Simple Choices (R)


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Simple Choices - Part 1

 

 

“Dr. Scully?”  The voice came over the intercom. 

 

Dana rolled her eyes and winked at the six-year-old boy in front of her.  “I’ll be right back.”

 

The boy nodded and grinned.  He wasn’t sick anyway; he just needed an exam before soccer season started.

 

Dana pressed the button on the chrome speaker.  “Yes?”

 

“There’s an FBI agent here to see you.”

 

“FB . . . All right.  Please ask him to wait in my office.”  She turned back to Josh.

 

“Wow, are you in trouble?”

 

She smiled. “I don’t think so.” She winked at his mother. “Lie back and let me feel of your stomach.”

 

She finished up the exam and signed his permission slip.  “Let me know how your team does.”

 

“I will!”  He took the sticker she held out for him and headed for the door.  “Come on, Mom.  She’s busy.”

 

Both women chuckled at that.  “Thanks Dana.  I’ll talk to you later.”

 

Dana nodded and turned away from them as she headed for her office.  She opened the door and spotted the tall man looking at her diploma.  “I did graduate,” she said with a slight smile on her face.  She held out her hand. “I’m Dr. Dana Scully.”

 

He smiled an easy smile at her.  Damn he was attractive, and . . . tall.  Then she realized that the smile had not reached his eyes.  “Duke.  I’m impressed.”  He hadn’t offered a name yet.

 

“Thank you.”  She took a seat behind her desk and motioned to the chair.  “You’re a little above the normal age of my patients.”

 

He withdrew his ID at that point.  “I’m Agent Mulder.  I’m here about one of your patients, Betsy Trotter.”

 

Fox?  She looked up from his badge at the name.  “Have you found her?”

 

He shook his head.  “I’m looking at the case.”

 

“I was under the impression that her case had been moved to the back burner.  Has something new been discovered?”

 

He shook his head. “The circumstances reminded me of another case.”

 

“The circumstances?  I thought there was no evidence.”

 

He shrugged slightly.  “I’d still like to see your file on her.”

 

“Do you have a warrant?”

 

He smiled that charming smile again.  “No, this is unofficial.”

 

Dana hesitated then. “Unofficial?”

 

“I haven’t been able to link the two cases, but I’m hoping you can help me with that.”

 

She took a deep breath, then nodded.  “Wait here.  I’ll get the file.”  She was back shortly with a too thin file, attesting to the youth of the victim.  Dana handed it over to him.  “She’s a sweet little thing, eight years old.  She’s had no serious health problems; these are her regular medical exams.”

 

“Do you have a picture?”

 

“No, she was forty pounds, just hitting a growth spurt.  She has long dark hair and dark eyes.”

 

He wasn’t looking at the file.  “She has an older brother?”

 

“Yes, Robert.  He’s my patient too.  He’s four years older, a quiet kid but very intelligent.”  She was watching the man now.  He seemed very far away and wherever he was didn’t appear to be pleasant.  “Agent Mulder?  Are you all right?”

 

“What?  Uh, yes.  May I take this file with me?”

 

She hesitated. “I’ll need you to sign a receipt.” 

 

“Thanks.  I’ll try to get this back to you tomorrow.”  He rose then, distracted.

 

She stood as well.  “Agent Mulder, are you sure you’re okay?”

 

“Yes, yes, I’m fine.”  But the smile wasn’t there.  “I’ll get out of your hair now.  I appreciate you taking the time . . . “

 

She nodded, wishing she didn’t have another patient waiting.  He wasn’t okay but she didn’t understand what was going on.  He was already leaving and she was busy.  She put him out of her mind.

 

*****

 

She walked into the diner and waved at Sara behind the counter. Then she turned toward her regular table.  It was occupied - by Agent Mulder.  She stopped for just a moment and he looked up.

 

He rose immediately and smiled at her. “Dr. Scully.”

 

She approached the table then. “Dana, please.”

 

“I’m Mulder.  Are you meeting someone?”

 

“Uh, no.  On Wednesdays I’m on my own.”

 

He nodded. “Would you join me?”  He indicated the chair across from him.

 

“Thank you.”  She looked at the file he’d been looking through when she walked in.  “Is that . . . “

 

He nodded.  “Betsy’s file.”

 

She wasn’t sure what to say and was saved by Sara walking up.  “Your usual, Doc?”

 

“Yes, thank you.”  Dana looked up at the waitress.  Sara sat a glass of ice tea in front of her and refilled Agent Mulder’s glass from the pitcher in her hand.  Once they were alone again, she looked back at the agent.  “Do you not have a partner with you?”

 

He shook his head after taking a sip of the tea.  “I’m working this case on my own time.”

 

“Is this . . . nevermind,” she looked down.

 

“What?  Go ahead.”  He encouraged her.

 

“It seems almost personal to you.”

 

“You’re very perceptive.  It is.”   He looked down at Dana’s hand.  “Will your husband be worried about you?”

That was a definite subject change.  She allowed it.  “No, on Wednesdays he’s with his daughter.”

 

“Oh.  You don’t join them?”

 

“She’s fourteen, I’m not really welcome.  It’s okay, I like having some time.”

 

“Do you have her often?”

 

“Every Wednesday and every other weekend,” she said lightly.  “Do you have children?”

 

He glanced down at his own wedding ring.  “No, my wife has a demanding career.”

 

They fell silent then, not sure what to say.  Again Sara rescued them, placing a cheeseburger and fries in front of Mulder and a Cobb salad for her.  They eyed each other’s meal but neither commented, then began to eat.

 

Usually silence with a stranger made Dana feel uncomfortable, but she found she wasn’t with him.  There were no expectations, they were both married and it was kind of nice not sitting alone here.  She looked up to find him watching her.

 

“Spinach in my teeth?”

 

He grinned, and this time it did reach his eyes.  They were green and warm.  He shook his head. “Just thinking how nice it was not to have to eat alone again.”

 

She blinked; should she admit she’d been thinking the same thing.  For some reason she didn’t think she needed to.

 

“So Dana, why did you decide on pediatrics?”

 

They talked then; she discovered he was also a doctor, Ph.D. in psychology from Oxford of all places.  That definitely ranked up there with Duke Medical School.  Before either realized it, Sara was standing beside them.  “Listen, I hate to do this, but I have to kick you out.  We’re closing.”


Dana’s head jerked up and she glanced at her watch.  Good lord, it was after ten.  Ethan was probably already home.

 

He spoke immediately. “Dana, I’m sorry,”

 

“It’s not your fault.  We just got to talking, but I do need to leave.”

 

“I’ve got this.  Go on and be careful.”

 

“Uh, thank you.  I’ll . . . I hope to see you soon.”

 

He nodded and watched her leave. 

 

*****

 

He was at her office when she arrived the next morning.  She’d had short rounds at the hospital, so she was a little earlier getting in.  Dana didn’t want to analyze the warm feeling that came over her when she spotted him in the waiting room.

 

He was already rising when she stepped into the waiting room, almost as though he’d sensed her presence.  Her smile wasn’t forced and his eyes were smiling as well.

 

“Come on back, I don’t have any patients for at least half an hour.”

 

He followed her and took the seat he had taken the day before.  “Were you in trouble for breaking curfew last night?” he asked as soon as the door was closed.

 

She sighed, but gave him a slight smile.  “Ethan was already asleep when I got home, so no problem.”

 

“He was asleep?”  Mulder sounded incredulous.

 

“It’s okay.  I wasn’t - “

 

“Sorry, it’s none of my business.”  He seemed to retreat from her and she was startled at how bleak it made her feel.  That was ridiculous; she’d met the man yesterday.

 

“I, I just don’t want you to feel guilty about anything.  I completely lost track.  I was having a good time.”

 

He was obviously taken aback by that and fell silent.

 

“Did you get the information you needed?”  She indicated the file in his hand.

 

He seemed to deflate slightly.  “Thank you for letting me take the file.”

 

“It didn’t help,” she said softly.  For some reason she wanted to reach over and take his hand.  What was it about this man?  “Can you talk to me about the case?  I don’t know what I could do to help, but maybe if you just talked it out . . . “

 

“You, you’d do that?”

 

“Of course I would.  Betsy is special to me.  She was one of my first patients when I opened the practice, she and her brother.”

 

“You speak of her in the present tense.”

 

“I haven’t given up on finding her,” she said simply.

 

“Why not?” he asked, honestly curious.

 

“Because, sometimes people do come back.”

 

“That sounded like experience.”

 

She shrugged. “Well I guess it is, but not mine as much as my family’s.”

 

“Your family’s?”

 

She nodded. “I don’t really remember it.  I was only four.”

 

“Tell me, please,” he asked as she settled behind her desk. 

 

“There’s not really that much to tell and it was a long time ago.  We were on vacation.  Dad was in from a long cruise, so all six of us packed up and went to New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns.  I do kind of remember being in the back seat in the middle between Bill and Missy.”  She grinned. “Charlie sat up front.  Anyway, we went to the Lincoln National Forest the first night.  We were camping out.  Missy and I were playing at the playground.  She was eight and since it was so close to our site Mom let us go alone.

 

“We were on the see-saw then it started getting dark.”  Dana’s eyes were unfocused remembering the scene.  “It started to storm.”

 

Mulder nodded, she had stopped talking.  “Dana?”

 

“I don’t remember any rain, I never can remember the rain but there was lightening, a really bright burst right over us.”

 

“What happened?”

 

She shrugged, “I don’t know.  I woke up three days later in the hospital.  It turned out that Missy had been missing all that time.  It was hell for Mom, one daughter missing and one in a coma.”  She shook her head.  “But they found her wandering in the forest and when she was back, I woke up.”

 

“You, uh, did you have any aftereffects?”  He was leaning forward in his chair now and the undercurrent of tension caused her to frown slightly.

 

“No.  I’ve never had a recurrence.”

 

“What about Missy?”

 

Her face fell slightly then.  “Missy hasn’t done as well as I have.  She started acting out; when she got older she ran away a few times.”  Dana stared at her hands. “She experimented with drugs, cut herself.”

 

“Was she . . . hurt?”

 

Dana shook her head.  “There was no evidence of it.  She had no memories, none at all.”

 

“Has she gotten any help?”

 

“Oh yes.  Mom took her to counseling, but . . .”

 

“It didn’t help.”  It wasn’t a question.

 

“I haven’t seen her since my wedding.  She and Ethan’s daughter, Robin, were my bridesmaids.  I hoped that would make her feel part of the family again.”  Dana looked off into the distance, thinking unspoken thoughts. “So sometimes people do make it back.”

 

He looked at her for a long moment.  “I would like to discuss this case.  Maybe I do need a new perspective.”  His eyes lightened for a moment, then it dropped away.  “No, I can’t ask you to be away from home another night.”

 

“Of course you can.  This is important.  Should we meet at the diner again?”

 

“You’re sure?”

 

“Yes.  I should be out of here a little after five.  Have an iced tea waiting.”  He nodded and handed her the file.  “You won’t need it?”

 

“No, I have the info down.”  He stood and hesitated, suddenly uncertain.  “I, Dana, I appreciate this.”

 

She came around her desk.  “I appreciate the chance to help.”  She touched his arm and he took an involuntary step toward her.  He caught himself then and shook his head slightly, bringing himself back to the issue at hand.

 

He nodded. “I’ll see you at the diner.”

 

*****

 

She took a short break at lunch, eating yogurt at her desk.  She called Ethan at his office.  It took a moment to get past his assistant, but she was used to that.

 

“Dana?  You were out early this morning.”

 

“I know, I’m sorry.  I had two patients in the hospital.  Did things go okay last night?”

 

“Yes, Robin scored a goal.”

 

“Good for her.  Where did you eat?”

 

“Pizza, with some of the girls on the team.  You should have joined us.”

 

She was glad he couldn’t see her face.  She’d tried that.  Robin made sure her displeasure was well known.  No, the weekends were enough.  “I know, I was working.”

 

“You were late getting in yourself.  What time did you get home?”

 

“I was there a little after eleven.  I didn’t want to wake you.  I called to let you know I was going to be late again tonight.”

 

“Another patient?”  He sounded slightly annoyed.

 

“Yes, remember that little girl that disappeared, Betsy Trotter?  Her case is being reopened and I need to meet with the investigators.”

 

“You?  Why?  The girl’s been gone over six months.  Someday they’ll find the body, but you can forget finding her alive, Dana.”

 

His attitude surprised her, but she wasn’t looking for a fight.  “I hope you’re wrong, Ethan.  I feel like I have to do this.  I shouldn’t be that late.  There’s that left over casserole in the refrigerator.”

 

“What about you?”

 

“I’ll get something. Don’t worry.”

 

“If I’m asleep, wake me when you get home.  I feel like it’s been ages since I’ve seen you.”

 

“I know and I’m sorry.  Don’t worry, I’ll make all kinds of noise tonight.”

 

He chuckled and they talked for a couple of minutes, then she had to get back to work.  She refused to dwell on the sense of anticipation about her meeting with Mulder.

 

*****

 

Regardless, she was ready to leave in record time that evening.  She couldn’t help the smile when she saw him rise to greet her as she entered the diner.  He seemed pleased to see her as well.  There was a glass of iced tea waiting for her.

 

They visited for a few minutes, catching up on their days.  Sara joined them then, pad in hand.  He waited for her. “I guess I’ll have the salad again.”

 

He spoke up. “You’re a doctor; you know you need a little protein.” 

 

“A cheeseburger, like you had?” she asked, her eyebrow high.

 

“Tastes great.”

 

“What’s your cholesterol level?”

 

“Uh, good?”

 

She rolled her eyes.  “Okay, a turkey sandwich on whole wheat and a side salad.”  She looked the challenge at him.

 

He let his shoulders slump.  “I’ll have the same.”

 

Sara’s chuckle as she walked away made him give Dana a mock glare.  Dana forced a sober expression, but the twinkle in his eyes undid her and she laughed as well. 

 

By mutual agreement, they didn’t discuss the case while they were eating.  When the meal had ended, Mulder looked around.  “Would you mind if we discussed the case somewhere a little more . . . private?”

 

“Oh, of course.”

 

“I have the files at my - “ He stopped and shook his head.  “Oh god, I was going to ask you to my hotel room.  I’m sorry, I - “

 

“If that’s where your files are, I understand.  Mulder, we’re adults, we’re both married.  I certainly trust you enough not to jump me in your room.”

 

Those words seemed to stun him.  “You, you trust me?”

 

“Well, yes.  Any reason not to?”

 

He shook his head. “No.  I can be a gentleman when I have to.  I’m at the Summit Inn.  Do you know it?”

 

“Yes, it’s on my way home.  Why don’t I follow you?”

 

He smiled, aware perhaps better than she that she had given him a gift.  He reached for his wallet.

 

“You got it last night.  This is on me.”  She insisted and motioned for Sara.

 

Traffic had thinned out and they reached the Summit Inn quickly.  She pulled in beside him and exited the car.  His hand on the small of her back led her into the lobby.  Gentleman indeed.

 

Once in his room, he grabbed a pair of running shorts off the chair and kicked his shoes out of the way.  “Sorry, I wasn’t expecting company.”

 

She bit her lip to keep from laughing.  He merely looked embarrassed.  He pulled the chair up to the small table and held it for her.  Now he was beginning to look nervous.  On impulse, she reached out and took his hand.  “I’m not going to talk about this to anyone.  I would never want to hurt your investigation.”

 

“That’s not it.  I . . . “ He took a deep breath. “You said it seemed personal to me.  It is and now that you’re here. . . “ He shook his head. “You’re going to think I’m insane.”

 

Her brow furrowed. “I don’t understand.”

 

“You could leave now and I’d still have some dignity and good memories of an evening with a lovely woman.”

 

“Dignity?  Mulder, please.”

 

He sank down on the foot of the bed.  “Could I ask you to hear me through, before you try to have me committed?”  He looked down at their hands, still clasped and withdrew his.

 

“I promise.”

 

*****

 

She kept her promise, listening to his entire story.  Her heart ached for that young boy who had been through this trauma.  His theory had caught her off guard, but he was obviously sincere about it.

 

He finally met her eyes. “Well, you haven’t run screaming from the room.”

 

“Oh Mulder, I’m so sorry about Samantha.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

“Your parents - “

 

He shook his head. “They don’t talk about her.  She doesn’t exist for them, but she haunts them.”

 

“Mulder, I . . . “

 

“You do think I’m crazy.  Little green men from outer space, stealing my sister.”

 

“I will admit it’s something that would never have occurred to me.”

 

“I woke up in the hospital three days later.”  He just looked at her then as her eyes widened.  Without realizing it, she’d stood, and her hand had come to rest on his arm.

 

“Is that . . . do you think . . . “

 

“I’m not saying that.  It’s probably just a coincidence.  Did you ever do X-rays on Betsy?”

 

He was giving her some time, switching back to Betsy.  Dana took a deep breath. “No.  She’s an extraordinarily healthy little girl, so is her brother.”  She looked up then. “What about Samantha?”

 

“I don’t remember her ever being sick.  She broke her collar bone once, falling off a swing.”

 

“That’s an accident, not an illness.  What about you?”

 

He stopped, looking at her. “I have Samantha’s medical records, and mine.  Do you want to see them?”

 

“Yes.  It’s very unusual for a child not to have some illnesses.  Now of course we have the chicken pox vaccine, but not when you were a child.  I don’t know that I could find anything, but I’d like to try.”

 

Inappropriate, but why did he have such a feeling of relief that this wasn’t going to be the last time he saw her?  She was married, and so was he, kind of.

 

He glanced down at his watch. “I hate to say this, but you need to get home.”

 

“Wha - Oh, yes.”  She seemed flustered as, as though going home hadn’t crossed her mind.  “I . . . Mulder, thank you for sharing this with me.  I could tell it was difficult for you to talk about it.  I . . . that means a lot to me, we don’t know each other that well.”

 

He nodded, not sure what to say.  She was right; they didn’t know each other that well, so why had he allowed himself to be that open with her?  He was always more cautious than that, even with the incident in her past.  But it had felt right, he felt connected to her.

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - Part 2

 

 

He let himself into his apartment and looked around.  Diana wasn’t there, not that he had expected her to be.  She’d never really moved in, preferring her own tiny apartment.  He should have pushed to get a bigger place, but now he was glad he hadn’t.

Her transfer would go through at the end of the month, coinciding with their divorce.  Why had he ever - he shook his head.  Tonight wasn’t the time.  Maybe there would never be a time.  He needed to write up his notes on the Trotter case and get ready for work tomorrow, back to his ‘real’ work.

 

He carried his suitcase into the bedroom and unpacked quickly then turned to his computer.  As he sat waiting for it to boot up, Dana’s face came to him.  She’d been extraordinarily kind, listening to him, not laughing at his theory.

 

Answering his email took little time, then he pulled up his private files and added the information he had garnered on his trip to Virginia.

 

*****

 

The next few days, work was, well the politically correct word would be unpleasant.  He’d had permission to check out the Trotter case, and had taken personal time to do it, but any time away from Patterson and ‘the team’ was paid for with sarcasm and ridicule.  He managed to keep quiet with memories of that small diner and the little redhead across from him running through his head.

 

He’d finally grabbed a chance to get his and Samantha’s medical records together and sent them to Dana overnight.  He didn’t know if he’d really hear from her but it had been an avenue he hadn’t explored previously.

 

Now he was just tired, not even hungry.  He shrugged his coat off and turned as he heard the knock on the door.  Now what?  He was in no hurry, so he tossed his briefcase on the desk and slipped the tie from around his neck.  Finally, at the second knock, he forced himself to answer the summons.

 

He opened the door to see his pissed off wife standing there.  “Diana?”

 

“What took you so long?”  She brushed past him.

 

“You have a key,” he responded unemotionally.

 

She rolled her eyes and took the key from her pocket, tossing it on the coffee table.

 

“What do you want, Diana?”  He glanced at the key but decided not to get into it.  Why bother?

 

“I need your signature.”  She pulled some legal documents from her bag.  She handed them to him wordlessly.

 

“What is it?”

 

“You know what it is, Fox.”

 

“Don’t we need a notary?” he said dryly.

 

“I’ve taken care of it.  Just sign it.”

 

“Sleeping with the judge, Diana?”  He’d taken a wild stab, her expression let him know he’d scored a hit.  He looked away.

 

“Fox, just sign it.  I’ll take it in tomorrow and everything will be complete before I leave.”

 

“Sure.”  He moved to the desk and rummaged around for a pen.  He dashed his signature on the line and handed it to her.

 

“I’ll make sure you get a copy.”

 

He nodded.  Whatever, it was over.  Hell, it should never have begun.  He stood there watching her impassively, waiting for her to leave.

 

“Fox . . . “ she began and stopped.  He didn’t help her.  “Fox, let it go.  Let her go.  Your sister isn’t coming back.  You’ve already lost what we could have had, now you seem set on destroying your career as well.  It’s not worth it.”

 

He still said nothing, but the look in his eyes caused her to falter.  She reached for his hand.  His movement was miniscule but definitive.  Diana drew her dignity around her and nodded.  She moved to the door and opened it.  “Have a good life, Fox.”

 

When he said nothing, she let herself out and shut the door.

 

He sighed and moved blindly to the couch.  She was gone, just like everyone else in his life.  Why did he even bother?  No woman out there could stay with him.  The sooner he accepted it the better.

 

So why was the face of Dana Scully in front of him?  She was married, she had a family.  When had he picked up the phone?  It was Wednesday, if her husband answered, he’d say wrong number and hang up.  God, he was an idiot.

 

She picked up on the second ring.  “Hello?”

 

He shouldn’t have done this.  But just the one word in her voice soothed him somehow.

 

“Hello?  Is anyone . . . Mulder?”

 

Now he was struck dumb.  How had she known?  Had she been thinking about him?  Did she feel that connection?

 

“Mulder, what’s wrong?”

 

“I shouldn’t have called.  I’m sorry.”

 

I’m glad you called.  What happened?” 

 

“Is your family there?”

 

“No, Ethan and Robin went to a movie with some of her friends.”

 

He took that in, but why had he called?

 

“Did you get more information on Betsy . . . or Samantha?”

 

“Uh, no.  No, I . . . “ Shit, he wanted to talk to her.  “I signed my divorce papers tonight.”

 

“Oh Mulder, I’m sorry.  I didn’t realize . . . You said she had a demanding career.”

 

He gave a mild snort. “Yeah, she works at the Bureau too.”

 

“She’s an agent?”

 

“Yep.  She’s transferring to Germany, counter-terrorism later this month.”

 

“That does sound demanding.”

 

“So is what you do, you save children’s lives, but you have a family.  I . . . “ He sighed.  “Why didn’t you go with them to the movies?”

 

She understood his need to switch subjects. “I’ve tried that.  Robin makes it difficult.”

 

“Does she want her parents together, and you’re the other woman?”

 

“You’re partly correct, I’m the other woman.  Just for the record, I met Ethan after he’d been divorced over a year.  No, Robin doesn’t want her parents together, she wants Ethan for herself.”

 

“That, that’s got to be hard on you.”  He could feel her shrug.  “How long have you been married?”

 

“Nearly two years.”

 

“That’s three times what I achieved.  I’d ask for tips, but I don’t think I’ll need them.”

 

“Mulder, you can’t give up like that.”

 

“I should let you go.”

 

“Please, let’s change the subject, but don’t hang up yet.  Before you called, I was sitting here thinking how much better last Wednesday night was.”

 

He was stunned silent then.

 

“Mulder?”

 

“Yeah, I-I’m here.”

 

She hesitated for a moment, then changed the subject.  “I got your package; the medical records?”

 

“Oh yeah.  Did, uh, did you find anything?”

 

“Well, you were both extraordinarily healthy kids.  Did you know that your shots records weren’t included?”

 

“What?”

 

“That’s right.  There’s no record of you or Samantha having your regular childhood inoculations.” 

 

“That’s strange.  I’m sure we had them.  I don’t remember any shots, but you have them when you’re a baby, right?”

 

“Some of them.  You also have to have booster shots when you start school.  Actually the schools aren’t supposed to admit you if you haven’t had the shots.”

 

“They must just be missing.  I’ll check.  What about . . .”

 

“What?”

 

“I, what about you?  Are you extraordinarily healthy?”

 

There was a pause then.  He could feel her contemplating that question.  “As a matter of fact, I am.  I hadn’t really thought about it.  I knew I didn’t suffer from white coat disease in medical school, but yes, even in practice with all of the children, I don’t catch anything.  What do you think it means?”

 

“I don’t know.  What about your sister?”

 

“I’m not privy to her health issues.  She’s not in touch with the family.  I haven’t heard about any problems, but I don’t know that I would.”

 

“I’m sorry.  It must be hard to know she’s distancing herself purposely.”

 

“I know it hurts my parents.”

 

They were both quiet then.  “I, I should go.”

 

“Do you need to?” she quickly.

 

“No.  I just don’t want to take up your evening.”

 

“You’re not.  You’re saving me from reading some very dry articles in back issues of JAMA, and you’re keeping me company.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

They talked until she heard Ethan pull into the garage.

 

*****

 

She stretched and rose from her seat.  It wasn’t that the seminar had been boring, but the chair had been increasingly uncomfortable as Dr. Richards droned on.  Maybe a little dinner would help wake her up. 

 

The audience was beginning to thin out by the time she made it to the door.  Pam would probably want to grab a bite too, if she could find her.  “My God, will you look at that?”  The woman in front of her turned to her companion.  “That’s what I want for dinner, and breakfast!”

 

Dana looked in the direction they were looking and blinked.  His long, lean body was encased in Armani.  The women in front of her weren’t the only ones caressing him with their eyes.  He looked . . . she mentally threw up her hands; he looked like a walking wall of fuck.

 

He spotted her and straightened up, watching for her reaction to his presence.  Her expression was taken over by pure joy.  She saw his posture relax and his smile grew.  He moved toward her.

 

“Mulder?”

 

“I found out my favorite pediatrician was in town and thought she might be hungry.”

 

“Found out, huh?”

 

He shrugged. “I’m a trained FBI agent.  I saw that this medical conference was being held and took a chance.  Do you mind?”

 

“Mind?” she laughed.  “I was going to call you before I left.  I have some more information for you and a couple more tests that I wanted to add to your list.”

 

He pressed his hand to his heart.  “Don’t toy with me, Dr. Scully.”

 

She laughed again.  “Never.”

 

“Are you free for a little while?  Maybe we could grab a bite, or is Ethan with you?”

 

“It’s his weekend with Robin.  I have another session this evening.  Why don’t we go over the stuff I brought first and if there’s time . . . “

 

“Lead the way.”  His hand on her lower back felt warm and familiar.

 

She let him into her hotel room and tossed the access card on the bed.  “Why don’t we order room service?  I just realized how hungry I am.  Then we could go over the information more leisurely.”

 

He managed to keep his face impassive, but his eyes gleamed at this turn of events.

 

They ate at the small table, sharing their meals so that he got a few vegetables in spite of himself.  When they were finished eating and catching up, she moved to the bed and spread out the information she had brought.

 

He joined her on the bed to follow the medical information she was giving him.  He pulled out the pillows and sat back against them after toeing off his shoes.  She sat facing him Indian style, explaining the results she would expect from the test when she realized he wasn’t listening to her.

 

“Muld . . . “ His expression caught hers.  Later neither would ever be able to say who made the first move.  It was as simultaneous as two people could be.  Their lips met and everything else vanished.

 

When they drew back, panting, they were both stunned by their reactions to one another.  Mulder recovered first. “D-Dana, I’m sorry, I - “

 

She took his bottom lip between hers.  Their clothing seemed to disappear on its own as hands and tongues and lips explored one another.  When it was very nearly too late, he managed to pull back.  “Dana, I, I don’t have any protection for you.”  His voice was pure velvet gravel and it took her a moment to process the words.

