He woke slowly; he was damned uncomfortable. What was he lying on? He shifted and realized he was in a pile of garbage. He opened his eyes the rest of the way and looked around. An alley? He’d been dumped in an alley or passed out in one, what the hell? He sat up, no headache; maybe he wasn’t hung over after all. But that didn’t explain where he was or why . . . or who? He got to his feet noting he was dressed in worn blue jeans and a dirty gray t-shirt, he had on socks and running shoes, but that was it. He had no money, no ID. Okay, he lowered himself back onto the sidewalk - what was going on? He felt of his head, no obvious wounds, he was grungy but not sick. He needed a shave and a cup of very strong coffee; maybe then everything would slip back into place.
He moved to the opening of the alley and looked around. It seemed to be early evening from the light. There was a grocery store just down the street, so he headed that way. The store had complimentary coffee and he helped himself to a cup, then wandered away from the checkout girl’s scrutiny. He didn’t recognize his location yet and the coffee wasn’t helping.
The redhead caught his attention, did he know her? His eyes followed her around the store, she seemed familiar somehow but no name came to him. Including his own damn it!
She was checking out and since she was the only thing that had even a hint of familiarity he followed her, taking his second cup of coffee with him. He ignored the glare of the girl that checked her out and continued after her.
She seemed to sense his presence and hurried her footsteps, finally turning to face him as she got to her car. He stopped well back from her, and held out his hand. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. It’s just . . . you looked familiar to me and I - “
“Please leave me alone.” She looked prepared to scream or run. He wanted neither.
“I’m sorry.” He took another step back, away from her. “It’s just, do you know me?”
“No. Now please . . . “
He nodded and turned away. She almost called out to him to turn back. That was stupid, he was obviously deranged or . . . or something. But he didn’t look homeless exactly. Of course, what did ‘homeless’ look like for sure? Forget him. She got into her car and locked the doors, then pulled out. She didn’t bother to see which way he headed.
Unfortunately, that didn’t get him off of her mind. She hadn’t realized how such a short encounter could affect her. She thought about him several times as she fixed her dinner and got ready for bed. She kept trying to remember if she did know him - no he wasn’t the type of man she would forget. But she should, she’d never see him again. Once again she shook off the thoughts of him and went to bed.
Something made her look around for him the next morning when she got into her car but she didn’t see him. She chastised herself; there was no way he could know where she lived.
He did know, he’d kept walking in the direction she had driven away, watching for her car. For some reason he knew that people usually shopped near their homes and he had to find her. Nothing else he'd seen had even the slightest familiarity.
He’d found her car again and checked all the names on the mailboxes in the building. Nothing rang a bell, he didn’t even know which name was hers and with the car locked, he couldn’t check her registration. He had nowhere else to go, so he made himself as comfortable as possible in the back of her building and finally slept.
He woke hungry, but with no more resources than he’d had earlier. This wasn’t familiar either; he didn’t seem to be used to being homeless or hungry. Neither was very appealing.
He spotted her leaving for work the next morning. He’d guessed right, this was her place. He didn’t have anywhere else to go and was loath to leave the only place that seemed to mean something.
Finally hunger drove him out and he panhandled a little to get a meal. It went the same way for the next two days. He knew he needed help, but something kept him from seeking aid. For whatever reason it felt safer here, close to this woman.
She was late arriving home. The ER had been a mad house, she hadn’t checked but it must be a full moon. Then traffic had been tied up with even more accidents. She was exhausted and couldn’t wait to soak in a hot tub with a glass of wine.
She wasn’t paying attention, her mind on the day she’d had. She was caught completely off guard when the man grabbed her from behind. She felt the knife at her throat before she even had time to scream.
“Just keep quiet lady. I don’t want to hurt you; I just want your money. Don’t fight me.” She was frozen, she wasn’t about to fight him, she’d seen too many knife wounds in her life and where he had the knife positioned . . . she’d be dead in minutes. No ambulance would be able to save her.
Then suddenly, the knife was no longer at her neck, his arm no longer around her middle. She collapsed to her knees and turned. What the hell? Someone was pounding on her assailant. He was on the ground, unable to defend himself; the knife had landed on the sidewalk away from the two men. She scrambled over to it and grabbed it.
In the distance she could hear a siren heading in their direction. Someone must have seen what was happening and called 911. Her protector had the man subdued now and when the police screeched to a halt and jumped out, guns drawn, she was able to speak again.
When the dust cleared she was finally calm. “We’ll need you to come down in the morning Doctor, but he’s an old friend of ours. We can hold him until then. You sure you’re okay?”
She nodded and turned to see if her protector was still around. He was seated on the front steps, the police already through with him. She watched the police leave with her assailant, then walked over to him.
“I wanted to thank . . .” She paused and looked more closely at him. “You’re the man at the store. The man that asked me . . . “ He nodded, then winced. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” He removed his hand from his arm. It was bleeding.
“He cut you! Why didn’t you say something? I’m Dana Scully. Come inside, let me check you out.”
He didn’t wait for a second invitation, rising and following her into her apartment. Once he was inside, she seemed to remember that even though he had saved her life, she had just invited a strange man into her apartment. He immediately saw the change in her posture.
“I’m not going to hurt you.” He stayed at the door, leaving it open and watched her shoulders relax.
“I know. Come on in. Have a seat, let me get my bag.”
He seated himself at the table in the kitchen and waited. She placed the black bag on the table and went to wash her hands. “You’re a doctor?”
“Yes.” She turned to smile at him, “My Dad gave me the bag as a joke, but I’ve ended up using it quite a bit.”
He sat watching her as she returned to him and began carefully disinfecting his wound. “You don’t need stitches, you were very lucky. So was I, that you were there.” She looked up at him. “Why were you here?”
“I, uh, I’ve been staying near here.”
“Near here? Where?” She paused.
“In your backyard.”
“Back . . . in the alley? You’ve . . . have you been stalking me?” She moved away from him.
“No, well, yeah I guess it does look that way.” He sighed, “I . . . I don’t know what’s going on with me right now. That evening, when I first spoke to you . . . maybe I should just get out of here. I’m sorry.”
“Wait. What, what were you going to say?”
“Listen, I don’t know who I am. I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know who you are, but I’m drawn to you for some reason. That’s crazy, I know but . . . “
She was watching him closely now, “Did you say you don’t know who you are?”
“Yeah. I woke up in an alley near that grocery store. I still haven’t remembered my name. I was sure it would come back to me, but nothing. Nothing has been familiar to me except you and I don’t know why. You said you didn’t know me.”
“I don’t. That day at the store is the first time I saw you.” His shoulders slumped. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t help you. I work at Georgetown Medical; let me take you to see a neurologist. He’s a friend - “
He was already shaking his head. “No. I don’t think that would be a good idea. It might not even be a good idea for me to be around you. Something happened or was done to me, you shouldn’t be involved.”
“I am involved. You saved my life tonight, you don’t know me, you didn’t have to - “
“I did. I had to. Whoever I am, you’re part of it, I know that. I just don’t know if that’s a good thing, for you.”
She took a deep breath and decided to change the subject. “When’s the last time you had a good meal?”
He blinked at that and took a moment to process the switch. “I haven’t had a meal since I woke up.”
Her mouth dropped open; that was at least three days. She finished with his bandage and rose, “I’m going to fix you something to eat. Why don’t you go clean up a little? The bathroom is through there.”
“I should leave.”
“Please don’t. Not yet.”
After a moment he nodded and headed for her bathroom. When he emerged, his face - what she could see of it through the scruff of his beard, was cleaner and his hair was slicked back. His hands, even his nails had been scrubbed. She gave him a smile and turned back to the stove. “I’m fixing you an omelet, okay?”
“That would be great.” He turned as the toast popped up and smiled at the mundane sound. He had a nice smile. Why wasn’t she afraid of him? That surprised her. Here was a man that admitted to being homeless, of practically stalking her, who didn’t have a clue of who he was. Yet she had invited him into her home and was cooking for him. She’d never done anything like this before, but it felt right.
Even though she knew he had to be starving, he ate with perfect manners, cleaning up his plate with the last of the toast. He’d finished a cup of coffee and two glasses of juice before he spoke again.
“Would you like some more?”
“No, thank you. This was perfect. I should be leaving now.”
“Do you have to? I mean, is there some place you need to be?”
