It was Byers that returned the call. She was still asleep and he was more than glad he had talked her out of going to the clinic today. The emotions that had coursed through her had taken more energy than she had realized.
“How did you know?”
“Know what?” The adrenaline was already dumping into his blood stream.
“That the good colonel was harassing them.”
Mulder let his eyes close. Shit, he hadn’t even been thinking in those terms. “Talk to me.”
“Okay, they filed a missing persons report after she missed the first day of work. They know she never went to Virginia and they have her car. The police were working the angle that someone took her from the train, but they know her tickets weren’t used. There’s nothing on the surveillance cameras. She did a good job of skirting them in the depot.” Mulder smiled grimly.
“The military weren’t involved in the beginning, but the colonel has been out there at least twice recently. Her mother is becoming increasingly frantic as time . . . well, you know.”
“Yeah, I know.” The baby, her mother wanted her found before the baby was due. He could understand that. Damn, what if she were carrying a daughter and this ever -
“There’s no pretense with three pictures anymore. They’re only looking for you. Her father is cooperating, he is retired military.”
“Okay. We need to get off. Their health, the parents – are they okay physically?”
“Uh, I think so. Is that why you called?”
“We’ll check it out.”
She didn’t seem to notice his mood when she joined him. Or maybe she saw it only as a reflection of her own. “Are you feeling any better?”
She leaned against him, “Yes, thanks. It hit me suddenly, that I don’t know how my family is. If they’re worried about me, or . . . “
“They are worried about you.
They’ve been to the police.” She
nodded, not really surprised. “And, and
the colonel’s been out to see them at least twice.”
She sat upright abruptly. “They suspect I’m with you?”
“They have no other leads Doc. You’re the only one that’s seen me since I was released, or escaped or whatever. They know that because of the blood sample. Another reason to wish I had never involved you.”
She brought his hand to her stomach. “Stop it Mulder. I am involved, I’m here and there is nowhere on earth I’d rather be. Yes, I’d like to have my mother here. It won’t be long now before I’m a mother myself. But I have you. I have to believe that this baby will meet his grandparents someday. Until then stop worrying about it. If you go hormonal too, we’re sunk.” She smiled at him. “And tell the guys thanks for checking on them, okay? It does make me feel better.”
She pecked him on the cheek and rose from her seat beside him to move toward the kitchen. Waddle was more like it though he’d never say that out loud. Maybe he ought to talk to Mae, surely she couldn’t stay pregnant much longer.
The sound of breaking glass had him on his feet and racing to the kitchen. She was clutching the counter, surrounded by broken glass. "Doc!"
"I'm . . . I'm okay."
"Right. Don't move, you're barefoot." He lifted her into his arms and carried her into the living room. There he placed her gently on the sofa and knelt beside her. "Are you okay?"
"I, uh, I was dizzy."
"How about now?" His concern was plain on his face.
"I'm feeling better." He accepted her evasion for the moment, though he was watching her closely.
"Maybe I should call Mae."
She managed a small smile at that. "That's not necessary Mulder. Really, I'm feeling more myself. Thank you for worrying so."
"You think I could do any less?" He couldn't quite smile.
"I'm fine Mulder, I need to clean up that mess."
"I'll clean up the mess. You lay here for a while and keep your feet up. I'm not kidding Doc."
She saw then how shaken he really was. "Mulder it was a dizzy spell. That's all." She caressed his cheek with her hand. "I'll lie down for a little while."
He nodded, trying to lighten up. He kissed her forehead and stood. She watched him head for the kitchen and realized her eyes had misted over. No one had ever loved her this much; it was almost frightening.
He finished cleaning up the glass and completed emptying the dishwasher. She wasn't due for three weeks; Mae had been very reassuring when he spoke to her. He did need to relax but his hands had been shaking slightly when he started with the clean up. He glanced into the living room and saw that she had fallen asleep on the sofa. He nodded and put some water on for tea. These little naps she now took never lasted that long.
He had the tea steeping when he heard her. "Mulder! Oh god, Mulder!"
He was at her side instantly. She was clutching her abdomen, her knees pulled up. "Breathe Doc. Come on, breathe."
Finally the contraction began losing its grip on her. She loosened her grip on his hand and took a deep cleansing breath. "Damn." She gasped.
He managed to keep his voice steady. "Tell me what you need Doc. I'm still okay with going to the hospital."
"Mae will be fine. I was asleep when that one hit. I won't make that mistake again." She gave him a small smile. "I'll be okay." Altogether too quickly for him she was in the midst of another brutal contraction. Being awake didn't seem to help that much as far as he was concerned.