 

She wanted to protest that she was on the pill, but he wanted to protect her more than that.  “None?”

 

“I didn’t dare dream I’d make it to first base.”

 

She smiled then and slid from the bed.  He managed not to weep as she slipped from his grasp, but then he realized she wasn’t grabbing up her clothing or running for the bathroom.  She reached into the exhibitor’s bag she had carried upstairs and came up with something in her hand.  She tossed it toward him and six condoms rained around him on the bed.  He took one up in his hand and looked around.  “You have a lot of faith in me.”

 

She grinned then and rejoined him in the bed, taking the small golden packet from his hand.  She opened it with her teeth while he lay there, struck dumb.

 

*****

 

When she woke the next morning, she was cradled in his arms, his eyes watching her, his tension obvious.  She stretched and let her hand rub lightly against the stubble on his cheek.  “Thank you for staying.”

 

“I didn’t want to leave.”

 

“I know.”  They just looked at one another for a long moment.

 

“You’re a married woman.”

 

“Yes, I am.  I know I wasn’t fair to you last night, but I wanted you.”

 

He managed a small smile.  “Didn’t want to follow the rules for a change?”

 

She shook her head. “You do that to me.  I don’t understand it.”

 

“We can’t see each other any more,” he said softly.

 

She nodded.  “I’m married.  Last night didn’t change that.”

 

“Can I say that I wish it had?”

 

She kissed him and rose from the bed.  “I missed my meeting last night; I need to get ready for this morning’s session.”

 

“And this . . . “

 

“This will be a cherished memory.”

 

He nodded, not arguing.  She sounded sure, confident.  She didn’t realize he could see that her hands were shaking slightly.  He left the bed as well and saw her eyes scan his nude body.  He picked up his boxers and slipped them on.  She seemed to relax a little at that.

 

“Go take your shower, Dana.  I need to get home.” 

 

She nodded, unable to speak.  He moved closer and took her into his arms.  “It’ll be okay, Dana.  Get ready.”  The tears in her eyes nearly melted him.  “Go on.  If you ever need me, you know you can call me.”

 

She brushed a kiss against his cheek and turned away.  When the bathroom door closed, he finished dressing and was gone when she emerged.  She forced her tears back and headed toward her seminar.

 

*****

 

Ethan came into the kitchen, smiling.  “I thought we were going out.”

 

“We were, but it just felt like a long time since I had cooked you a meal, so I thought I’d see if I could remember how.”

 

“Smells like you did.  When will it be ready?”

 

“Thirty minutes.”

 

“Okay, I’ll gonna take a quick shower and change.”  He gave her a kiss and headed for the bedroom.  She watched him go and a small smile of anticipation came over her face.

 

She lit the candles on the table and brought in the food.  He stopped when he got to the door.  “Wow.”  He surveyed the table, then he put his arms around her.  “What’s the occasion?”

 

She met his lips. “Have a seat.”

 

He chuckled and took his seat across from her.  He helped himself to the roast and passed the platter to her.  They ate in companionable silence for a few moments.  “This is good, Dana, but you haven’t told me the occasion.”

 

“I guess it has been a long time since I cooked.”

 

“Hey, I’m not complaining.  We both work, but this is nice.”  He reached for her hand and squeezed it.

 

She looked down at their hands and smiled.  “I do have some news.”

 

He looked up expectantly. “Well?”

 

She smiled, suddenly feeling a little shy.  “It looks like Robin’s going to have a little brother or sister soon.”

 

All trace of a smile vanished from his face; he jerked his hand back from hers.  “Whose is it?”

 

“What?”

 

“I asked whose bastard are you carrying?" His voice was hard, harsh and menacing.

 

She was stunned at the hostility emanating from him.  “It’s yours!   How can you - “

 

“It’s not mine.  I had a vasectomy when Robin was ten.”

 

Dana’s mouth fell open.  “You did what?  How could you . . . how could you not tell me something like that before we got married?”

 

“This isn’t about me.  You’ve been - “

 

“Of course it’s about you and me!  We talked about children.  You knew you couldn’t . . . “

 

“When we talked about children, I told you I already had my daughter.”

 

“But you never said that you didn’t want a child with me!  It has to be yours.  Maybe it reversed, that happens.”

 

“No, I’ve been checked, as recently as six months ago.  It’s not mine.”

 

“Why would you do . . . “ Her voice failed, trailing off. 

 

“This is about you, Dana.  Who is he?” His eyes narrowed and he rose from his chair.  He rounded the table and grabbed her arm, yanking her to her feet.  “Who have you been with?”

 

She shook her head, nausea growing.  “Ethan, I’m sick.”

 

Disgusted he released her and she raced for the bathroom, locking herself in.  After she was sick, she washed her face and sat on the side of the tub. 

 

The baby was Mulder’s; she knew it.  It felt like she had already known it on some level.  Despite her pill and the condoms, she’d gotten pregnant that night.  You’d almost think it was meant to be.

 

Ethan had had a vasectomy and hadn’t bothered to mention it.  Why?  Why would he have himself checked again so long after the procedure?  No, she couldn’t think these thoughts.  She was married to the man; but he had let her take the pill, knowing there was no need.

 

Robin had been ten?  No, God no.  He wouldn’t . . . but he and Robin were so close and she had always been the outsider.  Robin was only fourteen.  Dana was shaking like a leaf.  Was she seeing this clearly?

 

She couldn’t hear him out there.  Had he left?  Was he waiting for her?  What was she going to do?  She had someone else to protect now, her child, Mulder’s child.  She’d analyze that later, right now she had to force herself from the bathroom.

 

He wasn’t waiting for her immediately outside the bathroom anyway.  She cautiously moved out into the house.  His keys weren’t on the dresser.  She moved to the window and saw that his car was gone.  She sagged against the wall in relief.

 

Was he coming back?  She didn’t want to see him, she couldn’t face him.  She had been unfaithful to him.  The fact that it was only once didn’t matter.  But what he had done, what she suspected he had done, oh god . . .

 

She grabbed her suitcase from the closet and packed quickly.  The cash she kept in her bedside table totaled over $500.  She stuffed it in her purse and all but ran for her car.

 

She drove north for a couple of hours and found a motel on the outskirts of Washington.  She wouldn’t admit to herself why she had chosen this destination.  Once she was checked in, she sat staring into space.  She couldn’t think about herself, not right now.  There was no one she could call, except . . . If her suspicions were correct she had to put a stop to it.   She took a deep breath and picked up the phone.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Kathee, it’s Dana.”

 

“Dana?  What, what do you want?”  There was only mild hostility, laced with curiosity in her tone.

 

“I need to ask, I have to ask you something.”

 

“I . . . okay,” she sounded wary, but she hadn’t hung up.

 

“Were you aware that Ethan had a vasectomy four years ago?”

 

“Of course.  Why?”  The woman sounded puzzled.

 

“God, I can’t do this over the phone.  Could we meet somewhere?”

 

“Uh, I guess.  When?”

 

“Tomorrow morning, early.”

 

“I have to get to work.”

 

“I know, but this is urgent.  Please.  I can come over there after Robin’s on the bus.”

 

Kathee sighed. “I . . . okay.  Is Ethan coming?”

 

“No.  I need to talk to you alone.”


”Fine, whatever.  I’ll see tomorrow morning.”  She hung up and Dana slowly put the receiver back in the cradle.

 

After a sleepless night and morning sickness from hell, she dressed and hurried over to Kathee’s house.  She stayed in her car until the bus drove away with Robin.  Then she forced herself out of the car.  She knew she looked like hell, but that fit easily with the way she felt.

 

She knocked on the door and Kathee opened it quickly.  “I’m in a hurry, Dana.  What is this?”

 

Dana stepped inside, but didn’t speak.  Finally, Kathee stopped and looked at her.  “What’s wrong?”

 

Dana shook her head, then took a deep breath.  “I need to know . . . Did you ever suspect that Ethan was, was unfaithful to you?”

 

“What is this?  Are you and Ethan - “

 

“Please.  I need to know.”

 

Kathee gave another put-upon sigh.  “I knew he was seeing someone, but it doesn’t matter now.”

 

“Did you know who it was?”

 

“To be honest, it didn’t matter at that point.”

 

Dana closed her eyes, centering herself.  “Have you ever thought that Ethan and Robin’s relationship was a little . . . “ How could she possible phrase this?

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“Could, could Ethan be intimate with Robin?”  She got it out quickly, but the words tasted bitter.

 

Kathee’s eyes widened and her face paled.  “Are you . . . are you serious?” She sank into the wingback chair closest to her.  Dana took a seat on the couch, close to her.  “Why are you asking . . .”

 

“You think so, don’t you?”  Dana said quietly.  “I am so sorry that I didn’t . . . It’s my job to see these things.  I’ve been too close.  And I thought it was immature to feel jealousy towards a child.  We have to do something.”

 

Kathee was in shock now. “Do you really think . . . “ Dana moved to sit on the arm of Kathee’s chair, her arm around the older woman.  “You didn’t know about the vasectomy?”  Kathee looked up at Dana.

 

Dana shook her head.  “We need to find out if our suspicions are true.  They are only suspicions right now.  You need to take Robin to a doctor.  Not my group.  We can’t do anything without proof.  She will fight you,” Dana said. “She and her father have a secret, he has convinced her that he loves her and that this, this thing they’re doing is all right.”

 

“She was ten,” Kathee said softly.

 

“You knew?”

 

Kathee shook her head. “No, at least not consciously.  I knew there was someone else but it never occurred to me . . . Oh god.”

 

Dana nodded.  “He never told me about his surgery.  I didn’t even think about Ethan seeing another woman.”  Dana shook her head, “I gave him the opportunity for this.  I allowed myself to . . . “

 

They sat in silence then.

 

After a long moment, Kathee looked over at Dana.  “What do I do?”

 

Dana took a deep breath.  “You need to have her checked by a gynecologist and have a rape kit taken.  They may have been together night before last.  If there is fluid, we would need to do DNA testing to confirm that Ethan is . . .  He can’t know we’re doing this.  You need to make the appointment and take her out of school before she can call him.”

 

“Do you think she’d protect him?”

 

Dana deflated slightly. “I don’t know.  If this is as long lasting as I think, she has to have been involved.”

 

“Do you think she . . . seduced him?”

 

Dana looked away, her immediate response was yes.  This woman-child had been after Ethan from the beginning.  But she had been just a little girl when this had started, ten years old.  Could a ten year old seduce a grown man?  Not a healthy one.  Oh god.  She shook her head. “No, we can’t blame Robin for this.  A ten year old doesn’t have the capacity to make those decisions.  If she does flirt, it’s innocent.  An adult, a healthy adult, would never . . . You need to make that appointment today, now.”  She withdrew a small envelope from her purse.  “This is Ethan’s toothbrush.  They can get the DNA they need from it.”

 

Kathee swallowed and forced herself to her feet.  “I know you can’t . . . you should get to work.”

 

Dana stood as well. “Kathee, I’ve left him.  He may not realize it yet.  I know I don’t have proof, but I can’t stay.  As soon as I get a new place, I’ll get you my number.  In the meantime, may I call you?”

 

Kathee nodded. 

 

“If this is confirmed, as I expect it to be, Robin will need therapy.  I have some names of child therapists if you want them.”

 

“Yes.”

 

Dana pulled the list from her purse.  “Do you want me to stay?”

 

Kathee shook her head. “Call me this evening, please.”

 

“I will.  I promise.  Kathee, I’m sorry.”

 

“I appreciate you coming to me.”  She led Dana to the door.

 

Once back in her car, Dana pulled away from the curb.  There were other things she needed to do.  The banks would be open soon.  She needed to get her money out, find a temporary place to live.  It hit her suddenly; she was pregnant and didn’t have a place to call home. 

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - part 3

 

 

Something made Mulder look up and their eyes met across the room.  Dana?  What was she doing here?  His original reason for being here was forgotten.

 

‘Deep Throat’ glanced at the object of his attention and stiffened.  Without a word, he rose.  “Wait!”  Mulder spoke with a low voice, jerked back to the present.  The older man turned to look at him and shook his head, then moved to the back of restaurant.

 

She had seen him and for just a moment, he thought she was going to bolt, but he watched her straighten her coat and approach him as he stood.  She’d become the most important thing, not possible information from a questionable source.  “Dana.  I, I didn’t expect to see you here.”

 

She gave him a small smile.  “I, uh, I work near here.”

 

“Here?  What about - “ He stopped immediately, was this a good time?  “Can you join me?”

 

She hesitated for a moment, then nodded and slipped into the booth opposite him. He took his seat again.  She looked toward the back, where his companion had disappeared.   “Am I interrupting something?”

 

“No, nothing important.  You work around here?”

 

She nodded, but she didn’t speak.  Seeing him had affected her more than she had even suspected.  Maybe that was why she had put off calling him, though he was always on her mind.

 

“Did you and, and Ethan move here?”  It had hurt to mention her husband, but the man was a reality.

 

“No, just me.”

 

“You left him?”  He leaned toward her, obviously burning with questions.  She wouldn’t meet his eyes.  He scanned her and she felt him stiffen. His eyes widened.  His voice was just a whisper. “It’s mine.” 

 

She looked up stunned.  No one here knew she was pregnant.  She wasn’t showing, and she was seated.  The table hid . . . but one look and he had known.  “We need to talk.  Let’s get out of here.”  His voice was low and hard.

 

He stood and reached for her hand.  She didn’t protest.  It felt like this had been inevitable somehow.  He led her to his car and held her door.  They were silent as he drove.  She could see his jaw tensing, his arm muscles bunching.

 

“Where are we going?” she finally asked.

 

“Some place private.”  He was silent after that and she didn’t disturb him.

 

He pulled up to an apartment building on Hegal and parked.  She had gotten out by the time he came around the car, but he took her arm again, as though he thought she would try to escape.  The elevator was empty, but still neither spoke.

 

Mulder opened the door to the apartment and let her precede him.  Then he locked and bolted the door.  She stood in the middle of the room and watched him.  He began to pace, his agitation growing.  “You’ve left Ethan. You’ve moved to Washington, but you don’t call.  You don’t call me, and you’re pregnant!”  His fist slammed into the wall and Dana jumped.

 

He didn’t say anything.  She approached him and took his hand in hers.  “Come sit down.”  She led him to the couch and he sat heavily.  She turned then and headed for his kitchen.  She ignored his uninjured hand coming out to stop her.

 

He heard the drawers opening and closing, then ice rattling.  She returned quickly with a dishtowel full of ice and placed it on his injured hand.  “Are you okay?” she asked quietly.

 

He ignored that.  “Talk to me.  Why didn’t you call, why didn’t you tell me?”

 

She gave a small shrug.  “Getting up my courage?  I’m sure you weren’t planning on acknowledging the child of a one-night stand.”

 

His eyes narrowed at that statement.

 

“We did use precaution, I know.  In addition to the condoms, I was on the pill.”

 

“So we’re supposed to have this child,” he said quietly.  She met his eyes, startled.  That was exactly what she had thought that night when she finally admitted to herself whose child it was.

 

“Ethan didn’t think it was his?”  She started to move away then, but he caught her hand.  “What?”

 

“Ethan can’t be the father.  I’ve learned he had a vasectomy four years ago.”

 

“He never told you?” 

 

She shook her head.  “He wanted to ensure that the other person he was sleeping with never got pregnant.”

 

“He was having an affair?”  He sounded outraged.

 

Her eyebrow rose. “Pot calling the kettle black here, Mulder.”

 

He did look slightly abashed at that.  “Okay, but we were only together once.”

 

She sighed. “This one has been going on longer than that.”

 

He looked puzzled for a moment, her tone, her expression was . . . then his eyes widened and his mouth fell open.  “Robin?”

 

She needed to give up on being surprised by anything the man said.  She just nodded wearily, leaning back against the couch.

 

“His daughter?  How the hell could the son of a bitch . . . Jesus!  How, how did you know?”

 

“The same way you did, I just knew.  I don’t know; it all just fell into place.  All those times when Robin made it uncomfortable or impossible for me to join them; years Mulder!  Ethan was already furious, or he wouldn’t have blurted out that he got his vasectomy when Robin was ten.  That’s not the date I would think he would use to remember that kind of procedure.  He lost it; he was screaming at me and jerked me to my feet, I don’t think he realized what he’d said.”

 

“He grabbed you?” Mulder’s eyes narrowed.

 

“I’d never seen him like that.”

 

“What set him off?”  She looked up at him and just stared for a moment.  “Oh.”

 

“I had fixed a special dinner.  I wanted to announce that we were . . . I had refused to even wish the baby was yours.”  His eyes widened at that.  “We were both so careful.”  Her eyes filled and she looked away.  “You should hear his excuses.”  Her voice shook.  “At first it was that she seduced him - a ten year old!  When that didn’t seem to fly, he said he’d wanted to protect her, make sure her first sexual experiences were positive and gentle.”

 

Mulder didn’t bother to voice an opinion; his incredulous expression said it all.  “How is she?”

 

“In therapy.  And mad as hell that we turned him in.”

 

“We?”

 

“His other ex and I.”  She shook her head. “How could I have missed it?  I’m a pediatrician for god’s sake, and I’m married to a pedophile.”  She looked up at the ceiling, blinking to keep the tears from falling.

 

He moved closer.  “As a breed they’re good at covering their tracks.  If their victim is on their side . . . “ He brushed her hair back.  “You need to eat something.  You can’t skip meals, something with vegetables.  Do you like Chinese?”

 

She looked back at him, surprised at the turn in the conversation.

 

“Well, you need to look after yourself.  It won’t help to beat yourself up about this.  The courts will handle it now.”

 

She nodded and stood up.  He reached for her with his good hand.  “I need to go to the bathroom.”

 

“Oh.  It’s through there.  I’ll go ahead and order.”

 

They ate in silence, but it wasn’t uncomfortable now.  When she had eaten to his satisfaction, he took her plate from her hands.  They were still shaking slightly.

 

“What are you going to do?”

 

She shrugged.  “He’s agreed to a no-fault divorce, at his lawyer’s recommendation.  In Virginia, that takes six months.  I’m also looking into an annulment since no real marriage existed.  With the charges against him that shouldn’t be a problem.  I want to be rid of him; away from the whole thing.”  She shivered slightly.

 

“Are you cold?”  She shook her head.   He pulled the afghan from the back of the couch and laid it across her legs.  “Try to relax.  You’re here and you’re safe.  Let me stand guard for a little while.”

 

She managed a small smile at that.  He leaned over and slipped her shoes off.  “Get comfortable.  I’ll be right back.”  He stood and headed for the bathroom himself.

 

When he returned he saw that she had drifted off, snuggled under his afghan.  He watched her for a moment.  She’d been through hell, whether she admitted it or not.  He wanted to strangle the illusive Ethan, for several reasons.

 

He turned back to his bedroom and stripped the bed, putting on fresh sheets.  She could stay here tonight.  They had so much more to talk about.

 

When he returned to the living room, he knelt beside her.  “Dana?”  She didn’t even stir.  He thought about it a minute, then carefully lifted her into his arms.  He carried her into the bedroom and lay her gently on the bed.  He watched, but she was still asleep.

 

She’d be more comfortable undressed.  This wasn’t a seduction, far from it.  He just wanted her to be at ease.  He carefully removed her dress and hose, then slipped one of his gray t-shirts over her head.  She merely rolled to her side and slept on.  Who knew how long it had been since she’d had a decent night’s sleep.  He smiled then.  She seemed more peaceful than he’d seen her all evening.

 

He moved back out to the living room and booted up his computer.  He’d been working over an hour and a half when he looked up and saw her standing in the doorway.

 

She held out the hem of his t-shirt.  It nearly reached her knees.  “Light touch.”

 

He shrugged. “Looks good on you.”

 

Her eyebrow rose.

 

“What, you don’t like haute couture?” he said with a grin.

 

He rose from his chair and moved to the couch, holding out his hand for her to join him.  She shook her head lightly and sat down beside him.  “I should be getting home.”

 

“Where is home?”  He leaned back, watching her.

 

“You know the Children’s Clinic, about a block from the diner?”  He nodded, as she added.  “I have an apartment about two blocks past that.”

 

He sat up straight then. “No.”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“That’s no place for you to live.  It’s not safe.  You can’t - “ He saw her expression, but didn’t back down.

 

“You’re sounding a little caveman, Mulder.”

 

“Okay, I’ll be caveman.  You’re not staying there.”

 

“And just where - “

 

“Here.  At least until you find a place in a better neighborhood,” he amended.

 

“A more expensive neighborhood,” she corrected him.

 

“I don’t want you worrying about that.  I have - “

 

“Mulder, I have my savings.  I just don’t want to go into them yet.  I know I’ll need them later. “

 

“Please, I want you here.  You can have the bedroom.  I usually sleep out here anyway.”

 

“You want me to move in with you?” Her tone bordered on the incredulous.

 

“You don’t have to say it like that.”  He slumped a little. 

 

She gave him a tiny smile.  “It’s a nice offer, but - “ she glanced uncertainly toward the bedroom.

 

“Listen, I’m not expecting . . . “

 

“That’s not what I was thinking - “

 

They both stopped, embarrassed.

 

“Okay,” he broke the silence.  “Maybe we don’t know each other all that well, but we are connected.  I would really appreciate you staying here for a few days.”

 

Their eyes locked and held.  After a long moment, she looked down.  “I guess I could stay here tonight.”

 

He realized he’d been holding his breath and wanted to laugh at himself.  “Good.  Do you want me to go get your things?”

 

She chuckled then. “I can get by tonight and go to my place to change in the morning before work, but thank you.”

 

He opened his mouth, but her look stopped him.  He’d have to pick his fights.

 

*****

 

The next morning he woke slowly, realizing that the warmth at his side was her and that his hand rested on her stomach.  He was still processing that information when she turned and opened her eyes.  She drew back immediately, then relaxed.  “I thought you were going to sleep on the couch.”

 

“I did.  I don’t remember coming in here.”

 

“Do you sleep walk?”

 

He shrugged. “I live alone.  No one’s complained.”  He slipped out of the bed then.  “I am sorry.”

 

“It’s, it’s okay.” She rose as well.  “I need to get ready for work.”

 

He opened his mouth, but her eyebrow stopped him for a moment.  She started for the bathroom.  “Dana . . . Listen, if you want to take a little time off . . . “

 

“Mulder, I need to work.  I need the money.”

 

“You don’t.  I mean . . . listen, you have a lot going on right now.  You’ve got the divorce, the annulment, the court case, you’ve left your home.  Why won’t you let me look after you for a little while?  I want to.  I’m not just saying that.”

 

“Mulder, I know you mean it.  But I also know you’re feeling . . . guilty about . . . I can look after myself.  I am a doctor.”

 

“Don’t doctors make the worse patients?”

 

“I’m not a patient.”

 

“But you are pregnant.  In light of my caveman status, do I get a say in anything?  It’s my baby, too.”

 

“Mulder I can look after myself.”

 

He seemed to deflate at that.  “I know.  I just . . . You’re right.  Go ahead and get ready, then I’ll take you home.”

 

“Mulder, don’t be like that.  I’m not upset with you.  I, I need to feel some control.  I need to feel like I can handle this.  I’m not shutting you out.  I did stay here last night and I did end up sleeping with you.”

 

He gave her a slight smile at that.  “I guess that’s true.” He sighed.  “If I take you home, what happens then?  When will I see you?”  He took her hand.  “We do have more to talk about.”

 

“I know.”

 

“We could have dinner.  You know, a, a date?” Mulder shrugged.

 

“That’s a little backwards, isn’t it?  We’re a little beyond dating.” Her hand caressed her stomach.

 

His eyes locked on her body.  “Yeah, I guess we are.”

 

“Dinner, huh?  I guess that’s a good idea.  However, I don’t plan to move in here.  Deal?”

 

There was a hesitation on his part, but he met her eyes.  “Deal.” 

 

*****

 

She looked up surprised when he walked into the clinic late that afternoon.  “I, I thought I was going to meet you.”

 

He shrugged. “Why waste the gas?”

 

Her eyebrow rose, but she allowed him to lead her to his car.  “Remember, you have to bring me back here to pick up my car.”

 

“Sure.”  He looked innocent, but she’d keep an eye on the time.

 

*****

 

It didn’t work out that way.  Dinner was wonderful and the conversation stimulating.  He carefully avoided any discussion of the baby or the court case, instead concentrating on getting to know her, her family, her friends.

 

Once again, they shut down a restaurant and she just sat back, staring at him.  “Where the hell does the time go when we’re together?”

 

“So you think I cause missing time?”  He grinned as he took her hand to help her from her chair.

 

“You must.”  He led her to his car without another word and opened the door for her.  She was asleep when he reached his apartment.  He rounded the car and opened her door, kneeling beside the car.

 

“Dana?  Honey, wake up.”

 

“Mmm, what?”

 

“You fell asleep.  I’m going to put you to bed.”

 

“Muld, mmm . . . “

 

He grinned at that and carried her inside.

 

The next morning he again woke wrapped around her small body, his hand over their child.  She stretched and realized he had again joined her.  She looked up at him.  “Yes, you do sleep walk.  And would you like to explain why I’m here again?”

 

He gave an embarrassed chuckle.  “Oh that.  You fell asleep on the way home, so I just . . .  I really don’t mind.  Maybe tonight you should lock the door.”

 

“Mulder, I . . . I don’t want to mess up the divorce.  We can’t - “

 

“Dana, I understand.  I’m not, I’m not trying to . . . Dana, I want you.  I hope you already know that, but I don’t want to cause you any problems.”  He couldn’t mistake the look of relief that raced across her face.  He pulled her to him then.  “I’ve never stopped wanting you.”

 

“There’s so much . . . baggage now.”

 

“Baggage?  If you mean our child, that’s the wrong word.”

 

“There’s also the court case, and - “

 

“Shh.”  He kissed her brow.  “None of that bothers me.  I don’t want it to bother you.  I’m here,” he grinned, “and I shouldn’t be, but I am and I will be.  Lean on me.  We’re connected now.”

 

*****

 

He called during lunch.  “Hi, thought I’d see where you wanted to go on our date tonight.”

 

“I think we overdid it last night, thank you.”

 

“How can you say that?  No dancing, no movie, and you fell asleep on me.”  He grinned.

 

“Why do I think that was the plan?  Mulder, remember what I said about not moving in?”

 

“So let’s go to your place tonight.  I’ll bring dinner and meet you at work.  You can give me the tour.”

 

“The tour?” Her voice was dripping with irony now.

 

“Of course.  I need to know what’s better than my place.  Italian?”

 

“I didn’t say it was better.”  She sighed. “Fine.  I’ll wait for you here.”  She heard him chuckling as he hung up.

 

He followed her in his car the few blocks to her apartment.  His impression of the place did not improve on closer inspection.  The doorknob to her unit was loose though the lock seemed to be holding.  He looked up at her after jiggling it.

 

“There’s also a chain,” she said quietly.

 

“Oh good.”  The sarcasm coated his voice.

 

She ignored him and took the bag of food from his hand.  The table in the kitchen part of the efficiency wobbled slightly, but he fixed that with a folded napkin.  The dishes came with the apartment, but they were sparkling clean.

 

They were in the middle of dinner when the sirens and blue lights skidded to a stop in her courtyard.  Mulder pulled the gun from under his arm and moved toward the window.  She started to join him but he motioned for her to move back into the kitchen alcove.  He twitched the curtains and watched the police break into a unit three doors down.

 

They dragged out a couple of men and a woman, and the cars carrying them peeled out.  Two cars remained behind.  Mulder turned to look at her.

 

“You planned this,” she said quietly.

