“Why were they taken?”
Mulder hesitated, then shook his head. “I don’t know.”
Stephen sank onto the bed.
“Tell me what you remember.” Mulder leaned toward him.
“Nothing. I wasn’t conscious when my parents got home.”
“Do you normally have a pretty good memory?” Mulder pressed.
“Yeah, a perfect one.”
“Was it always perfect?”
Stephen’s eyes narrowed. “Somehow I think you know the answer to that, but I don’t know how.”
Mulder shrugged. “I lived it.”
“So what do you remember?”
“I didn’t remember anything either.” Mulder leaned back, smiling slightly.
“Didn’t? But you do now?” Stephen picked up on the tense immediately.
”I had regression hypnotherapy. Ever think about that?”
Stephen met his eyes. “I volunteered for it when it happened, but I was discouraged.”
“That’s right. How did, oh yeah, you lived it.”
“Close enough.” Mulder shrugged.
“So what did you remember?”
Mulder shook his head. “I can’t tell you that.”
“I’m not going to influence you. If you do remember, I don’t want them to be my memories.”
“How old were you, when you were regressed? You said you went to Oxford, right?” Mulder nodded. “There?” Stephen questioned.
“No. I went to someone in Washington. If you want to do this, I can get you the names of - “
“Yeah, I’d appreciate it. I think it’s past time.”
“Would you be in touch with me afterward?”
After a moment Stephen nodded. “The one, the one that killed himself - “
“Yeah. Did you ever think about, about doing that?”
“Yeah, yeah I did,” Mulder admitted. Stephen nodded. “You too?”
“Everything fell apart. Keith was gone, he’d been a pain, but he was my little brother and I hadn’t . . .”
“I know.” Mulder said softly.
“When did you, I mean . . . “
“When it happened and the thought has come up from time to time.”
Mulder shrugged. “I got a divorce recently.”
“Are any of us happily married? Wait a minute, you - “
“What?” Mulder’s eyes narrowed. What had he picked up?
“You’re happily married now, aren’t you?” He didn’t back down when Mulder failed to respond. “You’ve found her.”
“The woman we all look for.”
“The one that, that fits. I’d decided there was no one like that out there for me.”
“Don’t make that decision yet. You’ve got time. Do you believe me?”
“I’ll have to get back to you on that.”
“You might want to set up an anonymous email. I don’t know if we’re safe. Something’s going on. If we are ‘related’ it’s not naturally.”
“You have a theory.” Stephen tried to stifle his grin.
“I do, but if you’re going to have regression, I’d rather talk afterward.”
“Are you that sure I’ll be in touch?”
Mulder smiled then and nodded. “Yeah, I’m that sure. You’re smart, maybe as smart as me. It’s good talking to you.”
“Better than Roger?” Stephen smiled then when Mulder chuckled.
“Why were they taken?”
Mulder let that question wash over him again as he drove toward home, toward her. That really was the crux of the matter. He and Stephen had talked, bouncing ideas off of each other. Stephen had never gone to meet with his friends, giving them a call, then ordering a pizza. Mulder had been impressed with his questions, his insights, though he had the impression that Stephen wasn’t entirely sure he wasn’t full of shit. At least he’d been fascinated.
One of the things that Stephen had focused on was the fact that Carson was a biology major. Mulder made a note to find out what his major project had been.
Now he carried a few hairs of this next younger brother with him back to Dana.
He beat her home and had the dinner he had picked up on the table when she got there. Her raised eyebrow brought a smile to his face. “Come on, eat it while it’s still warm.” He took her bag and turned her toward the table. “You know it’s hard to get low salt, no MSG meals like this.”
“That’s why I was planning to cook,” she said dryly. She sat down in the chair he was holding for her and let out a sigh as he seated himself.
“But then you’re on your feet,” he brushed it off as she took a bite and sighed her pleasure.
“Things must have gone well at Yale,” she offered him an opening. “I didn’t get any ‘danger, Will Robinson’ alerts in my mind all day, or are you just getting better at hiding things from me?”