When she got her breath back from that one, her hold on his hand didn't loosen nearly as much. "Mulder, I think you ought to call Mae after all. This is a little more intense than . . . just give her a call."
The thoughts of leaving her side caused him to hesitate, but he needed to get the woman here. If Doc wanted her here, that's all that mattered.
He hurried to the kitchen to get the mobile phone, but she was caught in another painful contraction when he returned with the handset.
He helped her breathe through it as they massaged her stomach. It was rock hard and the breathing wasn't doing a damn bit of good that he could see. As the contraction began to ease he dialed Mae's number and got her machine. He left a quick message, then dialed her beeper and left his number.
"Mulder, could you help me up?"
"What do you need, I'll get it."
"I need to go to the bathroom. Please, before another one hits." He wanted to carry her, but she nixed that though she accepted him supporting most of her weight.
While she was in the bathroom, he placed another quick call to Mae and got her machine again. His message this time was much more urgent without her to hear.
She was clutching the wall when she tried to rejoin him, and he had her in his arms again. "You better try Mae again."
"I just did."
"Mulder, my water broke. I think . . . I think you should get the emergency kit that she left us."
"Doc?" He couldn't have heard her correctly.
"This baby's in a hurry Mulder. I need your help."
He nodded, not sure what words would be useful. He got her to the bed and pulled the covers down, then helped her recline. "I'll be right back. Doc, just stay calm." She nodded, closing her eyes.
He was back immediately and found her on her side, moaning, the sheet fisted in her hand. "Doc, I'm here. It'll be over soon. Try to relax." He continued to talk soothingly to her even though he was screaming inside for Mae, for anyone, to get here. Why wasn’t Pilar back yet? Yes he'd read the information about emergency childbirth. He'd been afraid not to, but to actually have to use it. No, he pushed that aside. She needed him and he was here.
"Mulder." She gasped out when she was able. "My body’s pushing. I can't hold back. I can't - "
"Then you need to push, Doc. It's okay; I'm here. We're going to have a beautiful baby. We can do this." Her eyes lost some of their panic at his words. She nodded and he lifted her into a more supported position for pushing.
She was calmer now. He could feel it and it helped him to relax as well. He was going to deliver a baby; he was going to deliver their baby. Despite his sketchy memories he was positive that this was outside of his experience.
"Mu . . . Ohhhhh."
"It's okay Doc. Push, if you need to push, go ahead." She closed her eyes then to concentrate on her body. She bore down, groaning with the pressure, the burning.
"That's great Doc. Just a couple more. You can do it." She took a deep breath and bore down again. He watched mesmerized as the head began emerging from her body. The manual had said not to do anything but support it, so he placed his fingers under the head and let the body slide into his hands with the next push.
"It's a boy! Doc, we've got a boy." She was up on her elbows, still gasping, but smiling now.
He placed the infant on her stomach. "Get the clamps."
He already had them in his hands and placed them where she indicated, then when the cord quit pulsating, cut it. She drew the screaming child up closer to her face. "He's so tiny." She was crying and finally looked up at Mulder. She smiled at the tears running down his own cheeks.
"I can't believe you did that."
"Neither can I. I need to push again, Mulder. The placenta."
He nodded and helped her deliver the afterbirth. He covered it with one of the sterile drapes that Mae had left them and put it aside for her to check.
She placed the infant to her breasts and he sat to watch her feed his son. There was nothing to compare to this sight.
When he finished nursing she reluctantly handed the baby back to him and he wrapped him in the blanket he had been warming. He took a wet cloth and wiped a little more blood from his face and lowered him into his bassinet. He'd let Mae finish up this process. He still had his hand on the child when she screamed.
He spun, what the hell! She was curled around her belly and when she got her breath, screamed again.
"Doc! Doc what?" He realized even as he spoke that she was pushing again. Another baby? They'd never had an ultrasound, had she been carrying twins? "Doc, focus. Listen to my voice; I need you to push again. Doc, please!"
The thing that emerged into his hands caused his heart to falter. It wasn't alive. Had it ever been? He glanced up at her, but she had lost consciousness. His trembling hand felt for her pulse and he was able to breath again when he found it.
He turned his attention back to the abomination in his hands. He had done this to her. Her relationship with him had caused this for her. He was grateful she had passed out and couldn't see. He wrapped the tiny gray being in another of the sterile drapes and hid it. No one could see this.
She woke slowly, groggy and weak. She felt his hand on her face and turned toward him. Her eyes widened then, "The baby?"