He laughed slightly at that. “No.”
“Then why don’t you stay here a little longer? You could probably use a shower.”
That obviously surprised him. “I couldn’t. You don’t know me.”
“Maybe not, but you are the man that saved my life tonight, a meal and a shower isn’t too much to pay for that. I feel like I can trust you. Please, let me do this for you.”
“A shower does sound nice.”
She smiled then and he felt the breath catch in his chest. She was lovely, but that wasn’t the reason he was attracted to her - at least not the only reason.
“Go on, there’re towels in the closet. Enjoy.” He nodded and turned from her. Her smile dimmed and a look of worry took over her face. He needed more than a shower, but she’d have to take it gradually.
For now, did she have any clean clothes that would fit him? Hadn’t Bill left some sweats the last time he was here? She headed into her bedroom to check. Yes, they’d be a little too big for him, Bill was a larger man and this man hadn’t eaten lately but at least the pants would be long enough for him.
She tapped on the bathroom door, but there was no answer. He probably couldn’t hear with the water running. The door wasn’t locked and after a short hesitation she opened the door and substituted the clean clothes for the outfit he had been wearing.
There was blood on the t-shirt from his wound as well as several days of grime. She tossed everything into the washer and then cleaned up the kitchen.
She turned from the sink when she heard him return to the room. She couldn’t stop her smile. The sweats were a little big. He took in her smile and shrugged.
“You could use a few more good meals.” But she was also admiring him. He’d found a razor and was clean-shaven again. Her hand twitched to caress his face; she must be losing her mind.
He nodded. “Is your boyfriend going to come crashing in here and take me apart?"
“Boyfriend? Oh, the clothes. Brother. My brother Bill left those here last time he visited. I’m washing your other clothes.”
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“It wasn’t a problem. Have you thought any more about seeing my friend, the neurologist?”
“I can’t do that Dr. Scully.”
“Dana. I think under the circumstances, it should be Dana. And I need something to call you.”
“Wish I could help you there.”
She motioned for him to sit again at the table. “Why don’t we go over what we do know about you? Maybe that will help.” He remained silent, waiting for whatever she had in mind. “Okay, you’re 6’1” or about, right?” He nodded, “good shape, especially for someone who hasn’t eaten regularly lately.” He shrugged at that.
She smiled and continued, “You’re good at hand to hand combat.”
“Is that a good thing?”
“It was tonight.” He nodded solemnly at that. “What else?”
“I was able to memorize your license tag with one look and I thought you might live around here since you used that store.”
“That doesn’t sound military, more law enforcement if I had to guess.”
“A cop? I don’t know.”
“Well, we are just guessing here.” She had the strongest desire to reach out and take his hand into hers. She fought it by standing up and moving toward the refrigerator. “Some tea?”
“Thanks. Since we’ve pretty much exhausted the information about me, what about you. What kind of doctor are you?”
“Trauma. I see a lot of gunshots, knife wounds.” She grimaced at that. “Oh I delivered a baby in the parking lot of the hospital a couple of days ago.”
“That wasn’t exactly the term she used, but the sentiment was the same.” She grinned at him. “Do you have children?” She asked it quickly, hoping he would respond automatically.
“Not that I know of. You?”
“I’m fairly confident I don’t.” She chuckled.
“How about husbands or exs, you didn’t really answer me about the boyfriend.”
“None of the above.” She responded lightly.
“That has to be your choice. Why?” He looked at her curiously. No boyfriend, no husband?
“Just haven’t found the right guy.” She took another sip of her tea to avoid his eyes.
“Have you been looking?” He was over the line here; he knew it, but look at her.
“Not very hard any more. No chemistry.” She shrugged, “It’s not been a problem.”
He had no comment to that. It was none of his business anyway. He’d known the woman for less than two hours. He’d hoped that she knew him, and that her reaction at the store had been one of fright. With the knowledge that wasn’t the case and still knowing nothing about himself he could feel depression pushing at him hard.
He looked up at her as she lost the battle with herself and took his hand into hers. “I need a name for you. What would you like to be called?”
“Pick one, who do I look like to you?”
She found herself wanting to cry at those words. He was someone, someone important, at least to her. “There was a guy in grade school, I had a tremendous crush on him but we moved before . . . I’m going to call you David. Okay?” He nodded, unable to speak suddenly. “Are you okay?” Her concern was plain in her voice.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. Look, I need to get out of here. I didn’t mean to take up your whole evening.”
“Don’t go. I haven’t had my dinner yet, think you could eat again already?”
“You don’t have to do this Doc. I’ll be fine.”
“You’re condemning me to another solitary meal? I’d like you to stay. I’m enjoying your company.” His eyes widened a little at that, but he stayed in his chair. In fact after that statement he wasn’t sure he could stand.
“Doc, it’s too much. I can’t reciprocate, yet.”
“I don’t know about anyone else, but I value my life higher than an omelet and a shower.”
“So do I.” She blushed at his regard.
“Fine, you can make the salad.”
They were just about to sit down when they heard thunder in the distance. She turned to look toward the window. “I think we’ve got a storm coming.” He nodded and sat down. “You’re not planning to sleep in the alley tonight.” It wasn’t really a question.
“I’ll be okay.”
“No. You are not going to sleep outside in a storm.”
“Doc - “
“Forget it. Eat your dinner, then we can watch the news and see if anyone’s reported you missing.”
He looked at her for a minute, but she was ignoring him and had started eating. They could hash this out later; he was too hungry to wait any longer. She’d cooked more than usual, but knew there would be no leftovers tonight.
He insisted on helping with the clean up, which took very little time, then she turned on the local news to see if there were any reports that drew his attention. While they were watching she heard the rain start.
“That settles it, you’re staying here tonight.”
“I can’t.” He stated it flatly, as though the subject were closed.
“Yes, you can.” She sounded just as certain and he looked at her strangely.
“Doc, you don’t know me. Neither of us do. You might not be safe. We know I’m good at hand to hand. What if I learned it in prison? What if I’m an escapee and was injured; that’s why I don’t remember.”
“No. I don’t believe that. I’m safe with you.”
He looked at her, mouth open; “You’re not serious.”
“I most certainly am. And you are not sleeping outside tonight.”
He actually chuckled at her then, but immediately turned serious again. “Do you promise to lock yourself in your room? And arm yourself.”
“I don’t have a weapon here, and I don’t need one.”
“Why? Why are you doing this?” He was totally bemused by her.
“Just go with it. The decision has been made.”
He nodded slowly. It would be nice to sleep inside for a change. And he wouldn’t hurt her. He’d never hurt her.
When she did retire to her room he stood outside until he heard the lock engage on her door. It wouldn’t keep him out, but it could slow him down. It wouldn’t be necessary, but that was no reason not to take the precaution.
He got comfortable on her couch and was shortly asleep, feeling safer himself than he had since he had woken up in that alley.
The sound woke her. Was someone out there with him? She rose and stood by the door. No, there were no other voices. She opened the door cautiously and spotted him, restless on the couch, dreaming.
It was obviously not a pleasant dream, he was fighting something. She moved closer, “No . . . Samantha . . . no please.”
She didn’t want to startle him, but finally she moved close enough to touch him. “Wake up, it’s just a dream.” Damn, not having a name was hard. Even if she did call him David, he probably wouldn’t respond to it in his sleep.
He jerked awake and realized she was beside him instantly. “What are you doing out here?”
“You were having a bad dream. I came out to check on you.” The look of compassion on her face was almost more than he could take.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
“Do you remember the dream?” He shook his head; whatever it was had awakened him every night. “You called out a name - Samantha. Does that mean anything to you?”
He thought for a moment, then shook his head again.
“She could be a girlfriend, or a wife.”
He held up his left hand. “It doesn’t look like I wear a wedding ring.”
“Some men don’t.”
He looked her in the eye then, “I would.” She nodded. But that didn’t mean that Samantha wasn’t a girlfriend or fiancée. She didn’t bother to state that, he knew it.
“Go back to bed Doc. I’m okay. I’m sorry I woke you.”
“Do you need anything?”
“I need you to lock your door again. Go on.” She reluctantly rose and returned to her room. Getting back to sleep was much more difficult for both of them this time, but the sound of the rain eventually lulled them into oblivion.
When she emerged from her room the next morning he was dressed in his own clothes and had coffee made. Obviously his short-term memory was unaffected by whatever this was. He’d fixed her coffee exactly as she liked it.
