She was surprised at how calm she was. Her life was going to change even more completely than she that thought. The baby was a major change, but she had thought she'd be alone. Oh, her parents would be there for her, as well as her brothers and sister but that wasn't the same thing.
But this change, leaving home, basically going underground was so much more. She'd have Mulder and their child but she was giving up everything else she knew, her family, her career, her home. No, she'd be creating a new home. A home for her own family.
There was no one at her apartment, but they didn't have the equipment to ensure against listening devices. The silent decision was made to assume the devices were there and act accordingly. She let them get her overnight bag down from the top shelf where Mulder had placed it last night, to try to ensure that no one would notice she was getting ready to leave. The traps he had set on it had not been touched and she smiled her assurance at Langly. They counted on the trunk, which was locked anyway, to be overlooked as a coffee table.
She hurried to finish packing, taking a few personal items that she would want in the future for her child. Frohike handed her a photo album he'd been looking through and for the first time her smile was tremulous. She stopped packing with that, she couldn’t take any more. Besides she was going to leave with only her little roll around, this trunk would go with the guys.
Finally she turned toward the phone and took a deep breath. This had to sound convincing. The guys moved into the kitchen to give her some privacy. She waited through four rings before the machine picked up. Dana didn't know if she was more relieved or disappointed. "Mom, just wanted to let you know I'm going down to Zoe's for a few days. She thought I could use the practice with her kids. Don't worry, I'm taking the train and I'll call you when I get there. Love you." She hung up quickly and the men pretended not to see the tears that filled her eyes. She didn't allow any of them to fall, and was back to business quickly.
They picked up her trunk and moved to the backdoor. She nodded and locked the door behind them. After one last look around the apartment, she let herself out the front door, wheeling her small case behind her. She pulled away and watched as the men fell in behind her.
She drove directly to the train station, not trying to evade a tail. She pulled into long-term parking and headed into the station. She actually bought the ticket on her credit card, then took the maximum withdrawal with her ATM card and sat down to wait for her train. After a few minutes she rose and headed toward the ladies room. No one seemed to be paying any attention, so she turned and exited out the side entrance. The guys were right there, waiting for her.
She slipped into the backseat with her bag and lay down. No need to be in anyone's sight, just in case. It was moving toward forty-five minutes and she knew Mulder had to be freaking by now even though they were within the time limit.
"We better step on it guys. He doesn't seem to be the forgiving type." Frohike glanced over at Langly who nodded.
They made their deadline with seven minutes to spare. It took longer than that for him to release her. He tried to hide the tremble in his hand when he brushed the hair out of her face. Their friends had given them some privacy so she let herself ask, "Are you okay?"
"Since you are, yes. But I want us out of town, far away from the people searching for me through you. Unless . . . have you changed your mind about going away with me?"
"Hey, tall guy, I'm here aren't I?"
"Yeah." He took a deep breath. "You are. I guess I'm having a little trouble believing it."
She reached up and pulled his lips down to her. "Believe it now?"
He smiled, "Yeah." They looked up as the door opened.
"Her stuff's in your car and we checked it out. You're all clean."
"I don't know how to thank you guys." Dana put her arms around Langly, then Frohike and finally Byers.
"Dana, we've made it safe to contact us. If you need anything . . . "
She nodded, her throat closing. "We need to go Doc. You ready?" He turned her toward the door. She didn't need this drawn out and he wanted to get out of town before the good colonel had time to regroup.
They took their time driving across country. He didn't want her riding for too long at the time. He brought her up to date on what he had been doing for the long six months he had been without her.
After a couple of months he had settled in Idaho, a small town called Indian Valley. He'd bought a house and the neighbors thought he was an author finishing up a book. He'd kept a low profile, but in that small a town he had met some people. They knew him as David Madison.
That brought a smile to her face. He'd used her name for him. She was anxious to be there now, to be settled, in a home - their home - with him.
He pulled up in front of a small house and stopped the car. He looked over at her anxiously.
"Here?" She tore her gaze from the house. "This is where you live?"
He nodded and took a deep breath, then exited the car and moved to open her door. He helped her out, steadying her from the long ride. He led her to the door and she stopped on the porch.
"You picked this house?" She looked up and down at the porch with the swing hanging from the ceiling to the left of the front door. There was gingerbread in the corners and looked freshly painted. There was a bay window on the right looking into what was obviously a dining room. He stuck his key into the lock of the bright blue front door and turned to look at her.
"It . . . it looked like you, like some place you'd like to live."
She looked up and noted the color staining his cheeks. A smile began growing on her face. "Me?"
"I know. I didn't think I'd ever have you here, but . . . "
"I love you Fox Mulder, or David Madison, or whoever you are."
