream as him. She had dreamed about the house in Lexington. Hell, he'd never seen it, but she had described what he had seen.
What the hell was going on? Yes, he was glad he'd turned around and gone into that grocery. The guys in there could easily have . . . hurt them. They were safe, and on the run, because of him. No, he needed to concentrate on getting them to Kentucky and make sure they weren't followed. No one should know where they were.
He shoved it all out of his mind and drove, listening to his . . . his family, sleep.
He was bleary eyed when she woke.
"Let me drive for a little while."
"No, you're not and you're a danger to Will driving this tired. I've told you, I'm not going to do anything that will put him in danger."
For just an instant she thought he was going to argue, but instead he nodded.
"Thanks. If I could get an hour or so. Just stay on the highway. We're only a couple of hours from Lexington."
"Are we going directly to the house?"
"No. We have to pick up some things first."
"Supplies." That was all he said, then he took the next exit. At the top he pulled over and got out. They passed each other in front of the car, then he buckled himself in.
She could see this was making him uneasy. "Mulder, I'm not going to put Will in danger. Get some sleep."
He looked at her for a long moment, then nodded and reclined his seat. He really did fall asleep. It was nearly fifty minutes later when he jerked awake. "What the - "
"It's okay, Mulder. It's okay. It was just a dream."
"Did I say anything?"
"No, you just got really restless. You didn't sleep the whole hour. Just relax."
He looked back at Will, sound asleep against Mudder Air. "He's a good kid."
"Yes. He doesn't give me any trouble. He's slept through the night since he was just a few weeks old. He's everyone's darling at day care."
"At the hospital?"
She nodded. "Mulder, they're going to be looking for me, for us when I don't show up for work on Monday. They may already be looking for us, if the police contacted work after the break in."
"They won't be able to find you. Think of this as a safe house, or a witness protection program. I've taken care of them looking for me temporarily at least."
"You have a lot of experience with this?"
He smiled at her then. "I'm motivated."
She huffed, but didn't protest. "You said we had to pick up some supplies. Where?"
"There's a Fed Ex on Harrodsburg Road. There should be a package there for us after ten. In the meantime we can get some breakfast and some clothes for you and Will. From what I hear, there's everything anyone would need on either Harrodsburg or Nicholasville Roads."
"Then we go to the house?"
"No, then we check into another motel. Before anyone in the neighborhood sees us, I want you to dye your hair."
"In the dream, do you remember?"
The car jerked slightly. "I was blonde, with, with curls."
He nodded. "Do you want me to drive?"
"No. I, I need the . . . "
"I understand that."
She wanted to drive, so he kept quiet. After they reached Lexington, she drove around a little, around New Circle until she reached Harrodsburg Road. She drove down it for a few miles, then moved over to Nicholasville and did the same. When she spotted a pancake house, she pulled in and parked.
Mulder looked back to see Will smiling at him. "Dadada."
"You got it, Big Guy." He couldn't help but smile back at him.
They had a leisurely breakfast, though she moaned at the calories in the pancakes. He and Will just laughed at her and continued eating. When they were through, they found a Target and did some shopping.
When it was finally after ten, he drove them over to the Fed Ex store he'd mentioned. While she waited in the car, he went inside. It took a few minutes, but they found the package that had been delivered to a Richard Morris that morning and he signed for it.
She watched him return to the car with a rectangular box, three by twelve or there about. She admired the man during this crisis, at ease in his body, but alert. He was watching his surroundings even now, just returning to the car.
He got in and handed her the box. "Will's been in the car for days now. Why don't we find a park or something?"
"That would be nice."
It didn't take long, since there was a good size park behind the Fayette Mall, and parked near the swings. He opened the back door and started unbuckling Will. "Why don't you bring the box? We need to check it out."
She nodded and reached back in to get it.
"Wanna swing, Big Guy?"
"Ing!" Will bounced in his arms and Mulder laughed. Dana, following them couldn't help but smile. Will certainly liked the man, and felt safe with him. That was a good thing, didn't little kids have instincts about things like this?
Mulder placed Will securely in the swing and push him lightly. Will chortled at Dana who took a seat in a nearby swing, the box in her lap.
After a little while, Will wanted to get down, so they let him 'run' around a while, doing better at walking with each step.
"He's growing so fast," Dana mused, watching him as Mulder followed/chased him around the area. When she pulled a sippy cup out of her bag, Will made a beeline to her. Mulder took a seat at the picnic table and put Will into his lap. Dana joined them and handed the cup to Will.
"Why don't you go ahead and open the box," Mulder said watching Will.
"Sure. We're in this together for right now, right?"
She didn't comment on that, but after a moment she pulled the string to open the box. There were several envelopes inside. She pulled out the biggest.