“Thanks.” She took an appreciative sip, then began fixing breakfast for them. He set the table and poured juice. While they were eating she looked over at him. “I have an idea.” He looked up and smiled.
“I’m not surprised.”
“Really, listen. Since you don’t want to go to the hospital to be examined, what if I took a sample of your blood in and ran a tox screen on it. If you trust me to draw your blood that is.”
“I trust you.”
That took her a moment, then she nodded and finished her breakfast. As he cleaned up she assembled the supplies she needed to draw his blood.
That done, she turned to him. “What are your plans today?”
He chuckled, “They’re kind of up in the air.”
She nodded, “You’re welcome to stay here.”
He shook his head; “I can’t do that. But if you don’t mind, I’ll come back tonight and see what you found out.”
She smiled broadly at that. “Yes, please. Do you need some cas -?“
He stopped her before she could finish. “I’ll stop by tonight.”
“Please be careful today.” He nodded and she packed his blood for transport.
Once at the hospital she labeled the blood as a John Doe and took several vials of blood down to the lab from the ER. She asked the lab tech to run the screenings and moved the John Doe vial to the front of the list. Without drawing special attention to it, that was all she could do. Now she had to wait.
She didn’t have to wait long. A page summoned her back to the lab, where the senior supervisor, Dr. Symons, was waiting for her. “Dr. Scully, you requested a tox on a blood sample for a John Doe?”
“Yes, is there a problem?” Her heart was pounding, but she managed to look calm, nearly uninterested.
“I’ll say there is. Look at this.” He pulled a printed copy out and pointed to the computer screen. “I have never seen a blood chemistry like this one.” She moved closer, this wasn’t her field but if she had a little time to study . . . “I need to make some calls. Is the man still here?”
“I, I think so.” She looked up at him, caught off guard.
“Good. I’ll be right back.” He scurried out of the lab. She was moving before the door shut. She printed out a second copy of the computer screen and snatched the vial from the holder. She carefully peeled the label she had attached from it and switched it with another vial that was waiting, then pocketed his blood and the slide from the microscope and left the lab.
She was shaking as she slipped into a stall in the ladies room. What the hell was going on? She opened the vial and poured the blood down the toilet along with the slide and flushed both. Then she washed out the vial and wrapped it in paper towels to crush it beneath her heel. She flushed these pieces in a second stall and then washed her hands and attempted to regain her composure.
She needed to get back to the ER and put this out of her mind. Her hands found the printout in her pocket and she stopped, uncertain how to handle this. After a moment she folded the paper crookedly and began writing a grocery list on the outside. On the way back to the ER she stopped by her locker and stuffed the paper down in her purse.
What was making her so paranoid? Why was she instinctively protecting him like this? It didn’t matter, she was doing it and she would continue to do so.
A flurry of patients caused her mind to move on to other things and for the next forty-five minutes she handled patients and wrote orders.
She was startled when Dr. Symons appeared beside her. “Dr. Scully, is that patient still here?”
“Excuse me?” She knew what he wanted, but needed to collect her thoughts. The military flanking him were unnerving.
“The patient with the blood chemistry we spoke about - is he still here?”
“No, I’m sorry, I should have called you. It’s been a mad house down here. He was gone when I got back from the lab.”
The military type behind Dr. Symons moved to the front then. “Can you describe this man?” Dana looked up at the man, a full bird colonel, shit.
“Yes sir, white male, 65 or so, full beard mostly gray, thinning white hair, obviously homeless. He wasn’t as tall as you, I’d say 5’10” or so.”
The colonel seemed slightly taken aback at that. “65? Are you sure about the age?”
“Pretty sure, but with the homeless it’s always a little hard to tell. I couldn’t be off more than ten years either way. Is he in trouble?”
The colonel ignored her question, “Why did you decide to do the blood test?”
“Because of his actions. At first glance I thought he was intoxicated, but I couldn’t smell any alcohol on his breath. That made me wonder if he was on some sort of street drug that I wasn’t familiar with. And you have to wonder about alcohol poisoning in these cases as well.”
“How could he just walk out?” The colonel was holding onto his temper but barely.
“He wasn’t in restraints or under arrest. I left him lying on the gurney in trauma 3. I was surprised to find him gone when I returned, frankly I didn’t think he could walk.” Damn she was cool; no doubt she’d fall apart as soon as this was over.
Dr. Symons had blended into the background at this point, grateful to no longer be the focus of the colonel’s ire. The colonel turned to one of his aides and barked a few orders. Immediately something was placed in the colonel’s hands.
“Do you recognize any of these faces as the man that was here?” He spread three photographs on the nurses’ station for her to check. His picture was in the middle. Dana didn’t dare to look up, could she keep her shock from her face? She casually picked up the third picture to look at it more closely, ignoring the other two.
“All of these men are younger than the man I examined. Is he is some sort of trouble?”
“Just look at the pictures one more time.”
“I’m sorry.” She looked up into his face now. “Who are these men?”
“That’s classified.” Was his clipped answer.
“I see. Sorry, I can’t help you.” She started to turn away.
“Dr. Scully, if the man you examined or any of these men should return, I would appreciate a call.” He extended her his card, Colonel Baldwin.
“Of course. Do you have the names of these men?”
“That is also classified.”
“May we keep these pictures for other shifts?” She allowed a little exasperation to be heard in her voice now. He might be an important person, but he was behaving like an ass.
There was a slight hesitation on his part at this point. “I’ll have copies made for you.”
“Thank you, now if you will excuse me?” She turned to go back to her patient.
“Dr. Scully.” She stopped, had she made a slip? She turned and looked him straight in the eye but didn’t speak. “Did you see anyone in or near the lab while you were looking at the test results?”
She hesitated at that as though thinking. “Yes, as a matter of fact there was. After Dr. Symons left to make a phone call a man in a suit came into the lab. I assumed he was a salesman, he didn't speak. I left to return to the ER.”
“Um, thank you for your assistance.”
She nodded, glanced over at Dr. Symons and left the group of men standing in the way of patient care.
Once back in the alcove with her patient, she took a deep breath. The military were looking for him. Whatever this was had been done to him. He was in danger and she couldn’t reach him. Her purse! Would they go through her locker? She glanced over at the nurse who was finishing up with the patient, decided she wasn’t needed and exited the back way to check.
There was no one in the locker room. She opened her locker and took out her purse, then heard the door opening. It was one of the men with Colonel Baldwin.
He seemed surprised to see her, so she grabbed the advantage. “This is the women’s locker room, but since you’re here, do you have change for a $5?” She pulled out her wallet and made sure her purse was open for him to see.
“Uh, I think so.” He pulled out his own wallet and extracted five one-dollar bills and handed them to her. She continued to pull things out of her purse; there wasn’t much - a comb, a pen, a lipstick and the folded paper. She pulled that out and in large letters added to her grocery list, tampax and toilet tissue. She knew he watched her because of the expression on his face. Good, he’d know it was scrap paper now and maybe leave her alone.
She returned everything to her purse, placed it back in the locker, which was empty otherwise, twirled the dial and moved toward the door. “You better get out of here before anyone else comes in, you wouldn’t be welcome.” She grinned at him and he gave her a slight smile in return, but preceded her out the door.
She returned to the ER and wished her shift would hurry up and end. That was unusual for her; she loved her work, but today . . .
When the hours finally passed, she returned to the locker. She couldn’t spot anything that had been touched, why didn’t that reassure her?
Rather than head straight home she did stop by the market and made sure the list was easily visible in her hand, carefully purchasing each item and then some dinner from the deli to take home.
She still circled the block before heading home. If someone were following her, she couldn’t see them. She forced herself to walk inside carrying her groceries at a normal pace, but immediately bolted the door once inside, tossed the bag on the table and raced to the back door. She was praying he would be there waiting.
She didn’t see him when she opened the door, so she stepped outside. “Are you here?” She asked into the alley in a stage whisper.
“Sure am.” He seemed to materialize beside her. She grabbed his hand and pulled him inside, shutting and bolting that door as well. Before he could speak she threw her arms around him holding him close. His arms automatically closed around her as well and he held her silently until her trembling came under control.
When she finally pulled back from him he released her reluctantly. “What’s wrong?” He was searching her face, trying to read her eyes.