"The inside isn't as . . . well maintained as the outside." That caused a knowing nod from her.
After carrying her across the threshold, which elicited a chuckle from her, she wandered around the house as he began unloading the car. Yes, her hand was necessary for the inside, but that would be fun. There was a small bedroom next to the master bedroom that would make a wonderful nursery, when the time came.
She headed back to the front room when she heard voices. A man about their age had the other end of her trunk and was followed by an attractive woman carrying her smaller suitcase.
"Let me help." Dana reached for the bag.
"No way." The brunette spoke, eyeing her middle. "You're carrying enough. Hi, I'm Pilar. We live next door."
"Dana. Thanks." She led the way back into the bedroom.
"We're so glad you're here finally." Dana looked up puzzled. "I can see the change in him already." She lay the suitcase on the bed. "You know, David. He's been lost without you. He looks ten, well five years, younger. There's a bounce in his step."
Dana turned to look as the two men brought the trunk in. "This is my husband, Michael." He smiled and nodded, shaking her hand. Obviously Pilar was the talker in the family. "Look, we'll get out of here, but don't worry about dinner. I'll bring something over. You just take it easy. If you want I can help you unpack tomorrow. I already have orders not to let you over do."
Mulder looked embarrassed, but nodded. She grinned and squeezed his hand as he headed back out the door to finish unpacking the car.
Pilar headed toward the kitchen and Dana followed her. "He didn't stock up too well. There's a decent grocery about a mile from here. I can show you when you're ready." Dana found herself smiling at this friendly woman. She knew she wouldn't be lonely here, Pilar wouldn't allow it.
Once they were alone again, Dana threw her arms around his neck. "This is perfect Mulder. You even found a friend for me. I'm so glad we're here, home."
He nuzzled her neck, picked her up and spun her around. "The place would look better if I'd had even a dream that you would be here with me. I'm relieved I didn't leave dishes in the sink and underwear on the floor."
She laughed out loud then. "It gives me something to do, while you're writing the great American novel." He couldn't keep his lips from her, tasting her, molding her body to his. "How clean are the sheets?"
Pilar turned out to be a wonderful guide, knowing where the best fresh vegetables and meats could be found. She was good at wallpapering too, refusing to allow Dana anywhere near the ladder.
She had confided in Dana that she and Michael had been trying to have a baby for some time, but so far had been unsuccessful. Pilar also introduced her to the other women in the community. They were unanimous in their comments that having her finally join him made all the difference in David's demeanor. She could see his embarrassment at these comments, but was delighted at her welcome in the community. If she was surprised that he had mentioned her, she hid it carefully. Being with him had improved her own mood just as much.
It was Pilar that pointed out the clinic to her. She explained that there wasn't a full time doctor in the town, but rather a schedule of visiting doctors twice a month.
That led to a long discussion with Mulder over dinner that evening. "Doc, listen you can't take that on. Besides no one here even knows you're a doctor."
"What did you just call me? Look, I don't want anyone to know I'm a doctor either. But I could tell them I'm a nurse practitioner. These people deserve better care than twice a month."
"You're six and a half months pregnant, Doc. I don't want you working."
"I won't be working that hard. Maybe twice a week, just as a volunteer."
"Do you honestly think you can keep it to twice a week?" She flushed then, he did know her but this was something she felt she had to do.
She even dragged Pilar with her as an additional volunteer. It was there she met Mae White Elk, another volunteer and licensed midwife. After getting to know her, she brought the idea up to Mulder. His immediate response to a midwife was negative to the extreme. It took quite a bit of persuading, and a couple of meetings with Mae herself before he began to calm down.
The work was consuming and she quickly expanded to three days a week, weathering his 'I told you so' easily.
She grew fond of her patients, mostly Native Americans from the reservation. These people needed her more than the people that populated her ER in Washington, and were more willing to listen to her, more grateful to have her expertise. It was incredibly fulfilling. Pilar made a good assistant too.
That's why she was so surprised when Pilar didn't show up to ride to work with her. She mentioned it to Mulder and he offered to run next door to check. "I can do that Mulder. I'll see you later."
"Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?"
"I'd love the company, but I don't need a sitter." He tried to look innocent but she had to laugh. Shaking her head she kissed his forehead and headed toward the back door. He forced himself to stay in his seat. She was right, he was being overprotective but she was so precious and so very pregnant. How she was going to go another four weeks was beyond him.
Dana let herself into Pilar's kitchen. "Pilar? You home?" She moved on into the living room. "Pilar?" She finally found the woman sitting on her bed, staring into space, the trace of tears still plainly visible on her face.
Dana sat beside her, "Pilar? What's wrong? Is Michael - "
"He's fine. I got a call."
Dana waited for a long moment. "Who from?"