He grinned around a mouthful of mu shu pork. “Actually, things went pretty smoothly. I’ve got some of his hair for your testing.” She nodded, encouraging him to continue. “It’s weird seeing myself at that age, and wishing I could give them the answers so they don’t have to go through it.”
“That never works, but I’m glad you want to try. It shows me what a great father you’ll make.”
He winked at her and they chatted about more mundane things as they enjoyed their meal. When she rose with her plate, he took it from her and placed in back on the table. “I’ll get these. You should put your feet up.”
“They aren’t that swollen,” she protested, but he tugged her to the couch and sat beside her. He removed her shoes and put her feet in his lap. He smiled at the moan she tried to stifle when he started massaging them.
“You’re spoiling me, Mulder. I can’t - “ her eyes closed as he kneaded her instep and she just leaned back and enjoyed it in silence.
She was waiting for him the next night and met him at the door, envelope in hand. After a kiss for her and a caress for the baby, she waggled the paper in front of him.
She nodded and pulled out the information. “According to this, you and Rob are identical twins.”
“I know, I was thinking brothers, but this . . . “
“Wait a minute, for identical twins a fertilized egg has to split. You’re saying my egg split six times and someone kept them on ice all these years?”
“No, I’m not saying that, but I admit I don’t know what else to say. It’ll be a couple of days before I get Stephen’s results.”
“You know what this means,” he looked up from the report. “I need to find out if my parents are my parents.”
“Mulder - “
“But you know your mother carried you and gave birth to you. We didn’t have the technology for IVF back then.”
“Yeah, and we don’t have the technology for this now. I need to drive up to the Vineyard and see my father.”
“I want to come with you,” she slipped her arms around him.
“I want that too, but it’s not going to happen.”
“Mulder - “
“No way. I always want you at my side, but I’m not going to expose you to my family. I don’t think it’s safe and that’s more important than having you within arm’s reach.”
She pressed her face against his chest but didn’t argue.
Mulder pulled up to the house and parked. He sat there for a minute, but that wasn’t helping, so he took a steadying breath and got out. He rang the bell and waited. It wasn’t long before he heard his father approaching the door. When it opened, Bill’s surprise was not faked.
“Fox? I wasn’t expecting you. Come in.”
Mulder shook hands with the man and followed him inside.
“Is, is everything okay?”
“Yes. I was just in this part of the state on a case and thought I’d stop by.”
“That’s wonderful. Please take a seat.”
“I was wondering if we could talk out on the patio.”
“Oh, of course.” He seemed slightly flustered, but again the older man led the way. He opened the sliding door and motioned for Mulder to take a seat at the table. “Can I get you anything? A drink, a beer?”
“Some water would be good.”
Bill nodded and turned back to the kitchen. When he returned with his drink and Mulder’s water there was a small recorder on the table. “Are you planning to tape me?”
Mulder shook his head and turned on the machine. Classical music, Bach, filled the air. “I just thought it would be nice to have music.”
“And no one would be able to hear our conversation.”
“I guess I taught you more than I planned to.”
“It’s alright. I do have some news to share. You’re going to be a grandfather.” Mulder had been watching him closely; he saw the flicker of fear before the man could hide it.
“That’s wonderful Fox. Are, are you going to marry her?”
“Yes. We haven’t set a date, but we’ll be getting married.”
“Do I know her?”
“No. You’ve never met her,” was Mulder’s only comment.
“What’s her name?”
“Kathy, Kathy Minette.” It was true, at least partially.
“I do have some questions.”
“Questions?” Bill took another sip of his drink. Mulder could smell the whiskey from where he sat.
“With a child coming, I need some information about my family. I don’t remember you ever talking about your parents, and I need to know if they had any health issues. You know, heart problems, diabetes . . . “ Could the man look any more uncomfortable? He took another long drink, avoiding Mulder’s question.
“Did I meet them? Or did they die before I was born?”
“Uh, they died when you were small. I’m not surprised you don’t remember them.”
“How did they die?”
“They were old, Fox. Just age related illnesses. Are you going to speak with your mother?”
Mulder flipped through a notebook. “I have that information. Her father died of a heart attack when he was only 57.”
“You, you’ve already talked with her.”
“I really do need some information, Dad. Do you have the dates of their deaths?”