“This was done to you.” Her voice was just above a whisper. “They did something to you; your blood chemistry set off all the bells and whistles. The military showed up and were asking all kinds of questions. They had a picture of you - “
“Slow down. Get your breath.” He led her to the table and seated her, then took his own seat and kept a firm grasp on her hand.
She took a deep breath. “I took your blood to the lab first thing, along with several others. I didn’t want it singled out. Dr. Symons called me to the lab, and then he left to call someone, probably the CDC.” She related the rest of her story quickly, ending with; “Thank God you’re here. I was terrified for you and I didn’t know how to reach you!”
“The military.” She could see him thinking, but he didn’t look away from her. “You are in danger, I shouldn’t be here.” He rose from the table, but she refused to release his hand.
“You are not leaving. It’s safer for you here; you’re out of sight. No one knows you’re here.”
He shook his head; “This is too dangerous. I can’t let you get more involved than you already are.” He watched as she moved closer to him, not believing until her lips touched his that this was really happening.
The contact was electric and he pulled her even closer to him. When they finally broke apart, for breath only, he realized they had somehow gotten to the couch and his body lay atop hers. That realization jolted him and he pulled away. She reached for him, “Please.”
“Doc, I’m sorry. I . . . “
“Are you? Sorry? Because I’m not.” His eyes widened and he couldn’t think of anything to say. “I think we’d be more comfortable in the bed.”
“Doc, you don’t even know my name.”
“I know we belong together.” She looked away then, “You probably think I’m some kind of . . . I’ve never done anything like this before, but this is right.”
His lips moved but no sound emerged. Finally, he nodded slightly. Whoever this woman was, he belonged with her and she with him. Her smile warmed him to the core and he took her hand as she rose from the couch.
“Why don’t we start with a shower?” He
didn’t speak, not at all certain his voice would work at this point, and
followed her into the bathroom. She started to undress herself, but his hands
stopped her and took over the task himself, slowly revealing the body he had
visualized all day. His imagination must be slipping, she was so much more than
he had . . . his hands cupped her breasts and he watched her eyelids drift down
even as her hands began her exploration of him.
Watching the water sluice from his body caused feelings to well up in her that she had avoided, ignored and tamped down for ages. His lips on her breasts drove her toward madness. He had her pressed up against the side of the shower, his lips burning brands into her throat and breasts. “Please.” It was a moan on her part.
“We don’t . . . I . . . my sexual history - god, stop, Doc . . . “ He was losing this battle to logic and good sense. And she wasn’t helping.
“Your blood test,” she spoke between kisses and bites, “there was nothing . . . Yes, there!” She moaned again and he gave in, he had to be with this woman. Whoever she was, whoever they were, this was right.
He lifted her slightly and poised to enter her. Their eyes met and locked, she gave the barest nod and let her eyes drift close as he thrust into her. She gasped at the size of him, it had been a long time since she had . . . he seemed to sense this and slowed his pace, giving her time to adjust to him and he to her. Tight, she was so damn tight and hot. He tightened his hold on her. She was incredible.
He needed her, he needed her now. Her legs were clasped around him pulling him deeper, taking in all of him, body and soul.
He was thrusting into her now and she was meeting him thrust for thrust. They were perfect together, each knowing instinctively what the other needed, wanted.
He couldn’t hold back much longer, she recognized that and gave herself over to him, her orgasm pushing him over the edge. He nearly lost his grip on her and his body reacted to hers with a release that overwhelmed anything he could imagine.
He lowered her to her feet and steadied himself against the side of the shower. She looked up at him, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. “Damn.” He was barely audible.
“We better get out of here before we drown.” He nodded, willing to follow her anywhere.
He was nearly steady on his feet as she toweled him dry, then he did the same for her. They stumbled to her bed and fell into it refusing to release the hold they had on each other. Oblivion overcame them as they lay in each other’s embrace.
He woke first and froze as he realized that she lay against him, sated and trusting. What was going to happen now? He couldn’t stay with her. The military were looking for him; he might be AWOL. He must be some sort of experiment, but could he leave her now?
Her hand on his face made him realize that she was awake as well and watching him. “It’s going to be okay. We’ll figure this out.” She smiled at him then and he relaxed slightly.
She leaned over him then and pulled the sheet from his body. She began an examination of his body; it certainly didn’t feel like a medical exam. Her lips and touch didn’t fit with that. She investigated his scars, trailing a light touch over them, medically noting them, but appreciating them with tongue and touch.
“You’ve lived a lot.”
“What?” He could barely speak with what she was doing.
“You’ve been shot twice.” She touched the two old wounds, “I think this is a knife wound.”
“I must not be a very popular guy.” That startled her and she looked up into his eyes. “You had to have thought of that.” She shook her head, it hadn’t occurred to her.
“We have to find out who you are.”
“You might not like who I am.” He was perfectly serious now, and more than a little frightened at the prospect.
She shook her head; it couldn’t happen. The fact that she hadn’t known him three days ago completely forgotten.
“I know some guys, they’re a little - no, they’re a lot weird - but they might be able to help us. They owe me a favor and I’m pretty sure they can find things out that most people couldn’t.”
“What are they? Mafia?”
She laughed then, “No, certified paranoids.”
He looked at her for a moment, was she serious? “How would you meet someone like that?”
“The ER has all types. For some reason they trusted me.”
The stab of jealousy that hit him startled him. That was insane; she’d had a life before him, a full life, family, friends . . . other men. “Do you . . . do you think they’d talk to me?”
“I think you’d fascinate them. Not as much as you fascinate me though.” She shifted, moving her thigh against him and taking his nipple into her mouth. Coherent thought seemed to desert him then and he flipped her to her back to investigate her as she had him.
They reached for each other over and over during the night and morning came all too quickly. She banned him from her shower that morning. “I have to get ready to go to work. If you’re in there I’ll never get out of the apartment. Besides, I can barely walk already. Go, make coffee.” She shuddered as his finger traced her nipple and moved away from him. She managed to turn away and forced herself into the bathroom. Memories of the last shower kept intruding but she managed to get dressed and join him in the kitchen.
“I have to go in there alone?” He eyed her and she blushed deeply. “Okay, but it won’t be nearly as much fun.” He walked past her and she forced herself to keep her hands off of him.
When he returned they sat down for breakfast. “I need to get you some more clothes.”
“No. And don’t expect to see me for a few days.”
“What? No, what are you talking about?”
“They may be watching you, we talked about this last night.”
“That’s not all we talked about last night. What about my friends helping you? You need to stay here, out of sight.”
“Not here. I can’t be connected to you. I’ll be back, when it’s safe.”
“And just how will you know when that is? No. We shouldn’t be separated.”
“Doc, I’m not going to put you in any more danger - “
“My parents are out of town. I’m looking after their house. You can hide there. I’ll leave for work like normal, then I’ll double back and pull into the alley.” Her brain was working frantically, making plans. “You can come out into the alley and get into the backseat. I’ll take you over there, like I’m checking the mail.”
He looked at her with more than a little amazement. “Have you ever done this kind of thing before?”
“No. But I have spent a little time with those paranoiacs. For some reason they came to mind when the military showed up in my ER.”
“Is there a computer at your parent’s home?”
“Yes. What are you thinking?”
“I don’t know, but I have to start somewhere. Are you sure about this?” A way to stay with her and maybe do some searching, he wanted it to work.
“Completely. You ready?” He nodded as he moved to wash his dishes and leave hers in the sink, to ensure anyone would realize only one person had inhabited the apartment. She took her bag and left the apartment, locking it behind her and speaking to a neighbor, as though everything were normal in her life. She didn’t look around as she got into her car, if anyone were looking, she didn’t want to look suspicious. She drove as she always did, but kept a much closer eye on traffic. Once again if she was followed, it wasn’t obvious. About half way to work, she pulled into a filling station and went inside to get a large cup of coffee and a danish. Still nothing, okay. When she pulled out she headed back to her apartment and pulled into the alley behind her place.
He had obviously been watching for her and was outside immediately, slipping into the backseat and settling himself on the floor of her car.
They didn’t speak as she pulled back out onto the road and turned toward her parent’s home. Once there she used the remote she had borrowed to pull her car into the garage and shut it behind her. They both entered the house, and she let herself out to check the mail and pick up the newspapers that lay at the front door. She didn’t open any of the curtains, just led him into her father’s study and booted up the computer.