"My Aunt Connie. She wanted me to know."
"To know what? Pilar, what's wrong?"
"My mother, she has cancer."
"Oh Pilar, I'm so sorry." She placed her hand on Pilar's arm. "Where is it?"
"When did you see her last?"
"Four years ago."
"Four? Pilar, doesn't she live a couple of hours east of here. I'm sure that's what Michael - "
"We don't speak." She reached for a tissue by the bed.
Pilar took a deep breath. "She didn't want me to marry Michael. He's not Hispanic, he's not Catholic, she thinks it’s his fault we have no children."
"Pilar, I'm sorry."
Pilar straightened up and turned toward Dana. "You never mention your mother. Is she alive?" The question caught Dana off guard, but she nodded. "Are you estranged?" This time she shook her head. "What would you do?"
"You have to go to her. Breast cancer is curable, there's a high rate of cure if it's caught early enough. I don't know what treatment her doctor is recommending, but whatever it is she's going to need your support."
"If your mother didn't like David, would you go? I mean if she were sick or something?"
"Yes. I wouldn't hesitate. Pilar you have to go. We can look after Michael for you for a few days. You're not going to be that far away. You have to do this for yourself."
"You're awfully passionate about this."
Dana felt tears form in her own eyes. "I haven't seen my mother in months. I'm having my first baby. I'd give a lot to see her."
"Is she ill?"
"No. I mean, I don't think so. I don't know." Pilar looked puzzled at that. "We were talking about you. Come on, let me help you pack."
"Just like that?" Dana nodded. "But I want to be here when the baby comes."
"You've got plenty of time before that. Go do this. Go for both of us. Get Michael on the phone and tell him what's happening." Pilar helped her to her feet and hugged her.
"You . . . you won't have the baby without me?"
Dana managed to smile, "I'll do my best. Listen, call me with the diagnosis and treatment. I want to know." She turned toward the closet and looked for the suitcase.
"Sit. Watch me pack, just keep me company."
When she was on her way, Dana made her way home. The sound of the back door opening caught Mulder off guard and he moved in that direction.
"Doc? Doc! What's wrong? Are you okay?" That brought a flood of tears that frightened words from him. He moved her into the living room and seated her on the couch. "Doc, talk to me. Are you having the baby?"
She shook her head, "I'm sorry. It's hormones.”
“What happened? Did something at the clinic . . . “
She shook her head, and took as deep a breath as she could manage. “Pilar’s mother is ill.”
That was a direction he hadn’t anticipated. “Is it, is it serious?” He had been thrown and wasn’t sure what to say. She nodded and closed her eyes, resting her head on the back of the couch. They sat silently, with him massaging her hand.
All too shortly for him, she started to rise. “Hold it. What do you need, I’ll get it.”
“I need to get on over to the clinic. I’m late.”
“I don’t want you to go. Not today Doc. You’re in a highly emotional state and you’re very pregnant. Please, just stay here with me.”
“They’re expecting me.”
“I’ll call them.” He wasn’t exacting holding her in place, but she could tell he was prepared to.
“I am okay. Really.”
“Look me in the eye and tell me your back isn’t bothering you.” She blushed at that, and he nodded. “Come here.” He moved her so that she was reclining against his chest, his legs open to accommodate her between them. He smiled slightly at the moan she let escape when he pressed his thumbs into her lower back. He watched her hands trace circles on her swollen belly as he relieved the stress in her back, but his own smile had faded. She needed her mother. That’s what this was about. Yes, Pilar’s mother had triggered it and he’d have to find out what that was all about, but she needed her family.
He had no family; he’d read that in the file. Both of his parents were gone and his sister . . . But it didn’t matter, he couldn’t remember them. Here she was, with a loving family that was no doubt frantic about her and she couldn’t see them. Because of him. He was missing nothing, oh a few memories, but he had her here in his arms, their child moving energetically beneath her hands. She had only him.
She relaxed back against him, pulling her arms around him. “I love you, Doc.”
“I’ve never doubted that. You’re way too good to me.” She tried to stifle a yawn.
“Come on, you’re going to take a nap.”
“Mulder, that’s all I do anymore.”
“You’re sleeping for two. Come on, I’ll call the clinic. Don’t argue with me. I’m pretty sure I can take you right now.” She stretched up to kiss him and he met her halfway.
After settling her in the bed and covering her with the sheet he kissed her once again and retreated to the living room. He immediately took hold of the cell phone and placed a quick call.
“It’s me. Is this a good line?”
“Yes.” He could hear Langly straighten up in the seat. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, she’s fine. Listen, I was wondering if you’ve heard anything about her family. How they’re doing.”
“Uh, we haven’t. Yeah, I’ll get right on it. When’s a good time to call?”