Bill opened the door, but didn’t move to allow the person entry. “Daniel, what are you doing here?”
Dana tensed immediately and reached for Mulder’s hand.
He took it in his own and squeezed. “Don’t worry.” Then he rose and was standing when the two men entered the living room.
The sight of him caused Daniel to hesitate. He noted that Dana’s hand was lightly touching the man’s thigh as he stood beside her. The older man’s eyes narrowed and he stepped forward.
“I need to speak with Dana.” His voice held the kind of command that rivaled her husband’s, but Maggie spoke quietly.
“I don’t believe she’s ready to talk to you, Daniel.”
“And I don’t believe that would be your decision Maggie.” He must have realized that Bill took a step toward him, but in his arrogance, he wasn’t intimidated. “Dana is a grown woman and we need to discuss our - “
“Your plans?” Mulder spoke for the first time.
“Excuse me, I don’t think that - “
“That I should be a part of this.” Mulder finished for him and nodded, “I understand and you may be right, but some law enforcement agency will get involved sooner or later.”
“Law enforcement? I beg your pardon.”
“Well, bigamy is against the law so - “
“Bigamy.” Maggie said it before anyone else could, but Dana leaned back slightly and a tiny smile played around her lips. She kept quiet.
“You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“As a matter of fact I do. Since Dana didn’t remember you, I thought it wise to check into a few things. I understand that Dana’s family was unaware of an engagement before she was taken.”
“We were being discrete.”
“Discrete.” Mulder nodded. “I understand that you had left your wife prior to her disappearance.”
“Yes. Listen, I was questioned by the police. I had no - “
“I’m not accusing you of having anything to do with Dana’s disappearance. I do however question the fact that you moved back in with your wife, three weeks later and were still living with her day before yesterday.”
“Son of a - “ Bill snarled behind the man.
“Now wait just a minute. I maintain the same residence, but I - “
“But you never filed for a divorce or a legal separation.”
“I spoke with my attorney this afternoon.” The older man didn’t seem to notice the bead of sweat that was moving down his sideburn.
“Guess the papers didn’t make it to court before closing.” Mulder mused.
Finally Dana stood, very close to Mulder. “I think you should leave.”
“Dana, I can explain. We thought you were dead. I was afraid that I would never see you again.”
“You decided I was dead after three weeks.” She looked up at Mulder and he knew she was comparing this man’s actions to his own. “Then I think you should continue to think of me that way.”
“We were in love, Dana.”
“Really? Because it just doesn’t feel that way to me.”
“We’ve spent no time together, Dana. As soon as you’re yourself again, you’ll remember. We’ll work together again, you were on your way to becoming a brilliant cardiologist. Together we could - “
“I’m a pathologist.” She saw his eyes narrow and he glanced at Mulder again. “Please leave; we were having a family evening.”
Daniel opened his mouth, but couldn’t seem to think of what to say. Bill took his arm and he jerked away. “Keep your hands off of me.”
“Fine, I’ll just hold the door.”
Mulder was reminded again of just how large a man this brother of hers was. Apparently Daniel noticed it for the first time himself. “You don’t understand.”
Bill smiled at him, though it looked slightly feral. “That’s okay. I don’t want to.” He moved back toward the front door and held it open.
Daniel took one more look back at Dana, but her face showed no emotion whatsoever. She didn’t remember him. He looked down, then straightened his shoulders and followed Bill.
“Dana,” he stopped just inside the door. “I will be in touch.”
She didn’t respond and he moved past Bill, who shut the door forcefully behind him.
By the time Bill stepped back into the living room, his little sister was in a total lip lock with her rescuer. Bill cleared his throat and Mulder pulled away, his face scarlet. “Uh, I - “
“Yeah, I got that.” But Bill grinned.
Dana and Maggie gathered up the plates and took them to the kitchen and Bill moved over to Mulder. “A week, huh?”
“Listen - “
“You make her feel safe. I appreciate that.”
Mulder had no way to respond, so he just stood there. When the women returned, he approached Dana. “I should probably - “
“No, we aren’t through with the albums.”
He looked over at Maggie. “She’s right. It’s early, please stay.” He glanced at Bill who was already taking his seat.
“There’s this one picture of Dana, trying to hit a baseball; man does she look spastic. Where is that one Mom?”
She walked him to the door, but she wasn’t ready to let him leave. “I wish you could stay.”
“I can’t do that, Red. Do you think you’ll be able to sleep tonight?”
“Will I see you tomorrow?”