 

He almost smiled then.  “Please don’t stay here tonight.”

 

Her shoulders slumped.

 

“Please.”

 

She met his eyes and after a moment nodded.  He waited while she packed her bag, then took her back to his apartment.  They were silent on the drive, but when she got out of the car, she stopped.

 

“Dana?”

 

“I, I appreciate - “

 

“Dana, stop.  I want you here.  Come on up and get comfortable.”

 

She got ready for bed, then came out and joined him on the couch.  They watched one of his cheesy sic fi films that had her laughing out loud at parts of it.

 

When it was over, she rose to go to the bedroom.  “Dana, I’m not kidding.  You should lock the bedroom door tonight.  I love waking up next to you, but for right now . . . “

 

She nodded.  “I feel a little funny about it.  It is your bedroom.”

 

He grinned. “It will be again.”  He winked and appreciated her light blush.  “Go on to bed.  I’ll see you in the morning.”

 

“Good night,” she said faintly and moved into the bedroom.  He heard the lock snick into place and sighed.  It had felt good having her in his arms, but she was right.  Now wasn’t the best time.  But soon.

 

*****

 

He took a deep breath and felt her hair on his face.  Oh no . . . wait. He was still on the couch.  She, she was sprawled atop him with one leg resting between his thighs, and sound asleep.  He glanced over at the bedroom door.  It was open.  A small smile started to grow on his face.  “Uh, Dana?”

 

“Umm.  Mulder?”

 

“I’m not the only one sleep walking around here.”  His grin was growing.

 

“I locked the door.”  She was starting to sit up. 

 

“That was only to keep me out, not keep you in.”

 

Her blush was adorable, and he pulled her back down into his arms.  “I think we fit well together.”

 

“I came out here when you didn’t come to me?” she asked a little helplessly.

 

He nodded, watching her closely now.  She pushed away from him and scrambled to her feet.  She stepped on one of his shoes and teetered for an instant.  He was on his feet instantly, his hands steadying her.  “Careful.”

 

She didn’t acknowledge his words, looking down at the floor.

 

“What are you feeling?” he asked softly.

 

“I’m scared.”

 

He released her arms.  “Of me?”

 

She looked up then.  “Of me,” she answered, then looked down again.

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“This is not me!”  Her voice was loud in the apartment, but he didn’t move away.  “I don’t do things like this.  I don’t break my wedding vows.  I know they were already shattered, but not by me!   I don’t sleep with a man the third time I see him.  I don’t get pregnant out of wedlock.  I don’t move to a strange city to be near a man I barely know.  I had other options, my parents are in Hawaii, my older brother is in California and my younger one is in Ohio.  But no, I pull up stakes and come to a city I haven’t even visited in years!  I’m not like this!  I don’t fall in - “ she stopped abruptly and looked toward the door.

 

“Fall in what?” he wasn’t touching her but she could see his hands were fisted, as though restraining himself.

 

Her shoulders slumped.  “Fall in love.”

 

“In love?” She could hear the smile in his voice and managed to look up.  His delight caused an answering smile of her own.  At that, he drew her into his arms and kissed the top of her head.  “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - Part 4

 

She was standing at the far end of the nurse’s station making notes in a chart when something made her look up.  He was headed for the main desk and everyone was giving him the eye.  In that suit, cut so perfectly for those long legs and that ass . . . everyone, and that included the only male nurse, Vince.

 

She didn’t speak, but his head turned and he spotted her.  His smile grew.

 

He moved easily toward her.  He didn’t kiss her, but his hand brushed hers and it felt as though he had.  “What are you doing here?”

 

“I couldn’t stay away,” he answered as a smile lit up his face.

 

“Good answer, but why are you here?”

 

His smile slipped.  “I have to go out of town.  I wanted to let you know and give you this.”  He dangled a key in front of her.  “I want you to stay at the apartment while I’m gone.  No excuse,” he said as she opened her mouth to protest.  “The fish need you, Dana.”

 

She did smile then.  “How long will you be gone?”

 

“A couple of days at least.  Will you be okay?”

 

“Yes.  Lonely, but okay.  When do you leave?”

 

“Now.”

 

“Now?” That slipped out before she could stop it.  Coming home to him had become the best part of her day.

 

“Are you sure you’ll be okay?”

 

“Of course, but I’ll probably miss you.”

 

“You better.  I’ll call you tonight.”

 

She nodded, not wanting him to realize the loneliness she was already beginning to feel.  “Be careful.”

 

He nodded and squeezed her hand once more.  Then he turned and left the clinic.  She took a deep breath and returned to work.

 

*****

 

She stopped to pick up dinner on her way home.  As she let herself into his apartment, she was surprised at how empty the place felt without him.  She ate with the TV on, on the Sci Fi channel, though she chided herself for it.

 

She cleaned the kitchen, then since she was alone, ran a bubble bath and sank down into the warmth.  She should take advantage of this more often.  It wouldn’t be that long before she’d have to forego the tub.  She let her hand caress the slight curve to her stomach.  Her breasts were larger, fuller, but when she was dressed, no one could tell she was pregnant, except Mulder of course.  She relaxed in the suds until the water cooled.  It had been a long time since she’d indulged herself like this and it felt good.

 

Ready for bed early, she headed back for the living room. She knew she was waiting for his call and had a flashback to high school that caused a faint smile on her face.  Reading didn’t hold her attention and soon her eyes grew heavy.  She thought about moving to the bed, but it seemed like too much effort, so she cuddled in under his afghan.

 

She was drifting between awake and asleep when the phone rang.  She snatched it up on the first ring.  “Hello?”

 

“That’s the best thing I ever heard from my apartment.”

 

Her smile grew.  “It feels funny being here without you.”

 

“Please know it feels terrible from this end.  I especially like it when you hunt me down in the night and - “

 

“Mulder,” he could hear the humor in her voice.

 

“I’m just being honest, Dr. Scully.”

 

“Well if we’re being honest, I kind of miss you too.”

 

“So what are you doing to keep yourself occupied without me?”  She could hear him getting comfortable and visualized him sprawled out on a bed in some motel.

 

“I took a bubble bath.”  He made a noise she couldn’t quite interpret and she pulled a pillow around to support her.

 

“That . . . that’s a visual I might use to get me through this.”

 

“What is ‘this’?  Or can you talk about it?”

 

“Um, not good conversation material.”  There was a pause, then, “I need to get back.  I’m on break and Patterson isn’t the most tolerant.  I’m sorry.”

 

“No, don’t be.  Thank you for checking in and letting me know you’re safe.”

 

“I’ll call back tomorrow.  Take care of yourself.”

 

“I will.  You do the same.”

 

He chuckled at that.  “Sleep well.”  He broke the connection then and the apartment seemed so much lonelier without his voice.  She thought about moving to the bed, but she was comfortable and his scent surrounded her.  She pulled the afghan tighter around her and drifted off.

 

It wasn’t a peaceful night for her.  Unremembered dreams had awakened her several times but at least there was no morning sickness.  She was stunned at how lonely she felt without him, but shoved that aside and got ready for work.

 

It was a busy day at the clinic, so that kept her mind off of him most of the day.  It was around two when one of the nurses stuck her head in the door of the examining room, just as she was finishing up.  “You have a call on line two.”

 

She gave the nurse a quick thanks and hurried to her office.  “Dr. Scully.”

 

“It’s Ethan.”

 

Without a word, she started to put the receiver down, but heard him call.  “Don’t hang up!  Dana please.”

 

She hesitated, but finally brought the phone back to her ear.  “We have nothing to talk about.”

 

“I need some help.”

 

“You need a lot more help than I can give you.”

 

There was silence for a moment.  When he spoke again, his voice sounded carefully restrained.   “Dana, there’s some business - “

 

“I only took what was mine.  Ask your lawyer.”

 

“I know that, but we were married, I need - “

 

“We were never married.  You made sure of that.”  She hated that her voice shook a little, but the call had caught her off guard.

 

He was silent again for a moment.  “You know I took the plea.”

 

“Yes,” she answered shortly.

 

“Well, that’s a guilty plea, so I need to get some things settled for while I’m gone.”

 

“That’s what lawyers are for.”

 

“He needs your signature, for the house, my car was in both names . . .”

 

There was a long hesitation then she sighed.  “Have him send me the papers.  I do not want to see him.”

 

“Yeah, okay.  You filed for the divorce?“

 

“Yes.  You should have a copy.”

 

“I probably do.  The post office is holding my mail.”

 

“Are we through?”

 

“Are, are you doing okay?  The baby - “

 

“I’m not talking to you about any of that.  Just have your attorney send the papers to the clinic in DC.  I’ll sign them and send them back.”

 

“Yeah, okay.  Dana, I’m - “

 

“Don’t.  And don’t call me again.  If you need to communicate with me, have your attorney call.  Goodbye.”  She broke the connection and folded her hands in her lap.  They were shaking and she felt . . . dirty just talking to the man.  She realized she hadn’t checked in with Kathee in a couple of days, but she couldn’t face it now.  This stress wasn’t good for the baby, Mulder’s child.  She took several deep breaths and caressed her stomach.  Mulder wouldn’t be home tonight and she felt his absence like a blow.

 

Before she could leave the room, the phone rang again.  Ethan wouldn’t call back, would he?  “Dr. Scully.”  Her voice was steady but professionally distant.

 

“Dana?” He sounded breathless.

 

“Mulder, are you all right?”

 

“Yeah, I’m fine.  Are you okay?  What’s wrong?”  He was getting his breath back but the worried tone hadn’t left his voice.

 

“Nothing’s wrong.”

 

“You’re sure, the baby?”

 

“We’re both good, Mulder.  Is that why you called?”

 

“I, I don’t know.  I just had to hear your voice.”

 

“Are you okay?  You’re out of breath.”

 

“I, uh, I didn’t have reception on my phone.  I had to . . . “

 

“Thank you, thank you for worrying about us.”

 

“Like I could stop.  Did something happen?  I was sure - “

 

Ethan, she thought, but didn’t say it.   There was nothing Mulder could do anyway.  “Are you, do you know when you can come home?”

 

“We’re getting closer, tomorrow, maybe the next day.  Dana, you don’t sound like yourself.  Are you sure you’re okay?  There’s nothing wrong with you or the baby?”

 

“I’m fine, Mulder.  It’s been a busy day . . . and I miss you.”

 

“God, I miss you too.  I don’t know if I’ll be home tomorrow, but there’s been a break and I, I hope it won’t be but another day or two.”

 

“Good, I want you here and, and I think you need to be here.”

 

“Do I ever.  Look, I’m not going to be able to call tonight.  There’ll be a lot going on.  Just, just know I love you.”

 

“Mulder - “ but he had broken the connection.  “I love you too,” she said quietly and turned back to her folder.

 

She found herself with little appetite when she left the clinic, but forced herself to again stop and pick up dinner on the way home.  She surprised herself by ordering a cheeseburger, but it was what she wanted. Then she hurried home to lock herself in for the night.  It had to be Ethan’s phone call that had unnerved her so; and of course Mulder still being out of town.

 

After her early dinner, she realized how exhausted she was and stretched out on the couch again.  It was much too early to go to bed, but she could barely keep her eyes open.

 

###

 

She was in the woods moving quickly; other shadow figures were hurrying along with her.  She felt heavy but the feeling that she needed to move even more swiftly was on her.  There, that was the building she’d been looking for.  It looked decrepit from the outside, but she could tell that the door was reinforced and the hinges new, but painted in order not to catch the light.  The windows were blacked out and there was no sound except the scrunch of the leaves under her feet.

 

She opened the door cautiously and was struck dumb at the sight.  It was an abattoir, a slaughter house. She’d never seen, or smelled, anything like it.  Hooks hung from the ceiling and the remainder of a woman’s body hung from one of them.  The table held instruments of all kinds, most bloody, along with smaller body parts.  She saw a couple of fingers and braids of hair that had been dipped in blood and carelessly thrown on the table before she turned away. 

 

The view away from the table was not much better; there was blood on the walls as well.  She stopped, stunned, in front of a flower - a small daisy, as though drawn by a child - drawn on the wall in blood.  It looked like something she would have drawn in kindergarten using yellow finger paint.  There were words as well, names of the victims, other words that she couldn’t put into context, all written in blood.  A movement in the corner drew her attention.  They weren’t alone, he was there - Left! To the left!

 

###

 

She woke, chest heaving, tears of terror in her eyes. She clutched the afghan to her and forced her breathing under control.  What the hell?  Had her conversation with Ethan unnerved her that much?  She settled back against the pillow, and reached for the remote and flipped on the TV.  That wasn’t like her, she never slept with the TV on, but tonight . . . She curled onto her side and after a long time slept again.

 

She woke unrested the next morning but at least she wasn’t sick. She wanted to talk to Mulder.  She shook that off, took a shower, and got ready for work. 

 

She reached for her purse, but then stopped.  She needed to speak with Mulder.  She turned back to the phone and dialed the main switchboard at the Bureau.  After being put on hold a couple of times and transferred two or three times, a man answered the phone.  “AD Skinner.  How may I help you?”

 

“I’m trying to get in touch with Agent Fox Mulder.”

 

“May I ask why?”

 

“I . . . is he all right?”

 

“I’m sorry; your name please?”

 

“I’m Dr. Dana Scully.”  Her voice was beginning to betray her annoyance.

 

“Scully?  I, just a minute please.”  Once again, she was placed on hold. 

 

Her temper had the best of her now.  She was ready to hang up and call back when Mr. Skinner came back on the line.  “I’m sorry to keep you waiting, Dr. Scully.  How can I help you?”

 

“I just wanted to know if there was a way to get in touch with Agent Mulder.  I don’t want to interfere with his case, but  - “

 

“Agent Mulder is going to be fine.”

 

“Going to be?“  Her voice rose and shook ever so slightly.

 

“He was injured last night, during an arrest.  He was transported by ambulance and they kept him overnight.  My information is that there was no medical reason to keep him any longer.  He’ll be flying home this afternoon.”

 

She was silent, absorbing the information. 

 

“Dr. Scully?  I’m sorry for the delay in informing you, there was some confusion when the information came in.”

 

“Confusion?”  Her breath was shallow and she had to concentrate on his words.

 

“The change order for next of kin hadn’t completed processing.  I recognized your name.”

 

“Next of . . . “ She shook her head, unimportant.  “What are his injuries?”

 

“He was shot in the left shoulder.  They had to perform surgery to remove the bullet but word I’ve received is that he’s already making a nuisance of himself to get out.”

 

“What flight?”

 

“I don’t know at this time.  Give me your number and I’ll have my assistant call you personally when we find out.”

 

“Th-thank you.”

 

“Dr. Scully, I apologize again for the delay.  I assure you Kim will keep you up to date.”

 

She nodded, still stunned at the turn of events, then realized she hadn’t spoken.  She quickly gave him a couple of phone numbers and hung up.  Then she sank onto the couch where she had slept the last two nights.  Shot?  Okay, she knew he was an FBI agent, but it had never really penetrated that he was in that kind of danger when he was out on a case.  He could have been . . . She closed her eyes and found the pillow she had used during the night pressed to her face, breathing in the essence of him.

 

*****

 

He looked up startled when he heard her voice, then a confused smile took over his face.  She’d come to the airport?  To, to meet him?  How had she known the flight? For that matter, how had she known something was wrong?  Her eyes were on the sling as she rushed to him.  “I’m okay, Dana I’m okay.”

 

She didn’t try to speak, just holding him for a moment.  He relished the feel of her against him.  No one had ever met him coming home before.  Damn, it was worth the bullet.  He swayed slightly when she stepped back, though he tried to hide it.


”I had to check my bag.  Come on.”  With his good arm around her, he led her to baggage claim.  He was less steady on his feet than he wanted her to see.   As they stood in the baggage claim area, she silently took note of the dark circles under his eyes.  When his bag came around, she reached for it.  “Don’t even think about it, Dana.”

 

“You were shot.  You’re not going to carry - “

 

“And you’re pregnant,” he nuzzled her ear.  “I’m carrying the suitcase, but I’ll let you drive.”  He spotted the tears in her eyes and pulled her against him again.  “I’m okay.  I’m here, I’m with you.  I’m okay.”

 

“You’re not okay, Mulder, not yet.  It’s too soon after your injury and I can certainly manage one suitcase.  It’s not that big.  It won’t hurt me,” she insisted as she reached for his bag.

 

After hesitating for a moment, he nodded with a strained sigh and leaned into her, brushing the tears from her cheeks.

 

“And, I’m staying home tomorrow, to keep an eye on you,” she added.

 

“I like the sound of that,” he said softly.

 

She led him to the car and helped him buckle in.  They were quiet on the way home.  He kept his eyes on her, but her eyes remained on the road.  At the apartment, he again lost the argument to carry his bag.  She led him to the couch and had him recline with a pillow to support his arm and brought him a glass of tea.

 

“Are you hungry?” she brushed his hair back, needing to touch him.

 

“You know, I believe I am.  Come to think of it, I haven’t eaten since yesterday afternoon.”

 

“Mulder! You’ve been taking pain medication on an empty stomach!  No wonder you’re so woozy.”

 

“I only took one, just enough to let me get back here to you.  It’s already wearing off.  After I get something on my stomach, I’ll be fine.  Just call in for whatever you want.  I could eat anything.”

 

“Well you’re in luck.  While I was waiting to go to the airport, I fixed some dinner.  I just need to heat it up.”

 

“You cook?”

 

She glared at him.  “I used to cook quite a bit.”

“Incredible, you work full time, you’re pregnant and now I find out you’re a gourmet cook.”

 

“I didn’t say gourmet.  And I was not exactly able to concentrate on a complicated recipe.  This came off the back of a soup can.”

 

“That’s still more complicated than I usually attempt.”

 

“Relax.  This won’t take long.”

 

“I could help - “

 

“No.  You rest.”  His hand took hers and played with her fingers until she was out of reach.  It didn’t take long to heat up the casserole.  She hated to wake him, but if he hadn’t eaten in over twenty-four hours that was more important now. 

 

“Mulder?  Wake up.  You need to eat, then you can go on to bed.”

 

“Umm, yeah,” he mumbled and opened his eyes.  Seeing her leaning over him, he smiled.  He pulled her down and met her lips.

 

“Mulder, food first.”

 

“I need this more.”  He could feel her smile against his lips. When she pulled back, he allowed it, though he gave her a pout.

 

She laughed out loud in relief that he was able to play.  “Come eat, Mulder.”  She started to help him sit up but he scowled at her.

 

“I can do this.”

 

She rolled her eyes but allowed him to sit up and move toward the table.  She served his plate and he ate with gusto.  “What is this?”

 

“Chicken and broccoli with rice.”

 

“Broc - there’s broccoli in this?”

 

“Shut up, Mulder.”

 

He chuckled and held out his plate for seconds.  After dinner, he agreed to go back to the couch while she cleaned up.  When she returned to the main room, it was to find him looking through a file.  He realized she was back and flipped the file closed.

 

“You’re not supposed to be working, Mulder.”

 

“I’m not.  I just have to be ready to file my report.”

 

“Later.  You’re recuperating tonight.  Don’t tell me you aren’t tired.  I want you to take your medication and get ready for bed.”

 

“Mmm, I like anxious women.”

 

She rolled her eyes and this time did take his good arm to help him to his feet.  When he started for the bathroom, she bent down to pick up a piece of paper that had fallen to the floor.  It was a photograph.  She flipped it over and gasped.

 

Mulder whirled back toward her.  “Dana?”

 

“What, what is this?” She held out the photo with a shaking hand.  Her pallor frightened him.

 

He took it, led her back to the couch, and seated her.  “Dana?”

 

“What is that!”

 

He glanced down at the photo then and closed his eyes.  “Dana, please - “

 

“It’s a flower, right?  It’s a flower drawn in blood on the wall of a building out in the woods.”

 

His mouth fell open.  “How did - “

 

“I saw it.  Last night, I entered that building, I saw that woman on the hook, the names written on the wall.”

 

“That’s not possible.”

 

“I thought it was a dream, a nightmare because, because I was upset.  But that wasn’t it.  I was seeing this through, through your eyes.” Her voice grew softer as she spoke.

 

“You, you believe that?”

 

She shook her head, but said, “What else can it be?”

 

His eyes widened then.  “It was you.”  She looked up puzzled.  “I heard your voice, you screamed ‘left, to the left’.  It was your voice and I turned.  It’s the reason the bullet only hit my shoulder.  I was wearing Kevlar, but the angle . . . Dana?”

 

Her eyes were locked on him.  “I saw a movement and I yelled that in my dream.  Kevlar, I felt heavy as I was walking through the woods.   Mulder?”

 

He took a deep breath.  “Let’s get ready for bed.”

 

“What?”

 

“I need you to relax.  Come on.”

 

“I, I was going to sleep out here. I don’t want to hurt your shoulder.”

 

He shook his head.  “And I don’t want anyone stumbling or tripping as we sleep walk to each other tonight.  Let’s just start out in the same bed and save a little time.  Dana, I need to hold you tonight.”

 

She looked at him for a moment, then nodded.  He followed her into the bedroom.  She took the bathroom first and when she emerged in her nightgown, saw him struggling with his own clothing.  Without a word she finished unbuttoning his shirt and slipped off his sling long enough to tug the shirt off. 


“What about a t-shirt?  That will help keep your arm still and be more comfortable than the sling while you sleep.”  He nodded and allowed her to pull the shirt over his head.  “I’ll get your medicine.”

 

She left the room, not seeing or ignoring the hand he reached out to stop her.  He could see how disturbed she was by her revelations.  It had happened; she had saved his life last night.  It had been her voice that caused him to turn.  He’d been horrified at the thought that she had somehow shown up at the site . . . of course that was absurd.  There was no way she could have appeared, but she had been there.  She had seen - He looked up to see her returning with a bottle of pills and a glass of water.

 

She was so lovely.  The gown clung to her as she moved toward him.  He could see that her stomach was no longer completely flat and he marveled again that this woman carried his child.

 

“Mulder?”

 

“Yeah.”  He held out his hand for her.  She moved against him and he felt the shudder that ran through her body.  “We don’t have to think about this tonight.”

 

“You think we can stop?”

 

He sighed.  “We have to try.  Could you open the medicine for me?”

 

She nodded and shook two pills into his hand.  He tossed them into his mouth and took the glass of water.

 

He climbed into the bed and after she made sure his arm was supported, she walked around the bed and crawled in beside him.  He pulled her against him and she relaxed into his warmth.

 

She started to ask a question, but he shushed her gently.  “Just rest tonight.  We’re together and there’s nothing we can do tonight about any of this.”

 

She nodded and seemed to move even closer if possible.  She closed her eyes and in a moment, so did he.

 

 

When he woke the next morning, it was to find her sitting up against the headboard, watching him sleep.  “Dana?  You okay?”

 

“I, I don’t know.”

 

“You take the bathroom first.”

 

She nodded and left the bed.  When the door shut, he managed to rise, his body stiff, and headed toward the kitchen.  He was back, sitting on the bed when she emerged.  “I’ll make the coffee.”

 

“It’s already started; it should be ready in a minute.”

 

She seemed to nod and reached for her robe.  He brushed her hand as he moved around her toward the bathroom.  When he returned to the bedroom, it was empty so he turned toward the kitchen. 

 

She was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee in front of her, staring into its depths.  “Dana?”

 

She didn’t look up.  “What’s happening to us?”

 

He slipped into the chair across from her.  “I have a theory.”

 

She looked up when he didn’t continue.  “What? What could you possibly think - “

 

“We both had an experience when we were younger, when our sisters were taken.”

 

“What?”

 

“We were present when it happened, we both were unconscious for days afterward, we both are extraordinarily healthy.  And we created a child the only time we were together, in spite of precautions on both of our parts.”

 

“You, you think . . . whatever took Missy and Samantha changed us?”

 

He looked away for an instant, then met her eyes.  “I don’t know of any other way for you to accompany me on my mission that night.”

 

“Accompany?”

 

“We’re in contact.  We’re in contact like I have never known before with anyone. I think it’s the baby.”

 

“The baby?” she sounded strangled.  “You can’t be serious.”

 

“I . . . Yes, I am.”  He reached for her hand but she drew it back.  He felt the bottom drop out.  “Dana.”

 

“I’m listening.” But she wouldn’t meet his eyes.

 

“It’s just a theory.”

 

“I, I can’t. . .  Do you think something’s wrong with the baby?  I haven’t had an ultrasound or - “

 

“No, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the baby.  I don’t.  I, I think it’s why we’re connected.  It’s part of both of us.  It’s connecting us differently than most couples, but most couples haven’t lived through our experience.”

 

“Aliens.”

 

“Dana, just think about it.”  He reached for her hand again and this time she didn’t pull away.  Suddenly he sat up straighter.  “You said you were upset when you went to bed.  Why?”

 

“What?”

 

“You said you thought what happened was a nightmare because you were upset.”

 

She closed her eyes, she’d completely forgotten.  “I, I got a phone call from Ethan.”

 

“Ethan?  What did that SOB want?” He seemed to grow in front of her.

 

“He, uh, he needs me to sign some papers, about the house and the car.”

 

“He called you here?”

 

“No, no he doesn’t know anything about where I live, or you.  He called the clinic.  I had to leave a number with his attorney. I wouldn’t let anyone know where I am.  He called just before you did.”

 

He stared at her a moment.  “I called because I knew something was wrong.”

 

She nodded slowly.  “You were out of breath and thought something was wrong with the baby.”

 

“Or with you.  I was out of breath because there was no cell phone service where I was standing when I knew something had happened.  I had to get somewhere I had reception.”

 

“Mulder?”

 

He took a relieved breath.  “Are you going to sign the papers?”

 

“They’re being sent to me.  I’ll see what they are.”  She looked down at her coffee again.  “You changed the subject.”

 

“Let’s just mull it over for today.”

 

“I need to get to work.”

 

“I thought you were taking today off.”

 

“I, I was, but - “

 

“But you don’t want to be with me today.”  His face was carefully blank.

 

“No, that’s not . . . How can we find out more about, about this?”

 

He was quiet then.  She didn’t rush him.  After a few minutes, he looked up.  “Robert Trotter.”

 

“What about him?”

 

“Was he - “

 

“Oh my god.  He was there.  He was in the hospital after Betsy . . .I’m an idiot.  I didn’t even think - “

 

“You had no reason to.  Do you think his parents would let us talk to him?”

 

“I don’t know.  He lives with his mother now.”

 

“They divorced,” he stated flatly.

 

She nodded.  “They lost a child.  They blamed each other.  It happens a lot.”

 

“Tell me about it.”

 

She watched his face then. That was the most she’d ever heard him say about his family.  After a moment, she continued.  “I can call Gloria.”

 

He nodded.  “I think you should.  I need to talk - “

 

We need to talk to him.”  Her expression assured him he wouldn’t win this one.

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - Part 5

 

 

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.”

 

Dana nodded.

 

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.

 

“Dana?”

 

“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.”

 

“What?”

 

“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.”

 

“Scared.”

 

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.

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - Part 6

 

 

Sherrie turned the screen so that they could see the child.  “See, here’s the head, the spine.” She ran her finger down the backbone.  “Since you’re sure about the conception date, I’d say this little one is right on schedule; textbook really.  We can’t see the sex right now, but we’ll have other opportunities.”  She smiled at her friend, then looked over at Mulder.  His mouth was fallen open and his grip on Dana’s hand was tight.

 

Without another word Sherrie slipped the wand back into the machine and hit the eject button from the VCR.  She handed the tape to him.  Dana had to look away from the look in his eyes, blinking back tears herself.  The strong rapid heartbeat had soothed most of her fears.