"Be careful opening that one," he said as he looked down at Will.
Curious now, she carefully opened the flap and gasped, then looked around to see if anyone else could have heard her. "What in the - "
"Probably $20,000, in small bills. That's what I told them we'd need to get started. Put that back, and open the others."
"Whose money is this?" she hissed.
"Mine. I had a, a disappearance fund."
She stared at him for a moment, then at the nod of his head, pulled open the next envelope. It held ID, drivers' licenses, passports, social security cards, insurance cards, credit cards, even library cards. "I don't believe . . . "
"There's another one," he commented.
After looking at him, she pulled the third envelope out. It held the lease, keys to the house, and a background story for them.
After staring at the papers in her hand for several moments, she looked up. "How, how did you get this?"
"Those friends that ran the tests for me? I called them, they got this together. Well, mine was already set up; they had to fix the stuff for you, which is why there are no pictures. We have to get some passport pictures made for you and I'll fit them in."
She stared at him.
"Yeah, uh . . . "
"They were able to do this in a day?"
"Damn it! What am I into here?" She looked down at the baby, but didn't apologize.
"You've never gone underground before, which is good . . . for you . . . Dana, I'm trying to keep you - "
"Safe, I know." She sighed. "What do we do now?"
"We find a motel room and get everything together."
"Why don't we go to the house, since we have the key?"
"We don't look like we're ready to move in. We need to put the things we have in boxes, not Target bags, and you need to fix your hair."
"Is the place furnished?"
"No, I've never been inside. We'll do that after we see the place. If he's had enough exercise, maybe we should find a room."
She closed her eyes and shook her head. Mulder looked down at Will and shrugged. Will laughed and grabbed a handful of t-shirt. Mulder rose with the boy in his arms. "At least you're on my side," he whispered.
They found a room and Dana put the baby down for a nap. Mulder went out to the dumpster and brought back a few boxes, which he then loaded up with the things they had purchased. He packed those into the back of the SUV.
When he returned he took a seat near the window and sat watching the traffic. She watched him for several minutes, then came over and took a seat across from him.
He shrugged. "You saw your place, my apartment. They're looking for any clue to find us."
"I don't know. But then I don't know why they created Will." She winced at that and he looked apologetic. "I'm sorry."
"I carried him, he's my son."
"I know that. He's mine too."
Her eyes flared for an instant, then she seemed to deflate. "I . . . What does that mean?"
"I don't know. I care about him already. I want to be part of his life, if you'll allow it. I know he's yours, but something has caused me to be part of this. I didn't ask for this, hell it never crossed my mind. But I'm the reason you're in danger now. If I'd stayed away, 'they' wouldn't have come after you."
He looked down at his shoes. "No. Since they orchestrated his birth, they would have done something eventually. Probably taken him."
Her eyes were wide and scared now. "Why!" She glanced over at Will, but she hadn't woken him.
"Do you believe in the existence of extra terrestrials?" he asked softly.
Instead of answering, she let her face drop into her hands. He kept quiet. This was too much, too soon, especially for a woman who had never considered what she was facing now.
When she finally sat up again, she asked, "Why a house in the suburbs? I mean if you're hiding - "
"Yeah, this is the only one of these I got. Usually I figured I'd get an apartment in a big city, but this felt right."
"You've never seen it, you said."
"No, I bought the lot a . . . "
"What?" She looked up concerned.
"I bought it a year ago, on Will's birthday."
"On Will's . . . that's a coincidence."
"Is it? Like it's a coincidence I went back to the store?" Mulder looked over at the sleeping boy.
"What? What are you thinking?"
"I'm not sure. Look, tomorrow we can move into the house. We'll buy some furniture, fit in and just keep a low profile. Let my friends and I do some research, please."
"I don't have much of a choice, do I?"
"I, I'm sorry."
She rose then and moved to the bed where Will lay, and curled up beside him.
Mulder watched her silently. What was he supposed to do? He couldn't let them be taken like Samantha. He wouldn't allow that.
When Will woke, Mulder played with him and they ate at the diner next to the motel. When they were in for the evening, Mulder pulled out the hair dye and handed it to her. She looked over at Will who was clapping, and carried the box into the bathroom.
When she came out, the towel around her head, they were waiting.
"I feel ridiculous. I didn't get a hair straightener."
"Good. You're going for a disguise, let it go natural."
She grimaced but didn't say anything. Finally, she removed the towel. She was blonde and soft damp curls outlined her face. "When it dries it'll be worse."
"I like it. I liked the red, but I like this too."
She sighed and picked up Will. "What do you think?"
He took a handful of the curls and babbled, clearly showing his approval.