“It’s a pretty good system. Dad enjoys his toys and now that he’s retired, he likes to keep in touch with his friends.”
“Retired from what?”
“Navy. He retired as a captain.”
“Military?” That caused him to look up at her. She just shrugged and he turned back to the computer.
“I need to get to work. I’ll contact my friends and see if they can meet me here when my shift is over. There’s plenty of food in the refrigerator, and feel free to raid Dad’s closet for clothes. They’ll be too big too, but you’re welcome to whatever he has.”
“Even his daughter?” She smiled and nodded at that. He rose then from the desk, “Go, you shouldn’t be late. Don’t want to draw any attention to yourself.” He walked her to the door to the garage and kissed her thoroughly before releasing her and stepping back to ensure he wasn’t seen.
It took all of her willpower to get into her car and actually leave. She made it to work on time.
She’d only seen one patient when Dr. Symons appeared in the ER and drew her aside. “Has he come back? Have you seen the man that we investigated yesterday?”
“Dr. Symons? Who? Oh, the man the troops were after? No, but I just got here. Did you check with the other shifts?”
“No. The colonel didn’t want us talking about it.”
“What is going on? Have you been able to make any sense of what you found?” Might as well try to get all the information she could to pass on to her friends.
“They took my computer! They took everything! We had to redraw blood from over twenty patients. I’ve been here all night. They’ve completely wrecked my department.” Dr. Symons sagged against the nurses’ station.
“So you don’t know what caused the abnormalities?”
“Not a clue and no chance to find out now - unless he shows back up.” He looked at her hopefully.
“I wouldn’t count on that. Hey, did they bring those pictures?”
“Uh, I don’t know.” He straightened up and started looking around the counter. She helped him and they finally asked the shift nurse, who discovered them under several charts. She felt a surge of adrenaline when she spotted his picture. Maybe they could get somewhere now.
“I have to go over to Memorial on my way home, why don’t I take these and have copies made. I can check and see if they’ve been seen while I’m there.” She slipped all three pictures in her pocket. “I’ll keep an eye open for all four men, Dr. Symons. If any of them show up I’ll call you first. I promise.”
He nodded mournfully and headed back to his lab to try and create some sense out of the havoc the military had left behind.
On her break, she grabbed a cup of well-earned coffee and made her way to the pay phones. She dialed the number from the scrap of paper in her pocket. “Yeah?”
“Is this The Lone Gunmen?”
“Who is this?” The voice was suspicious, wary.
“This is Dr. Dana Scully. I work at - “
“Dr. Scully, yes. What can we do for you?”
“I need some help. There’s - “
“We could talk about specifics later if you don’t mind. Where could we meet you?”
She would have laughed if the circumstances had been different. She wanted to be amused at their paranoia like she had been earlier, but now she was as paranoid as them. She gave them her parents’ address and hung up more paranoid herself.
The day actually passed quickly, the ER was busy and no military types showed up. But she was still grateful that she had three days coming up.
He was waiting for her in the kitchen when she entered and she went into his arms as though she had always been there. When they finally came up for breath she was able to ask if he had found anything.
He led her upstairs, but admitted he had been stymied at most avenues. She was looking at one of the sites he had discovered when she felt him leave her side and move to the window.
“Someone’s here. Looks like a plumber. Did you call anyone?”
She joined him at the window. “That’s Frohike, one of the men I told you about.” She moved toward the stairs as they heard the doorbell ring.
The small man entered quickly and had her shut the door behind him, then checked out the windows for anyone following them. Finally he spoke, “Open the garage, the other guys are in the back of the van. Let’s get them inside.”
He watched the little man; amused at the precautions this Frohike was taking, but not quite willing to believe that it wasn’t necessary.
Once everyone was assembled in her father’s office, she introduced the trio to him. “These are my friends, Melvin Frohike, John Byers and Ringo Langly. This is David and he needs some information.”
The three men sized him up and relaxed slightly when he held out his hand to shake with them. “You want to tell us what’s going on?”
He and Dana exchanged glances and he nodded. She settled into a chair and the others drew up seats to listen to her. He watched their eyes and saw the gleam in them at the information she was giving them, except for the little one, Frohike. His eyes had started gleaming at his first sight of her; he didn’t like it but . . .
She pulled out the three pictures and handed them to Byers. “Well, this is a start. We can scan these pictures in and do a search.”
“I wasn’t able to get into much.” He glanced over at the computer.
“Amateurs.” Langly muttered and moved over toward the machine. Within minutes he was into a database that had eluded the other man all day. He glanced over at her and grinned.
She smiled back and left the room to see what was available to eat in the house. When she got the meal started she returned to find them in a lively discussion. She sat and listened, joining in when the topic turned to the blood chemistry. They had fed in the information from the paper she had managed to slip out of Dr. Symon’s lab - it was blowing their minds.
When dinner was ready they all ate in the kitchen to stay away from the windows and the debate continued.
Finally Frohike looked up, “The neighbors are gonna wonder how much this plumbing call is costing. We better get out of here. We can do more on our equipment anyway. We’ll probably know who you are by morning.”
“Thanks. I really appreciate what you’re doing.”
“It’s for the Doc. If she thinks you’re okay . . . “ Frohike shrugged.
He looked over at her and smiled. Her answering smile quickened his pulse and the trio exchanged glances and rose.
They left as they had arrived, with only Frohike being seen in the van.
“I thought they’d never leave.” He took her into his arms.
“Sir? I do believe your hands are getting a little personal.” She batted her eyes at him and he lifted her to his lips, not at all disturbed at the location of his hands.
The phone woke them late the next morning, and even then they had probably only slept a couple of hours. They just couldn’t get enough of each other.
“We’ve got information. Can we come over?”
She looked over at him and he nodded. “Yes, please.” Byers hung up immediately. “We better get dressed.”
He ran a finger down her side, “Yeah, I don’t like the way that little guy looks at you.”
“Frohike?” She moved closer to him, her hand playing with the hair on his chest.
“Yeah.” But his train of thought was broken and he pulled her atop him.
“We’ve got to get ready. They’ll be here soon.”
“We should have told them after lunch.” He got out between kisses.
“It is after lunch.” She slipped from his arms and pulled a robe around her. He groaned but followed her out of the bed.
The trio was even more paranoid if that was possible today. He poured them some coffee while they waited for her. They refused to get into it without her.
When she entered the kitchen he rose and handed her a cup as he kissed her. She smiled shyly and slipped into the chair next to Byers. “Okay, what do you have?”
“A name.” Byers looked over at the man who had frozen into place. She slipped her hand into his and he moved closer to her. She nodded at Byers. “You’re Fox Mulder.”
“That’s a name?” His eyes narrowed.
“Yep. Doesn’t ring any bells?” He shook his head. “How about a career as an FBI agent?”
“I’m what? You have to be kidding now.”
“He’s not, Dude.” Langly spoke up. “You’ve been listed as missing in action; we’ve not been able to get to those records yet, but we’re working on it.”
“I’m an FBI agent?” He looked over at her, “Doc?”
“Well, it explains some things, Fox.”
“Oh god, no. I can’t . . . call me Mulder, okay?”
“What else do you know about him?” She looked at Byers now.
“We can pull up his file, you can check it out.”
She rose immediately and started for the door. She stopped when she realized he wasn’t following her. “Mul . . . Mulder?”
He gave a nervous laugh, “What if I’m not ready? What if there are things I don’t want to know?”
She moved to his side and took his hand. After a slight hesitation the three men left the kitchen and headed upstairs to the computer. “It will be okay. You need to know who you are. I’ll be with you.”
He nodded slightly at that and she pulled him toward the door. The guys had the computer up when they joined them. It took only a moment for his file to load.
He sat down in the front of the screen and she stood just behind him, her hand on his shoulder. “You are good, Mulder. Oxford? Commendations? Does this bring anything back?”
He didn’t take his eyes from the screen, shaking his head. “I’m not married.”
She smiled down at him and squeezed his shoulder. The men exchanged glances but kept quiet. “We need to know what happened to you.”
“We haven’t been able to hack into those files. Not yet anyway.”
Dana looked over at Byers, “Is there any mention of someone named Samantha?” He turned then and looked up at her. The three men questioned each other silently and Byers shook his head.
“What can we get into?” Mulder had turned back to the screen, staring at his own face, but not recognizing anything.
