Dana knocked on the door and Gloria opened it quickly, inviting them in. “Dana, it’s good to see you. Are you doing okay?”
Dana nodded. “I’m fine. Thank you. This is my friend, Fox Mulder. He’s the one I mentioned; he’s looking into Betsy’s case.”
“Has there been - “
“No, Gloria, but if he can find something that looks like some other cases he’s worked on . . . “ Gloria sighed, but nodded. “How’s Rob?”
His mother looked worried then. “He’s quieter. He doesn’t hang out with his friends any more. He’s dropped out of all of his team sports. His grades have gone up, but I have to admit I wish he were a little more social.”
Gloria’s shoulders slumped. “I’ll call him. Do you want me to stay?”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll stay with them,” Dana said gently.
Gloria nodded and moved to the stairs. The young boy came to the top of stairs and stopped, looking down at them.
“Rob, you remember Dr. Scully. This is her friend, Mr. Mulder. They want to talk to you.”
“What about?” his voice was sullen.
Dana spoke then. “Betsy. Please, Rob, just for a few minutes.”
He looked like he wanted to refuse, but didn’t know how. He came downstairs and Mulder followed him to the sun room in the back. Dana squeezed Gloria’s hand, then followed Mulder.
Rob flopped down on the couch. Dana sat beside him and Mulder drew up a chair, facing them. Rob looked back and forth between them, stopping with Dana. “Are you going to have a baby?”
Before Dana could even think of a response, Mulder was on his feet looming over the boy. Rob jerked back, his arm up to protect himself. Dana’s hand closed over Mulder’s forearm and he drew back.
“Why do you ask that?” she looked at the boy, trying not to show her uneasiness.
“I, I don’t know.”
Dana looked over at Mulder. He took a deep breath and eased back down into the chair forcing some control on himself. “I’d like to ask you a few questions about the night your sister disappeared.”
Rob slumped back against the couch. “I’ve told everyone everything I know.”
“Rob,” Dana said quietly, “please, one more time.”
He huffed, but looked down at his shoes. “Sure. Mom and Dad had gone down the street to a party. They left me in charge; they did that when they were going out in the neighborhood. It wasn’t late, we were playing one of her games and the lights went out. I got up to see if the other lights on the street were out, and she started screaming. I turned back and, and I woke up in the hospital a few days later. That’s all I remember.”
Dana looked over at Mulder; he was withdrawn, his eyes were filled with remembered pain. She turned back to the boy. “Is there anything else? Any scent or feeling?”
The boy shook his head.
“I examined you that night, when you were brought in to the hospital. There wasn’t a mark on you. Mulder?”
He didn’t face her, but met Rob’s eyes. “I want to tell you a story, about me.”
“Mulder, are you sure?”
Mulder ignored her. Rob looked confused, but nodded. “When I was twelve years old and my sister, Samantha, was eight, my parents left me in charge and went next door to play cards with the neighbors. They’d done it before, it was no big deal. We were watching TV and playing a game. When she changed the channel, the power went out. I yelled at her as if it was her fault, but of course it wasn’t. Then the room started shaking, like an earthquake. Things fell over and broke. She started yelling my name. I saw her, she was, she was floating in the air. I ran to the bookcase because my father kept a gun on the top shelf. I threw the box to the floor and it broke open. I remember being over the gun, then, then I woke up in the hospital three days later.”
Rob just looked at him for a long moment. “Are you bullshitting me?”
“No. That’s what happened. I swear.” Mulder looked over at Dana. She nodded.
“I have a story too, Rob. It happened before Mulder’s story. I was only five. . . “
He sat staring at them for a long time. “Your sister came back,” he said to Dana. She nodded. “But yours never did,” Rob sighed, looking back at Mulder.
“She hasn’t yet,” Mulder said quietly.
Dana reached out for him and Mulder squeezed her hand, then turned back to Rob. “Your mother says you’ve quit baseball and basketball.”
Rob shrugged. “Everyone treats me different now. No one asks, but they all wonder if I killed her and hid her body. It’s not fun anymore.”
Dana nodded. “But your grades have improved.”
Again Rob shrugged.
“Are you studying a lot more now?”
“No. Not really.”
“You have a good memory?” Dana asked.
“A great one. I remember everything . . . except that night.”
Dana asked quietly, “Rob, was your memory this good before that night?” She felt Mulder’s head swivel toward her, but she kept looking at the boy.
He blinked, thinking back. “No, no it wasn’t. I didn’t think about it; it feels like it was always . . . but it wasn’t.” He looked over at Mulder, whose expression was carefully blank.
“Mulder?” She drew him back, again reaching for his hand.
Mulder stood silently for a moment before he faced her, stunned. “He’s right. It happened then. I never even . . . “
“Dr. Scully? What about you?”
“No. My memory isn’t as good as yours and Mulder’s. The experience was different for me. Missy is back and I was a lot younger. Maybe it’s not the same thing.”
“What about our health, Dana?” Mulder turned to Rob again. “Have you been sick since Betsy was taken? Sniffles, anything?”
Rob shook his head. “I’m real healthy.”
They were all three quiet for a moment then, taking it all in.
Rob looked over at Mulder finally. “What about the baby?”
Mulder tensed, but it was Dana who spoke. “How did you know I was going to have a baby?”
He thought about it for moment, then shrugged. “I just knew.”
She turned to Mulder. “Just like you.”
He nodded slowly, then looked back at Rob. “What about it?”
“Well, won’t it be like us, you know with a great memory and, you think we’re extra healthy. Since you were both . . . changed, won’t it be as well?”