 

“There’s just one little thing I want to mention and since you’re a doctor, you’ll understand the implications.  Your blood pressure is on the high side.  We’re going to want to keep an eye on that.  It’s not dangerously so, but I wanted to give you a heads up.”

 

Mulder had frozen at her words, then looked immediately over at Dana for clarification or reassurance.  She merely nodded.  “I’ll keep an eye on that.”

 

“Okay, let me know if you have any questions, Dana.  We can set up regular appointments tomorrow when Carol’s here.”

 

“Thanks again, for coming in like this.”

 

“I was already coming in, paperwork.  This is a lot more fun.” Sherrie watched as this man helped Dana to her feet.  It didn’t look like she’d have to worry about her new friend, with him in the picture.

 

Mulder led her to the car and seated her, then got in himself.  She reached for the tape and he released it to her.  “Mulder?”

 

He looked down at his hands.  “I don’t know what to say.  I’m blown away.”

 

She gave him a trembling smile.  “Me too.”

 

“Are you okay?  I mean, that blood pressure thing.”

 

“It’s something I need to keep an eye on.  It’s not dangerous at this point.  Don’t worry.  I will look after myself.”

 

“And I’ll be making sure that you do,” he leaned over and kissed her

 

*****

 

He let himself into the apartment.  He was running a little late, and glad to be there.  He spotted her purse on the table, but he didn’t see her.  He headed into the bedroom and met her coming out of the bathroom.

 

“Hi Honey, I’m home,” he quipped.

 

She gave him a small smile but it didn’t reach her eyes.

 

“What?” he asked quickly.

 

She looked up at him, blinking. 

 

“What’s wrong?” he tried again.

 

She sighed and looked down at her hands.  “I have to go down to Dillwyn, Virginia tomorrow.”

 

“Buckingham Prison?  Why?”

 

“I have to see Ethan.  There are some papers that still need signing.  His attorney called my office today.  Saturday’s are visiting days, so he put my name on the list.”

 

“I don’t want you to go.”

 

“That makes two of us.  But if this will speed things up . . . “ She shrugged.

 

“It’ll take us at least a couple of hours to get down there.”

 

“Us?”

 

“Us,” he said firmly, drawing her into his embrace.  She came willingly, leaning on him.

 

*****

 

They were signed in and Mulder’s gun was confiscated.  Then they were escorted to the visitor’s room.  It was painted institutional green, with well worn linoleum on the floor. No windows and the fluorescent lights glared.  The tables were small, most of them only for two and well spaced both for privacy and to ensure the guards had a clear path in case of emergency.

 

Mulder led her to a table and seated her, but then retreated to the other side of the room, near the door.  She turned to assure herself he was there, even though she could feel him, as the door opened.

 

One by one, the inmates were led in and taken to the small tables where visitors waited.  Ethan was the fourth to be led in.  He spotted Dana and smiled at her as he slipped into the seat opposite her.  Mulder tensed, but remained at his post near the door.

 

“Thanks for coming, Dana.  I really needed to see you, to explain why I need you to take care of my business.”

 

She marveled at his attitude.  It was as though he thought they had parted as friends.  He really expected her to help him?

 

“Things are getting messed up, my orders aren’t being followed.  The house is for sale and my car.  I didn’t authorize any of that.” He continued.

 

“I did,” she said calmly.

 

The smile evaporated from his face.  “You did?  Why the hell are you - “

 

“They were in my name too, Ethan.”

 

“I didn’t realize you were that greedy,” his voice was frosty now.  “I thought you at least would - “

 

“All of the money is being placed in trust for Robin, for her therapy,” she continued as though he hadn’t spoken.

 

“Therapy?  Why?  Robin is fine,” he protested immediately.

 

“Fine?  You’ve raped her since she was ten years old.  I can only hope that some day she really will be - “

 

“I didn’t rape her!” He whispered forcefully, then looked around, but the guards weren’t paying attention.  He grabbed her wrist pulling her toward him.  Before she could even struggle, Mulder was moving.  He was a blur, moving before the guards were even aware there was a problem.

 

Mulder’s hand clamped down on his shoulder.  There would be bruise marks there tomorrow.  “Let her go or lose the hand.”  His voice too was low, but the intensity convinced Ethan it would be in his best interest to obey.  Three guards had now converged on the table and cuffs were slapped around Ethan’s wrists.

 

Mulder had his arm around Dana then and led her toward the door.  “Dana, I’m sorry!  I just need - “ Ethan shut up at the look Mulder shot him.  Dana didn’t turn at the sound of his voice, allowing Mulder to get her out of there.

 

Mulder seated her near the guard’s desk and quickly retrieved his weapon.  Then he led her to the car and opened the door for her.  Instead of taking her seat, she leaned against him.  “Are you okay?” he asked, taking her in his arms.

 

She let him hold her for a minute.  “I’m fine, Mulder.  Could we just - “

 

“Yeah, let’s get out of here.”  He seated her and shut the door, then rounded to his side and pulled out heading north.  After a few moments, he glanced over at her and took hold of her hand.  He kept his eyes on the road, but brought her hand to his lips, then rested it on his thigh, covering her hand with his own.  “I need something from you, Dana.”

 

She looked over at him, letting her hand squeeze his thigh.  “What?”

 

“The truth.  How are you?”

 

She looked away and he caught her hand as she started to withdraw it.  “I’m . . . I don’t know.  Just looking at him . . . when he touched me I felt dirty.”  Mulder felt her shiver, then felt her body tense.

 

“Dana?”

 

“I, it was a cramp.  I’m okay.” She sounded breathless to him.

 

“You’re cramping?”

 

“Just a little.”

 

“I’ll find a hospital - “

 

“No.  Let’s just go home, away from here.”

 

He hesitated.  They could be home by lunch time, but . . . “Recline your seat.”

 

She did without protest, then took back his hand.  He was aware of her grip tightening around his hand and though he kept quiet, he kept his eye on the time intervals.  He pressed his foot more firmly against the accelerator.

 

They arrived home in minimal time.  Her cramping hadn’t stopped but it hadn’t increased either.  His arm was firmly around her as he helped her into the building.  He took her straight into the bedroom and made her comfortable, removing her jacket and her shoes.

 

“I’m going to call Sherrie.”

 

“Please, just lay here a few minutes with me.”

 

He nodded and lost no time toeing off his own shoes as he shed his coat.  He curled around her with his hand resting gently on her stomach.  The position was familiar now from waking up next to her each morning.  He felt her relax against him.  “How are you feeling?”

 

“Better now.  I’m glad we’re home.”

 

“I still think we need to call Sherrie.”

 

“I know.  In a little while, if the cramping continues.”

 

He didn’t argue with her, just holding her close.  He relaxed as well when she fell asleep.  She hadn’t tensed up since he’d taken her into his arms.

 

When she was fully asleep, he carefully rose from the bed and watched her for a moment.  When she didn’t wake, he stepped quietly into the living room, leaving the door open.  He dialed the number for Sherrie from memory.

 

“Sherrie, it’s Fox Mulder.  I’m sorry to bother you at home, but - “

 

“Is it Dana?  Is there a problem?”

 

“She was cramping.  We were down in Virginia.  She had us drive home and she’s lying down now, asleep.”

 

“Any bleeding?”

 

He hesitated.  “She didn’t mention any.”

 

“Okay.  I’m sure she would have.  What were you doing?”

 

“Uh, it was stressful,” he evaded.

 

“That’s not what she needs, Mulder.”

 

“I know.  It won’t happen again.”

 

“Okay, let her rest for now.  Keep an eye on her.  When she wakes up have her call me.”

 

“Shouldn’t she be in a hospital?”

 

“If it continues, or increases that’s a possibility.  For now, just let her rest.  And don’t hesitate to call me back, Mulder.”

 

“Thanks, Sherrie.”  He didn’t sound reassured.  For something to do he finally put some tea on to steep and put together some lunch for when she woke up. Then he logged onto his computer.  He couldn’t keep his mind on any of his cases, and finally returned to the bedroom.  She was still sound asleep and had rolled over, burrowing her face into his pillow.   He stood there just watching her, marveling once more that she was here with him.

 

He had to keep her safe, keep both of them safe.  That meant keeping Ethan out of her life.  An idea came to him and turned back to make some phone calls.

 

***** 

 

He was gone less than an hour.  He’d made sure she ate when she woke, then settled her on the couch and brought her everything he thought she might need. 

 

She smiled indulgently at him, but promised she would stay there while he ran his errand.

 

“Hi, how are you feeling?” He dropped his coat, keeping some papers in his hand.  She was sitting on the couch with her feet up, reading.  He approached her quickly and took a seat next to her.

 

“Good.  Did you get your errand done?”

 

“Yeah.  No more cramping?”

 

“None.  I just needed to relax.  You take very good care of me.”

 

“I hope so. I, uh, I did something.  I hope you, I hope I didn’t overstep.”

 

“What did you do?” She looked at him.  He didn’t smile, but handed her a file.  She took it but didn’t open it.  “Mulder?”

 

“It’s your divorce papers, signed.”

 

She just stared at him.  “Signed?  It’s Saturday, how did you - “

 

“The judge owed me a favor.”

 

She was silent for a moment.  “Favor?”

 

He did smile then.  “He’s the judge that signed my divorce papers.  Believe me, he owed me.”

 

She opened her mouth, but then closed it.  Maybe this was something she didn’t want to know right now.  “Is it legal?”  He nodded.  “I’m free of him?”

 

“You’re free.  After this morning . . . “

 

She nodded then, that didn’t need any more explanation.  “You did that for me?”

 

“For you and for me.  You don’t have to ever see or talk to him again.  Screw his lawyer and his ‘papers’.”

 

Her smile grew.  Then her eyes widened and her hand came up to her stomach.  He froze for an instant.  “Dana?  Did it start - “

 

She shook her head.

 

“Dana?” his voice rose slightly.

 

“Ssh, just a minute.”  She had gone inside herself and his spirits sank like a stone.  Then she looked up at him and her smile grew.  “I think I’m feeling him move.”

 

He gaped at her, then his hand covered hers.  He didn’t speak.

 

“It’s within the parameters, maybe a little early, but any child of yours in going to be premium size.”  She smiled at his expression, then turned her hand to hold his.  “Breathe.”

 

He looked a little embarrassed at that, drawing her to him.  “He?”

 

“Well, ‘it’ sounds a little rude to me.  Do you want a boy?”

 

Again, his mouth opened but no words came.  Instead, he tucked her up against him and rested his chin on her head.  “I don’t care whether it’s a boy or a girl.” His hands caressed her arms. “Dana, I never thought about children; at least not my children.  They were an abstract concept, and not something that had anything to do with me.  I’m not . . . I know nothing about families, or parenting.  The first time I ever considered it was when I saw you in that diner.”  She caught his hands and squeezed them.

 

“I still don’t know how I knew you were pregnant, but I knew it was mine.” She could hear the humor in his voice.  “For the first time, I wanted a child.  I wanted the child to be mine.  It blew me away.  It was a totally new . . . concept for me.”   He kissed the top of her head.  He felt the tear drop onto his hand.

 

“Dana?”

 

“You were furious with me.”

 

“No, not at you.  I was . . . “ he sighed.  “I had spent weeks thinking about you.  I never quit wanting you, hell I ached for you.  Then you were there and you hadn’t called.  I understand now, but seeing you and then realizing you were carrying my child, I was rocked.”

 

“I wasn’t coming to that diner that day.  I walked from the clinic, but I actually started out in the other direction.  Something made me turn around and go there.”

 

She couldn’t see his face from her position, but she felt his arm tighten around her. She smiled when she felt him nibble on her ear and shivered slightly when he started placing tiny kisses down her neck.

 

Things had progressed further when the phone ringing startled them.  He groaned, but reached for it.  “Hello?”

 

“Mr. Mulder?  Is she okay?”

 

“Rob?”

 

“Yeah.  Is she okay?”

 

Mulder looked down at Dana, sprawled atop him..  “Yes.  She’s feeling better.  Uh, how did you - “

 

“I just, what was wrong?  Was it the baby?  Is it okay?”

 

“Yeah, it seems to be.  She hasn’t been to the doctor, but the cramping has stopped.”

 

“Mulder?  Who is that?” her voice showed her fear. 

 

“It’s Rob.  He was worried about you.”  Her eyes widened and she reached for the phone.  He handed it to her and sat up a little straighter beside her, needing to be close to her.

 

“Rob?”

 

“Are you really okay?”

 

“Yes.  Thank you for calling.”

 

“I would have called sooner, but I wanted to wait until I was alone.”

 

“Thank you,” she said softly.  She handed the phone back to Mulder.  She couldn’t handle the questions that came to her.

 

Mulder took the phone but he was watching her.  It was like he could feel her blood pressure rise from the additional stress.  Damn it, they had both been well on their way to real relaxation.  “Rob, I need to - “

 

“I know you have to go, but I’ve found three others.  Well four.”

 

“Four what?”  Mulder asked quickly.  He wanted to hang up but the boy’s excitement held him.

 

“Guys like you and me.  Ones whose brothers or sisters were taken.”

 

Mulder was stunned silent for a moment.  Four others?  It had never occurred to him to even look for other siblings.  “How, how did you find them?”  His attention was back on Rob now.  He felt Dana’s hand on his arm and turned to her.  His arm went back around her and he pulled her close.

 

“I was, uh, searching on the computer.”

 

“Hacking?” Mulder sounded as surprised as he felt.

 

“Well, yeah.  I figured we needed the information.”

 

Mulder looked back over at Dana, she met his eyes.  Her look was pleading; she needed stability, not more of this strangeness.  “I’ll call you back.”

 

“I didn’t mean to upset her.”

 

How had Rob picked up on that?  “I just need to check on her.  I’ll call - “

 

“Mulder, I’m okay,” she reassured him, cuddling in.  “Go ahead.  You, we need this information.”

 

He gave her a long look, then kissed her brow.  He brought the phone back to his ear.  “Tell me what you found.  Did you say four?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Do you have names?”

 

“Sure do.  Roger Austin, he’s in prison in Virginia.  Stephen Stoner, he’s at Yale, and Chuck Wallace.  He’s in high school in Boston.”

 

“You said four.”

 

“Carson Nelson.  He’s dead.”

 

“Dead?  How did he die?”

 

“Suicide.”

 

Mulder was silent for a long moment.  “It sounds like they go down in age from me to you.”

 

“Right.”

 

“Where did Carson fit in?”

 

“Between Roger and Stephen.”

 

Mulder looked back over at Dana, but she seemed okay for now.  “Could you send me an email with all your information?”

 

“Sure.  Are you going to check them out?”

 

“I don’t know yet.  I need to see the information.”

 

“It’ll be there in a few minutes.  Let me know what else you need, and look after Dr. Scully.”

 

“I promise.  Rob, thank you.”

 

“Gotta go.  Later!”  Rob was gone then and Mulder placed the phone on the table.

 

They sat silently for a few minutes, then she pulled away from him, straightening up.  “Go check your email.”

 

He started to protest, but she was right.  He rose and lifted her feet back to the coffee table.  He grinned at her expression, then moved over to his computer.  By the time the computer logged on, the email was there.  He opened it quickly and began reading.

 

At her indrawn breath he looked up.  He hadn’t realized she had joined him, reading over his shoulder.  “Roger Austin’s in Buckingham?  We could have seen him today.  We have to - “

 

“No,” his voice was firm.  “You are not going near any prisons for the foreseeable future.”

 

She opened her mouth to protest, but he shook his head.

 

“Dana, you have other priorities.  You don’t know how caveman I can be,” he warned, reaching up and caressing her cheek.

 

“I need to know what you find.”

 

He nodded.  “You do, but from a distance.  What happened earlier, the cramping, could have been much worse.  Please, you need to take it easy.  You know Sherrie agrees with me.”

 

“Mulder, I have to -” He pulled her down on his lap and his lips found hers again.

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - Part 7

 

 

He’d gotten her to go on to bed, and he’d lay with her until she fell asleep.  Actually he was loath to leave her, his hand resting gently on her stomach.  He couldn’t feel that tiny flutter she had felt, but soon he would.

 

He hadn’t lied to her.  Having a child had never been part of his plan.  He had thought he would spend his life searching for his sister, trying to find out more about the global conspiracy that had shaped his life.

 

He glanced toward the living room.  As comfortable as he was, he knew she was sound asleep and he needed to check out his email.  He took another sniff of her soft, fragrant hair, then carefully eased himself out of the bed.

 

Mulder pulled up his email from Rob and quickly saved the information on a disk, then returned to the screen.  For a place to start, he read the information Rob had sent on Roger Austin.  It was a little odd that he was in the same prison where Ethan was incarcerated, but lately everything in his life had been a little odd.  He smiled and looked back toward the bedroom.  Odd and wonderful.  

 

He was able to pull up Austin’s record, and began studying his file.  A course on anger management wouldn’t be a bad idea.  Assault after assault dotted his record; he’d nearly killed a couple of guys for no better reason than they had pissed him off.  Some petty theft showed, but there was definitely family money.  Apparently he’d stolen just because he felt like it.  His family had to have hired the attorneys listed on his sheet; these guys were not cheap.

 

Mulder finally found Austin’s mug shot and sat studying it.  He had shaved his head and had dark eyes.   His nose had obviously been broken numerous times as well as his jaw.  Some orthodontics wouldn’t hurt.  He’d obviously had some jail house dentistry.

 

He should be able to get more information from the databases at work.  He put that one aside and began looking at Carson Nelson.

 

*****

 

He looked up when he felt her behind him.  He peered up at her sheepishly.  “Sorry, I just couldn’t - “

 

“Wait to check it out.  I understand,” she smiled.  “But it was getting lonely in there.  The kid and I don’t take up the whole bed.”

 

“’The kid’ and you aren’t going to take up the whole bed no matter how big you get.  I sleep wherever you are.”

 

Her smile grew.  “Did I tell you I talked to Sherrie?”

 

“Tonight?  When?  Are you okay?”

 

“I’m fine, Mulder.  I wanted to ask if I really could be feeling movement.”

 

“And?” His hand rested on her belly as he looked up at her from his chair.

 

“And she said yes, and that it was a very good sign.”

 

Mulder’s eyes lightened.  “Excellent.”

 

She nodded.  “That’s what I thought.” She let a finger run down his cheek and down to his collarbone.   She watched his Adam’s apple bob.

 

“Uh, Dana . . . “

 

“Yes?”

 

“You, uh, you better not - “

 

“Not what?” He couldn’t see her face now, but her tone was . . . lighter.

 

“Anytime you touch me is dangerous.”

 

“Dangerous?”

 

“I’m trying to be good, but I’ve never quit wanting you. You shouldn’t - “

 

“Turns out, I’m not married anymore, Mulder.”

 

He looked up then, startled.  “What, uh, what . . . “

 

“Come to bed, Mulder.”

 

His eyes widened and his hand reached to shut down the computer without even looking back at it.  He rose from the chair, looming over her.  She couldn’t stop the smile that grew on her face.   She took his hand and turned toward the bedroom.

 

At the bed she turned and looked up at him.  The expression on his face caused her smile to fade.  This man loved her.  Her, her ‘husband’ had never looked at her like that.  “M-Mulder?”

 

His hand cupped her cheek.  “It’s been a long time.”

 

She nodded.

 

“Are, are you sure?”

 

She relaxed then and a slight smile returned to her face.  “Yes.”

 

He returned her smile.  It grew as she reached for the hem of his t-shirt.  He obligingly lifted his arms to assist her in its removal.  Her hands lightly rubbed the hair on his chest, following it down to the small line that ran below his waistband.  He watched, his breathing shallow.  He caught her hand as she started to dip below his jeans.  “It’s okay, for us to . . . “

 

She nodded.  He leaned down slowly and took her lips with his.  Her arms twined around his neck.  When they broke the kiss, he lifted her gown over her head and she stood before him nude.  His eyes devoured her.

 

Evidence of her pregnancy was before him.  Her breasts were fuller, her nipples larger and a deeper rose than in his memory.  Her belly was rounded and her waist thicker.  The reality of their child hit him again.  His lips took hers again and he lowered her to the bed.

 

*****

 

He’d made it to Princeton in a little over two hours.  At least he hadn’t been pulled over, but he didn’t want to be away from Dana overnight.  She seemed to be doing much better with Ethan formally out of her life; and Mulder himself in that place instead.  Ethan hadn’t attempted to contact her since that day.

 

Mulder followed the signs to the alumni office.  Nice digs, but Princeton would have that.  Oxford did too.  He moved toward the front desk and smiled at the young woman sitting there.  He noted the attention he received, the flip of the hair, the slight arch to the back.  Was there a time he would have been interested?  It was before Dana obviously. 

 

“I’m looking for some information about one of your former students.  Is this the right place?”

 

“That depends.  We don’t give out personal information,” she sounded as though she was teasing him, testing the waters to see if he was interested.

 

Instead he pulled out his shield.  “This student is deceased.”

 

She drew back slightly, focused now on the badge.  “Murdered?”

 

“No.  His name was Carson Nelson.  Could you check that for me?”


”Uh, yeah.”  She turned toward her computer and began typing.  “Do you have a middle name?”

 

“No.  He would be in his late twenties.”

 

“Oh, I, I didn’t realize . . . “

 

“What?” Mulder moved around behind her to look over her shoulder.  He jerked back at the picture on the screen.  It was him, ten years or so younger, but him.  “Could, could I have a copy of his transcript?”

 

“I’m not supposed to - “ she looked up, but stopped.  “Yeah, okay.”

 

“What,” he was having trouble forming words.  “His major, what . . . “

 

“Uh, biology.”  She handed him the transcript with a hand that trembled slightly.

 

“Do you show an advisor?  Where’s the biology building?”

 

“I don’t have any information about his advisor.” She pulled out a campus map.  “Here’s the biology building.  You’re here.” She pointed to the two buildings.

 

“Thanks.”  He snatched up the map and was out the door before she could say anything else.

 

He lost no time making his way to the biology building.  There was no reception desk, so he scanned the directory and headed for the department chair’s office.  The young woman working at the desk had violent pink hair and a stud in her nose.  Princeton?  If he hadn’t been so consumed with what he had just seen he’d have laughed.

 

“Is there someone here I could speak with?”

 

“Like who?  Like a professor or something? “

 

“May I help you?” An older woman had entered the office.  “I’m Dr. Batten.”

 

“Thank you.” Mulder turned away from the pink haired girl gratefully. 

 

“Are you, you look familiar.  Were you in my class?”

 

“No ma’am.”  He withdrew his shield again.

 

“FBI?  Is there a problem?”

 

“Are you familiar with a Carson Nelson?”

 

“Of course, that’s who - Are you related to him?”

 

“No.  I wasn’t aware of our resemblance until a few minutes ago.  Is there somewhere we can talk?”

 

“Yes, of course.  My office.”  She turned away and he followed her down the hall.   She motioned to a chair and took her seat behind the desk.  “You didn’t know Carson?”

 

“No.  I’m trying to get some information about him.”

 

She nodded.  “I worked with him.  He was brilliant.  His research was incredible, the man never forgot anything.  We talked about graduate school.  I wanted to take him on as my student.”

 

“His suicide - “

 

She shook her head.  “That was tragic. It should never have happened.”

 

“Could you tell me about it?”

 

“Not really.  Oh, there were rumors, something about a woman he was seeing, but I don’t believe that was it.  I’m not saying it didn’t contribute, but . . . He was a lonely boy, man.” She shook her head.

 

“Did he live on campus?”

 

“Yes, I believe so.  Yes, he mentioned a roommate.”

 

“Do you remember his name?” Mulder sat forward quickly.

 

“Oh goodness, it’s been years.  Let me make a phone call.  I have a friend in housing.”

 

He nodded and sat back.  His cell phone rang as he waited for Dr. Batten.  He answered quickly. “Mulder.”

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“Dana, nothing.  I’m sorry I upset you.  I’m getting information about Nelson and it caught me off guard.”

 

“What?”

 

“Baby, please, let me find out what’s going on.  I promise I will tell you everything I find out, but please promise me you won’t worry while I’m gone.  I’ll be home tonight and you and I can go over what I found out.  I want your input, but you cannot dwell on this now.  I am fine.  You have to look after yourself.”

 

“You are okay?”

 

“Yes, Dana.  The information I’m getting surprised me, but I am fine.”

 

“Will you call me, when you’re on your way home?”

 

“Promise.  Are you at work?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Make sure Sherrie takes a look at you before you head home.”

 

“Mulder - “

 

“Do it for me.  I’m going to need your input on this information, so I need you to take care of yourself.”

 

“Be careful.”

 

He smiled, soothed by her voice.  “I will be.  I want to be home with you.”

 

“Bye.”  She hung up.  He didn’t say goodbye and she had gotten used to that.

 

He took a deep breath and slipped his phone back into his jacket pocket.  He looked back over at Dr. Batten.  She was scribbling something on a pad, then hung up.

 

“His roommate was Chad Boseman.  My friend is checking with Alumni Affairs to see if we have a current address.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“May I ask why you’re investigating Carson at this late date?”

 

“I’m looking into the disappearance of his sister.”

 

The older woman’s eyes closed for an instant, then she nodded.  “I heard about that after he was gone.  He never spoke of her, but it explained some of his distance.  He was a loner, maybe that’s why he was so good at research.  He was used to not having people around.”

 

“What did you hear about it?”

 

“Not much.  Just that it happened when he was a child.  I felt so sorry for his parents, losing both of their children.”  She looked over at her phone as it rang.

 

“Yes?  Thanks Gloria.  Yes, I’ll give you a call.”  She hung up and looked over at Mulder.  “The last address we have for Mr. Boseman is Washington, DC.”

 

For the first time Mulder grinned.  Almost too good to be true.  He took the slip of paper she handed him and thanked her.  He needed to get home.  If Dana had picked up on his shock, he needed to get home to her.

 

*****

 

She met him at the door, but before she could ask any questions, his lips covered hers.  When they broke for air, she couldn’t remember her question.  He turned her toward the couch and sat beside her.  “What did Sherrie say?”

 

She rolled her eyes.  “I’m fine.  You cured me.”

 

“I - “ his voice broke off when her hand came to rest on his thigh and began moving up.

 

She nodded.  “You ‘relaxed’ me.”

 

He swallowed hard.  The blood flow to his brain seemed to be diminishing rapidly.  “I thought women being insatiable during their second trimester was an old wives tale.”

 

She shook her head.  “There’re some pretty smart old wives out there.”  She shoved him down onto the leather and loosened his tie.

 

*****

 

He looked down at her sprawled across his body.  She had fallen into one of her naps following their lovemaking.  He pulled the afghan down over them so she wouldn’t be too cool.  Feeling her warm body against his, he slipped into sleep as well.

 

He woke to find her standing beside the couch.  She was watching him with a smile on her face as she picked up his suit coat from where it had dropped earlier.  At the sound of the paper crackling in the inside pocket she stopped and pulled it out.  Remembering, his hand went out to stop her, but it was too late.  She draped the coat over the coffee table and unfolded the paper.  It was a copy of the photograph.

 

“Where did you get this?  Is this you at Oxford?” She looked up and saw his expression.  “What?  What’s wrong?”

 

“Uh, that’s not me.”

 

“It’s not?” She looked back down at it.

 

“That’s Carson Nelson.”

 

She looked up at him then, startled.  “Carson - Are you kidding?”  He shook his head.  “This is what upset you.”

 

It wasn’t a question, so he kept quiet.

 

“Are you related to him?”

 

“Not that I know of.”

 

“Mulder, what’s going on?”

 

He sighed then.  “I don’t know.”

 

“Mulder - “

 

“I, could you look at something?”

 

“Sure.”

 

He moved over to the computer and booted it up.  He held the chair for her, seating her in front of the screen.  He leaned over her and pulled up Austin’s mug shot.  She hadn’t seen this before and winced at the photograph.  “At least I’m better looking than one of them,” he quipped.