“Well, I’ll show you.” Mulder reluctantly rose and gave his seat to Langly. “This may take a little while, on this computer.”
“Okay, while you guys are working on this, I’m going to clean up in the kitchen. Call me if you find anything.” She stopped when he took her hand; she squeezed it and smiled, then left them alone.
It had been quite a while, the kitchen clear and the downstairs dusted before she heard him. “Doc? I think we found something.” She hurried upstairs; “We’ve found some information on the case that I was on when I went missing.” He put his arm around her and squeezed her shoulder then moved toward the screen. “I work for a division called the X-Files. I haven’t figured it out completely, but it has to do with unsolved cases, things with a ‘weird’ bent. And . . . and UFOs.”
“UFOs?” She didn’t quite laugh, but he could hear the disbelief in her voice.
“I was in contact with a MUFON group - that’s Mutual UFO Network. I was apparently checking into some disappearances.” She had hesitated at the door. UFOs?
“I was at a place in Virginia, Sky . . . what was it?” He looked down at his notes, “Yeah, Skyland Mountain.” She made a sound, like a strangled gasp or something. He turned in time to see that her face had gone completely white. Before he could move she had crumpled to the floor in a dead faint. “Doc!”
She came to on the bed they had shared the night before, with him bending over her. His entire body showing his concern and fear for her. She saw Byers enter the room with a glass, which he handed to Mulder. “Here, take a sip.” He helped her to sit up and held the glass to her lips. He passed the glass back and Frohike took it from him then he laid her back on the pillows again.
“Yeah, sure. You went down like a rock in there. What’s going on?”
“You were talking about Sky . . . Skyland Mountain.”
“Yeah? You’ve heard of it?” She took a trembling breath and wouldn’t meet his eyes. He turned to the men behind him, “Guys, could we . . . “
“Oh sure.” Byers moved toward the door. Frohike put the glass on the bedside table and followed Langly out.
“Doc, what happened? What do you know about that place?” He took her into his arms then as her trembling had only increased.
“It was five years ago.” She spoke low, into his chest; he had to pull her even closer to hear her. “I . . . I was taken from Skyland Mountain.”
“What? You were . . . “
“I was kidnapped from my apartment. He took me there and . . . I don’t know what happened then.”
“Wait, wait. Back up. Who took you from your apartment?”
She pulled slightly away from him then and he arranged the pillows so that she could recline more comfortably. “It was a patient. We had a gunshot victim come into the ER, Duane Barry. He found out where I lived and when he got out . . . he came to my place and, and he hit me and put me in the trunk of his car . . . He took me to Skyland Mountain, I remember him taking me from the car, then there was a light and . . . and I woke up three months later in the ICU at Walter Reed. I don’t know what happened to me.”
He kissed her, “Try to relax. Is there any way I could talk to this Barry guy?”
“He’s dead. He was killed when they tried to rescue me.” He nodded at that. “Mulder, I was . . . I was very sick when I turned up. They called my recovery miraculous; I wasn’t expected to live. I haven’t thought about . . . when you said Skyland Mountain . . . “ She shivered again and he pulled her to him.
“You don’t remember anything about that time?”
“I have dreams sometimes, but I don’t remember them when I wake up.”
“Nightmares?” She nodded.
“Please don’t tell me I was abducted by aliens.” She gave a shaky laugh and finally looked up at him again. She froze at the look on his face.
“Doc, don’t worry about this now. Okay? Let me . . . let me keep looking. You just lay here. You haven’t gotten a lot of sleep the last couple of nights.”
She started to speak but he interrupted with a kiss. “Just rest for a little while. I don’t like that you passed out. Let me keep looking.”
“If what happened to me has anything to do with what happened to you . . . “ She started to question him.
“Maybe that’s why I knew you when I didn’t know anyone else. Maybe it’s why I was drawn to you. I’m not complaining.” He smiled down at her. “Rest. I’ll check on you in a little while.”
“Hey, Sleeping Beauty, it’s time to wake up.”
She burrowed her face into the pillow, “Ummm, where’s my kiss?”
“I think I can handle that.” He reclined beside her, his hands doing things that woke her up much more than the kiss.
She finally pulled away, “How long was I asleep?”
“A couple of hours.”
“Hours?” She sat up then surprised.
“You obviously needed it. I do have more news.” She turned to face him. He saw the fear in her eyes and brought his hand up to caress her cheek. “We know who Samantha is.”
That startled her and her eyes widened. “Well? Please, who is she?”
“She, uh, she’s my sister. From what the guys found she was taken from our house when she was eight years old, I was twelve.”
“Yeah. Like us, Doc, but from home not Virginia. She’s never been . . . I may have joined the FBI to look for her. There’s evidence that I believe she was abducted too.”
“I don’t know.” He shook his head. “I don’t know what to believe. These guys have found things . . . Doc, somehow I knew it was dangerous for you to be around me. Looks like I was right.”
“How? What?” He shook his head.
“We don’t have specifics yet, and the less you know the better, for your sake.”
“No. We share something Mulder, and I want to know everything you know. Don’t shut me out.” He didn’t respond verbally, just holding her against him.
“I want the guys to check out your apartment. Do you mind?”
She shook her head, “Check for what?”
“I don’t know. But we’ve been away for a couple of days. I think it would be smart.”
“You’re scaring me.”
“Good. It’ll make you more cautious, like when you got me out of there. Doc, you’re the most important thing. I’m not going to put you in any more danger than you already are.”
“I’m not - “
“Shhh. I’m going to go ask them to check things out. I’ll be right back.” She held onto his hand until he was too far away.
His new friends left immediately to check out her apartment, not bothering to disturb her to tell her goodbye. He joined her in the bedroom again. “You doing okay?”
“I’m fine Mulder.”
“Are you? Really? There’s been a lot to absorb.” He held himself away from touching her.
She didn’t, moving into his arms, which closed around her. “It’s been more for you. Have you remembered anything?”
“Just what I already knew, that I love you.” She went very still in his arms. “Doc?”
“Um hum.” Now his hands were working their magic on her body and coherent thought became difficult.
The guys let themselves into the house when they returned; Mulder met them at the top of the stairs. One look at their faces was enough. “What?”
“She needs to know this too.”
He shook his head; “I want to protect her.”
“Well you can’t.” He hadn’t heard her come up behind him. “Byers, what? Was there something at my apartment?” She led them into the computer room.
Byers glanced over at Mulder, but she was in charge now. “Yeah, we found something.” He looked over at the other two. Langly nodded. “Someone’s been there. We found a bug. Someone was ready to listen to whatever you had to say when you got back.”
Mulder hadn’t really expected it. Not this soon. He looked over at her, she had paled again and he moved immediately to her side.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to faint again. What are we into?”
“Not we. You’re out of this as of now. I don’t know what it is, but if they’re this serious about it, you are not going to be involved.”
“Mulder - “
“We’ll discuss this later. I think I need to thank your friends and get them out of this too.” He rose and after a second the other three men rose as well. “I’ll see you out.”
He was gone for longer than she had expected, but she knew that she wouldn’t get any information out of him after one look at his face. “Mulder, please.”
He shook his head. “Getting hungry? I can probably figure out how to cook something.” He grinned, “I don’t exactly remember any recipes but if you trust me I can try - “
“I trust you.” The smile faded. “Mulder, talk to me. What else is going on?”
“You feel like joining me downstairs? It might save time if I don’t have to look for the salt, you know?” He tugged her to her feet and kept his arm around her as they headed down stairs.
He did actually cook and she ate what she could. Her appetite was gone, but he was trying to keep it light for her sake and she attempted to play along.
He ran her a bath when they were through and had her soak while he cleaned up the kitchen. He joined her when he was finished, easing in behind her and holding her to him. She relaxed back against his chest as he drew pictures on her breast with the bubbles.
“I said it earlier Doc, but I want you to hear it again and believe it. I love you.”
She pressed herself against him. “You don’t have to say that. I’m not going to throw you out.” She gave a nervous laugh. His arms tightened under her breasts.
“I’ve never been more serious.”
“That you remember.” She tossed out.
“Doc, what is this? Why are you -?“
“I’m sorry. I . . . I think you’ve succeeded in scaring me, not of ‘them’, of you. I’ll think you mean it.”
“I do.” He whispered in her ear.
