"I think you need to meet my friends, the ones that got your ID together."
"Are they coming here?"
"No. They could attract attention we don't want or need, but I do want you to be familiar with them. If, if anything were to happen, well, they would do everything in their power to protect you and Will."
"They sound like very good friends."
"They're the only people I've trusted with your and Will's location."
She nodded at that.
While Will took his nap that afternoon, Mulder placed a call to his friends. After asking permission, and ensuring every precaution had been taken, he put the phone on speaker and introduced Dana.
They chatted for a little while and Dana was grinning shortly at Frohike's flirting long distance. After calling a halt to that, Mulder asked what was happening.
"Well, we've got some information on your chickadee," Frohike spoke.
There was a derisive silence for a moment.
"Oh. How would you know?"
"We, huh, we've kept an eye on things," Byers sounded embarrassed.
"That could be dangerous. I don't - "
"We've been careful and we think it's necessary. Listen, we just happened to be outside of the building, like tourists and she came rushing out the front and took off down the street. We followed, discretely - "
Mulder snorted, but was more than a little uncomfortable since Dana was listening. Shit, he hadn't given Diana a thought since they'd run.
"She met up with an older man, six feet, gray hair, mostly nondescript. He smoked like a stack."
Mulder sat up then. Heavy smoker? He'd seen that guy around the building, felt like he'd been watching him more than once. He was meeting with Diana?
"He was seriously pissed. At first she seemed to defend herself, but then she just took it and he tore her a new one. We weren't close enough to hear and we're not expert at lip reading, but we caught that he said your name at least three times, maybe more."
"What? What could he have - "
"She didn't keep you in line? She allowed you to meet up with . . . "
"She never knew we'd met. I never mentioned anything to her."
"Wonder what would have happened if you had," Frohike mused.
Mulder shuddered and felt Dana's hand on his arm.
"Stay away from her and him. He's dangerous."
"We got that. Don't you want to know who he is, what is role is?"
"Did you get a picture?"
"Yeah, a couple."
"Send those securely, then back off."
"We could - "
"Back off. I don't want anything happening to you."
There was silence for a moment. "Okay, we appreciate that, but if you change your mind . . ."
"I'll let you know. We need to get off. Send that picture."
"Oh it's way. Let us know what you need."
The connection was broken and Mulder leaned back in his chair.
"She's the one you were seeing, the ambitious one."
Mulder didn't meet her eyes. "Yeah. Maybe she was more ambitious than I realized."
"You never mentioned me?"
"It's bad form to tell the current flame that you've met someone more interesting." He finally looked up and gave her an abashed grin.
Dana's cheeks pinked but she didn't look away. She'd woken up in his arms that morning even if they still hadn't . . .
"Did she know about your project?"
He closed his eyes then and sighed. "Yeah. She seemed interested and she said she believed like I did. That's really how we met. When I started studying the X-Files, she asked to help."
Mulder shrugged. "Now I'm wondering if she was assigned, to spy on me. She knows the smoking man."
"You know him?"
"No, never been introduced, never heard a name, but I've seen him. My spidy-sense always tingles when he's around."
She hesitated for a moment, then, "Why?"
He took a moment for that. "I don't know."
She nodded and they both turned to the computer as it chirped an incoming email. Her eyebrow rose as he didn't reach for the keyboard.
"Yeah, okay." He pressed enter and a photo began to download. They were silent, but she found her eyes drawn more to the woman than the man. This was his type? They were obviously nothing alike. This Diana was at least 5'9" and . . . top heavy, was her assessment. That probably wasn't fair, but she did seem to be flaunting her breasts. Dana gave her own healthy Cs a quick glance. At least she wasn't out of proportion or, or pointy.
"What do you think," Mulder asked, glancing up at her. She startled, then realized he was asking about the man. She focused on him and he watched the color leave her face. "Dana?" He was already rising and his arm went around her, steadying her. "Do you know him?"
"N-no, I've never met him, but I have seen him."
"At, at the daycare."