 

“Mulder do you think - “

 

“Look at him.” Mulder covered the man’s jaw and nose with one hand and his bald head with the other, leaving basically only the eyes.  Her gasp was his answer.

 

“This man is five years younger than me.  Carson was ten.”

 

She just watched him for a moment.  “You think they’re - “

 

“I haven’t decided what I think yet.  I spent the ride home not thinking about it.”

 

“Because of me,” she said softly.

 

“Partly, yes.  I didn’t want you worrying, and I wanted to see if I could find a picture of Stephen and Chuck.”

 

“How can I help?”

 

He relaxed then smiling.  “You already did.”

 

*****

 

It took little time to find Chad Boseman.  He worked on the Hill for Senator Wymont.  He had resisted her accompanying him, but she had talked him around, pointing out that if she saw his emotions, she would have the facts rather than over blowing it with speculation.

 

They waited outside of the building and approached him when he left for lunch.  “FBI?” Chad glanced at the ID, then looked up at Mulder.  “You - “

 

“Do I look familiar?”

 

“Yeah, uh, yes.”

 

“Remember Carson?”

 

The younger man’s eyes widened.  “Are you, he didn’t have an older brother.”

 

“Have you got a few minutes?”

 

“Oh sure,” he said.  “I was headed to lunch.”

 

“If you don’t mind, we’ll join you.”  Mulder’s hand came up to Dana’s back.

 

Chad glanced down at Dana’s body.  “The concourse is close.”

 

“That’ll be fine,” Dana said smiling.  “Thank you.”   

 

Mulder insisted she take a seat, to hold the table, while he got food for the two of them.  The two men joined her at the table.  Chad took a bite of his gyro, savoring it a moment, then turned to Mulder.  “Did you want to ask me about Carson?”

 

“Yes, and his sister.”

 

“Jenny?”

 

“What do you know about her?” Mulder asked quickly.

 

“Nothing really.  I didn’t know she existed until one night I needed a marker and Carson pointed to a drawer and I opened the wrong one.  There was this picture of a little girl and I took it out.  He was just frozen, you know?  I asked who it was and he told me her name.  He was so freaked I asked if she was his daughter.” Chad chuckled then at the memory.  “Anyway, he told me she was his sister and had gone missing years ago.  I asked him why he had the picture stuck away in his desk and he couldn’t come up with a reason, so after that she sat on his dresser.  He didn’t talk about her or anything but I think having her out there and not hidden in a drawer made him feel better.”

 

Mulder was staring off into space.  Dana took his hand, bringing him back to the present. He nodded and squeezed her hand.

 

“Were you friends?” Dana asked, taking over the questioning.

 

“Well, I guess so.  I mean, we were good roommates, but we didn’t hang out together. He was in the labs a lot of the time.  Maybe that’s why he was such a good roommate.  He was quiet, brilliant; I wished he could help me with my courses more than once, but I was poly sci and he was pure scientist.”

 

“Did he date much?”

 

“No.  He wasn’t social.  He could have dated.  Hell, every woman I brought back to the room that got a look at him . . . Well, you know.”  He glanced at Mulder and grinned.

 

Dana smiled and nodded.  Mulder glanced over at her puzzled.  “I’ll explain later, Mulder,” Dana assured him.

 

“But he did get involved with one woman,” Chad sighed.  “He got in over his head, that’s for sure.”

 

“What happened?” Dana asked quickly.

 

“She was older, more ‘experienced’.  She just overwhelmed him.  I’m not saying he was a virgin when she went after him, but he was more innocent.  Then Diana blew in and - “

 

“Diana?” Mulder interrupted.  “What was her last name?”

 

“Uh,” Chad drew back from the intensity emanating from the man suddenly.  “Let me think.  It’s been years.  She was tall, dark hair - “

 

“Fowley,” Mulder said quietly.

 

“Yeah, that’s it.  Do you know her?”

 

“Apparently not,” was his only comment.  Dana looked over at him, but left it alone for now.

 

“Do you know anything about Carson’s research?” Dana asked, changing the subject.

 

“Not really.  Like I said, I was poly sci; but it always sounded like science fiction to me.  He was reading articles about in-vitro fertilization and gene stuff, even cloning.  It was way beyond anything I could follow.”  He took another bite of his lunch.  “I’m going to need to head back to the office.  Is there anything else?”

 

When Mulder didn’t speak, Dana met Chad’s eyes.  “This is a personal investigation, not FBI.  We’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t discuss this.”

 

“Oh, yeah.  I understand.  If you have any more questions, it’s okay to contact me.”  Chad drew a card out of his wallet and handed it to Dana.

 

“Thank you.  You’ve been a big help,” Dana shook the young man’s hand as he rose from the table.  Chad looked over at Mulder one last time, then nodded goodbye to Dana and took his trash to the bin before leaving them.

 

“Mulder?”

 

“Let’s go home.”

 

She nodded and took the hand he held out to her.

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - Part 8

 

 

Mulder watched as the guard led Austin towards the table.  Now, face to face, he could see the resemblance even with the scars.  Austin took his seat and appraised the man in front of him suspiciously.

 

“You wanted to see me?”

 

“Yes, thank you.  I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder.  I don’t have a lot of time, so I’m going to cut to the chase.  Do you recognize me?”

 

“Recognize?  Why, did you arrest me some time?”

 

“No.  How about this picture?”  Mulder laid a picture of Carson on the table between them.

 

Austin’s eyes narrowed.  “This is you, younger.”

 

Mulder shook his head.  “Try again.  Look at the eyes.”

 

The man shrugged.  “He looks familiar.”

 

“How about this?” Mulder put another picture on the table.

 

The younger man’s eyes narrowed at the sight of this picture.  “Where did you get this?”

 

“It’s not you.”

 

“What do you mean it’s not me?  Then who it is?”

 

“A young friend of mine.”

 

Austin picked up the picture of Carson again and looked at Mulder, then back at the picture of the young boy.  “What the hell’s going on here?  Who are you really?”

 

“What happened the night your sister disappeared?” Mulder countered.

 

Austin jerked back then, a mixture of fury and fear on his face.  “How the hell do you know about that?”

 

“It happened to me and him, and him.” Mulder pointed to the two pictures.  “Since I didn’t have a brother, and my parents divorced, I’d say we aren’t related.  I’d say that none of us are related, but . . . “

 

For a long moment Austin looked at him.  “Your sister was taken?”

 

Mulder nodded.  “And yours and both of these guys.”

 

“Why?”

 

“I’m not sure.  I didn’t know about any of you until recently.”

 

“Are there others?”

 

“Yeah.  I know of two.  I’m not sure I’m the oldest, but right now it looks that way.”

 

“So if I’d stayed out of trouble I’d look like you?”

 

Mulder grinned then.  “Looks like it.  When you get out we can work on that.”

 

“If I get out.”

 

“You’ve got a reason to get out now.  I need your help.  We all need your help.”

 

“My help?”

 

“Don’t you want to know what’s going on?  Why all of us, why take our sisters?”

 

“You don’t think I hurt Megan?”

 

“No, and I know I didn’t hurt Samantha, and this boy didn’t hurt Sara.”

 

“What about this guy?” Austin pointed to Carson.

 

“He’s dead.  Suicide.  He was a biology major, brilliant.  He may have learned something, I don’t know.”

 

“You sure it was suicide?”

 

“Not completely.  This investigation seems to have a lot of avenues.”

 

“I can’t see myself working with the FBI.”

 

“This isn’t an FBI investigation.  This one’s personal,” Mulder responded.

 

Austin looked at him for a long moment.  “I need to think about it.”

 

Mulder nodded.  “I understand that.  All I ask is that you keep this between us.”

 

“Who the hell would I tell?”

 

“Tell me what happened that night,” Mulder said quietly.

 

“I don’t know.  I’ve never known and even if I did, why should I tell you?  Okay, we look alike, but - “

 

“We more than look alike and you know it.

“But why should I believe you?  You’ve shown me pictures that you say are other people.  I think you’ll understand that I’m not in the habit of just believing FBI agents.”

 

“I know about Megan.”

 

Austin looked away for a moment.  “There was a time when a lot of people knew about it.  The FBI even looked for her.”

 

“Not very well.”

 

“What?”

 

“I’ve seen the file.  They did a half-assed job looking for her just like they did for Samantha and Sara.  It was an exercise.  I know, because Samantha is the reason I joined the damned Bureau.”

 

“You’re still looking into it?”

 

“What should I be doing?  Getting into barroom brawls, knocking over convenience stores . . . committing suicide?”

 

The younger man shrugged.  “I’m not giving you any DNA.”

 

Mulder grinned.  “Under the circumstances I don’t blame you.  But that is a good idea. Carson’s out of the question, but I can get some from our youngest friend.”

 

“Is he the youngest?”

 

“I don’t know how to find out until another sister is taken.  That could be four years from now, unless we stop it.”

 

“We, kemo sabi?”

 

“Hey, bro, who else would I ask?”  Mulder pushed back from the table.  “All I can ask of you right now is to think about it.”

 

“Are you going to talk to the others?”

 

“Yeah.” Mulder rose to his feet.

 

“Will you let me know?”

 

Mulder hesitated, then nodded.  “I need to get home.  I’ll be in touch.”

 

“Who is she?”

 

Mulder’s head jerked up.  “Who?”

 

“The woman you have to get back to.”

 

“What are you talking about?”  Mulder had stiffened and Austin leaned back to meet his eyes.

 

“I’m not sure.  But you have to get home because of her.”

 

After a moment Mulder nodded.

 

“Okay.  Maybe we can talk about her next time.”

 

“I don’t think so,” Mulder said, his voice harsh.

 

“Hey, look, I’m sorry.  It just came to me, like she was part of all this.”

 

“I’ll talk to you in a few days.”  Mulder turned away then, trying hard not to be disturbed by those words.  She would pick up on it and he didn’t want that. Once in the parking lot, he took a couple of deep breaths, then pulled out his cell phone.

 

“Mulder?” She didn’t bother with hello.  “Are you okay?”

 

“I’m good.  Austin is one of us.”

 

“I know.  Are you coming home now?”

 

“Yes.  I want to hold you.”

 

She chuckled.  “You haven’t been gone but a few hours.”

 

“That’s right, hours.”  He paused, then.  “Did you ever take a sample of Rob’s DNA?”

 

“DNA?  No, why?”

 

“Just trying to figure out what’s going on.”

 

“Mulder, you’re close, why don’t you take the long way home and go by there.”

 

“I don’t want his mother to know.”

 

“Okay.  I can contact him; see if he can meet you after school.”

 

“That’ll make me late getting home.”

 

“I’ll save you a place in the bed.”

 

“You better.  You’ll be okay?”

 

“I’ll be fine.  I’ll call you after I get in touch with Rob.  And don’t speed home.  You don’t want to get pulled.”

 

“Pulled?  Remember, I’m a G-man, they wouldn’t dare.”

 

“Don’t push it.”

 

*****

 

He pulled into the parking lot just as school was letting out.  Scully had left a message on Rob’s phone and he had called her back between classes.  Mulder stayed in his car.  Scully had described what he was driving; Rob would be looking for him.

 

He’d been waiting less than five minutes when he spotted the boy coming towards him.  Rob opened the passenger door and slipped into the front seat beside him.

 

“Hi.  Dr. Scully said you needed some DNA from me.”

 

Mulder nodded.  “Do you mind?”

 

“No.  Did you go to the prison?”

 

“Yeah, did she tell you that too?”

 

“No, it just seemed like that would be logical.  At least you knew where he would be.”

 

Mulder grinned.  “I should check in with you more often.”

 

“So, how do we do this?”

 

“I don’t carry around DNA gathering equipment.  I guess the best thing would be to take some of your hair with the roots attached.”

 

“Okay.”  Rob reached up and pulled several hairs from his head.

 

Mulder found an old bank envelope and Rob dropped the hairs into it.  Mulder closed it up, folded it and tucked it into his coat pocket.

 

“What are you trying to find?”

 

“I don’t know, but our resemblance, the others . . . It’s not a coincidence.”

 

Rob nodded.  “Will you let me know what you find?”

 

After a slight hesitation, Mulder nodded.  “If I can.”

 

“You want to protect me.”

 

“Yes.”

 

Rob nodded.  “Let me know what you can.  I gotta go or I’ll miss my bus.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

Rob shrugged and let himself out of the car.

 

*****

 

He beat her home by a few minutes and met her at the door.  “Are you okay?”

 

She started to roll her eyes, but he pulled her against him and she came willingly.

 

“Tell me what you found.” She led him to the couch.

 

“Shouldn’t you eat?”

 

“I am going to scream if you don’t - “

 

But she saw that he was grinning now.  He pulled the envelope out of his pocket.  “I have Rob’s hair.  We need to do a DNA test.”

 

“Did you get Austin’s as well?”

 

He shook his head.  “No, and there was no way to compel it.  It is part of this.  After we get the results from Rob - “

 

“Comparing it to yours?”

 

He nodded.

 

“Who do you trust to do it?”

 

“Uh, you.”

 

“Me?  I don’t do a lot of this kind of thing.”

 

“But you have.”

 

“In school,” she protested.

 

“But you know the procedure.  Can you get what you need?”

 

After a minute she nodded.

 

*****

 

Mulder waited, standing just outside of Stephen’s room.  According to his class schedule, Stephen should be here soon.  Mulder had taken the chance that Stephen would come by his dorm before going anywhere else.

 

When the hall door opened Mulder turned away from the message board on Stephen’s door and looked up. Stephen stepped inside, then halted when he saw the man at his door.  “May I help you?”

 

“I hope so.  Are you Stephen Stoner?”  It wasn’t a question Mulder needed to ask, he was easily recognizable.  This was how he had looked when he arrived at Oxford.  Well, maybe a little more developed because of the competitive swimming, but still lean, except for the nose.

 

“Yes.”  The young man was looking at him now, curious.  “Do I know you?”

 

“We haven’t met.  My name is Fox Mulder.”  He held out his ID for inspection.

 

“FBI?  What’s going on?”

 

“Could we step into your room?”

 

“I don’t have a lot of time.  I’m supposed to meet some friends in a little while.”

 

“This doesn’t have to take long.”

 

Stephen shrugged and took out his key.  “The place is a mess, I wasn’t expecting company.”

 

Mulder grinned but made no comment; just followed him inside.  It wasn’t that bad.  His apartment was often worse, or had been before Dana moved in.

 

Stephen moved the books from the desk chair and motioned for Mulder to take a seat.  Stephen sat on the bed, facing him.  “What is this about?”

 

“I want to talk to you about your brother.”

 

Stephen’s face grew hard and cold.  “I have to go.”  He rose in clear dismissal but Mulder didn’t move.

 

“Then let me talk about him.  Let’s see, you were home alone, babysitting him.  Your parents had gone out, but probably in the neighborhood.  With no warning the power died and you’re in the dark.  Then Kevin starts screaming.”

 

All of the color had left Stephen’s face and he sank back down onto the bed.

 

“Who the hell are you?”

 

“Fox Mulder.”

 

Stephen’s eyes narrowed.  “That tells me nothing.”

 

Mulder nodded and pulled two photographs out of his coat pocket.  “I’d like you to look at these pictures.”  He handed them over to Stephen.

 

The younger man looked down at them and Mulder watched his anger grow.  “Where the fuck did you get these pictures of me?”

 

“They aren’t you, Steve.”

 

“Stephen.  The hell they aren’t.”

 

“I’m not lying to you.  This one is a young friend of mine, this one,” Mulder pointed to them, “is me.”

 

Stephen’s lips moved but he made no sound.  Mulder sighed.  “My sister, Samantha, was taken when I was twelve.  That was the scenario when she was taken.  My friend’s sister was taken last year, when he was twelve.”

 

Stephen shook his head.  “Why are you doing this?”

 

“So far I know of six of us.”

 

“S-six?”

 

Mulder nodded.  “Do you still have to go?”

 

“What is this?”

 

“The truth, I don’t know.   But I want to find out.”

 

Stephen studied him for a long moment.  “Talk to me.”

 

“So far I’m the oldest.  There seems to be five years between each . . . abduction.”

 

“Who else have you talked to?”

 

“I’d like this kept between us.”

 

After a moment Stephen nodded.  “Who would I tell?”

 

“Your parents.”

 

“No.  I don’t volunteer information to them.”

 

Mulder made no comment, silently agreeing with him.  “I’ve met with Roger Austin, he follows me in line.  Samantha was taken November 27, 1973.  His sister, Megan, was taken October 7, 1978.  Austin is in prison.  He . . . he didn’t do well after what happened.”

 

“Prison, huh?”

 

“Wrong crowd, his parents divorced.  Sound familiar?”

 

Stephen’s eyes narrowed again.  “Who else?”

 

“Next in line was Carson Nelson.  Jenny was taken in 1983.”

 

“Where’s he?”

 

Mulder looked down at his hands, fingers entwined.  “He didn’t do too well either.”

 

“He’s in prison too?”

 

“No, he committed suicide.”

 

Stephen’s jaw dropped open.  “Well, this is a fun conversation.  So far our little group has a G-man, a felon, a suicide and a couple of students.”

 

“Three students actually.  There’s one five years younger than you.”

 

“Jesus.  What the hell are you talking about?”

 

“We’re linked.  We’ve all been through this experience and if I’m not mistaken, when your parents arrived home they found you unconscious.”

 

Stephen nodded.

 

“Now you have an eidetic memory.”

 

Stephen’s eyes widened.  “How did you - “

 

“I have it too.  All of us do as far as I can tell.  But we can’t remember that night.”

 

Stephen rose then and began to pace around the room.  “Do you expect me to just buy this?”

 

“I know it’s a lot to absorb.  What I need from you is a sample of your DNA.”

 

“My DNA?  You think we’re, what, related?”

 

Mulder spread his hands.  “Do you think all of these connections are coincidence?  Do you think we just happen to look like each other?”

 

“I don’t have a clue what to think.  Tell me why I should believe any of this.  All you have is a story and a couple of pictures that you say are you and some kid.”

 

“Yeah, it is pretty wild.  Your father, he’s an attorney with an international firm.  My father worked for the State Department.  Austin’s grandfather, his mother’s father, was an admiral.”

 

“What about the guy that offed himself?”

 

“His father owns an import/export company.  He travels a lot.”

 

They sat for several minutes then.  Mulder didn’t try to break the silence.  Finally Stephen met his eyes.  “Why were they taken?”

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - Part 9

 

 

“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.”

 

“Your father.”

 

“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.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“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 - “

 

“Carson.”

 

“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.”

 

“Still?”

 

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.”

 

“Found who?”

 

“The woman we all look for.”

 

“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.

 

“Lab results?”

 

She nodded and pulled out the information.  “According to this, you and Rob are identical twins.”

 

“We’re what?”

 

“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 - “

 

“It’s okay.”

 

“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.”

 

Mulder shrugged.

 

“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.

 

Bill nodded.

 

“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.

 

“Mmm, Mulder?”

 

“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?”

 

“I’m good.”

 

“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.”

 

“Uh?”

 

“Well,” she indicated him.  “When he finds out what he’s going to look like in a few years . . . “

 

“What?”

 

“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.”

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - Part 10

 

 

After dinner Mulder booted up the computer and checked his email.  There was a message from Rob.  “Dana?”

 

“Yes?” she called from the kitchen.

 

“Rob found a picture of Chuck.  It’s loading now.”  She hurried to his side, drying her hands.  He looked up at her.  “Hey, I told you I’d clean up.”

 

“You cleaned up last night and the night before.  I’m not helpless, Mulder.”

 

“But you should be off your feet.  I’ve never eaten so well or been so looked after, I want to do this.”  He pulled her down into his lap and kissed her.  His hands had found flesh when the computer beeped.  They both turned to look.

 

She tried to stifle a laugh, while he looked on with a grimace.  “I looked like that?”

 

“Not necessarily.”

 

He looked at her, his expression pained.

 

“Okay, he obviously isn’t an athlete, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be.  Each of you has handled what happened to you in different ways.  You may be related but you’re not necessarily alike.”

 

He continued to just look at her.  Finally she burst out laughing.  “Okay, he’s not my idea of a hunk.  He’s - “

 

“Hunk?  My god, the geeks wouldn’t hang out with - “

 

“It would be their loss, Mulder.”

 

“Yeah, right.”

 

She leaned in for another kiss.  “I’m more convinced than ever that meeting you will do him a world of good.  His potential . . .”

 

Mulder rolled his eyes, but then sighed.  “So, how do you suggest I meet this guy?”

 

“It would be nice if Stephen could go with you, but since I don’t see how to make that work, it looks like you’re stuck with me.”

 

“No.”

 

“Mulder, we could go to Boston for the weekend.  It doesn’t have to be a racing trip.  We could have a little vacation.”

 

“I would love to go on any vacation with you, but I don’t want you involved in all of this.”

 

“I’m already ‘involved’, Mulder.”  She caressed her abdomen.

 

He watched her, his expression softening.  “Yeah, you are.  You want to do this?”

 

“I’m a pediatrician, Mulder.  Chuck is in my area.”

 

He just looked at her for a long moment.  “Let me think about it.  I need to figure out a way to approach him.”

 

She nodded and touched his cheek before she returned to the kitchen.

 

*****

 

She was waiting for him when he returned the next night.  One look at her face and he had hold of her.  “What?  Are you okay?”

 

“Mulder,” she sounded slightly exasperated, “I’m fine.  I do have some news though.”

 

“About the baby?”

 

“About your DNA test.”

 

“Oh, what?” he relaxed at that.  “Am I not the oldest?”

 

“I think you are, but . . . “

 

“What?” His arms went around her.

 

“Your father, he’s . . . “

 

“He’s not my father.”

 

She shook her head.  “I’m sorry.”

 

He was silent for a moment.  “I . . . I don’t think I’m really surprised.”

 

“Mulder?”

 

“No, I’m okay.  It just explains some things.  What about my mother?”

 

She nodded.  “She’s everyone’s mother.”

 

He blinked at that but couldn’t seem to decide on a quip.  She rested her head against his chest and his hold tightened.  “I’m glad you’re here.”

 

She looked up at him.  “I’m glad I’m here too.”

 

*****

 

After an email conversation with Rob, they headed to Boston for the weekend.  They parked outside of the comic book store Saturday morning and waited.  If this didn’t pan out, Rob had made a couple of other suggestions.  Going to his home would be a last resort.  The plans were unnecessary; they’d been there just minutes when Chuck arrived.

 

“I’m going to approach him as a G-man.  That might impress him.”

 

She nodded and opened her door.  They entered the shop and spotted him near the back.  Mulder glanced over at her and she nodded.

 

They approached him and he looked up from where he was squatting, checking out a new shipment.  He rose to his feet, wary.  Mulder discretely showed his shield.  Chuck’s eyes narrowed, but he didn’t speak.

 

“Chuck Wallace?”

 

“Who wants to know?”

 

“Chuck, please.”  Dana stepped from behind Mulder and lay her hand gently on his arm.  Mulder stiffened, but Chuck was obviously mesmerized by her, staring unabashedly and he visibly relaxed at her touch.

 

“Is this about Cassie?” he addressed the question to her.

 

“Partially,” she admitted.

 

The young man seemed to deflate.  “I didn’t hurt her.”

 

“I know you didn’t,” Mulder said quietly.

 

Startled, Chuck look up at him.  “Then what - “

 

“We need to go somewhere we can talk,” Mulder interrupted.

 

Chuck looked over at Dana.  When she nodded he agreed.  “Is there some place private we could sit?” she asked, looking around the shop.

 

“There’s a pocket park just down the street.”

 

Dana smiled up at him and Mulder watched him begin to fall in love with her.  Part of him understood, part of him wanted to take him by the scruff of his neck and throw him across the room.

 

They walked down the block, Mulder trailing slightly behind them.  Chuck took Dana’s arm and seated her on the bench.  She smiled her gratitude and motioned for him to take the seat beside her.  Mulder rolled his eyes, but kept quiet.  At least it was his bed she’d grace that night.

 

“Do you have any news about Cassie?”

 

“Not directly.  What we have is news that there have been at least six of these abductions - “

 

“Six?  It’s a serial kidnapper?”

 

“There is a connection.  Chuck, what we’re here to talk about is extremely confidential.  We don’t want anyone to know that we’ve even talked to you or contacted you in any way.  It’s for your safety as well as ours.”

 

“Are you in danger?” Chuck asked quickly looking at her.

 

“We’re being careful,” Dana demurred.

 

“You know this is weird,” he glanced back at Mulder.

 

“Yeah, but it’s important,” Mulder said quietly.  “I don’t want Dana to be put in any more danger than she is.”

 

Chuck nodded.  “Go ahead.  There’s no one I confide in anyway.”

 

Mulder and Dana exchanged glances and she nodded.  “Mulder’s sister was taken in 1972.  There’s been an abduction every five years since then.”

 

“You?”

 

Mulder nodded.  “But we’re here because of the effect on you.”

 

“On me?”

 

“Your memory, it’s, uh, ‘good’ now, isn’t it.”

 

Chuck’s eyes widened.  “How did you - “

 

“Me too, and all the others.”

 

“Why?”

 

“We’re still working on that,” Mulder admitted.

 

“There’s more, Chuck.”  Dana touched his hand again.  “Here’s the part where you’ll think we’re crazy, but so far it’s been true.”

 

“What?” his brow furrowed, but he didn’t move away from her.

 

Dana took a deep breath.  “You and Mulder, and all of the other men, you’re related.”

 

Chuck just looked at her.

 

“You’re more than just related; you’re brothers.” She met his eyes.  “You’re actually twins.”

 

The boy gave a harsh laugh.  “Yeah, right.  I’m his twin.”

 

Mulder nodded.

 

“Who do I sue?  I definitely got the short end of that stick.”

 

Dana smiled then.  “He didn’t look like that when he was your age.  He swims and runs, works out.  Just realize you’re genetically predisposed to look like him.”

 

“Would I get you if I did?”

 

Dana gave a light laugh.  “I’m pretty taken.”  She caressed her stomach and he laughed as well.

 

Mulder forced a bland expression.  “We would like a sample of your DNA to prove that you are part of this.”

 

Chuck looked up at the man.  “What, you don’t believe we look enough alike for this.  Have you checked out the nose in the mirror lately?”

 

“Hey, don’t diss the nose.  I happen to like it,” Dana broke in.

 

“You like our nose?” Chuck grinned at her.

 

“I love your nose.  He’s very creative with it.”

 

“Dana?” Mulder now looked over at her, aghast.

 

“What?  I didn’t say how you were creative.”  She winked at Chuck, who blushed but grinned.  She sobered then.  “Now that you’re more relaxed, we do need to get serious.  We need a sample of your DNA to make sure you’re one of the group.  And we need you to tell us what you remember about that night.”

 

Chuck’s smile disappeared as well and he seemed to move closer to her.  “Nothing.  I don’t remember a damn thing.  The lights went out, Cassie screamed and I woke up in the hospital.  What do you remember?” He looked up at Mulder again.

 

Mulder shrugged.  “A little more than that.  I had hypnotic regression.”

 

“For real?  My parents wouldn’t - Hey, are you saying my parents aren’t my parents?” A look of delight started to grow on his face.

 

“I take it that wouldn’t be a terrible thing.”

 

“You’re kidding, right?  Those people have made my life hell.  I thought maybe it would get better after the divorce, but I think it’s worse.  Now I can walk away and never see them again.”

 

“You might want to think about that before you do it.  This needs to remain completely confidential.  They can’t know we’ve spoken to you, or that you even suspect anything, at least not yet.  And think about it, if they’re on the hook for tuition - “

 

“I got a scholarship, free ride.”

