Simple Choices 12 (PG-13)

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They parked in the back of the house and Mulder opened Dana’s door, helping her out.  She stretched her back and smiled up at him.  “You okay?”


“I’m fine, Mulder.  Maybe a little stiff and I need to use the facilities.”  She chuckled.


“Really?  I’m shocked.”  He turned toward Stephen who had exited the minivan.  “Keys?”


Stephen tossed them to him and they followed him inside.  Dana vanished into the powder room while the others looked around.  When she rejoined them Stephen gave them a tour.  “There’s one bedroom down here with its own bath.  I figured that would be yours, that way you don’t have to use the stairs.”


Mulder nodded as Dana smiled indulgently.  “I’m able to climb stairs.”


“But why bother,” Mulder said quickly.


She shook her head but dropped it.  Having all of them together was going to be interesting, especially if they were all going to treat her like spun glass.  “Is anyone hungry?” she asked after the tour was completed.


“Yes,” Rob said quickly to the grins of the others.


“Okay, I’ll - "


I’ll fix something.  You should put your feet up,” Mulder interrupted her.


“Oh no you don’t.” She turned to glare up at him, then included the others.  “Listen, all of you, I am not sick.  I have no intentions of sitting around for the next few weeks doing nothing.  And I need to move around a little after that long car ride, so just back off.”


The three youngest looked meek.  Mulder looked like he wanted to protest, but she had already turned away toward the kitchen.  The others looked at him but wisely kept quiet.


They fell into a routine.  Mulder was usually up first and had decaf coffee made when she rose.  She had protested that since she was the only one needing decaf, he should at least make two pots, but he refused.  Rob and Chuck loved pancakes, so she had made them several times.  The groceries had been decidedly better than she had expected but they followed her lists pretty well since they wouldn’t allow her to accompany them.  At least they did allow her to walk around outside of the cabin for exercise, accompanied by at least one of them at all times.


Dana spent a lot of time watching these men in her life.  She knew Mulder’s personality, the humor to cover his insecurities, how surprised he still seemed to be that she was in his life.  The things he was now teaching his 'little brothers' was helping his self esteem as much as theirs.  They were all good shots and were learning some fairly good tricks in hand to hand combat.  She was staying more in the background, contenting herself with watching the relationships develop.


Roger was still a mystery to her, she’d only seen his picture but she felt like she understood him.  He’d been furious at the world at what had happened to him, to his family and he’d lashed out.  It could easily have happened to any of them.  She didn’t know if he could ever be at ease in this company.


Stephen was the businessman of the group.  He handled their finances with ease.  She’d seen him play with the stock market on-line and wished he was in charge of her retirement funds.  It was just for fun while they were here but he reveled in it.  He was also the most social of them, talking about friends at school.  It had crossed her mind that losing a brother wasn’t the stigma that losing a little sister was.  That didn’t make a lot of sense, but so much about this was beyond her grasp.


Carson had been a genius as well, in science this time.  Reading his notes had astounded her.  He had been an undergraduate in college but his knowledge of genetics had already been superior to hers.  Chuck was usually at her side when she was studying Carson’s work.  That helped her, being able to talk out what she was seeing.  His insight was growing as well and she was pretty sure he would take up the sciences for himself when he went to school.


Rob of course was too young to make career decisions, but she could see him following Mulder’s footsteps.  His care in making sure all traces of her had been erased from Mulder’s apartment had impressed her, as well as his ability to get any information they needed from the computer.


It seemed that one or the other was always logged onto the computer, studying the information they had gathered about various aspects of their investigation.  Only Dana really understood Carson’s work, but she knew they were all bright enough to follow her explanations; and Chuck was already asking questions that sent them both to the computer to investigate. 


Carson’s research had been on DNA and he’d been brilliant.  Dana was frankly amazed at the audacity of his theories and so far had been unable to disprove them.  He had known somehow that he had been 'created'.  Had his parents slipped and let him know more than they realized?  What did the parents in this conspiracy know anyway?


It was after one of these discussions that Mulder leaned back.  “Carson didn’t commit suicide.”


“What?” Dana asked quickly.


“Oh he may have taken his own life, but he was led to it.”


“By who?” Stephen asked.


“My ex-wife,” Mulder said quietly.


“Mulder - “


“I hadn’t said anything, but I’ve had been in touch with his roommate, Chad, again.  I sent him a picture of Diana.  He recognized her.”


“Mulder, you should have said something,” Dana touched his arm and he put it around her, cuddling her against him for a moment.


“It’s okay on my part.  I, I don’t think I’m nearly as surprised as I would have been at one time.”


“Maybe we should all see this picture,” Stephen mused.


Mulder looked over at Dana and she nodded.  Reluctantly he pulled out his wallet.   From one of the inner compartments he dug out a picture.  He looked at it for a second, then back at her.  “I forgot I - "


“Mulder, it’s okay.  She was your wife.”


“Not really, not, not like you are.”


She smiled and took his hand.  “Go on.”