“I . . . I guess it could, couldn’t it?” A non-committal answer, but both adults had been caught off guard by the question. Mulder was deep in thought. “What does your father do, Rob?”
The boy blinked at the subject change, but went along. “He owns a big electronics company. He travels all over the world.”
“You don’t get to see him much?” Dana asked.
Rob shrugged. “That’s not much different. He was always gone a lot.”
“Rob, we need to keep this quiet,” Mulder said suddenly. “Don’t mention that we were here to him, or our names. Do you have a computer?”
“Yeah, a good one.”
“How about an email account?” The boy nodded and Mulder pulled a card from his pocket. He scribbled something on the back and handed it to Rob. “This is my private email address and my cell phone number. We may need to be in touch without letting other people know.”
Rob nodded and asked, “So what are we going to do?” Both of the adults turned to look at the boy.
“Do?” Dana asked.
“Well, we have to do something, right?”
She caught the smile growing on Mulder’s face. Mulder grinned full out then, dispelling some of the tension in the room. “I’m very glad to have met you, Rob.”
The boy beamed and Dana managed a smile as well. The tap on the door startled them, and Gloria opened the door. “Can I get you anything?”
It was Mulder who responded. “Thanks, but no. We need to be headed back to DC.” He rose from his chair. “I appreciate you letting us speak with Rob.”
“Thank you, for continuing to look for Betsy.”
Mulder took Dana’s hand, helped her up from the couch, and turned her toward the door. Rob followed. At the front door, Mulder stepped over to Rob as Dana said her goodbyes to Gloria. “Try out for the swim team. You’re competing against yourself in that and maybe long distance running for track. I did pretty well in both.”
Rob grinned and nodded; the precious card in his hand.
Mulder walked Dana to the car, but stopped her before she rounded it. “Why don’t I drive?”
“You can’t drive with one arm.”
“Can you drive?”
She didn’t meet his eyes, but stepped away and let herself into the car. He made no comment, letting himself into the car as well. He fumbled with the seatbelt, but she reached over and took it from him. She buckled it, then took hold of the steering wheel.
“Do you think something’s wrong with the baby?” She wouldn’t look at him.
“No, I’ve told you before. I think something’s right with our baby.”
She looked over surprised.
“We should go. We don’t need Gloria wondering why we’re sitting here in front of her house.”
She nodded and pulled out. She drove quickly to the highway, but after a few miles of watching her, Mulder pointed to the next exit. “Get off there.”
“Please. Just exit.”
“Are you hungry?”
“Right here. Thanks.” He directed her toward a chain restaurant and she pulled into the driveway. “Keep going, over there.”
She realized he was motioning toward the motel on the same service road. “Why do you want to stop? We can be home in a couple of hours.”
“Because I don’t want you driving for a couple of hours right now and you aren’t comfortable with me driving. Let’s just get a room. It would be dark by the time we got back to DC anyway.”
She looked at him for a moment, but didn’t argue. He exited the car and after a minute she followed. He got one room, with a king-size bed and led her to the elevator.
He swiped the card and let her precede him into the room. “I want you to stretch out and put your feet up.”
“I don’t need - “
“You don’t need the stress I’ve put you under lately. I want you to relax. The books say - “
“The books? What books?”
He looked slightly abashed then. “I, uh, well I wanted to know what was going on with you, so I got on-line and . . .”
“Thank you,” she said simply and let him put a pillow under her knees after slipping off her shoes. She just watched him as he took a seat beside her on the bed.
“Talk to me, Dana.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Tell me what you’re feeling.”
He nodded. “You haven’t had an ultrasound yet, have you?”
She shook her head.
“Is there anyone at the clinic that could do that? Does the clinic have the equipment?”
“Yes. I could ask Sherrie. I need to tell her I’m pregnant anyway.”
“You haven’t told anyone?”
“No. I didn’t want to bring it up at a job interview, and I was alone then. Now that I know you, you really are with me - “
“You should never have doubted that.”
Her lips curved in a tiny smile. “I didn’t know. I hope you realize I was completely stunned by the turn of events.”
“Events? The baby or . . . “
“Everything.” She scooted over, giving him more room and got comfortable. “Why were you asking about Rob’s father?”
“I,” he sighed, “I’ve suspected for awhile that my father might have been involved in Samantha’s disappearance. I haven’t been able to prove it, but Rob’s father - his wealth, his international connections - it just reminds me too much of my life. Coincidence? I don’t know. If someone, some humans were in cahoots,” he grinned at his choice of words, ”with aliens . . . “
“Why do you think your father was involved?”
“I didn’t for a long time. I thought he blamed me, and I thought he was right.”
“Oh Mulder, you were a child.”
He shrugged. “I know that now, at least intellectually. I thought I was the reason his drinking got worse, he became more distant . . . the divorce. It wasn’t until I got to the FBI that I got to look at the records.”
“What was there?”
“The case wasn’t handled by the book. It was barely handled at all. There was never a real search for my sister. Dad worked for the State Department, he should have had the best. I know, everyone is equal, but he fell into that class of people who are more equal than others. He had to have asked that the Bureau handle it that way, or someone at the Bureau knew what happened and slid it under a rug.”
“You, you’re talking a conspiracy here.”
He nodded. “And Rob’s father would fit into the class of people that would be in a global conspiracy. I have sources now that, well I’m checking into things.”
“That’s who you were meeting at the diner, the day we saw each other.”
He hesitated a moment. “Yes. But we stopped here to relax. We don’t have to talk about this now. I want you to close your eyes. I’ll get us something to eat later.”
She gave him a sad smile, but did as he bade. There’s was nothing they could do right now.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.