 

“Where?”

 

“Dartmouth.  What about you?”

 

“Oxford.” Mulder managed a straight face, but Chuck was obviously impressed.

 

“What about the rest of us?”

 

“You believe us?” Dana asked quietly.

 

“If it means I’m not related to Marge and 'Homer', why not?”

 

Mulder choked but Dana looked confused, "I thought your father's name was Spencer."

 

"You guys are real tight, huh?" Mulder asked with a grin.

 

"Oh yeah, playing catch in the yard every night," Chuck returned the grin.

 

She looked over at Mulder and he became serious again.  “Okay, I’m the oldest.”

 

“How can you be sure?”

 

“Because my mother has been everyone’s mother so far.  We’ll test that with you as well, if you’ll let us.  Next is Roger, he’s in prison.”  Chuck jerked at that and looked over at Dana.  At her nod, he turned back to Mulder.  “Roger has anger issues.  Then Carson, he committed suicide.”

 

“Shit, I thought my family was bad.”

 

“It does get better.  Stephen and Rob are on either side of you.  They’re both doing pretty well.”

 

“So Stephen is, what, 23 and Rob 13?  Or is it the other way around.”

 

“You got it the first time.”

 

“What about our sisters?  Are they related to us?”

 

“I’m going on the assumption that they are.  I don’t have any DNA from any of them to prove it.”

 

“Want some?”

 

Mulder gaped at him.  “You have some?”

 

Chuck shrugged.  “Cassie loved her hair.  She wore it long and brushed it all the time.  When she was . . . I took her brush and hid it in my closet.  No one noticed and I’d forgotten about it.  Think you can get anything after all this time?”

 

“We can certainly try,” Dana nodded.

 

“Okay, will you guys wait for me?  I don’t think it would be a good idea to take you home.”

 

“No, definitely not a good idea,” Dana agreed. 

 

“There’s a coffee shop in the next block.  I could meet you there in half an hour.”

 

Mulder moved closer to the bench.  “This has got to be kept quiet.”

 

“For her sake,” Chuck looked over at Dana.

 

Mulder’s brow furrowed, but he immediately assumed a bland expression.  “Yeah, for her sake.”

 

Dana looked between the two of them, but kept silent.  After a moment, Chuck rose.  “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

 

“Okay, what’s wrong?” she turned to Mulder as soon as Chuck was out of sight.

 

“Nothing.”  He sank onto the bench beside her.

 

“Mulder?” she zeroed in on him, her eyebrow raised.

 

“You were flirting with him.” The words seemed to explode from him.

 

“That was not flirting - “

 

“You touched him and you smiled up at him and - “

 

“I can’t exactly smile down at any of you, Mulder.  Yes, I touched him and it seemed to relax him.”

 

“Or turn him on.”

 

She rolled her eyes.  “I was just trying to get him in touch with his ‘inner hunk’, Mulder.”

 

“Are you seri - “ The twitch of her lips betrayed her and he growled, his eyes narrowing.  He pulled her against him and held her for a long moment.

 

“Jealous much, Mulder?  Really, look at me.  I’m huge!”

 

“I am.  Why do you think I was getting jealous?  You have that affect on all the Mulder men.”

 

“Maybe I’m just drawn to the Mulder charm.”

 

“We have charm?”

 

“On occasion, when you want to, you have exhibited some.”  She held out her hand and he helped her up from the bench.  His hand came to rest on her lower back for a moment before he pulled her closer.  She looked up and their lips met.   “Yeah, you have charm.”

 

He chuckled, relaxing and they walked to the coffee shop.  He ordered at the counter, then joined her at the small table at the back.  She took a sip, then realized he was watching her.  “Mulder?”

 

“We’re all in love with you.”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“You heard me.”

 

“I’ve only met Rob and Chuck.”

 

“Stephen knew about you.  He, he understood about you.” 

 

“Understood?” she looked confused.

 

“He looked at me and knew about you.  We were talking about Carson.”

 

“Carson?”

 

“About his suicide.  He asked if I’d ever thought about it.”  Mulder shrugged.

 

Her hand covered his and he gripped it.  “I mentioned my divorce and he called me on it.  He told me I was happily married, that I had found the one, the one that ‘fit’.”

 

A smile grew on her face.  “Fit, huh?”

 

“I liked the happily married part.”

 

“Mulder - “

 

“I know; you want to wait.  Just so you know; I’m ready.  Say the word.”

 

She squeezed his hand.  “You’ll be the second to know.”

 

“With these brothers I’m not sure about that,” he said mock mournfully.

 

“I promise to tell you in person.”  She leaned in and gave him a quick kiss.

As she was leaning back she glanced at the door.  Chuck was approaching.  She noted his posture already seemed better.

 

He opened the door and looked around.  When he spotted them he continued his surveillance, then moved toward them.

 

“That didn’t take long,” Dana observed.

 

“No one was home.”  He pulled the little girl’s brush from his pocket.  He’d placed it in a plastic bag, so that no hairs would be lost.   “You think this will work?”

 

“It wouldn’t stand up in court, but if we can get some DNA, we’ll at least know if she’s related to us.  We can make assumptions from there.”

 

“Do you know why they’re gone?” Chuck asked, still looking at the brush.

 

“No.  It’s one of the things we’re working on.”

 

“I want to work with you.”

 

Dana smiled.  “We hoped you would.”  She took the bag from him and slipped it into her purse.

 

“The others, when will I meet them?”

 

“I don’t know, Chuck.  I don’t even know if it’s safe for you to meet them,” Mulder shook his head. 

 

“I need to know them, if I’m one of the group - “

 

“Let me think about it.”

 

Chuck looked over at Dana for help.

 

“It’s not simple, Chuck.  Let Mulder think about it.”  At her words, he sighed, but nodded, unable to argue with her.  “We’ll be in touch with you.  Discretely, but we will be in touch.”

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - Part 11

 

 

Mulder headed for his car.  It was late and he wanted to be home.  She should already be there, probably still on her feet, cooking or something.  He had his key in his hand, ready to open the car door when the hand touched his arm.  He was startled when the man he thought of as ‘Deep Throat’ stepped out from behind the pillar next to his car.

 

“Well, long time no see,” he said dryly and turned back to the car.

 

“You’ve been ignoring me,” Deep Throat said mildly.

 

Mulder shrugged.  “You’re the one that disappeared as I recall.  In the meantime, I’ve started on another thread.” 

 

“I’ve been out of town,” Deep Throat said quietly as he continued to scan the garage.

 

“Well I hope it was a nice trip.  Now if you’ll excuse me - "

 

“You got my signal?”

 

“I did, but since you didn’t respond to my attempts to reach you, I assumed our ‘relationship’ was at an end.”

 

“I wasn’t exactly in a position to get in touch.  We need to talk.”

 

“I have to get home, maybe some other - "

 

“Get home?” the man repeated, obviously amused.  “To the little woman?”

 

Mulder jerked back.  Hell, no way she wasn’t going to pick up on that.  He tried to send soothing thoughts her way for a moment before facing the older man again.

 

“Oh,” Deep Throat looked surprised.  “You’re seeing someone?”

 

“I don’t see where that’s important.”

 

Deep Throat’s eyes narrowed.  “I thought we had an arrangement.”

 

“We did, until you left me high and dry in a diner without a word.”

 

“What we’re working on requires a great deal of . . . dedication.  I thought you knew that.  What is this ‘other thread’ you’re pursuing?  Agent Mulder, do you not understand how critical the work we’re doing - “

 

“So critical that you can just disappear for weeks?”

 

“What is this new line you’re working on?” Deep Throat became more insistent.

 

Mulder hesitated, looking at him for a moment.  “Ever heard of Carson Nelson?”  Mulder wasn’t prepared for the expression on Deep Throat’s face.  Even in the darkness of the garage, Mulder could see how pale the man had become.

 

“No.”  It was a whisper, but with the intensity of a shout.  “You have to drop this investigation.”

 

“I beg your pardon,” Mulder said quickly.

 

“Just let it go, trust me on this, Mulder.  It could be . . . dangerous.”

 

“For who?”

 

“For everyone.  You have to believe me,” the man said, looking around the garage again.

 

“If I’m supposed to trust you, give me one answer.  Who’s my father?”

 

Deep Throat just stared at him for the longest moment, then Mulder heard a whispered, “Oh my god.”

 

“News to you too, huh?”

 

“I, I have to go.”

 

“Oh no you don’t,” Mulder’s voice was still low, but somehow his gun was now in his hand.  “My car.  Get in.”  Mulder forced the man into his car.  He pulled out and turned away from home.  “Why don’t you tell me why I should not look into Carson’s death?”

 

Mulder drove toward the clinic, not a nice part of town, but one where he would spot a tail if necessary.  After several minutes, his companion sat up and straightened his tie.  “Agent Mulder, I have no answers for you.”

 

“Why do I doubt that?” Mulder said conversationally.

 

“He, he was involved in some research that was . . . unsanctioned.”

 

“Unsanctioned, or just dangerous to you and yours?”

 

Deep Throat didn’t respond to that.  Mulder pulled into the parking lot of a seedy looking shopping center and headed to the back toward the employee parking area.  Once parked he turned to look at the older man.  “Why should I not look into Carson's life?”

 

“It would not be . . . safe, for you or anyone you’re seeing.”

 

Mulder stiffened.  “Is that a threat?”

 

“A promise.  They won’t want you looking into Carson’s life or death.”

 

“So they don’t know yet.”

 

“You can’t keep something like them from them for long.  If you care about this woman - “

 

Mulder's hand fisted in his lapel.  “You stay away from her.”

 

“Even if I do, they won’t.”

 

“I thought you were helping me.”

 

“No, son, you’re helping me.  Obviously you didn’t understand that.”

 

“I suppose they feel the same way about Roger Austin.”  He didn’t imagine the increase in pallor of the older man.

 

“How the hell . . . “

 

“Is that important?”

 

Drop this, Mulder.  You need to believe me.  This is not something you were supposed to find.”

 

“I’m part of a damn experiment.  They took our sisters, they changed us!”

 

“Changed you?”  For the first time Deep Throat met his eyes.

 

“How did you do it?  Why my mother?”

 

“Listen to me, Agent Mulder.  It doesn’t get more dangerous than what you’re playing with right now.  You’re putting more than yourself in danger, more than me.  Anyone that matters to you could be at risk.”

 

“At risk?”

 

“Drop it.  At least let me look into it and let you know what I can.”

 

“Will you, or will you disappear again?” Mulder asked, his voice hard.

 

“Give me a little time.  I don’t have a lot of information about this, but I will check, carefully, and get back to you.”

 

“I’ll give you forty-eight hours.”

 

“Don’t be ridiculous, Mulder, I’ll need - “

 

“Forty-eight hours.  I need to know what the danger might be; I know you’re not going to tell me the purpose or how it was done.  I want to keep this under the radar as much as you do, but I have to know what’s going on.  If you want me to drop this, you have to get me information.  Fix it so I don’t need to investigate it anymore, because I'll already know.”

 

Deep Throat looked at him for a long moment.  “You’ll keep quiet?”

 

“Yes.  I just want the information.  I don’t want to put these men in danger, but I have to know.”

 

Deep Throat held out his hand, which surprised Mulder, but he took it and they shook.  “I want to keep you safe; I want to keep all of you safe, so we’re on the same side about that.  I may not have everything you want in forty-eight hours, but I will be in touch.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

*****

 

Dana looked over toward the bedroom, but Mulder obviously hadn’t heard the knock.  She headed for the door, calling over her shoulder.  “We have company.”

 

“Don’t open - “ It was too late, she was staring at their visitor.  He hurried to her side.

 

“Rob?  Come in,” she was holding the door for him already.  Mulder took a quick glance out in the hall then closed and bolted the door.  They both looked at the duffle bag Rob carried, then Dana looked him in the eye.  “How did you get here?”

 

“Bus.  Don’t worry; Mom thinks I’ve gone camping with a friend.  The cell phone doesn’t work well in the woods, but I’ve promised to call her.  We have a week.”

 

“A week?  Why are you here?” Mulder asked.

 

Rob faced them and Mulder recognized that stubborn set to his own jaw.  “We have to get her out of town.”

 

“Excuse me?” That from Dana, though he was obviously speaking to Mulder.

 

“They’ve found out about her, and they know she’s going to have a baby.”

 

“Who knows - “ Dana started, but Mulder interrupted.

 

“How?”

 

“Ethan.  They went to the prison and interviewed him.”

 

“How do you know that?”

 

“Roger told me.   He’s been watching Ethan for us.”  They both gaped at him, so he waited patiently for a moment or two.  When they still couldn’t seem to decide what to say, Rob spoke up.  “Can I use your bathroom?”

 

“Wha- oh, of course.”  Dana pointed to the door.

 

When he disappeared into the bathroom, Mulder and Dana looked at each other.  Without a word, Mulder led her to the couch and seated her.  She didn’t protest.

 

When Rob joined them, he took a seat in the chair facing them.

 

“How long have you been in touch with Roger?” Mulder asked the first question.

 

“Since I found out about him.  I sent him a letter, don’t worry, I didn’t use my real name.  I said it was a school project, but then I taught him a code and now we can talk.  I’m careful, so is Roger.”

 

“You still shouldn’t - “

 

“I’m in touch with Stephen and Chuck too.  We needed to stay in touch with each other.  We set this up as soon as we realized she was in danger.  We have to meet them.  Stephen has a place we can stay, where we’ll be safe.”

 

“When did they talk to Ethan?” Mulder asked, his eyes narrowed.

 

“Last night, after visiting hours.”

 

After he’d talked to Deep Throat.  Less than twenty-four hours after he’d talked to him.  Rob was right; they couldn’t wait forty-eight hours.

 

“We can’t just - “ Dana started.

 

“I told them you wouldn’t believe me, but it’s safest for me to contact you directly.  I look the least like you, since I’m the youngest so far.  Stephen picked up Chuck and we’re supposed to meet them.  We need to get to the airport.”

 

“Dana can’t fly,” Mulder said quickly.

 

“We know that.  It’s a place to leave the car where it will take a while to find it.”

 

Mulder blinked, the boy was right.  It was the kind of thing he’d think of, to throw someone off his trail.  "How long?"

 

"Stephen got the place for a month."

 

"A month!  You can't be away - "

 

"Is a month long enough?"  Mulder was asking Rob this, ignoring her protest for now.

 

"Isn't she ripe when her belly button sticks out?" Rob asked innocently

 

She glared down at him for a moment, but he just grinned at her.  “We can’t just leave.  We have jobs.  I can’t leave the clinic without coverage,” Dana protested.

 

Both of them turned to look at her then, suddenly joined in a common goal.  “Rob, Dana and I need to talk.”

 

Rob nodded and headed for the bedroom to give them some privacy.  As soon as the door closed she turned to him.  “No, Mulder, we cannot just - “

 

“Yes, we can.”

 

“Just like that?” she looked scared and confused.

 

“We all want you to be safe.  We need you to be safe.”

 

She just looked into his eyes for a long moment.  Finally she nodded.  “I, I don’t know what to pack.”

 

He relaxed then in relief.  “Thank you.”  He glanced toward the bedroom door.  “Can you believe they’ve been in touch?

 

“I just hope they’ve been careful,” she said.

 

“Your safety seems to be their top concern, and they’re bright kids.”

 

“Take after their big brother?” she tried to smile at him and he grinned.

 

Her smile faded.  “How do we work this?”

 

“You call your office.  Sherry has been wanting you to start your maternity leave anyway.”

 

“Without warning?”

 

“No, just say you have the sniffles and won’t be in, or I won’t let you come in.  She’ll believe that.”

 

Dana rolled her eyes but couldn’t dispute it.  They both looked up when Rob joined them.  “Well?”

 

“You guys have obviously been working on this longer than we have.  I suppose you have some suggestions,” Mulder watched Rob.

 

“Yeah, we do.  Everything of Dana’s needs to be packed up and taken with us.  I’ve started on that in the bathroom, but I need a box.  We don’t want anyone to know she’s even been here.  You won’t need as much, jeans, t-shirts.  It can’t look like you’re going to be gone but a few days.”

 

“You guys have been planning,” Dana said, appraising the boy.

 

“We need to get started.  We have to meet Stephen and Chuck in a couple of hours.”

 

“Where?”

 

“After we ditch the car, we take the shuttle to the train station.  They’ll meet us there.”

 

“Okay, let’s get started,” Dana looked between the two.

 

“We can do this,” Mulder offered and she stopped him before he could make another comment about her putting her feet up or something.

 

“No, I can pack my own things.  You can help after you get your stuff together.”

 

“I’ll wipe the place down,” Rob offered.

 

“What?”

 

“We have to get all of Dana’s fingerprints out of the place.  Then you need to go around and touch everything so they won’t realize what we’ve done.”

 

Mulder blinked at the kid.  “I’m glad you’re on our side.”  Rob grinned and headed for the kitchen.  Mulder stopped him.  “You used to call her Dr. Scully.”

 

Rob nodded, “That was before I knew she was my sister-in-law.”

 

Mulder chuckled and didn’t correct him.  That’s what she was for all intents and purposes.  He headed for the bedroom.

 

It didn’t take that long to get her things together.  She made some comment about when things were folded and put away, but Mulder ignored that and made another sweep of the bathroom to ensure that all of her cosmetics and creams were packed.  Rob tossed him her prenatal vitamins from the kitchen.

 

Mulder had pulled out his larger suitcase and added some of her things to his.  Rob stuffed the laptop into a briefcase and handed Mulder the clean remote.  Mulder grinned and started around the room, touching the normal surfaces several times.

 

After Mulder was satisfied with re-establishing a more normal mess to the place, he took a load down to the car.  Rob was checking the clock when he returned.

 

“We need to get moving.  The guys have our tickets.  We have to go together.”

 

Mulder looked over at Dana who was standing with her hands on her hips, surveying the place.  “Anything else?”

“No, I think between the three of us we’ve covered everything pretty well.”  She grinned.  “I even put the seat up.”

 

Mulder chuckled and took her arm.  “The perfect woman.”

 

*****

 

The airport parking lot was only moderately crowded in the long term lot, but Mulder insisted on letting Dana and Rob out at a shuttle stop with all of the luggage.  He parked and jogged back before the shuttle arrived.

 

At that time of day the shuttle was empty which was a good thing, with the luggage they carried.  All of Mulder’s luggage had been put to use, even a couple of older pieces he didn’t use but hadn’t thrown out.  When they arrived at the terminal, Mulder secured a cart and he and Rob loaded it down.  He spotted a wheelchair and Dana caught him looking at it.

 

“Don’t even think it.  It will only draw attention, which we don’t want.  Mulder, I’m fine!”  She was whispering but he heard her loud and clear.

 

Walking leisurely, they still made the train station in plenty of time.  The porter got an extra tip after surveying what needed to be loaded.

 

They entered the train, Rob leading the way.  Mulder close behind Dana, holding her arm.  Chuck rose when he spotted them, a smile splitting his face.

 

He already looked better.  His acne was clearing up; his hair had been cut and even styled a little.  His posture was definitely better.  If she was right, he’d put on a few pounds as well.  She returned his smile and saw the other man, Stephen turned toward her.

 

A smile grew on his face at the sight of her.  He scanned her body and his eyes widened slightly.  This one was more easily recognizable as Mulder, younger of course, but definitely her Mulder.  She held out her hand.  “I’m very pleased to finally meet you.”

 

He nodded.  “You’re exactly what I expected.”  He looked over at Mulder.  “I told you she fit.”

 

Mulder nodded and tried to make her comfortable.  Her back was overloaded and nothing worked very well for long.  The wince on her face drew everyone’s full attention.  “Are you - “

 

“I’m fine.  The baby’s just very excited that we’re all together.”

 

“What?” Mulder’s hand came to rest on her abdomen and his eyes widened.  “Doesn’t that hurt?”

 

“Not hurt exactly, but it’s . . . noticeable,” she finally decided on a word.

 

“Has he ever done this before?  What about your blood pressure?”

 

“Yes, a few times.  When we met Chuck he pulled this stunt, but he was a lot smaller then so it wasn’t as . . . “ she shrugged.  “Don’t worry about my blood pressure, don’t.” Her finger came up stopping his next words.

 

After getting settled, Mulder began questioning the guys on this place they were taking her.  He’d seen the look of surprise on Stephen’s face at just how pregnant she was.

 

“I didn’t check out hospitals in the area.  I just didn’t . . . The cabin is fairly remote, but not drastically so.  And the word cabin is a misnomer, it’s a luxury house made to look rustic.  We don’t have to worry about transportation, a van comes with the house and it’ll be waiting at the station for us.  I have all of the keys we need, they overnighted them to me.”

 

“So how did you pay for this place?” Mulder asked.

 

Stephen glanced at the younger guys, “All of our ‘parents’,” he used his fingers to put quote marks around the word, “are wealthy.  And all of our parents would rather send us money than spend time with us.  We all had a stash.  When Rob contacted me I decided to get a little more.  I emailed ‘Dad’ and told him about this great opportunity for a campus-based seminar and I needed a little cash for the registration.  He transferred a thousand into my account.  Cash and an excuse to be out of town.”

 

“If you’re making large withdrawals - "

 

“Give us a little credit, Bro.  When we get money, we transfer it out immediately.  Littlest brother here had over a thousand under his mattress,” Stephen smiled.  “We pooled our funds into the account I’d set up.  That’s what we used, and before you asked, the account isn’t in any of our real names, neither is the reservation.”

 

“How do you know about this place?”

 

“A guy in the dorm was talking about it.  He’d been here with his parents last year.”

 

“You asked - "

 

“No, I remembered the information and got on-line.  I have this great memory, remember?”  He grinned.  “There’s no way to trace it to me.”

 

Mulder just stared at his younger brothers.  They’d done all of this?

 

“It’s sounds very nice, Stephen and we do appreciate all of the work you guys have done for us,” Dana squeezed his arm.  “And don’t worry about a hospital, I’m not due yet - “

 

“But you’re close and we have to keep an eye on your blood pressure,” Mulder interrupted.

 

“Yes to both,” she said quietly, “but I know with this group looking after me everything will be fine.”  That seemed to put an end to that part of the discussion, though Mulder made a note to himself to check out an exact route to a hospital as soon as they arrived.

 

**********

 

Simple Choices - Part 12

 

 

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.”

 

“Stephen?”

 

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.

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - Part 13

 

 

Mulder woke first and looked over at her.  What had disturbed him?  He listened for a sound, for any indication that they weren’t alone.  Nothing.  He tried to relax back against the pillow but he looked over at her as she stirred.  Shit!

 

“Dana?”

 

“Mmm, Muld - ?”

 

“How do you feel?”

 

“What?” She tried to roll over, but was only one step into a three step process when she stopped.

 

“Dana?”

 

She looked up at him.

 

“You’re in labor,” Mulder said, a little surprised his voice was steady.

 

“How would you know that?”

 

“I can’t answer that, but it woke me up.”  His hand caressed her face.  “Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah.  Help me up?”

 

“Sure.”  He rounded the bed and helped her to her feet.  She could see he wanted to ask how she was again, but forcibly restrained himself.  She squeezed his arm and he cuddled her to him.  She’s the one that broke the embrace and turn toward the bath.  He watched her go. 

 

It was inevitable, but his regret at missing the Lamaze classes was running deep right now.  Oh, he’d read everything he could find on-line and of course she was a doctor, but still . . .

 

He needed to get dressed.  He pulled on yesterday’s jeans and found a t-shirt.  She still hadn’t emerged and worried, he headed that way.

 

“Dana?”

 

“Just a minute.”  She sounded breathless to him.

 

Should he break in?  Was she okay?  Before he could make up his mind, the door opened.  He didn’t speak, but his eyes asked all of his questions.

 

“I’m okay.  My, my water broke.  We need to go on.”

 

Fear gripped him, but now wasn’t the time.  He nodded.

 

“Could you get my blue smock?  I think that’ll be the most comfortable.”  His arm went around her and led her back to the bed.  He seated her and turned to the closet.  “Mulder?”  He turned back immediately.  “Are you okay?”

 

He managed a sick sort of grin.  “Sure.”

 

She actually chuckled.  “I’ll take that under advisement.”  She allowed him to help her dress and urged her to breath during her next contraction.  Finally dressed he helped her out into the main room.

 

Stephen, Chuck and Rob were waiting for them.

 

“Did we wake you?”

 

“Not sure, maybe he did,” Stephen answered.

 

“Do you want us to go - " Chuck started to ask.

 

“No.  Stay here.” Mulder handed Stephen his sig.  “You’re the best shot.  Look after them and I’ll call you when I can.”

 

Dana looked back and forth between them but didn’t speak.  When the next contraction started all attention was on her.

 

“We have to go.  I’ll call you.”  His arm back around her, he led her to the car.  The boys stood silent, watching, not knowing what to say.

 

The drive seemed longer than Mulder had remembered it, but that was probably because he knew she was in pain and there was nothing he could do about it.  They had their story straight - on vacation, things happening early, their insurance information.  They were quiet; he held her hand as the contractions continued.

 

“I sure wish we’d gotten to take that class,” he murmured after the next contraction eased.

 

“You’ll do okay,” she smiled.

 

“Not good enough,” he said quietly.

 

“Yes, you are.”

 

He glanced over at her and the concern and love caused her breath to catch.

 

“Dana?”

 

“We’re good.”

 

He pulled into the hospital and at her insistence parked legally, then helped her inside.  The nurse at the desk smiled up at them, but he was beyond smiling now.  “She needs to be lying down.”  When the nurse nodded indulgently, he visualized slamming his fist into her face.  Dana obviously picked that up and squeezed his arm.

 

The nurse motioned for an orderly and he brought over a wheelchair.  Mulder helped her into it and started off beside her. 

 

“Sir, you need to fill out this paperwork.  We need the name of her doctor.”

 

“I need to stay with her.”

 

“It’ll just take a couple of minutes.  They need to help her change, do a quick exam.”

 

Dana squeezed his hand.  “It’s okay.  Just hurry.”

 

He managed to get the paperwork out of the way without actually assaulting anyone, then took the stairs up to the third floor, unable to wait for the car to make it down to the first floor.  He jogged down the hall and fairly burst into her room.

 

A young doctor looked up startled.  “Excuse me, you need to - "

 

“I want him here,” Dana said quickly.

 

The doctor looked between the two of them but then returned to his examination.  Damn it looked like he was hurting her worse than the contraction.  Mulder drew a breath to challenge the man but before he could speak the doctor had sat up and was removing his glove.

 

“You’re doing very well.  Already to six.  Your water breaking naturally probably helped there.”

 

“How’s her blood pressure?” Mulder asked.

 

“A little high, not in the danger range.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on it.  Were you able to reach your doctor?”

 

“No, he’s out of town.  We thought we had a couple more weeks,” Dana said relaxing back and squeezing Mulder’s hand as another contraction began.

 

“Okay, it’s pretty obvious this one isn’t going to wait, Kathy.  You take it easy and someone will be in to check on you shortly.”

 

Mulder looked up quickly.  “You need to give her something for the pain.”

 

“She doesn’t - “

 

“I don’t need anything.  Just sit here with me.”

 

He obviously wanted to protest that, but her look rendered him silent.  The doctor nodded and let himself out.

 

“Have you called home?” she asked.

 

“Damn, I didn’t even think about it.”

 

“Go ahead and let them know we’re here safe.”

 

He nodded and took out one of the disposable phones.  It was answered before the end of the first ring.  “How is she?” Stephen’s voice was higher pitched than usual and louder.

 

“We’re here.  They say things are going okay.  She’s at 6.”

 

”Can we speak to her?” Mulder heard Chuck in the background.