He took a deep breath and rose to hand the picture to Stephen.  It was a picture of Diana in the halls of the FBI.  “I’d gotten a new camera . . . “


Stephen was staring at the picture.  “I know her.  I’ve seen her.  She was on campus.  He was too.”


“He?”  Mulder stepped around to look at it again.


“This guy,” Stephen pointed to a man in the background.  He was an older man; he was taking a cigarette from his lips.  “Do you know him?”


“Uh, no.  I’ve seen him around the Bureau.  We’ve never been introduced.”


“He creeped me out, but we didn’t talk.  I didn’t talk much to the woman, to Diana either, but she was . . . around.”


“Did she come on to you?” Mulder asked.


Stephen looked up surprised.  “No, she’s a little too old for me, don’t you think?  Hell, she looks too old for you too.”


“She’s a couple of years older, not much,” Mulder muttered.


Stephen shook his head and handed the photo to Chuck.  Chuck and Rob looked at it.  Rob shook his head.  “I don’t recognize her.”


Chuck looked a moment longer.  “Nope, but Stephen’s right, she’s too old for all of us.”


Dana chuckled, “I hope you’re not saying that to make me feel better.  I’m not jealous of her.”


“Good!” Mulder said startled.  “You have no reason.”


She smiled and took his hand, pulling him down beside her on the couch.  “I know that.  May I see the picture?  I’ve never seen this ex-wife of yours.”


Mulder grimaced, but took the photo back from Chuck.  He handed it to her.  She looked down at it and the color left her face.  Then gasping, she curled over her stomach as though in pain.


“Dana!”  Mulder was bending over her, the other three moved closer scared silent.  “Lie down, Dana, breathe, you need to put your feet up.  Try to relax.”  He heard his voice shake but his hands were steady as he caressed the hair back out of her face.


She was looking up at him, focusing on his face.  She was able to draw a breath now and the pain seemed to be receding.  “Dana?”


She closed her eyes then and took a deeper breath.


“Dana, I’m going to take you to the hospital.  Just relax.”


“No, I’m . . . I’m not in labor.”  She opened her eyes to see the four of them hovering over her.  “I’m not, the baby, the baby just got really . . .  I’m okay now.”


“Like on the train?  When you first saw Stephen?”


She shook her head, “No, that was ex-excitement.”


They all waited, Mulder's grip on her hand squeezed reassuringly.


“This felt like, like fury.”


“Fury?” Mulder questioned.


“I don’t know,” she closed her eyes again, shaking her head.


Rob leaned over and picked up the picture.  “Is he angry at Diana?”


She turned her head away.  Mulder shook his head and the others moved away.  Chuck came back in a moment with the glass of water, then retreated again.


“Here, drink this.”  Mulder urged the glass on her, but she shook her head.


“Are you sick?”


“Trying not to be,” she said tersely and he looked up at the others.  Their fear was evident as well.  She took his hand and closed her eyes again.


They waited silently and after a few minutes she seemed to relax, taking deeper breaths.  She squeezed his hand and started to sit up.  He was over her immediately, lifting her gently and placing pillows behind her.

”I’m okay.”


“You’re not okay, so don’t bother, but what happened?”


She shook her head, “I don’t know.  The baby . . . “


“Is he okay?”


“I think so.  He’s calmed down now.  It, it was like he could see the picture though my eyes.”


“He doesn’t like Diana?”


She shrugged, “Diana or the man in the picture or both.  I’d rather not recreate the situation right now.”


She was actually able to smile at the expression on Mulder’s face.


“You’re going to bed,” Mulder said and took her into his arms.  “Someone turn down the sheets.”  He spoke to the room at large, and Chuck headed for their room.  He had the sheets pulled back by the time Mulder brought Dana in.  The fact that she didn’t protest raised his level of fear but he kept quiet.  He automatically pulled out the blood pressure kit and checked her.  Her pressure was a little high but no higher than usual for her now.


“Get some rest.  I’ll be back to check on you in a few minutes.”


“I am okay, Mulder.”


He kissed her brow, then her nose, then her lips.  “Close your eyes.”


She obeyed him and didn’t open them again until she heard the door close behind him.  What had happened?  Had the baby ‘seen’ something she didn’t understand?  There was nothing she could do right now.  She tried to get comfortable and closed her eyes.


The three of them were waiting for him when he returned to the room.  He didn’t even look up at them, just collapsing back onto the couch.


“Is she okay?”


“I don’t know.  She says she is, her blood pressure’s the same.”  Finally he looked up, “What the hell was that?”


Stephen took a seat beside him.  “We don’t know.  I believe you about your wife, being part of this, but look at the picture again.  Look at the guy.  He’s trying to turn away.  He didn’t want his picture taken, he’s not happy about it.”


“While Diana is smiling,” Mulder observed. 


“Do you remember what was going on when you took the picture?” Rob asked, watching him.


Mulder closed his eyes.  “Yeah, I wasn’t expecting to find her.  She’d said she had a meeting and that’s why we couldn’t have lunch together.  I picked up the camera on a whim, pictures I could download, print myself, you know.”


“Could she have been meeting with this guy?”