"The - Will's daycare?"
She nodded. "I assumed he worked in the hospital. I might not have noticed him if they hadn't gotten after him about smoking in the building and near the children. God, was he watching Will? Did this man know about him even then?"
Mulder was chewing his lip now. "Dana, if he was . . . involved in his conception, he's known about him for a long time."
Now it was Dana that closed her eyes.
"Doesn't it look like he doesn't know where we are?" she asked hopefully.
"Yes, it does. That's a good point. Did he ever see you?"
"Well, probably. I mean I saw him. He was never in the day care itself. They have very strict security. I couldn't tell you that he ever showed any interest in Will, but . . .
She had gone internal, thinking. He waited.
"What if Will couldn't do what he, uh what he does now back then."
"What if, what if meeting you triggered it. I know that sounds insane - "
"After some of the things I've told you? No, keep going, what are you thinking?"
"The two of you bonded instantly. It was almost as though he recognized you. That day in the store, I was so scared and he picked that up. He was scared as well, but even with all of the trauma, he went to you without fear while I was sitting at the back of the ambulance. But later, when we were in the hotel and you pulled the gun on me, I was terrified, but he wasn't. He wasn't the least bit scared of you then, he knew you wouldn't really hurt me or him."
Mulder blinked. "I wouldn't."
"I know that now, but he knew it then." She shook her head. "I'm sorry, that's crazy. He's a baby."
"He's our baby. That automatically makes him special," Mulder smiled. For some reason that caused the color to tint her cheeks and he noted it silently.
He had changed Will and was headed back downstairs, when out of the blue, Will screamed "Momma!" and burst into tears. Stunned, Mulder hurried down the stairs cuddling the boy. He knew he hadn't stuck him with a pin, since they used disposable diapers.
"What is it? Will, it's okay. Daddy's got you." Nothing consoled the boy. This had never happened before and Mulder quickly ran out of any idea of what do to. He was headed for the door, to seek help from Lou or Marge when the phone rang. The caller ID showed Dana and he grabbed it up. "Thank goodness, where - "
He froze and so did Will. "Who is this? Why do you have - "
"Mr. Hale, this is Officer Dedona. I'm calling to let you know that your wife has been involved in a traffic accident. She is being treated by EMTs right now and - "
"Where are you?"
"Near Turfland Mall, the corner of Lane Allen and Broadway."
"I'm on my way." He hung up before the officer could speak again and then looked down at Will. "You knew. Is she okay?" The boy wasn't crying now, at least, that was a good sign, right? He headed for the door and stopped dead. Dana had the car and the car seat. He glanced toward Marge's house but there was no car in the driveway, so he looked across the street. Lou's car was there and he raced over with Will in his arms.
"Lou!" He didn't bother to knock.
"William? What's wrong?"
"D-Katy was in a wreck. I need to get there. Can I borrow your car?"
"Of course. Do you want me to drive you?"
He shook his head and followed her into the kitchen to retrieve the keys.
"I'll keep Will," she said reaching for the boy.
Mulder looked down at him. *Will, I need you to stay here. I need to check on your mom.*
The boy sniffled but didn't burst back into tears at least. George had come running by this time and took Will into his arms. "What's wrong?"
"Mr. Hale has to go somewhere. We're going to keep Will for him."
"Okay," the boy said happily.
Mulder was already headed for the door. This time of day there was little traffic, headed into town, unlike the parking lot feel of Broadway during rush hours. He saw the ambulance and made a swift turn into the Turfland Mall parking lot, throwing Lou's car into park and racing toward the blue and red lights.
He couldn't see the back of the ambulance from this angle but he could see the SUV. The front passenger side was bashed in and the air bag had deployed. Shit! He didn't even slow down as he rounded the ambulance.
He spotted her, sitting at the back of the ambulance. The EMT was placing a bandage on her forehead, but she turned to look at him. He skidded to a stop and to her surprise, bent over as though he'd been punched in the gut. He was breathing as though he'd run from the house.