 

He looked up and realized she was having another contraction.  “No.  I’ll call you later.”  He hung up and turned back to her.  “Why don’t you let them give you something?”

 

She shook her head.  “It’s better for the baby.  If you’re here I won’t need it.”

 

He shook his head slightly at that but he didn’t want to argue with her.  She’d explained focal points to him and he found she was using his eyes as hers.  His hand lightly massaged her stomach as they talked softly.  They were left alone as much as possible, a nurse quietly coming in to check, mostly on her blood pressure, which hadn’t gone any higher.  He was grateful; the interruptions distracted her, which didn’t help at all.  He didn’t bring up pain medication again, but she could see from his expression he wanted to.  She was too busy to reassure him further.  Things were beginning to happen faster.  It seemed that one contraction was right on top of the next.

 

“Mulder, you need to get the nurse.  I want to push.  Hurry.”  He pressed the call button but when no one appeared instantly, he glanced at the door.

 

“Try to relax between them,” he gave her a quick kiss on the brow, then stepped toward the hall.  She was unable to mutter what she thought of that advice.  The nurse came immediately then and he was back at her side.

 

“Let me do a quick - " Mulder saw the nurse’s eyes widen.  “Don’t push, Kathy.  Let me get the doctor.”

 

“Wha - " Mulder started, but she was already out the door.

 

“Muld . . . “ Her grip was painful now and she was blowing, trying not to push.  Where the hell was the doctor?  The nurse?

 

The young doctor fairly burst into the room then, still putting on his gown and snapping on his gloves.  “Told you this one didn’t want to wait,” he said as he quickly took up his post.  “Give me an easy push, Kathy.” 

 

The nurse positioned Mulder so that he could support her for pushing.

 

“Whoa, stop pushing Kathy.  Blow for just a second here.” 

 

Mulder couldn’t really see what was happening, but his attention was more on her anyway.

 

“Okay, Kathy, the head’s out, I don’t feel the cord, come on give me another one.”

 

Mulder raised her shoulders letting her rest against his chest.  “You can do it, Dana,” he whispered in her ear.  She nodded, tucked her chin into her chest and pushed.

 

Now Mulder’s eyes were focused on the baby.  He could see the head and he marveled again at her strength.  Then the baby seemed to tumble into the doctor’s hands and screamed his fury.  The doctor looked up grinning.  “You’re gonna be rushing to keep up with this one.”  He laid the tiny boy on her stomach and clamped the cord as her hands explored him.

 

“You want to cut the cord, Dad?”

 

Mulder blinked at that, then looked down at Dana.  She smiled nodding.  He steadied his hand after taking the scissors and cut the cord.  The nurse began cleaning him up, a little roughly in Mulder’s opinion, but Dana didn’t complain and this was her area.

 

The baby continued to cry.  Dana took Mulder’s hand and placed it on the baby.  His hand could almost cover him but the baby blinked and seemed to look at him.  He calmed down immediately, like he was trying to see him.

 

“Kathy, we need to finish this up.”

 

“Yes,” she watched the nurse take the baby from them.

 

“Wait,” Mulder said his hand out.

 

“I’m just taking him over here.  We need to weigh and measure him,” the nurse explained.

 

“Go with him,” Dana said.  He leaned down and kissed her again, then nodded and followed the nurse.

 

He watched as the nurse weighed the boy, six pounds, seven ounces and measured him, 19 ¼ inches.  “Put your hand back on him.  He seems to like it.”  The nurse put the tiniest diaper Mulder had ever seen on the baby as his hand rested lightly on the baby’s chest and his finger caressed the boy’s face.

 

He looked back at Dana who was resting against the raised bed now, watching him.  She smiled tiredly at him.  The nurse touched his arm, drawing his attention again.  “Why don’t you take him over to see his Mom?”  She started to hand the swaddled infant to him.

 

“Wait, I - "

 

“Get used to it, Dad.”  She grinned and placed the bundle carefully in his arms.  He looked down at him, the awe showing plainly on his face.

 

He spotted the tears on Dana’s face and faltered for an instant, but her bright smile reassured him.  She held out her arms and he put their son into them.

 

“He’s beautiful,” she breathed.  He couldn’t speak, just watching them.  The baby began rooting around so Dana opened her gown and brought the baby to her breast.

 

“Could you get me some water?”  She looked up at Mulder.  He nodded and picked up one of the bottles the nurse had left on the counter.

 

He eased down into the chair by the bed as she changed breasts, the baby barely missing a beat before latching back on.  His knees were suddenly weak.

 

“Mulder?”

 

“Um?” he couldn’t take his eyes from them.

 

“You okay?”

 

“I will be, in a few years.”

 

She smiled, nodding.  “You need to call home.”

 

“Oh, yeah.  I hadn’t even thought of them.”

 

“I’m sure they’re worried.”

 

He pulled out the phone and dialed quickly.  “How is she?” Chuck’s voice came over the phone, not bothering with a hello.

 

“She’s great.  He’s - "

 

“Yeah,” Chuck laughed, “we know about him.  He made his displeasure at the whole ordeal very plain.”

 

“You’re been in touch with him?”

 

“Like we could help it,” Chuck laughed.  “We were awfully glad when you put your hand on him.”

 

Mulder sat there rendered silent.  Dana reached for the phone and he handed it over.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Dana!  Are you really okay?”

 

“I’m wonderful.  The baby’s wonderful.  Big brother was a little shaken, but he’s doing okay now.”

 

“Thank goodness.  We can’t wait to meet him in the flesh.”

 

“It won’t be long.  They may have us stay overnight, but no later than tomorrow.”

 

Mulder’s eyes widened at that and opened his mouth to protest, but she just shook her head.  “We need to keep this short, but everyone is doing great and we’ll see you soon.”

 

“We love you.”

 

“I love you too.  Bye.”  She broke the connection and handed the phone back to Mulder.

 

“Are you kidding about leaving tomorrow?”

 

“I’m hoping to leave in a few hours.”

 

“Are you, are you serious?”

 

“Everything went very well, classic actually.  My blood pressure is great, look.”  She pointed to the monitor they still had her on.  “And I do know how to look after an infant, even my own.”

 

“Well, I know you can look after him, but, but I mean what you just went through - "

 

“Went very well, and very quickly, thank you.  You made it bearable.”

He opened his mouth to protest that, but the door opened.  “How're we doing in here?”

 

“Wonderfully.  He nursed about two minutes on each side,” Dana offered.

 

“You seem to know what you’re doing,” the nurse smiled.  “Do you want me to take him to the nursery or do you want to keep him in here?”

 

“In here,” they said together and the nurse chuckled.

 

“I kind of thought so.”  She returned to the door and wheeled a plastic bassinet into the room.  “Supplies are on the bottom shelf.  You should try to get a little sleep, Kathy.  You’ll be feeding this one every couple of hours for a while.  You need to rest when he does.  Let Dad handle the housework.”

 

“You hear that?” Mulder looked at her and she rolled her eyes.

 

“Just hit the call button if you need anything.”

 

“Do you know when I can leave?” Dana asked.

 

“You have to travel to get home, right?  I know the doctor won’t want you in a car with this little one for any length of time.  He’ll be by later or at least first thing in the morning.  He has two other women in labor, full moon you know.  Just rest now.”

 

Mulder rose and took the baby from Dana. 

 

“I need to change his diaper,” Dana said starting to get out of the bed.

 

“I’ll do it,” Mulder said.  “I need to get used to it, right?”

 

“Very right,” the nurse said quickly.  “Do you want me to watch?”

 

“Uh, actually I’d rather you didn’t.  She’s going to laugh hard enough without help.”

 

“Somehow I doubt that.  Okay, call me if you need me.”  She left them alone again.

 

Mulder changed his diaper and settled him to sleep in the bassinette.  He turned back to Dana who was watching him.  “Close your eyes.”

 

“I’m too keyed up to sleep.”  He automatically looked over at her blood pressure but it was low, lower than at any time during her pregnancy.  When he looked back at her, she stuck out her tongue.

 

He had to laugh, the tension finally leaving his body.  “Go to sleep.”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

*****

 

They compromised, with Mulder finally agreeing with the doctor that she was perfectly okay to leave, even though the doctor thought they had quite a drive to get home.

 

When the nurse came to have a final talk before releasing them, she asked about the birth certificate.  Mulder filled out the paperwork using Kathy and Philip Miller as their names.  They’d have to fix it eventually, but for now they had to get out of there.  They chose William Carson as his name.  Then the nurse asked about a car seat.  Without missing a beat, Dana admitted that all of their supplies were at home since they hadn’t expected him on this trip.

 

“That’s not a problem, we have car seats that have been donated, we’ll get you one of those.  When you get home and to your things, you can donate it back to your hospital.”

 

“Thank you.  We’ll do that.”  The nurse called down to get a seat ready, then wheeled Dana, holding the baby, down to the main floor.  Mulder pulled the van up to the entrance and helped her into the car, then watched as the nurse secured the seat and took the baby from his arms to strap him in.  He looked so tiny and vulnerable there.  He felt another surge of love for this tiny boy and felt Dana’s eyes on him.  She nodded her understanding.

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - Part 14

 

 

Mulder made a quick stop for supplies, hurrying to get diapers and baby things and get them home.

 

All three guys were standing outside waiting when they pulled down the driveway.  They had the door open almost before he was able to stop the car.  “Hey, gentle guys.”

 

Dana merely laughed and let Chuck hand her out of the car.  Mulder climbed into the back and released all the straps and held the baby to his chest.

 

“Come on, let’s get him inside.  We need to see him!” Rob whispered, looking like he was ready to push if Mulder didn’t start moving faster.

 

Mulder watched as Stephen and Chuck held her arms up the stairs and realized that Rob was shadowing him as though not quite trusting his grip on the infant.  He winked at the boy and they all headed for the main room.

 

He started to protest that she should lie down, but her eyebrow stopped him, for a little while at least.  Mulder loosened the wrappings around the baby so that they could get a better look at him.

 

“We found a crib in the store room and cleaned it up.  Everything’s been aired out and washed.  We put it up in your room.”

 

“Thank you,” Dana beamed at them.  “We’re glad to be home with you.”

 

“And we’re glad to have you home, safe,” Chuck said quickly.

 

“We made a place for him to sleep in here too.  It’s a drawer but we put a pad in it, not too soft, and he can stay out here with us some during the day.”

 

“That’s a good idea,” Mulder nodded at the guys.  “I like keeping him close.”

 

“Would you like to hold him?” Dana offered and all three nodded smiling.  Mulder placed the baby gently in Rob’s arm after he took a seat on the couch.  He and the baby checked each other out thoroughly, then Chuck took a seat beside him.

 

“Share,” he demanded, smiling at his little brother.

 

When all three of them had held him he was returned to Dana.  “I think he’s getting hungry,” Mulder said, “and you need to lie down for a little while.”

 

“Muld - "

 

“He’s right, you know,” Chuck agreed with him, causing Dana to look over at him.

 

“Oh great.”

 

Rob grinned, “Come on, we outnumber you; just take a little nap.”

 

Shaking her head she let Mulder help her to her feet and walk her to their bedroom.  “What do you need besides water?”

 

“Nothing, really.  Thank you for looking after me so well.”

 

“No problem.”  He settled her on the bed and headed for the kitchen.  Stephen met him at the door with a large glass of water.  Mulder placed it on the bedside table. “Call if you need anything, I’ll hear you.”

 

“I know,” she said softly.

 

He shut the door and returned to the main room where he sank into the large chair.

 

“You okay, Mulder?”

 

“I will be.  I’ve never . . . “

 

“We know.  Neither had we."

 

"You were really aware - "

 

“Since he came out,” Rob said.

 

“It was wild.  It couldn’t have been long, just a minute, but when he was born . . . it was like the world tilted.  I’ve never had an acid trip, but that’s what I thought of later.  There was so much color and light and sound and cold.  We all felt it.  It was good we were sitting down,” Stephen laughed.

 

“Wait a minute; you experienced all this when he was born?”

 

“Yeah, it was freaky.  Then we felt your hand on us, but it was big, big enough to almost cover us and everything was okay again.”

 

Mulder just stared at them, his mouth agape.

 

“We’d been getting little pieces of it before.  We, we’re communicating with each other.”

 

“What?” Mulder was clearly pleased that he was seated as well. 

 

“We can read each other’s minds.  It started before he was actually born, but it’s a lot easier now.”

 

“I haven’t - "

 

“No, we haven’t involved you too much.  You can do it, but after the, the picture thing, you were only about their health and safety.  We didn’t blame you, but we didn’t want to bother you with something we weren’t sure about.  We’ve been testing it while we were waiting for you.”

 

“And?”

 

“And so far we seem to be getting better at it.  We don’t have to be in the same room or anything.  In fact, we haven’t been able to walk far enough away to make a difference.  You had the car,” Rob seemed completely at ease with this new experience.

 

“What to try it?” Stephen asked.

 

“Yeah,” he nodded and took a deep breath.  “What do I do?”

 

“Nothing.  Let us do it.  You just sit there, it might help if you close your eyes, block any extra stimulus.  We’ll have a conversation, you just ‘listen’.”

 

Mulder looked at each of them, then nodded again and let his eyes slip closed.

 

They started a silent conversation, thinking about the baby, his name and how much they liked that Carson was part of it.  They watched Mulder’s head go up, seeming to concentrate and with his eyes closed he still turned toward one or the other as each 'spoke'.  The longer they continued the clearer their voices in his mind became.

 

**Mulder?**

 

He opened his eyes and saw them smiling at him.  He had no idea how long they had carried on this conversation.

 

“Because of him?” he asked, glancing at the bedroom door.

 

“Has to be,” Stephen said. 

 

“Let’s keep this to ourselves for a now.  She’s got enough - "

 

“Keep what to yourselves?” Dana asked as she pulled the door to the bedroom nearly closed.

 

Mulder closed his eyes, he should have known better.

 

“Well?”  She stood over him, her eyebrow on the rise.  She looked over at the boys who had trouble meeting her eyes.

 

Mulder sighed, “Seems like we have something new to investigate.”

 

“William?”

 

After a moment Mulder nodded. 

 

She tensed, “Is something wrong with him?”

 

“No!  No, he’s fine, better than fine.  These guys . . . attended his birth, from his point of view.”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“Have a seat.”

 

*****

 

She just sat looking at these men in her life.  She wanted to ask if they were serious but she already knew they were.  And she believed them, even if she didn’t want to.  What had happened to these guys was different from her but she’d had a dose of it as a child.  And she had been picking up on William’s thoughts or at least his connection with Mulder since the beginning.

 

“He’s just a few hours old.”

 

“He’s just a few hours out.  His brain has been working for some time.  How else were you picking up on my emotions for most of your pregnancy?"

 

She closed her eyes and Mulder’s arm went around her.  “This is too much right now,” he spoke to his brothers.  “We need to back - “

 

“No,” she sat up, “What are you thinking?”

 

She was surprised when Stephen answered.  “He wants us to get back to our lives.  We three need to finish our educations; Mulder needs to get back to work.  The problem is they know we know now.  William knows we need protection.”

 

“If we’re split up, how do we protect each other?” Mulder asked, pulling her a little tighter against him.

 

“That’s the beauty of this; we won’t ever be alone again.”

 

“Is that enough?” she asked quickly.

 

“Probably not, so we’ve been working on something.  We’ve been consolidating what we’ve learned from Carson’s work.  We probably can’t duplicate what they’ve done, but we understand it and we can prove it.”

 

“So?”

 

“We can also make it public,” Chuck said with an evil grin.

 

“Blackmail?” she asked quickly.

 

“Yep.”  All three of them were nodding now.

 

“That’s risky,” Mulder said, watching them.

 

“We’re not finished with our protections yet.  And we want to test what we can do with this new ability William’s given us.  We haven’t been around a lot of people since we realized what was going on.  We need to know if it extends to others or just among ourselves.”

 

“What about Roger?” Mulder asked.

 

The three younger ones looked at each other.  “That’s a good place to start.  Rob knows him best.  We can work on that.”

 

After a glance at the rest of them, Rob closed his eyes, concentrating on this other brother of theirs.  The others didn't even try to give him some privacy, eavesdropping as he sought the man.

 

**Roger, don't panic, it's Rob.**

 

***R-Rob?  Shit, I've lost my fuckin' mind!  Voices, I'm hearin' fuckin' voices!**

 

**No, Roger, please.  You're not crazy.  Something's happened that makes this possible.  We can communicate with each other now.  We all can communicate, but since you know me best, we thought . . . **

 

**How the holy fuck - Is this for real?**

 

**Yes.  You're okay.  You're not crazy.**

 

**You can hear me?**

 

**Sure can.  I can explain more later.  I just wanted to test that this would work.**

 

**Wait a minute!  A few hours ago, yesterday, did something . . .**

 

**Suddenly cold, light, sound?  Like, like an acid trip?**

 

**You haven't done drugs!**

 

**No.  That's just the way I heard it described.  I felt it too.  We all did.**

 

**All?**

 

**You, me, our brothers.  We all felt it.**

 

**What happened?**

 

**Our nephew was born.  He's the real reason we can do this.**

 

There was silence then.  **Roger?**

 

**The FBI agent, big brother Mulder had a son?**

 

**Yes.  Roger, you never have to be alone again.  Do you mind?  Do you mind talking to me?**

 

**I'm not sure you're old enough to see into my head.**

 

Rob grinned, **It could be educational.**

 

**I don't want that for you.**  He sounded completely serious at that.

 

**Thank you.**

 

**The other brothers?**

 

**They can do it too, you can meet them if you want.**

 

**I need to think about that.  Dana, is she okay?**

 

**She's fine.**

 

**I'm watching Ethan for her.  As a pedophile he's not doing real well in here.**

 

**I don't think that'll bother her too much.**

 

**I need to think about all of this.**

 

**I know.  If you have any questions, or just want to, to talk, call for me.  I'll hear you.**

 

**Yeah.  Rob, don't look into my mind.**

 

**No, I won't.  I promise.  But I will be here.**

 

**Yeah, okay.**

 

Rob opened his eyes and looked at his brothers.  They had kept quiet, but had heard it all.  "He's freaked," Rob said with a sigh.

 

"You can't blame him.  You handled it very well," Mulder assured him.  "Dana?  What about you?"

 

"I don't think I heard everything.  He mentioned Ethan, didn't he?"

 

Mulder nodded.

 

"He's having a hard time with the other inmates.  I'm not surprised.  Mostly I picked up that he was concerned about Rob."

 

"He was," Rob agreed.  "I don't think he wants me to know about some of the things he's done."

 

"You can understand that, can't you, Rob?  I think that he's looking out for you."

 

Rob nodded.  "That's why I didn't push having anyone else speak up.  He might be protecting me, but having Mulder see inside his head might not . . . "

 

"Good point," Mulder agreed.  "You might want to reassure him if he contacts you.  This isn't work, it's family."

 

Dana looked over at him, smiling.  Family, something this man had thought he'd never experience, now he was surrounded and loved by his.


Mulder turned toward her and saw a tear escape and her brush it quickly away.  His arm came around her automatically.  "What?  What's wrong?"

 

"Nothing's wrong.  Hormones, I'm just happy."

 

He relaxed a little at that.  "Good.  So am I."

 

"Dinner's ready, whenever you want it," Chuck offered, rising from his seat beside Rob.  "It's not Dana's cooking, but I don't think I've poisoned you."

 

Dana smiled and accepted Mulder's hand to rise to her feet. 

 

About mid way through the meal, all four men turned toward the bedroom.  Dana smiled and started to rise. 

 

"I'll get him."  Stephen rose and headed to the bedroom.  He returned with William and a shawl for her.

 

"I should probably - "

 

"We don't mind if you two don't," Rob said.  "I like him being with us."

 

"Thank you.”  She took the shawl first and draped it over her shoulder, then took the baby and hid him under it. 

 

When he was through she burped him and let Chuck take him.

 

She looked at this brother, with the preoccupation of the pregnancy behind her she really looked at him.  He was the most different since they had met him, his self-confidence there now.  She blinked as she realized he'd been working out, all of them had but it had made the most difference with him.  He had filled out and looked more like Mulder than ever.  It was strange looking at these men, or the same man, at different stages.  It was like watching Mulder grow up right in front of her. 

 

He was training them as well, hand to hand combat, target practice.  Mulder was doing everything he could to keep them safe.

 

They were all . . . better for the contact with each other.  Yes, Stephen had been social before but even he seemed more at home in his own body being with his real family. 

 

"I should have asked this before, but you all know I've been slightly preoccupied," Dana looked around at her brood.  "How is this hiatus going to affect your plans, your education?   I know you wanted to protect me and William, but . . . "

 

They were all talking at once, reassuring her that their education was not adversely affected by this time off. 

 

"I could have graduated last year," Chuck told her.  "My 'parents' didn't think I was ready emotionally to be away from home."  He rolled his eyes.  "I'm already in at Dartmouth and I was taking 'pots for jocks' courses.  I'm good, really."

 

"Me too," Stephen spoke up.  "I'm in a lot of independent study courses and I was already ahead.  All this fun I've been having on-line with the market is actually research for a paper I've got mostly written.  I may have to take an exam or two due to absences but I can handle that.  Please don't worry."

 

Rob shrugged, "I skipped one grade already.  If I have to take anything over, I'm still ahead."

 

**Rob?**

 

They all froze at the questioning thought.

 

**Roger!  I'm so glad to hear from you.** Rob answer immediately.

 

**It is real.**

 

**Yep, strange, but real.**

 

**And you guys are all there together?**

 

**Yes.**

 

**I've been thinking about Carson.**

 

**What about him?**

 

**He killed himself.**

 

**We're not sure about that anymore.  I mean, maybe he did kill himself, but we think maybe he was led to it.**

 

**Why?"**

 

**He was the scientist of us, working on DNA and clones and stuff.  He may have figured out what we are or something.  They, they may have pushed him in that direction.**

 

**How?**

 

**Well, there was this girl, woman.  She seduced him, she knew Mulder too.**

 

**A woman?**

 

**Yeah, Diana Fowl - **

 

**Diana - ** then he was gone from their minds.

 

They looked at each other, realization dawning.  "Shit," Mulder said, slumping down in his chair.

 

"Mulder - "  He shook his head and moved to leave the room.  "Mulder."  He turned then and tried to face her.

 

"I'm such an idiot."

 

"It was her job and she was good at it," Scully said softly.

 

"Yeah, and I wasn't smart enough to pick up on it."

 

"That's not true.  You knew she wasn't being honest with you, you knew."

 

He wouldn't look at her, so she slipped into his lap.  His arms automatically went around her, holding her close.

 

"Mulder, she's right.  The woman went after at least four of us.  Why else would I have seen her on campus?  But even with her obvious ego, she realized she was too old for me."

 

"Yeah," Rob piped up.  "Not Mrs. Robinson for me, Grandma Robinson."  He grinned as the others chuckled.

 

Mulder rolled his eyes but a slight smile had appeared on his face as well.

 

**R-Rob?**

 

**Roger!  Are you okay?**

 

**Yeah.  I should have known.**

 

**About Diana?**

 

**I knew she was slumming, I didn't realize I was too.**

 

**She must have done something right.  Three of us were taken in by her.**

 

**She had big brother Mulder too?**

 

**She was married to him.**

 

**!!**

 

**Roger?**

 

**Okay, maybe I wasn't the most stupid brother after all.**  Mulder glared over at Rob, but kept quiet as Scully tried to bury her chuckle in his chest.

 

**You admit you're a brother now?**

 

**How do I deny it?**

 

**I hate to ask, but were you with her long?** Rob looked over at Mulder, knowing he had come up with that question.

 

**Well, uh just a couple of times.  Payment for a job she wanted me to do.**

 

** A job?**

 

**She's the reason I'm in here right now.**

 

**What?**

 

**She wanted a guy roughed up.  She said her boss suspected him of selling company secrets.  I was supposed to scare him a little.**

 

Stephen, Chuck and Rob exchanged confused looks.  Mulder, however, closed his eyes, shaking his head.

 

**Did you . . . rough him up?**

 

**No, he figured out I was coming and set me up.  Since I already had a record I had to serve time.**

 

**Roger, I need to know who you were supposed to beat up.  Do you have a name?**  Mulder was leading Rob now.

 

**Never found out, I went by a picture and her information.  She's really the one that set me up, not him, right?**

 

**Uh, probably.  Listen, I know you and I have the same kind of memory.  Could you . . . visualize the guy you were after?  I need to know if I can see him in your mind.**

 

**Why would that matter if she was the one?**

 

**Don't know, just curious.**

 

**Sure.**  He concentrated for a moment and the brothers saw a picture began to form in their heads.  An older man,  receding hairline, but what was left was wavy, thin lips, crepe-y neck, but intelligent dark eyes.

 

Again they all looked over at Mulder as he pulled her tighter and buried his face in her neck.

 

**So, do you know him?** the image faded.

 

**We'll look into it.  There's something you need to know.  They have to know we know about each other now.  We're kind of in hiding right now, together, but you're hanging out there alone.  You really need to watch your back, more than ever.  They may want to, to eliminate us now that we know.**

 

**Any idea why they did it in the first place?**

 

**No, but we're working on it.**

 

**It's getting late and you probably have homework.  Look, I know this is real now.  I'll keep an eye out for me, you look after yourself. Night.**

 

"Think he'll be okay?" Scully asked after a moment of silence.

 

"We'll keep an eye out for him.  I need to check when he's up for parole again.  We need to get him out.  He has experience in things we don't; he'll be an asset and that should help him as well as us.  Now, you need to go on to bed.  The baby's gonna have you up again in a few hours.  Stop, it's true and you need your rest.  Don't argue with me."   

 

He stretched out beside her at her insistence.  William was sleeping peacefully in the crib on her side of the bed.  He held her against him, glancing for an instant over at the crib.  Love and awe overwhelmed him again and he held her close. 

 

Those idiots that had caused all of this couldn't have seen this coming.  They couldn't have ever seen what they were giving him.  The family they had destroyed they had also created.  Without 'them' he wouldn't have these brothers, his son, this incredible woman here in his arms.

 

"Mulder - "

 

"Shh.  You should be sleeping."

 

"Not yet.  Tell me who he is."

 

"I'm not really sure."  He didn't look at her.

 

"But you'd seen him before."

 

"So have you.  Remember that day in the diner, when I found out you were in Washington?"

 

Her eyes widened.  "Him?  Oh my god, you're right.  Why were you - "

 

"Dana - "

 

"If you can't tell me, who can you tell?"  She kissed his cheek and cuddled into his side.

 

"He, he's my source.  We've been working together on, on the alien problem.  We don't really trust each other.  I don't think he trusts anyone, which is probably a good idea in his line of work.  If Diana knows about him he can't be safe regardless."

 

"He's working both sides?  He works for whoever Diana works with, that cigarette guy and you?"

 

Mulder nodded.  "He knows I found Carson and, and Roger.  He freaked.  He ordered me to back away from the investigation.  He said anything I found out would be dangerous, to him, to me and to you.  That's why I agreed with Rob as easily as I did when he showed up.  I've put Roger at greater risk."

 

"We'll keep an eye on him and he can look after himself better now as well.  Mulder, you didn't know, you couldn't have known."

 

He didn't respond to that, just holding her.  He thought she had fallen asleep when she suddenly pulled away from him.  She looked up into his eyes and without words he got it.

 

"Yes.  Yes, he knew their names.  If anyone knows the other two . . . "

 

"Tell the others."

 

"Dana it's late.  You have to get some rest.  They've probably already picked it up from me anyway.  Close your eyes, please.  I can't have you getting sick."

 

"After we've had four or five kids, you're going realize women aren't that fragile."

 

His eyes had widened at her statement and she thought he was actually a little pale at the thought.  She leaned up and kissed his nose.  "Relax cave man, I'll give you a little time to adjust."