There was a pause, “She was talking to him in the hall, it was intense whatever they were talking about.  I took a couple of shots before they even knew I was there, no flash.  Those didn’t turn out as well.  Then she saw me and flashed this big smile at me while he . . . I guess I figured she was sleeping with him too and didn’t really care.”


“Mulder - " Stephen’s hand came to rest on his shoulder.


“It doesn’t matter.  Our ‘marriage’ was a farce from the beginning.  Let me see the picture again.”


Chuck handed it to him and he stared at it, taking in everything.  Stephen was right, this guy did not want his picture taken.  It was as though Diana was trying to distract him, even step between them now that he really looked at the damn thing.  Some frigging FBI agent he was, not to see this.  What else hadn’t he seen when he was with her?


“I can try to find him - " Rob started.


“No!  He’s dangerous.  Don’t even try.”


“You know it’s him?” Stephen asked.


Mulder shrugged, “It’s a feeling.”


The three younger brothers nodded in agreement.




“Well, I’m officially missing,” Rob said, leaning back from the computer.


“What?” Dana made her way to him slowly.


“I’ve been checking the newspaper from home on-line.  I didn’t make the front page, but there is a picture.  They go into my whole background, Betsy’s disappearance, the divorce, how I dropped out of my activities.  I’m a ‘troubled youth’.”


Dana’s hand touched his shoulder.  “Do you feel troubled?”


“Are you kidding?  I feel like the luckiest kid in the world to be here with you guys.  I fit here, you know?  It feels good.”


She hugged him then and he carefully returned the hug.


“We should check on the rest of you.  Chuck?”


“I’m 18, no one should be looking for me.  I abandoned my car at the bus station.  If Marge and Spencer didn’t know how badly I wanted out, they were more clueless than even I imagined.”


“Check anyway,” Mulder said.  “Look in the police blotter.”


A few minutes later Chuck nodded.  “Well what do you know; they did notice I was gone.  They finally called the police after I didn’t return from the comic con but it took them a couple of days.  No mention of them finding my car.”




The young man took Chuck’s place in front of the computer.  Shortly he found it, the campus paper had covered his disappearance, with a picture.  “Apparently I’m more popular on campus than at home.”


“Okay, you guys won’t be going into town anymore.  I’ll take over the supply runs.”


“Mulder, you’re an FBI agent.  You have to know they’re looking for you.”


“No, I had a letter delivered explaining I was taking some family time.  I have tons of leave built up.  I had no cases outstanding where I was primary and my paperwork was up to date, thanks to you.  And you’re on maternity leave; I talked that over with Sherry long before any of this came up.”


“Why did you do that?” she asked, easing down on the couch as Chuck’s hand came out to assist her.


Mulder shrugged, “Maybe for the same reason these guys were hoarding money.  Somehow I knew we’d have to disappear.”


Dana blinked but didn’t question him.


Rob did, “Who delivered the letter?”


“Huh?  Oh, Danny.  He’s a friend of mine at the Bureau.”


“You trust him?”


“Yeah, Danny’s a good guy.”


“Could he look for this guy?”


Mulder blinked, the looked over at Dana.  “These guys are smarter than me.”


“Not really, maybe they just have some new ideas.”


“I don’t want to send this picture to the Bureau.”


“Do you have your camera?” Rob asked.


“Uh, yeah, it should be in the brief case.  That’s where I keep it.”


“Okay, we can send this to Danny’s home email, if he has one.  Keep it away from work.”


Mulder nodded, then jotted down the email address.


“He’ll know it’s from you.  Is that a problem?” Chuck asked.


“No, and if it’s dangerous, he’ll let me know and we can call him off.  Load up the pictures and I'll send the message."




With the difference in time zones, it wasn't that long before Danny was home and logged in.  After a short acknowledgement without asking any questions he was gone again.


In a very short time he pinged Mulder.  /A non-person and protected./


/Drop it, now./


/You okay?/


/Yeah, don't worry.  And don't pursue this.  Swear./


/Okay, but let me know if there's anything else I can do./


/Will do.  Thanks./


Mulder logged off and turned to his brothers.  "He didn't want his picture taken."


"Danny found him?"


"No, and I pulled him off.  He said the guy was protected.  We have to assume he's part of 'them'."  He glanced over at Scully and saw she was rubbing her belly, grimacing.  "Subject change time.  Dana?"


"I think it was him and not Diana that the baby doesn't like."


"He's off-limits.  He doesn't know where we are, he doesn't know we're all together."


"He has to suspect, since you all disappeared - "


"Stop, Dana.  You can't do this.  You need to push it aside.  I don't want you getting upset."


"I know."  She closed her eyes and stretched her back a little.


"You need to eat."


She shook her head.  "I’m really not hungry yet.  You guys go ahead, I'll eat in a little while.  Really, go ahead while it's hot."


"Are you - "


"I'm fine, just not hungry.  I'm going to lie down for a little while."


There was no mistaking the look of alarm on his face then.  "Let's check - "


"My blood pressure.  Fine, come on."  She shook her head, but let him lead her into the bedroom.  The other three exchanged worried looks but didn't comment.



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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.