“Then I’ll sleep, but what about you?” Her arms went around him.
“I’ll do the best I can.” He leaned down and gave her a quick kiss on the lips, but her arms tightened. By the time he drew breath again, he was extremely glad he’d already said goodnight to the others. “Cut that out or I’ll throw you over my shoulder and abduct you myself.”
“Promises, promises.” But she wasn’t smiling now.
“I will see you tomorrow. I have to work, but I’ll call and stop by after I get off.”
“What if they send you out of town?”
“Don’t worry about that. I’ll see you tomorrow. I need to get out of here.”
Mulder was waiting for Diana when she got into the office the next morning. “Do you know what’s happened to the others that were found?”
“Good morning to you too, Fox.”
He tried to relax his stance. “Have you been able to find anything?”
“Are they still being held?”
“Fox, I - “
“Until I know that they’ve been released and are allowed to lead their own lives, I’m going to do my best to protect her.”
Diana certainly didn’t have to ask who. She was still trying to decide how to handle the information she had obtained yesterday. “From her fiancée?”
He winced at that. How did she know about Daniel? “He wasn’t the right man for her.”
She looked away at those words. The right man. The words seemed to cut through her and she could feel her life’s blood leaking away. He cared for this woman.
He looked at other women, those videos; she was used to that. But he’d never approached them. When he’d needed . . . release, he’d come to her. She had always thought that more would develop. He was comfortable with her, she’d assumed . . . she’d obviously assumed too much.
Diana turned so he couldn’t see the tears that had welled up in her eyes. What was she thinking? She couldn’t let him see her like this. She left the office without another word. He watched her, but didn’t attempt to follow.
At lunch he’d have to stop by the guys’ place and see if they had been able to uncover any information about the others returned in Oregon.
He pushed Diana from his mind and looked through the latest file that the VCS had sent down. That had been part of the agreement and right now, he wanted to stay low key, actually play within the rules.
He pulled up in front of her house and saw the strange car in the driveway. He got out and hesitated. Dana opened the door and hurried out to him.
“Is everything okay?” He watched her approach him.
“Yes. Dad got here a day early.”
“Oh. Uh, maybe I shouldn’t intrude, I mean - “
“Mulder, you are the only topic of conversation in which I can participate. He can’t wait to meet you.”
“Wow. I haven’t met a girl’s father since high school.”
She smiled, “Well I guess that’s good news.” She squeezed his hand, “Of course I’m not surprised that you haven’t met Diana’s father. She was probably hatched anyway.”
“Ooooh, why don’t you tell me how you really feel?” He grinned.
She sighed, “I’m sorry. I don’t like her and I really don’t know why. I didn’t like her even before I found out you’d made love to her - “
“Hold it right there. Red, look at me. I did not make love to Diana. We had sex, two bodies in need. Now I know that makes me sound like a real shit, but it happens to be true. And for the record, we weren’t together but a few times. You and I have very nearly matched it already.”
“Now that is good information.” Her hand came up and tweaked his nipple through his dress shirt.
He grabbed her hand and stepped away. “Red, since I’m just about to meet your father, I think it would be a really good idea if my slacks fit.”
She didn’t blush as he expected, but gave him a truly evil grin, then, finally tugged him toward the house. Oh he was in trouble.
Captain Scully met them at the door with his hand out. “Mr. Mulder, I am very pleased to meet you. I owe you a debt that I can never repay.”
Mulder shook the proffered hand as they moved inside. “I’m just happy it turned out this way Captain Scully.”
The man seemed to be having problems with his emotions and Mulder looked down at Dana. She moved closer to the man and put her arms around him. He hugged her tightly, then nodded at Mulder.
“I never gave up that we would get her back.”
“Bill told me about your sister.” Dana looked up startled, then smiled. “Did you ever give up?”
“Not yet. Maybe once for ten minutes, six years ago.”
“Um, Mr. Mulder, would you like a drink?”
Before he could respond, Maggie came out of the kitchen. “Mulder, no one told me you were here.” She brushed a kiss on his cheek, then glared at her husband, son and daughter. “Dinner is almost ready, Mulder could you get the napkins out?” She turned and moved back toward the kitchen.
Captain Scully just looked at Mulder, “I, uh, I’ve been here a lot recently.”
“I guess you have. I don’t even know where the napkins are kept.”
“That’s because you’ve never set the table.” Maggie called from the other side of the dining room, then moved on into the kitchen.
“Well, that’s probably true.”