“You don’t know me.”
“You are the only person I know. To tell the truth, you’re the only person I want to know. I have to find out what’s going on, who I really am, but you need to know how I feel. Nothing is more important than you.” He nuzzled her hair, then turned her toward him. “Why the tears?”
“I think I love you too.” She whispered it, as though frightened to say the words out loud.
He said nothing, just holding her close, too overwhelmed to speak clearly anyway.
“I think we should move to the bed.” She kissed him gently and rose from the tub. He watched mesmerized as she wrapped the towel around herself and moved to the door. He wanted her again. Oh be honest, he hadn’t stopped wanting her since he had spotted her in the store, was it just five days ago? She had become his whole life. What was he going to do without her?
It didn’t matter; he had to leave. They were looking for him and if they found out he was with her, she wouldn’t be safe. The guys had promised to look after her and he had to trust them, hard as that was for him.
He joined her in the bedroom and showed his love for her until she collapsed from exhaustion. She curled into his chest and slept the sleep of the totally sated.
She wasn’t really surprised to find him gone the next morning.
It took awhile for anyone to answer the door. He knew he was on their surveillance camera, what was the problem? Did they not recognize him? Yes, he tried to disguise himself in this city, but surely . . .Finally he heard the locks being disengaged.
“What do you want?”
“Frohike? What - “
“Come in Mulder.” Byers moved in front of the smaller man and opened the door wider.
Mulder entered and turned once inside, allowing them to relock the door. He didn’t feel very welcome. He didn’t try to enter the apartment. “What’s wrong?”
“What are you doing here?” Frohike’s hostility was obvious.
He hesitated slightly, then looked at the other two men. “I have some new information. I wanted to get your take on it.” He tucked a strand of hair behind his ear. Frohike stomped off, muttering to himself.
“What’s wrong?” He tried to read their expression, but neither man would meet his eye. “Is it Doc? Is something wrong?” His voice shook slightly on the last word.
“Mulder . . . “
“You knock her up and then vanish. A real sweetheart, you are.” Frohike made sure he heard that.
His mouth fell open and he looked at Byers, but couldn’t get the man to look him in the eye. It took him a long moment to find his voice. “Doc’s pregnant?”
“Yeah.” Finally Byers spoke.
“I told you he didn’t know.” Langly turned to Frohike.
Mulder ignored them. “Can you get her over here? I need to talk to her.”
“I don’t know Mulder. She’s been avoiding us lately.” Byers could see what this was doing to him.
“I have to talk to her. Please.”
Byers glanced at the other two and nodded. He moved to the phone and took a deep breath. “Dr. Dana Scully please.” After what seemed like an extremely long wait to Mulder, “Dana? It’s John Byers. Could you come by?”
“John - “
“Please. We have some information.”
John heard her sigh. “Just for a minute, okay? I get off at three. I’ll see you then.”
“Thanks Dana.” He heard her hang up and returned his own phone to the base. “She'll be here after three.”
Mulder nodded but said nothing.
”Mulder, you want us to go over your information?” Langly finally broke the silence.
He reached into his coat pocket and withdrew a couple of computer disks and some printed sheets. Langly took them and sat in front of the computer.
The other three men quickly became fascinated with the information, but Mulder himself was unable to concentrate. After several attempts, they left him alone. Even Frohike was mellowing at his obvious discomposure.
It was 3:35 before the buzzer sounded. Mulder had pulled his hair back into a neat ponytail. He didn’t want to look scruffy for her. He was on his feet instantly and moved out of sight, then nodded to Byers who opened the door.
“John, let’s make this short. I’m tired and I have things to do.”
Byers looked over toward Mulder with no comment. She turned to see what had his attention and her face went white.
Mulder was already moving and had his arm around her, supporting her. “I’m . . . I’m fine.” He didn’t bother to argue with her, bending over to place one arm under her knees and lifting her into his arms.
Byers motioned toward his bedroom and Mulder carried her in, and shut the door behind them. He lowered her gently onto Byers’ bed. “Are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m . . . I was surprised.”
“Doc, I didn’t - “ He knelt in front of her.
“Aren’t you going to ask if it’s yours?”
“I know it’s mine.” He placed one hand on her rounded belly. “You’re six months.” She nodded, her eyes moist at his words. “If I’d known . . . “
She shook her head and smoothed down the hair he had obviously been running through with his fingers for some time.
“How are you? Don’t say fine, I need to know. How are you really?”
“I’m doing great. It’s been a picture perfect pregnancy so far, if a little unexpected.”
“Unexpected?” He didn’t know how to react to that word.
“Well, I was on the pill. I don’t - “
“This baby was meant to be.” A tear escaped her eye then and he caught it as it trailed down her cheek. “Do you believe that?”
She nodded, unable to speak. He sat beside her on the bed then and took her into his arms. After a few moments he put his finger under her chin and turned her face up to him. “How are you otherwise?”
She understood his question and took a deep breath. “My family isn’t exactly thrilled. Especially my father. It’s kind of hard for him to face the fact that his medical doctor daughter got in trouble from a one night stand.”
“Not a one night stand.”
“Okay, three nights, but - “
“Doc.” She sighed. “I need to talk to them.”
“That’s not necessary.”
“Yes. It is. But I’m not sure it would be wise right now.”
She nodded. “What are your plans?”
“They’ve changed.” His hand went back to her swollen abdomen.
“What were they?” Her hand covered his.
“I was going to drop off the information I’d accumulated with the guys and leave. Only be in town a couple of hours.”
“You weren’t going to call me?”
He looked down, then back up at her face. “I thought I was protecting you.”
“I can’t leave you. I won’t leave you.”
She leaned against his strong body and for a moment let him comfort her. “You can’t stay here. The military hasn’t given up on finding you. The colonel comes by the hospital randomly, checking to see if you’ve come back.”
He stiffened, “has he bothered you?”
“Annoyed maybe. He can’t prove anything.”
“He knows you’re pregnant?”
She smiled slightly. “On me it’s a little hard to miss.”
“I want you to leave with me.”
Mulder’s eyes widened at the movement within her. He swallowed but didn’t know what to say, didn’t know if he could speak. She smiled at his reaction and placed a soft kiss on his cheek.
“Are you . . . “ He stopped to center himself. “I don’t want you to even go by your apartment. We need to get out of town, now.”
“Mulder, I can’t just leave. My job, my family. I can’t.”
“Doc - “
“My doctor’s here - "
“Do you trust him?” His eyes were intense now. “What tests has he run?”
“I’ve been going to him for years. We don’t socialize or anything.”
“And the tests?” His grip had tightened but he didn’t seem to notice.
“Nothing unusual. He asked if I wanted an amino and I said no. I’m under the age where they’re considered necessary. Mulder, what?”
“Was he okay with that?”
She thought about that for a moment. “He seemed to be, now you’ve got me wondering.”
“Anything else, anything unusual about how he’s treating you?” He was so tense. She wanted to caress his face, try to calm him down, but her own mind had clicked into gear and he saw her hesitate. “What?”
“It’s silly. My doctor is in a practice with two other OB-GYNs. Usually when you have your monthly visits you rotate among the doctors so that you are familiar with everyone. You never know who might be on duty when you go into labor. But all of my visits have been with Dr. Hambright. I even teased him about it last time and he made some comment about doctor’s privilege.”
“He’s monitoring you. Doc, can you draw your own blood? Would it be safe?”
“Yes. What are you thinking?”
“I want these guys to make sure everything’s okay. What about an ultrasound?”
“Dr. Hambright scheduled one, but I had to miss the appointment. He rescheduled it but I haven’t gone yet. I know the date of conception, so we didn’t need it for that. Mulder, what are you thinking?”
“That I’m going to do whatever I have to do to keep you safe.” She relaxed slightly and managed to smile. “We need to get out of town tonight.”
“Mulder, I can’t. If I don’t show up at work tomorrow everyone will notice. They would start looking for me, for us.” She kissed him quickly. “Think about it, vanishing would raise every flag. I should go to work like normal tomorrow. I’m working three days on, four days off right now - moving toward my maternity leave. If I work tomorrow - like normal - we could have a four day head start.”
“Did I fall in love with your brains or your beauty?”
“I hope it wasn’t my body.” She looked down at the largest part of her and chuckled.
“I can’t imagine you more beautiful that you are right now.”