When he could, he straightened up and approached. His hand came up to touch her face, but he stopped just short of contact. "How is she?" He was obviously speaking to the EMT, but didn't take his eyes off of her.
"I'm fine. I told them to tow the car to the dealership, okay?"
Now he glanced at the EMT, ignoring her concern about the car. The young man nodded. "I'd like her to get an x-ray of her wrist and ankle, but - "
Mulder nodded. "Where are you taking her?"
"M-William, I don't - "
"It's just a precaution. I'll follow the ambulance."
"I certainly don't need an ambulance."
"They'll see you quicker. And you hit your head. Go with them, I'll be right behind you. UK, right?"
The EMT nodded, grinning. Dana opened her mouth, but Mulder already had his arm around her to help her onto the gurney.
"I really don't - "
"Do it for me," he whispered and stepped back to allow them to close the door. He closed his eyes and leaned heavily against the ambulance for a moment, then stood up and trotted back toward Lou's car. A policeman stopped him.
"I'm Officer Dedona. We spoke earlier."
"Yes, thank you for calling."
"No problem. I know you're anxious to get to the hospital." Mulder nodded. "But I wanted to talk to you about the accident."
At that Mulder looked around. "Where is the other car? Has it already been towed?"
"They backed up and raced off."
"A hit and run? Probably no insurance."
"Mr. Hale, from the witness statements, it appeared that your wife's car was targeted. We're getting the surveillance cameras from the mall, but I've got three people who are adamant that the vehicle that hit her was waiting and hit her on purpose. Do you know anyone that would want to target you or your wife, someone with a black SUV similar to yours with darkened windows? Mr. Hale?"
Mulder had gone pale at those words. Had they been found? How?
"Mr. Hale?" Dedona repeated.
"Uh, no, we barely know anyone in Lexington. We just moved here. Is there any way I could look at the surveillance film?"
"I don't think . . . "
"I understand. I need to get to the hospital. You know how to reach me?" He took the copy of the accident report the officer handed him.
Dedona nodded. Mulder got in the car without another word and waited until he was out of sight of the police to pull out his cell phone. Two quick calls and he had to put it aside, at least for now. Lou knew the Dana wasn't badly hurt and the guys were on the case. They'd see the surveillance film before he could.
He did follow the ambulance, which had not turned the siren on. He handled insurance while they checked her out, then paced until he realized how annoying that could be. When she was returned in a wheelchair, he was on his feet. There was a boot on her left foot and a brace on her right wrist.
"No, they're sprained, but I have to be careful with them."
"Just a bump. I really am fine." She hesitated then.
"What? Do you need a doct - "
"No. Listen to me, I'm good. How did you get here?"
"Lou's car. She and George are looking after Will."
"I'm sorry. I didn't see him comin- "
Mulder shook his head. "Don't think about it now. Let's get you out of here and home where I can keep an eye on you."
"I need to call the lab, tell them I won't be in tomorrow."
"I'll take care of that. Let me look after you, please." She started to protest, but the expression on his face stopped her.
He pulled into their driveway, so she wouldn't have to walk as far. Mulder helped Dana to the couch, then returned the car to Lou and retrieved Will. Lou already had a meal in the oven for them and wouldn't listen to any protests. "I'll bring it over when it's done. William, after all you and Katy have done for us, just hush and get out of here. I know she needs to see Will."
He nodded, emotion closing his throat for a moment. He'd never had this, neighbors, friends, a family. Were they all in danger now?
Mulder carried Will to the couch and the boy nearly leapt from his arms to get to his mother. She held him tightly, rocking him with Mulder hovering over them both until she could regain her composure.
"Lou," he stopped and cleared his throat. "Lou is bringing over dinner. She insisted," he said, holding up his hands. "Do you need anything? Pain medication?"
She smiled gently at him. "I - am - okay," she said slowly and deliberately. "It was a jolt and I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow, but right now it feels so good to be home with you two." She leaned back and sighed. He couldn't take his eyes off of her. When she opened her eyes she couldn't look away. "Mulder?"