"He's great. Mae's checking him out now. How do you feel?"
"Like I just had a baby." But she smiled when she said it. Her smile faded at the look in his eyes. "He is okay, isn't he?"
Before he could respond, the door opened and Mae entered carrying the child. "He sure is. A little small and a little early but healthy. Five pounds two ounces, eighteen inches long." She placed the boy into his mother's outstretched arms. "He's hungry again."
Dana nodded and bared her breast. Mae watched for a moment nodding. "You look like you know what you're doing. Let me check to see how your uterus is contracting. You want to leave us for just a minute Dad?"
He looked over at her and she nodded that she would be okay. She noted that he walked with a heavy stride, something was wrong but he didn't want to talk in front of Mae.
Mae's exam didn't take long. When Dana finished nursing she took the baby again. "Have you named him yet?"
"Not really. We thought we had a little more time."
"I wish I had made it. I know it was traumatic, giving birth as quickly as you did. I'm glad your husband was here." Dana closed her eyes and shuddered lightly, then nodded. "Why don't you lie back down? You're going to be feeding one this tiny every couple of hours and you need to store up all the rest you can."
Before Mae had a chance to answer, her beeper went off. She shook her head, "Full moons. Who needs them?" She checked the number, "May I use your phone?"
Dana smiled and nodded, her eyes closing again. Mae slipped out of the room and found Mulder, fixing her some lunch. She handed the baby to his Dad, then made her call. "I've got them dropping like flies. I need to get over to the reservation."
"Mae, is she okay?"
She stopped then and saw the anguish in his eyes. She placed her hand on his arm. "Yes. I know what you went through was frightening, but she is doing very well. You did an excellent job."
He looked away then and her hand squeezed his shoulder. "I've got to get out of here. If this doesn't take too long, I'll stop back by this evening. If not I'll check in tomorrow morning, just to reassure you. Make sure she eats and goes heavy on the fluids. She is okay."
He nodded and had her let herself out, cradling the baby in his arms. The baby was asleep, so he laid him carefully in the carrier he had pulled out of the box while Mae examined her. That way he wouldn't have to disturb her while she slept.
He looked over at the door to their bedroom and suddenly what had happened, what she had endured because of him, hit him between the eyes and his knees buckled. He found himself on hands and knees on the floor. He buried his face in a cushion from the sofa to muffle his cries.
She woke to find her breasts leaking slightly and smiled. The baby was probably hungry, though she didn't hear him yet. She sat up and then stood beside the bed, testing her abilities. If she took it slow she was okay.
He looked up startled when the bedroom door opened and was at her side instantly. "Why didn't you call me?"
"I need to be up, Mulder. I have a baby to look after."
"How about I look after the two of you for a while?" He motioned to the lunch he had waiting for her on the tray.
"You always do." He looked away then. "Mulder? What is it? What's wrong?"
"Nothing. Mae says both of you are doing very well." He brought the tray over to the couch so she could eat while she nursed.
"That's not what I mean. What's wrong with you?”
He helped her to the sofa and seated her carefully. She couldn’t make him meet her eyes. “Is it . . . Mulder did watching me give birth . . . are you - “
His head whipped around then and he faced her. “Doc, that was the most incredible thing I have ever witnessed. And the most beautiful. Don’t ever doubt that.” A small smile played at his lips as they heard their son stir and gear up to a full-fledged wail. “I think that’s for you. I’ll get him.” He stood then and brought the baby to her.
She watched both of them as she nibbled at her lunch and nursed again. Mulder was obviously fascinated by her breasts, which was reassuring, but he couldn’t tear himself away from the baby either.
When he was full, Mulder took him back and changed him, much to Dana’s unspoken amusement, and returned him to the carrier.
He returned to her side then and sat beside her. “Talk to me Mulder. Please.” She thought he was going to evade her again, but he took a deep breath and finally looked her in the eye.
“Something did happen, after his birth. You . . . do you remember crying out in pain after he was born? I had him over at the crib.”
Her brow furrowed, “No. Afterwards?”
He nodded. “Let me put you back to bed.”
“Do you think I need to be lying down for this news?”
“Yes. I do.” That took her aback and fear caused ice to form around her heart. Without bothering to ask, he took her into his arms and carried her back to the bedroom, leaving the door open to hear the baby. Her arms had automatically closed around his neck and she almost didn’t release him when he lay her down.
He sat beside her and cradled her against him, holding her so that she couldn’t see his face. Her fear grew.
“Doc, after he was born there was another . . . you screamed, screamed in pain and I raced back to you. You were pushing again. I was - “
She pulled away then to look at him. “Twins? There was another baby?”