“It’s definitely true Dad.” Bill responded with a grin.
Mulder smiled as well, shedding his coat, then moved toward the server where the napkins were stored.
Dana sat beside him with Bill across the table and her parents at either end. Occasionally Mulder noticed that her father would just stop eating to look at her. William caught him watching finally and cleared his throat, “So, Mr. Mulder, does your family live in Washington?”
“Just Mulder, please. My mother lives in Greenwich, but she’s in Europe right now. My father lives here, but I don’t see him.”
“I lived with my mother after their divorce. My father works, worked, for the State Department and traveled extensively. I didn’t see much of him. When I was 18 I went away to school and eventually ended up in England to get my Ph.D.”
“How long have they been divorced?”
“I was, uh, thirteen.”
“Was that when your sister . . . “
Mulder nodded. “They just couldn’t live with each other after that.”
“Have they remarried?”
“No, neither of them ever did.”
“Maybe they still have feelings for each other.” Maggie offered.
“Well,” Mulder managed to smile slightly, “my mother has feelings for my father, but they’re not the type you get married about.”
William nodded and looked at his own wife. Dana’s disappearance had brought them closer. He hadn’t gone out on assignment for months, which actually made this the first time they had lived together, just the two of them. Maggie felt his gaze and smiled at him.
Bill cleared his throat, he’d seen the byplay between his parents. “Well Mulder, you’ll have KP to yourself tomorrow. I’ve got a flight early tomorrow morning.”
“You’re leaving?” Mulder looked up quickly.
“Yeah, Dad’s here, so I should head back.”
Mulder nodded, “You have something important to take care of.”
“I sure do.” Bill grinned.
“And would that be something your parents should know about, Bill?” Maggie asked quickly.
“I’ll, uh, I’ll get back to you.” He looked down at his plate to hide the sparkle in his eyes.
Maggie turned to Mulder, “I guess that makes you an official member of the family - helping the children keep secrets from us. Not that they were ever very good at it.”
Mulder’s eyes widened, ‘official member . . . ‘, he felt Red’s hand squeeze his leg and turned to look at her again. Then he cleared his throat. “Well, I really think I should be the one taking all of you out to eat. I’ve imposed - “
“Son, it’s not an imposition. Maggie is in her element cooking for her kids again. Relax.”
Son. The man had called him son. He took a small sip of wine to try to get his composure back.
“But you know, that’s not a bad idea. Maggie, you’ve been in the kitchen for days. Why don’t I take you out tomorrow. I’m sure Mulder and Dana can find something to do.” William watched his wife as she smiled her thanks and nodded.
Mulder was sure his cheeks were stained dark. Dinner wasn’t the first thing that had come to mind, and her hand on his leg let him know the same was true for her. He looked up to see Bill struggling not to laugh and just shook his head. This was the family he should have been born to, except of course for that pesky incest thing.
He and Red had washed up and he was watching her move around the room as he rinsed a serving bowl. “Do you remember him Red?”
She paused to think about her answer. She didn’t have to ask what he meant. “I don’t remember things, but he feels familiar. Does that make sense?”
Mulder nodded, when he’d seen her offer comfort to the man in the entry, he’d seen their relationship. His smile dimmed, how long before they found out about his reputation and forbade her to see him.
He shook his head, “Your parents are good together.”
She waited, but that was all he said as he turned back to the dishes.
It was amazing how familiar he felt in this kitchen, even more than in his own. Of course, he didn’t cook in his own kitchen. Red was putting things away when she suddenly jerked her hand back, “Ow!”
“What?” He moved quickly toward her.
She held up her hand, a bright red spot of blood was growing on her right ring finger. “I think I stabbed myself.”
“Here, let me - “
But she had focused on the scarlet drop and her body stiffened.
“Red? Red!” He caught her as she toppled backwards toward the floor, her body rigid. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she began to jerk.
Maggie was the first to reach the kitchen, but Bill and her father were just behind her. “Oh my god!” Maggie knelt beside her. “William, call 911.”
“No wait, please, just a minute.” Mulder immediately spoke, but didn’t remove his arms from her body.
“Mulder, she needs help.” Bill was already moving toward the phone.
“No, look, it’s ending.” Mulder scooped her up and with Maggie leading the way, carried her to the couch in the living room. “Red, Red listen to me, it’s Mulder. Please.”
She stirred, moaning slightly, then opened her eyes to see his frantic face looming over her. “Mulder.” Her arms went around his neck, burying her face against him. “I remember.” She whispered against his throat.