"You should be lying down."
She opened her mouth to protest but if anyone wasn't okay, it was him. She found her hand cupping his cheek and he leaned into it. "Okay. I'll go up."
Instead of allowing her to rise, he lifted her into his arms and looked down at Will. "Stay right here. I'll be back to get you in a minute."
The boy watched him and Mulder felt him agree.
He carried Dana up the stairs and lay her gently on the bed. He wouldn't meet her eyes and when he turned to go get Will, she took his hand. "Are you okay?"
"Let me get the baby."
his hand, then released him and watched him leave the room. She tried to get
comfortable; she was getting sore but didn't want to say anything to make it
He was back quickly with Will. "What can I get you?"
She patted the bed. "Your company."
"How's your head?"
"Don't ask me anymore about me. Tell me what's wrong with you."
"Me? Nothing, except - "
He glanced over at Will, sitting on the bed, playing with a plastic ring he'd had in his hand when Mulder had picked him up. He shook his head and she looked over at the baby too.
He shrugged. "I'm going to get your pain pills."
"I don't - "
"You've got a headache."
She wanted to ask how he knew, but realized he wouldn't answer that either. He knew by looking at her.
"You okay with Will?"
"Yes, we'll be fine.
He loosened the boot and slid it off her foot, slipping a pillow under it to keep it elevated, then left to get her medicine.
He watched to make sure she swallowed it, as though the thoughts of palming it had ever occurred to her. "Close your eyes. I'll keep Will - "
"He can stay."
Mulder swallowed. "He knew you were hurt."
"What?" she asked quickly, sitting back up.
He gently pressed her back down. "When the car hit you, at least the timing's right, he screamed. He was inconsolable. I got the call from Officer Dedona and ran over to Lou's. He agreed to stay with her."
Mulder shrugged. "He stayed without a protest, even though he'd been sobbing just minutes before. Close your eyes."
She took a deep breath and obeyed him. Will lay down beside her, cuddling in. Mulder looked at them for a long moment, then let himself out of the room.
Once she heard the door close, she opened her eyes. She was far more worried about him than about herself at the moment. The way he had looked at the scene, his obvious guilt confused her. He'd had nothing to do with accident. She was the one who should be guilty. Okay, the accident definitely hadn't been her fault, but now they didn't have a car at all. She lay there a few more minutes and realized that Will was alternating between watching her and the door.
"Okay, little man, we need to go check on Mulder." She sat up and slid her foot back into the boot, fastening it as tightly as she could with one hand, then since she couldn't lift Will, helped him slide off the side of the bed. He walked with her to the door and she checked to make sure the gate was at the top of the stairs. She smiled when she realized that even with everything else on his mind, he had thought of that.
Will dropped her hand and moved towards his room, but she continued on to the office. She was moving slowly and pushed the door open. He had his back to the door and seemed hunched over in his chair. Was he crying?
He shot up, turning toward her. "You shouldn't be up." Okay, no tears, but he did seem, oh hell she didn't know.
"Talk to me. Are you angry because of the car?"
"Angry? I'm not . . . " He approached her then and again picked her up in his arms. He headed back toward the bedroom and she cuddled against his chest. He lay her back on the bed and started to retreat when she grabbed his hand.
"No. Talk to me. If you're not angry, then what?"
He sank down on the bed beside her. "I know we're not . . . but we're growing closer." She nodded, waiting. "I, I saw the car . . . Dana, you, you're important to me. You're, damn that car. You could have been . . . "
She stared at him, her mouth opened. "I, I didn't . . . "
"I've been playing by your rules. I know we're not really husband and wife. I knew I was . . . this hit me . . . "
Her hand reached out to him and he grasped it.
"I know I kidnapped you, hell, I pulled a gun on you and just knowing me has put you in danger, but - "
Her finger touched his lips, silencing him. She leaned forward then, pressing her lips to his. That was effective in silencing him. His hands were fisted when she pulled back. "When the car hit me, I called out for you. Maybe I was letting Will know I needed you, I don't know, but it was you I wanted, you I called for."