“No. Doc, not another baby. It was, I don’t . . . it wasn’t a baby.”
Her breathing was shallow and he could feel her temperature drop. “Where is it?”
“Doc, Doc you shouldn’t - “
“I have to see what you’re talking about. Mulder please, I have to. If I carried it, in my body, then I - “ She stopped when he flinched.
He wanted to look away, he wanted to protect her from this, hell he didn’t know what he wanted . . . He carefully propped her up with pillows and moved into the bathroom. She watched him walk away from her; there was no life in his step. He could have been walking toward his own execution. She realized that she was shaking, but couldn’t control it.
He returned carrying one of the sterile cloths that Mae had left them. There was blood streaked on it and he held it as though it were a bomb. He stopped a few steps from the bed. “Doc, I - “
“Please Mulder.” She held out her hands and though he could see her shaking, made no comment.
She brought the bundle to her lap and after a last look up into his face carefully folded back the fabric to expose whatever had shaken him so badly.
She gasped and one hand went to her mouth. “Oh my god.” She stared down in horror at the being in her lap. The gray skin was mottled and the bulging forehead crowned two large black eyes that seemed to have no eyelids. There was no discernable nose and the mouth was only a slit. There were no genitals and it couldn’t have weighed more than two pounds.
He threw the cloth back over it and moved it to the bed as he pushed her head down to keep her from fainting. “Doc, stay with me. I’ve got you.”
Her hand had a painful grip on his. “God, Mulder. What is it? What was growing inside of me?” Her trembling had increased. His despair grew. He didn’t respond, just holding her tighter. There were no words, nothing he could say or do to make this any better.
When she finally regained some composure she tried to unlock her muscles, sinking into his arms. He brushed the hair from her brow. “I’m . . . I’m okay.”
A bald-faced lie, but he let it go, merely kissing her forehead.
“How are you?” She pulled back to see his face. He shook his head and pulled her head back down to his chest. She kept quiet, now holding him as well. Whatever else, she had him; she needed him and their son.
After a few minutes she spoke, not moving away from him. Despite the fact that thing was lying at the foot of the bed, she needed to pull him back to her. If anything he was more shaken than she was. “I know we thought we had more time, but we’ve got to decide on a name.”
That startled a chuckle out of him. What a normal topic. The very normalness of it was bizarre. To her relief he played along. “I can’t go with Fox.”
She managed to smile up at him then. “I know.”
“I’m okay with William, after your father.”
“And you.” He nodded. “David . . .” He looked down, a little surprised. She normally called him Mulder. “As a middle name. William David - named after his father.”
“Is that a good thing?”
“The fact that I’m his father?”
“That is the best thing about our little boy, that he’s yours.” He tucked her under his chin, unable to face her. “William David.” He took a deep breath. How could they be talking like this with that . . . that thing lying so near them. “Yeah, that sounds good.” He could feel her breath against his throat.
“We have to talk about the other.” He immediately tensed. “We need to get sa - samples. Blood, tissue. It needs to be studied.”
“No. I’d never ask you - I’d never allow you - “
“No, not me. You’re right, I can’t. We need to send . . . everything, to the guys.”
“We’ll talk about this later Doc.”
“It needs to done as soon as possible, shipped as biohazardous ma - material.”
“You need to rest. He’s gonna want to nurse again in about an hour. Close your eyes for a little while.”
“I don’t know if I can.”
“Try Doc. I don’t want you getting sick.” He smoothed down her hair again and rose from the bed, taking the bundle with him. She reached for his free hand and squeezed it. “I’ll be in the other room.”
“Mulder, wait. Was it . . . was it alive?”
“No! Doc, you don’t think I - “
“Oh Mulder, no, that never occurred to me. You wouldn’t have . . . I know you. Please don’t ever think that again. I just . . . I don’t know how to feel.” He stood there, waiting, not wanting to bring the thing any closer to her. “Did something I was a mother to die? Was there anything . . . “
“Doc, don’t. This wasn’t meant to live. I don’t know how this happened, what caused it, but it was nothing you did.” He was silent for a moment, “I did this to you. I’m sorry.”
“Mulder, don’t. Don’t you dare take the blame for this!”
“I had unprotected sex with you. I had the blood chemistry from hell. I’m the one the military is searching for.” He glanced down at the cloth in his hands and shook his head. “I can’t . . . I need a little time Doc. Please try to rest.” He didn’t face her, letting himself out of their room. He didn’t see the tears flowing down her face.
Links to other sites on the Web
Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.