 

He growled at her and turned her away from him, spooning around her.

 

*****

 

Simple Choices - Part 15

 

 

The guys beat him to the kitchen the next morning and had coffee ready.  Still decaf while she was nursing, but since it was for her . . .  Rob was cutting up grapefruit.  They all stopped and turned to him, grinning when he joined them.

 

"I take it you got our 'note' last night," he said dryly as he poured himself a mug of coffee.

 

They nodded.  "We can find the little ones," Stephen said taking a seat.  "We've been worried about them.  And you know there's at least one sister still out there.  Maybe we can save her too."

 

Mulder met his eyes.  "We have to."

 

*****

 

Their return to civilization was low key.  The train ride home was fun, taking turns holding William, knowing they might not see him in the flesh again soon, though they would be 'in touch' constantly.  Mulder was hyper-vigilant wanting to get Dana and the baby inside and safe, but unable to just leave the others at the bus station to look after themselves, especially Rob.

 

No one approached them and they found that the emotions of others around them were easy enough to catch if they tried.  Rob actually peeked into the mind of an impatient businessman at the train station and enjoyed telling them about his turf war with the man in the next office.

 

"You have to be careful about that, guys.  You can't let yourselves get pulled in.  If you check out a homeless guy too closely and he's mentally ill or suicidal, we don't know how you'll be affected."

 

Startled, the guys nodded after thinking about that.  Carson was obviously on their minds.  "But you will let us help with Deep Throat," Rob insisted.

 

"Yeah.  I'm gonna want everyone listening closely there because I'm sure that's information he's not going to want to give up.  But, and this is a deal breaker, only I will push for that information.  If his mind is . . . damaged because of this, it's going to be on my head, not yours.  Do you hear me, all of you?"

 

They agreed solemnly, shaking hands on the deal.

 

Stephen had planned well and everyone was off in minimum time to Mulder's relief.  He bundled Dana and William back in the car and headed  home.

 

She carried their son inside as he carried as much luggage as possible.  He'd forgotten that they had erased her presence and the site of his place without her little touches was depressing.

 

"Don't worry," she reached up to kiss him.  "It won't take me long to get in your way again."

 

"Like you could.  You notice, I'm sure, that we have no baby stuff."

 

"Yes, I did notice that.  We can use a drawer again tonight.  I'm too tired to go shopping anyway."

 

"Are you okay?"  The exasperated look didn't faze him.  "Dana?"

 

"I am fine, wonderful.  I just took a train trip and hung around the bus station for awhile.  I'd like to get William settled and relax a little."

 

*****

 

His family was asleep and he was sprawled on the couch.  The food should be here shortly but at least she was getting a nap.  It had been a long day for her.

 

He was on his feet at the first knock, not wanting her to wake, and opened the door. 

 

"Long time, Mr. Mulder."

 

"Yeah, took some time off.  You didn't change any recipes?"

 

"Who us?  No way.  Enjoy!"  He took his money and left.

 

Mulder put the bag on the counter and pulled open the stapled flap.  He pulled out the soup and the paper boxes and saw the folded paper at the bottom.  He glanced over at the locked door and pulled out the note.

 

"A&A Parking, 449K Street Northwest.  9 p.m."

 

Well that hadn't taken long.  The place must be under surveillance.  He'd wanted to move this along, but not quite this fast.  Rob probably wasn't home yet and there would be a lot of explanations when he got there.  The same for Chuck.  Stephen probably could get away without too much, but not necessarily.

 

He turned as the bedroom door opened.

 

"It didn't take him long to contact you," she mused.

 

"I don't want to leave you."

 

"You won't be leaving me, I'm going to be right there inside your head, listening to every word."  He managed a slight grin.  "All of us will be there.  Have you 'talked' to the brothers?"

 

"Not officially, but since you know, they probably do as well."

 

**Yeah, we do, but we didn't want to appear rude.** Chuck's voice was in their heads.

 

Mulder rolled his eyes as Dana chuckled.

 

**We've got your back, big bro,** Rob added.  **Are you going now?**

 

**I should.  I don't want him to bolt and we need that information.  Remember, only I push.**

 

**We know,** Stephen assured him. 

 

Mulder turned back to Dana.  "You'll be okay here?"

 

"We'll be fine."

 

"I'm leaving my off-duty gun with you."

 

She sighed but didn't protest.  He might be right.

 

"Do you have time to eat first?" She looked at the food spread out on the counter.

 

He shook his head.  "Go ahead, I'll eat when I get back."

 

*****

 

He pulled into the garage and parked on the east side, one level down from the top.  He sat for a moment, then forced himself from the driver's seat.   He walked around the front of the car, and leaned against the wall, resting one foot against the bumper.

 

In just moments Deep Throat approached him from the direction of the elevator.

 

"Long time," Mulder said watching him as the older man came around the car toward him.

 

"I believe you're the one that's been out of town."

 

"Yeah, I took a little time off."

 

They stared at each other for a long moment.  "You didn't drop that area of investigation like we discussed."

 

"I don't really remember a discussion; it seemed to be more an order."

 

"Mulder, you need to understand - "

 

"There's two more out there, aren't there?"

 

"What?  Mulder, you have no idea how dangerous what you're doing could be."

 

"Dangerous for me, or for you?"

 

"For everyone.  You have no - "

 

"So explain it to me.  What's wrong with wanting to have a real old fashioned family reunion?  Come on, an eight year old and a three year old.  If I'm right, we even have one sister left.  And if what I already know carries over, the parents are so happy to have us.  Who are they?  Where are they?"

 

"You're wrong," Deep Throat said quickly.

 

"Am I?  Why stop, why stop now?  You've done so well for so long.  Are you afraid I'll find a mother who doesn't mind carrying and raising someone else's science experiment? Come on, I know about the others, just between us, who's my baby brother?"  He stared into the man's eyes and felt the others join him in his mind.

 

Mulder saw a name rise to the surface of the man's mind.  Debra Parkington?  He'd mentioned the parents, was she one of them, or their last sister?  Why had this name come up and why did he seem . . . uneasy about the woman?  Baltimore.  Good a location for them to start.

 

"Come on you can tell me.  A three year old, an eight year old.  Hell, it's four more years before they're going to take that one's sister."

 

"That's not why I came here.  We need - "

 

"Tit for tat.  You want something from me, I want something from you.  A name, come on, an eight year old isn't someone that can hurt you."  Again he focused on Deep Throat's eyes and felt a surge of strength from a new source, not the brothers, not Dana . . . this was William.

 

The name Greg floated up. **Come on,** Mulder's eyes narrowed slightly as he concentrated and Deep Throat didn't look away. Greg Richardson.  Lily Richardson.

 

"Mulder, back away from this.  Roger's in danger already.  They can get to him at any time.  The project wasn't . . . sanctioned."

 

**Check on Roger!  Warn him specifically.**

 

**Done.** Rob reported back instantaneously.

 

"Was this part of the Litchfield experiment?"

 

Deep Throat winced.  "An off-shoot."

 

"You guys suck at this.  Why keep trying?"

 

Deep Throat glared at him for a long moment.  "I've given you your warning.  Heed it or don't.  I imagine our relationship is at an end."

 

"It doesn't have to be.  Save those three little kids.  I'll do your dirty work, I'll run investigations for you.  Just help me stop it before anyone else gets hurt.  Give me those names."

 

"Mr. Mulder." He turned then and sank back into the shadows.  Mulder followed him with his mind.  Danny, Debra, mistake. 

 

Well that told him a lot.  Danny and Debra Parkington, were they parents?  And the other names, Greg and Lily Richardson.  He needed to get to a computer.

 

**We're on it, Mulder.  We'll find out who they are, don't worry.**

 

**Come home, Mulder.  We love you.** That last was soothing, Dana's mind weaving around his.

 

**On my way.**

 

*****

 

Dana was asleep on the couch when he arrived.  He shook his head slightly at the sight as he removed his coat and shoes, but he wouldn't wake up William talking to her at least.  He knelt beside her and caressed her cheek.  **Dana?**

 

She smiled, her eyes still closed and reached for him.  He cuddled up next to her on the couch and held her for a few minutes.

 

"Tell me what I missed?"

 

"I think you got it all.  Oh, Rob and Chuck are home.  Not sure how happy they are about it, but they're in for the night, and probably for some time to come being grounded as they are.  Stephen should be at the dorm shortly."

 

"Are they safe?"

 

"Yes.  We're all looking out for each other and after that warning about Roger, we're all going to be hyper-aware.  They took their training seriously."

 

"I know.  Those names, Debra, Greg, do you have any idea . . . "

 

He shook his head.  "Not yet.  I was going to get on the computer, but you distracted me."

 

She rolled her eyes.  "Yeah, right.  Go log on.  Since you're here and safe I guess I'll move to the bedroom."

 

He nodded.  "We need to get a bigger place."

 

"Yes, but not tonight.  Go on, do your hunting, then come cuddle up with me."

 

"Oh that's gonna make the search fun," he groused as he helped her to her feet.  She laughed, gave him a kiss and disappeared into the bedroom.

 

He logged on and started his search.

 

*****

 

He couldn't continue the search that mattered to him from work, but at least he'd fixed it so that he didn't have to be out of town.  His frustration was growing but he wasn't sure what more he could have gotten out of Deep Throat. 

 

The brothers had been in touch and they had gotten the same information he had in Deep Throat's mind.  Rob was spending the most time on the search.  His homework wasn't challenging to him and being grounded gave him a lot of time alone in his room.

 

He was the one that found Debra Parkington, married to Daniel, mother of Danny, three years old.

 

**Great work, Rob!** They were all 'together' a couple of days later.  Mulder was on the couch, his arm around Dana as she nursed William.

 

**Are you sure it's our Danny Parkington?** Dana asked.

 

**Yeah, I've touched his mind.  I didn't push, I didn't really get anything.  He is only three, but I recognized him.**

 

**Who is his 'father'?** That question came from Stephen.

 

**He's an executive with the World Bank, travels a lot, has a lot of influence on policy.**

 

**Yep, I'd have to say that makes it a slam dunk.**

 

**Mulder, what are we going to do?  Are we gonna kidnap him?  We can't leave him with them.  If we do, won't he have to go through - **

 

**We can't kidnap him, but we can keep an eye on him regardless.  He's a baby, he's probably happy.  Do you guys remember any problems before they were taken?**

 

There was no immediate answer, then, **He's one of us, Mulder.  He should be with us; well, with you and Dana.**

 

**I'd love that, guys,** Dana joined them, **but why would they give him up?  We don't have any legitimate reason to take him.  We can't exactly say we need to remove him from their custody because in another year he's going to have a sister and eight years after that she'll be abducted and his life will be changed forever.**

 

"I hate it when you're right," Mulder whispered to her, kissing her lightly and taking William into his arms.

 

**Keep an eye out, guys.**

 

**Will do and I think I have a lead on Greg.**

 

**Be careful,** Dana reminded everyone, then she was alone with Mulder and their son.

 

"Mulder, what is your plan?"

 

"I don't have one.  I guess I didn't think we'd find him, maybe them, so quickly.  The kid is three years old.  I want him with us, I want to keep him safe."

 

"I'd love to have him with us too."

 

"Really?" He looked deep into her eyes and saw the truth.  He pulled her to him.  "You're the best, you know that?"

 

"Of course," she laughed.

 

"Don't suppose you're ready to marry me yet?"

 

She blinked at that.  "We haven't talked about it."

 

"We haven't talked about it lately, because we were busy having William."

 

She thought about that for a moment.  "You're right.  I guess I, I'd kind of forgotten that we weren't married."

 

A blinding smile took over his face.  "Then I need to fix it before you remember.  Tomorrow?"

 

"We need a license."

 

"I'll take care of that tomorrow."

 

"I'm never going to fit into anything I like," she said mournfully.

 

"Do you want to wait?" It took effort to ask that, but he managed.

 

"No.  I don't want to wait.  Forget I said anything."

 

"I want this to be perfect for you."

 

"Then you be my husband.  That makes it perfect."  Her lips took his.  "I'll make up the wedding night to you as soon as possible."

 

"Not a problem.  I plan to honeymoon with you for the rest of my life."

 

The tears in her eyes caused them to sparkle as she nodded.

 

*****

 

She called him at the office, still slightly unsure of her ability to speak with his mind.  "Mulder, I . . . something's wrong."

 

"William?"

 

"No, he's fine.  But, but something's wrong.  I keep thinking about Danny."

 

"Danny?"  He immediately sent out a call to his brothers.  "What are you picking up?"

 

"I don't know, but I feel like he's in danger."

 

"I'm on my way.  Listen in, I'm sure the guys will be reporting in any minute.  Dana . . ."

 

"I know.  Bring him home with you if you can."

 

"We gotta get a bigger place."

 

She laughed and blew a kiss, then hung up.

 

He sent a quick email to Patterson rather than face the man himself and raced to his car.

 

He had the address memorized and lost no time getting to Baltimore, cutting the time to 45 minutes with a heavy foot. 

 

**Mulder, it's his mother.  She's gone crazy.** Rob as usual reported in first.

 

**What do you mean?**

 

**Oh shit!**

 

**Rob! Rob, what?**

 

**She's got a gun, she's looking for her husband, then Danny.**

 

**Can he hear us?  Can you get Danny out of the house?**

 

**Just a sec - ** Rob was gone from his mind, but Mulder could feel the others, even Roger, listening, waiting, not wanting overlapping searches to confuse anything.  **Mulder, I got the housekeeper.  I'm not sure what I sent exactly, but she grabbed him up and is running next door.**

 

**She, she used the gun!**

 

**Concentrate on me!** Mulder commanded.  **I need a story, why I'm there.  Do you know what happened to her?**

 

**I think I got that one,** Stephen chimed in.  **Daniel has been talking about having another baby to the people he works with.  If she knows what's really going on . . .**

 

**Shit.  He's three, we've all been four years apart so it's time for her to get pregnant again.  She didn't want to be part of the experiment anymore?**

 

**She never did.** Dana was with them now.  **She suffered from severe post partum when Danny was born.  It could have been because she knew he wasn't hers.**

 

**I can be there in fifteen minutes, maybe - **

 

**Oh god!**

 

**Dana!**

 

**She killed herself.  Rob, all of you, pull out.  We'll be in touch, but pull out now!**  Dana's mental voice was an order and the boys, even Roger obeyed without argument.

 

**Dana?**

 

**She couldn't find Danny.  Rob got him out, but . . . After Daniel, she shot herself in Danny's room.  Oh Mulder.**

 

They were silent for a moment.  **Did the boys see?**

 

**I don't know, maybe Chuck, but we had each taken someone different.  Rob was watching the housekeeper, Stephen had Daniel.  I'm not sure about Roger, but I was watching Debra.  That's why I knew he was in danger.  I wish I was a strong as the rest of you.  I could have - **

 

**No and never think that again.  You saved Danny.  Stay with me while I handle this, I may need 'back up'.  Dana, I love you.**

 

He slowed down, much as he wanted to race to the site, to allow police to precede him.  There was no way he could explain his presence at the house before them.

 

**Mulder,** Rob spoke tentatively, **may I stay with Danny?**

 

**Yeah, that's a good idea, but only with him.**  He could feel the nod of agreement and turned into the neighborhood.

 

Damn nice houses, the size he could see them living in, especially if they were going to have the other two or three kids shortly.  Four kids, could he handle that?  He shook his head, not an issue now. 

 

He was hearing the sirens.  He slowed down a little more.  There was nothing he could do for the parents; he had to make sure Danny was okay.

 

The police were there in full force, he counted six squad cars around the house and yellow tape was already going up.  People were in the neighboring yards watching and Mulder spotted the boy in some strange woman's arms screaming as she tried to talk to the officer.

 

He approached them immediately.  An officer started to block his way, but his ID was in his hand automatically.  The officer attempting to speak with the housekeeper turned instead to him.  "The Bureau?  How did you - "

 

"I'm not here for the Bureau."  He reached for the boy, sending love and security in waves to the frightened child.

 

Danny responded immediately, calming down and reaching for him.  Mulder took him into his arms and held him tightly.  "It's going to be okay, Danny.  I'm here."

 

The housekeeper looked on stunned.  "Who are you?"

 

"Fox Mulder.  I'm here for Danny."

 

A seventh car pulled up then and two plain clothed detectives emerged.  They joined the small crowd around the boy. 

 

"Detective Ross, bring me up to date," he commanded the lead officer.

 

They glanced at the boy, then started to move away.  "He's asleep, go ahead," Mulder followed them.  Sure enough, the boy had hiccupped a couple of times and fallen sound asleep in Mulder's arms.

 

"And you are?"

 

"Special Agent Fox Mulder."

 

"Special - what the - ?"

 

"I'm not here about the case.  I knew something was wrong and came to check on my son."

 

"Your son?" The detective and the housekeeper spoke together.

 

"Could we debrief first?" Mulder pulled them back to the matter at hand and the first officer nodded.  They entered the house through the back door and into the kitchen, the way the housekeeper had escaped with Danny.  She and Mulder, Danny safely in his arms, took seats at the kitchen table while the detective and officer stood a little to the side.

 

"We have a white adult male in the master bedroom, shot once in the chest, dead.  We need positive ID but he is presumed to be Daniel Parkington, resident of the house.  There is a white adult female, again presumed to be Debra Parkington of the home, shot through the mouth in the nursery of the house."

 

"Shit," Detective Ross muttered.  He looked up at Mulder.  "What's your connection?"

 

"None anymore.  Debra didn't want me around the boy, didn't want her husband to find out."

 

"How old is he?"

 

"Three."

 

"You married?"

 

"Yes, and for the record I wasn't when he was conceived.  My wife knows all about him."

 

"What happened here?"

 

"I can only speculate."

 

"Please do."

 

Mulder ignored the sarcasm and looked around the kitchen.  "I've never been here.  I have no idea what their life was like.  From all I've heard Daniel was a good father.  I know she suffered from post partum after Danny was born, but I didn't see this coming."

 

The detective turned to the housekeeper.  "Your name?"

 

"Isabel Hernandez."

 

"How long have you been working here?"

 

"A little over a year."

 

"Did you notice a problem between Mr. and Mrs. Parkington?"  She looked down and the detective took a seat beside her.  "Ms. Hernandez?"

 

"Ms. Parkington was upset recently, but I don't - She didn't talk to me, not about personal things."

 

"And Mr. Parkington?"

 

"He was very happy, excited.  The other day while he was eating his breakfast he told me they were going to have another baby.  I didn't know she was pregnant, but . . . "

 

"Yes?"

 

"She wasn't a very demonstrative mother.  She seemed almost afraid of the baby.  He is a very sweet child, happy, smart, but she didn’t want to spend time with him."

 

"Are there relatives?"

 

"No, sir.  Mrs. Parkington was an only child and her parents are gone.  I'm not sure about Mr. Parkington, but there was no one who came to visit."

 

Mulder kept quiet.  That's the way it was with all of the families that had hosted 'him' as their child, no relatives, no grandparents, aunts or uncles.  Less chance of the resemblance or lack thereof to be noticed maybe.

 

"We'll need to call Social Services - "

 

"I can take him.  My wife and I want him."

 

"You sure your wife wants to take on your love child?  Which by the way we haven't confirmed.  That's not something you can just assume."

 

"Take me to a lab right now; I'll take a paternity test.  He's mine.  I can get my wife on the phone and you can talk to her if you like.  Or you can talk to my AD at the Bureau.  You can see the boy knows me."

 

They all looked down at the little boy sleeping peacefully in Mulder's arms.

 

They were interrupted by the crime scene team.  Things were moving rapidly, no doubt due to the neighborhood and apparent income level of the deceased.

 

"Let me think about it.  Don't leave."  The detective followed his officer upstairs leaving Mulder and Isabel alone in the kitchen.

 

Isabel looked over at Mulder.  "You are Danny's father?"

 

"Yes."  He met her eyes, not hesitating at all, secure in the knowledge that the DNA would back him up.

 

"I did not know.  Mr. Parkington . . . "

 

"He didn't know."

 

She shook her head.  "I believe you.  He thought Danny was very special.  He was very proud of him and showed him off all the time."

 

"Debra - "

 

"Like I told the policeman, she was not like that.  She stayed away from Danny most of the time.  I was very shocked when Mr. Parkington mentioned another baby."  She looked up at Mulder, then down at Danny in his arms.  "She did not want another baby, I am sure of this.  But to, to kill . . . "

 

"You saved my son's life."

 

She looked up startled at that.  "I?"

 

"You must have heard what was happening and you took him and ran.  I will always be grateful to you for that."

 

She blinked and seemed to relax just a little.  "Thank you.  I needed to hear those words.  Would you like some coffee?"

 

"Uh, thank you.  Yes, that would be great, just black."

 

She rose and got a coffee mug from the cabinet.  When she returned she looked down at the sleeping boy.  "He seems so comfortable with you.  Have you spent much time with him?"

 

"Not enough."

 

"Are you sure your wife will be okay with this?"

 

"Very okay, please believe me on this."

 

Isabel nodded then, "I do.  He was terrified.  That's my fault, I was so afraid.   He's always been sensitive and I know he picked that up from me."

 

"You had every right to be afraid.  If Debra could kill Daniel and look for Danny . . . You were very brave to get him out of here."

 

"Are they going to let you take him?"

 

"I'm not leaving without him."

 

She nodded, her expression serious.  "I'm very glad you are here."

 

Detective Ross returned to the room then.  "Agent Mulder, could you tell me why you were on your way here?"

 

"Not really.  I hadn't seen my son in some time.  Something made me think I needed to check on him."

 

"I called Social Services.  They're sending someone out now."

 

Mulder nodded.  "Do I need to get my wife here?"

 

"You'll need to talk to them.  They have to do what's best for the child."

 

Mulder looked toward the main part of the house.  "Can you talk about what happened?"

 

"No details.  It looks pretty cut and dried.  She didn't try to hide what she did."

 

"Was there a note?"

 

Ross shook his head.  "I'd say she snapped.  There'll be an autopsy, possibly drugs.  If she has a history of post partum and she was pregnant . . . " He shrugged.

 

An officer joined them then leading a middle aged woman.  "Detective Ross?  This is Ms. Hall.  She's from the county."

 

"Thanks," his nod dismissed the officer and he shook hands with Ms. Hall.  "Thank you for coming so quickly."

 

"Is this the boy?" She indicated Danny still asleep in Mulder's lap.

 

"Yeah, and we have a complication.  This man says he's the father."

 

"Excuse me?"  She took a seat at the table and accepted a cup of coffee from Isabel while they talked.

 

*****

 

"So, I want to take my son home."

 

"I'm sorry.  I understand your concern, but the child is my only priority."

 

"I do understand, I even agree.  Have you ever heard of a pediatrician by the name of Dana Scully?"

 

Ms. Ross thought for a moment.  "I've heard that name."

 

"Would you please look her up?  I'd really appreciate it."

 

Ms. Ross looked puzzled, but then pulled out her blackberry and got on-line.  After a moment she looked back up at Mulder.  "Yes, Dr. Scully.  She worked at a prestigious practice in Virginia, then moved to DC and works in a clinic.  I've never met her.  Why?"

 

"Would she be qualified to take custody of this boy?"

 

"I, I don't - Yes, but I don't have any idea if she would be interested in fostering - "

 

"She's my wife.  I'll be happy to get her on the phone for you.  I'm not trying to be hard to get along with.  I need to know my son is safe and he needs to know it as well.  Is there someone in your office that you would like to consult with?  I can go with you; we can run by a lab and take DNA samples.  Whatever it would take."

 

The woman was obviously torn and he was following Dana's suggestions to the letter.

 

"I believe I would like to speak with your wife."

 

"Do you need her here?"

 

"No, a phone conversation to begin with."

 

"Thank you."  That was heartfelt and she could tell it.  She accepted his cell phone and looked in the directory herself, finding and pressing the number for 'home'.

 

Dana played her part perfectly.  "Mulder?  Is Danny okay?  Where - "

 

"Mrs. Mulder?  This is Carolyn Hall, I work for Social Services in Baltimore.  I'm calling from your husband's cell phone.  He's right here with me.  I'll put him on in a minute, but I need to speak to for just a moment first."

 

Mulder followed both sides of the conversation with no problem.  Dana was able to give her several references that seemed to reassure Ms. Hall even further.  Finally Ms. Hall handed the phone to Mulder. 

 

"I think I got through to her.  How's Danny doing?"

 

"He's waking up now.  I think he's confused, but he knows me.  I need to get him out of here."

 

"She's definitely leaning that way," she lowered her voice to ensure no one could hear.  It would be easier to just **talk** to him, but not with others around and paying such close attention.  "Call me back."

 

"I will.  I love you."

 

"Good, because I love you too."  She hung up then and he slipped the phone back in his pocket.

 

Ms. Hall still looked torn but as he watched, she straightened her spine and looked at him.  "Let's go by the lab and get the samples.  We can't get an answer today, but it will be in the queue.  I have to make several phone calls to people that your wife recommended.  With the different jurisdictions involved this could become quite complicated.  If I do release the child to you, am I going to regret it?"

 

"Never," he stated firmly.

 

She nodded, still wondering why she was even considering this, but it felt . . . right.  That would not go in her report.

 

*****

 

Denouement -

 

Danny was playing with William; both were laughing their baby laughs at something that Dana hadn't quite caught.  The boys were very good together and she loved having both of them living here.  The tragedy Danny had nearly witnessed wasn't in his mind.  He thought of Dana as his mother and Mulder as his father.  The 'uncles' that fawned over the two little ones were always welcomed.  Danny didn't seem to notice that William was quite often the defacto leader even if he was less verbal and coordinated.

 

Greg and his little sister, Lilly, weren't living with them yet, but had been found and were under constant surveillance by the brothers.  They had some time, maybe as much as four years.  In the meantime, the two children were being carefully made familiar with the minds of their real family.

 

Things were good.  The growing family worked well together.  They each had a part to play and learned well from each other.  Stephen handled their funds and was damn good at it, hence this house that could accommodate all of them when they wanted to get together. 

 

Chuck was majoring in biology at Dartmouth and keeping low key, but kept his research in lots of safe places in addition to the minds of his brothers and his sister-in-law.  Everything was also on the web, unpublished but there to be made public with the push of a button.  He and Dana were in touch often for him to bounce theories off of her.

 

Roger would be out on parole in another couple of months, they were confident of that now and he would be moving in for a short while to get on his feet.

 

Mulder had left the Bureau and opened a psychology practice of his own though he still consulted with the FBI when they needed his skill as a profiler.  He still had access to anything he needed through this new ability that he and the brothers were continuing to develop.  This arrangement made him look as though he was less of a threat and helped their income so that Dana could stay home with the boys.  Having Danny as their son had given Mulder the ammunition to postpone their next child for a little while though they hadn't had any trouble practicing.

 

Rob seemed the most like Mulder, combining both psychology and his interest in law enforcement.  He was good with people, with seeing what they needed often before they knew themselves.  It had come in handy several times and Roger had an especially close bond with him. 

 

Rob spotted her across the room and squared his shoulders.  The cafeteria was crowded, but not around her, never around her.  He made his way over there.  He slid his tray onto the table opposite her and took a seat.  Her head came up as she sputtered.  “What the hell - “

 

“Aren’t you Robin Minette?”

 

Her eyes narrowed.  “Yes.  You want to ask me some personal questions?” she sneered at him.

 

“No.  I’m Rob Trotter and I was just tired of eating lunch alone.”  He held out his hand to shake.  She blinked at him, but for some reason didn’t leave the table.  Finally, to her surprise, she held out her own hand.

 

Yes, she needed him and Dana would be pleased.  Rob gave her an easy smile.

 

 

 

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