“I’ll have to look it up. I could email you the information.”
“Okay.” The man didn’t remember when his parents died. He’d obviously caught him off guard, which had been his plan, but how sad that he needed to come up with a story about this. “Listen, could I use your loo?”
“Of course.” He didn’t watch as his son rose, leaving the music playing, and returned inside.
Mulder made his way quickly to the master bath, ignoring the half bath closer to the patio. He didn’t see his father’s hair brush and after a quick look around the bathroom, he grabbed up the toothbrush in the holder and slipped one of the new ones into its place. He stuffed the packaging in his pocket, then moved quickly back to the half bath, used it and came out washing his hands. His father hadn’t moved, but the level of his drink was considerably lower.
Mulder rejoined him on the patio, but didn’t resume his seat. “I’m sorry my visit is so short, but I need to get back to DC.”
“I understand. I appreciate you stopping by any time, Fox.” The older man rose reluctantly and held out his hand again. Mulder shook it, then picked up the recorder and turned it off.
“I hope I hear from you soon.”
Bill nodded and followed Mulder back through the house. He stood on the porch until Mulder drove out of sight.
It was a seven hour drive, even pushing the envelope as he was doing. He thought about stopping for the night, but it shouldn’t be that late when got home and he really needed to wrap himself around her tonight.
There was a light on in the kitchen, so he could see her sleeping on the couch. He approached her quietly and took a seat on the coffee table.
“You should be in bed.”
“It’s lonely in there without you.”
He didn’t speak, just lifting her into his arms. She smiled, cuddling into his chest.
He carried her into the bedroom and lay her gently on the bed. “Go back to sleep.”
“Are you going to stay up?”
“No, I’ll join you in just a minute.”
“You don’t have to, if you’re not ready - “
“I’m always ready to be in bed with you.”
She smiled a sleepy smile and snuggled down into the covers. He really thought she’d be asleep, but she was waiting for him when he returned. “Are you okay?”
“That’s not what I was picking up,” she brought his hand up to her lips, feeling his tension.
“What were you picking up?”
She scooted closer. “Sadness.”
That silenced him. He just held her close. “We’re your family now, Mulder, the baby and I.”
“Yes. Yes, you are.”
“Are you going to see your mother?”
“You should be sleeping,” he evaded the question.
“Talk to me, Mulder.”
“She’s in Raleigh, visiting her cousin. I’m going to ask her to stop by and see me on her way home.”
“Good, I’ll get to meet her.”
“No, you won’t. I’m keeping you away from my family.”
“I thought that was just your father.” She leaned back to look up at him.
“I can’t be sure of that. We’ll talk in the morning. If you don’t need any sleep, I do.”
She huffed at that, but allowed him to turn her so that he could spoon around her, his chin resting on her head.
She let him sleep in the next morning. She was drinking a cup of decaf and reading the paper when he stumbled in. “Don’t do that.”
“Do what?” she looked up, admiring the sleep tousled hair and morning stubble.
“Not be in my bed when I wake up.”
“I was letting you get a little sleep. It was late when you got in.”
“You were up too.”
“But I had already had a couple of hours. Want a cup? I know it won’t wake you as well as the high test but - “
“It’s fine. I’ll get it.” He stopped her as she started to rise. He joined her at the table and took a tentative sip to check the temperature.
“Did you bring me anything to test?” she asked finally when he seemed to be more awake.
“Yup, his toothbrush.”
“Toothbrush? You don’t think he’ll miss that?”
“I put another one in the holder.”
“So what are you thinking?” she finally asked.
“I’m wondering how to get in touch with Chuck. I mean, he’s in high school. Okay he’s 18 but I’m not sure I can just walk into the high school or his home and ask to see him. I need to come up with a plausible excuse. From what Rob said he’s shy and nerdy.”
“Then think how happy he’ll be to see you.”
“Well,” she indicated him. “When he finds out what he’s going to look like in a few years . . . “
“Oh come on, he’s shy and a nerd? You don’t think it will give him some hope to realize that some day he’ll become every woman’s wet dream, a, a walking wall of fuck.”
He goggled at her. “A what?”
“You heard me.”