"I've fallen in love with you," he whispered, seemingly as stunned to say it as she was to hear it. "I'm not just playing house here with you. I want this, I want it with you and with our son."
She kissed him again and this time his arms went around her. "You would admit this when I'm all banged up," she said wistfully.
He led his head fall softly to her shoulder. "My timing has always been impeccable."
She chuckled then. "Sleep with me tonight, just sleep for a few more days. Okay?"
Will toddled back in then, carrying Mudder Air and demanded to be helped back up onto the bed. He cuddled in on the other side of his mother from Mulder and Mulder sighed looking at his family. It was his family, maybe it had taken a crisis to see it, but this was his family for better or worse. He wanted to make an honest woman out of her.
He saw that she had closed her eyes now, and she seemed completely relaxed. Will's eyes were closed as well, spooned around his bear.
Mulder leaned down and kissed her forehead and she smiled in her sleep, then he let himself back out of the bedroom. This time when he returned to the office, he was in a much better space and contacted the guys.
Shit. He picked up one of the disposable phones and dialed. "What?"
"We don't know for sure, but the license on the car that hit her is bogus. The car was sitting there, idling until they spotted her. They were definitely looking for that car, we're not saying they knew she was in it, they could have been targeting you."
"Can you see him?"
"Them. There at least two in the car. Look like men, but the cameras aren't that good. Your home address is on the police report."
Mulder closed his eyes. How long did they have? Were they already on the way? One thing he hadn't stocked up on was ammunition. He had one of his weapons; he'd pulled it on Dana that first night. Just the memory caused him to grow cold. But that was all, what was in the gun and one clip. He sure wasn't going to leave them here alone to go shopping.
He jerked when the doorbell rang and hurried downstairs, sticking the gun in his waistband. It was Lou and George with dinner.
"How is she?"
"Resting. Her wrist and ankle are in braces but they're not broken, just sprained. Her wrist was caught when the airbag when off. She hit her head on the window but they're not even calling it a concussion."
"Oh my god! What about the car?"
He shook his head. "I couldn't tell. It was towed to the dealer. The front bumper was messed up, the headlight, I don't know."
"Let me know if you need anything and of course you can borrow the car."
"Thanks. I don't think she's going to be going anywhere in the near future. That reminds me, I need to call the lab and let her know she won't be in for a few days."
"You go take care of your family. Just holler if you need anything." She took the hot dish on into the kitchen with George carrying the salad. She refused to stay or go up to visit with Katy, saying she needed her rest.
He carried her down for dinner and she kept the protesting to a minimum. The stairs would be hard right now. He allowed her to relax on the couch and play some with Will while he cleaned up.
When it was time to return upstairs, she forestalled him. "Let me try to walk up them, Mulder."
"Try tomorrow. If you must know, I'm enjoying this and it'll end too soon already."
She laughed at that, but obediently put her arms around his neck. She supervised as he got Will ready for bed, then allowed him to help her some in getting ready herself. He stretched out beside her, massaging her back and shoulders between kisses which caused as much tension as it relieved. He was the one that called a halt to the activity to her disappointment, citing her injuries.
He forced himself to return to the office to see if anything else had been discovered and worked a little while, then returned to the room and peeked in. She heard him but knew he'd get after her for not being asleep, so she lay still and heard him head downstairs for a final walk through for the night.
He padded down in his sock feet. The lights were already out and he knew everything was locked tight for the night, but couldn't stop himself from one last look. The dowel nestled nicely in the sliding door runner and the door itself was locked. The garage door was down and the door into the kitchen was dead bolted. He liked this little house especially for what it had come to mean to him, but occasionally he thought about how much easier it had been to secure his fourth floor apartment with one door.
He was headed for the front door when the flash of light on chrome caught his eye. He glanced cautiously out the side window and saw the car cruise quietly to a halt half in/half out of the driveway with the lights off.