She looked away, a blush heating her face. After a moment he kissed her forehead and rose. “Let’s get your blood, then we need to get you home. You said you were tired.”
“I’m not anymore.” He took her hand and lifted her to her feet.
While Langly and Frohike helped her with the blood sample, Mulder took Byers aside. “Her apartment, her car?”
“We check them both twice a week at random times. Her car’s been clean; we only found one bug at her place. As far as we know it’s still functioning fine in the apartment directly above hers.”
Mulder nodded, he’d been right to ask them to keep an eye on her. But it should have been him. He looked up when she entered the room. “I want you to go home, pack a few things.”
“Where will you be?”
“If I can get one of these guys to give me a ride, I’ll be meeting you at the backdoor very shortly.”
She smiled broadly and looked over at Byers. “No problem. Go home Dana, we’ll be right behind you.”
She hadn’t paid this much attention to ensuring she wasn’t followed for weeks. Suddenly it was important again and she was doubly careful. Her hands were trembling slightly with anticipation as she let herself into the apartment.
Pack, she needed to pack. She was going to run away with him. She hadn’t even hesitated. Even as he was putting forth the idea she was formulating plans on how to get out of town safely. That surprised her a little; she wasn’t an impulsive person, not usually. But when he was around - she caressed her protruding stomach. She laughed softly to herself, okay maybe she was impulsive. She belonged with him, and if he thought they weren’t safe here, she believed him.
She had her suitcase laid out on her bed when she heard the tap at her backdoor. She hurried to open it and let him in. Before she could speak he had her in his arms, his lips on hers. She didn’t even see Byers move past them into the apartment.
When she could speak, he stopped her again and bent closer to whisper into her ear. “Let him check it out first.”
She nodded puzzled, but whatever he thought . . . Shortly Byers rejoined them in the kitchen. “All clean. See you guys later.” Then he let himself out the door.
“What was he talking about?”
“He was checking your apartment for bugs, listening devices. I’ve had them check periodically since I left.”
“They’ve been in here? Checking my apartment?”
“And your car.”
“I wanted to make sure you were left alone, that they really didn’t think you knew where I was.”
That took her a moment to absorb that. “You were looking after me even after you . . . But they never found anything, right?”
“Once. Here in the apartment.” Her eyes widened and his grip on her tightened. “Don’t worry. The guys didn’t destroy it, they only moved it, to the apartment upstairs.”
She still didn’t speak, trying to take it in. He had been right, they were following her, watching her. How much danger was she in? Was her child safe?
“I told you, I’m not going to let anything happen to you. I’m getting you out of here. Remember when you fed me that first day and I said I couldn’t reciprocate. Well I can now. I have a place, a different identity in another part of the country. I want you with me. Please think about it. Doc, I want you with me.”
“They . . . they were in here?” He realized he was supporting her and moved her toward the living room to seat her gently on the couch. He squeezed her hand gently then went into the kitchen and returned quickly with a glass of water.
“Doc, here. Take a sip. Come on, stay with me.” She obeyed him silently, giving herself over to him. “Doc? You okay?”
“I . . . they really want you, don’t they?”
He nodded solemnly. “That’s why I want you out of here. I want you where I know they aren’t looking. And I want you with me. I need to confess something to you. I could easily have sent the information I brought . . . I needed to know you were safe. I didn’t plan to see you, I didn’t think I could handle that and then just leave again, but I wanted to be in the same city for a little while.”
Her hand came up to his face. It was shaking slightly but when she touched him she steadied and drew his face down to hers.
"I want you Doc. I know I don't have the right -"
"Mulder, stop. Stop right there. You have the right, I gave you the right six months ago and I have no intention of taking it back. Besides, I want you too. I . . . I look a little different."
He smiled then as his eyes raked her again. "Maybe a little, but I can't wait to see more."
"That's the problem, there's so much more to see." He chuckled then and her eyes drifted close as his hands began an exploration of her body.
He'd forgotten none of the things that she enjoyed. What he wasn't prepared for was her enthusiasm. His concern about her ‘condition’ diminished quickly. He was the one in danger here and he was enjoying every minute of it.
She had only been gone a few minutes and he already missed her so much he ached from it. She was coming with him, she trusted him that much even after what he had done to her. He had no memories, but somehow he knew that he had never had a child. This one, this child that they had created was very nearly the most important thing in the world - following only her.
He was startled from his reverie by the sound of someone trying to unlock the front door. Shit! He had to get out, something had alerted them. He quickly moved to the back door and slipped out, grateful that everything he had brought was on his back. He pulled the door silently closed and made sure it was locked from the inside. He hid himself in the alley and watched to see if he was followed from the apartment.
After a moment he moved farther into the alley and pulled his cell phone from his pocket. He quickly dialed the number at the apartment of her friends.
“Go check on Doc. Now!” He broke the connection to ensure there would be no trace.
“Mulder? Hey guys! There’s a problem!”
Frohike and Byers were in the room instantly. “What? What else did you find?”
“No, not this. Mulder just called. He said go check on Dana. He was as close to frantic as I’ve ever heard the man.”
“Okay,” Byers took immediately charge. “You two head down to the hospital, find her, keep an eye on her. I’ll head over to her place and see if I can find him.”
Langly and Frohike nodded and all three of them headed out for their various destinations.
Once at the hospital Frohike grabbed some maintenance coveralls and Langly slipped surgical greens over his clothes. They separated, both heading for the ER and kept their eyes open for her. Frohike spotted the military first and increased his pace. When he saw Colonel Baldwin he realized he was towering over Dana and his manner was less than pleasant.
Frohike grabbed some gauze from an unlocked cabinet and wound it around his hand. Then he hurried over towards them, spotting Langly over to the side. “Hey Doc, Doc can you help me?”
She looked over at the familiar voice and knew immediately that he was there to help her. And he’d never called her Doc, Mulder had sent him. What had happened at her apartment?
“Can’t you see she’s busy? Find someone else.” The colonel dismissed the smaller man.
Scully bristled at that and turned her back to the officious toad. “Here sir, come in here and let me look at that.” Frohike followed her, putting himself between her and the colonel. Langly moved in quickly, to act as her aide.
“What’s going on?” She whispered, her body shielding his lack of injury from view.
“We don’t know. He called us and said to find you and make sure you were safe.” She almost smiled at that; he was still looking after her.
Langly looked toward the entrance of their cubicle. “We’ve got to get rid of him.”
“And how we gonna do that?” Frohike hissed at him.
“I’ll see if Byers has our friend, one of them might have a plan.”
Byers had lost no time getting over to Dana’s apartment. He headed immediately for the alley behind her place and pulled in. He got out, looking around and left the door open to keep from making a sound.
Mulder startled him by appearing beside him. “Have you got her?”
“Frohike and Langly went to the hospital to check on her. I thought you might need some help too.”
“Yeah, we’ve got to get over there. Someone came into her apartment after she left. I went out the back. I didn’t see them.”
“Come on, let’s get you out of here. I’m sure they have her.” Mulder nodded and entered the car. He didn’t protest when Byers headed back toward their apartment. Somehow he hoped she would be there waiting for him. Fear nearly overwhelmed him when she wasn’t.
He turned to Byers to demand that they get over to the hospital when the phone rang. “Yeah?” Byers grabbed it on the first ring.
“The big guy’s here and he’s harassing our friend. We’re with her now but he’s hot on us. Can you get rid of him?”
Byers looked over at Mulder, “Yeah. We’ll handle that from here. Don’t leave her side.” He broke the connection and turned to Mulder. “The colonel is there. The guys have her separated for now but they want us to get him out of there.”
Mulder stood silent, thinking frantically. “Do you . . . do you know his commanding officer?”
“Yeah, General Foreman. What are you thinking?”
“We need to get him on the phone. Which of these damn phones is the hardest to trace?”
Byers tossed him a phone, then went to the bank of instruments and began making some adjustments. Finally he turned back to Mulder, “Okay, now what?”
"Do you know the general's aide's name?"
"Lt. Colonel Nixon." He grinned.
"Not Richard." Mulder looked up at him.
Mulder frowned then, "I don't think I ever forgot that."
"Oh, well anyway he's Philip Nixon. What's your plan?"
"To get the good colonel away from the hospital. Think you can sound like a hard ass Lt. Colonel?"
Byers shook his head. "Not as well as you can."
Mulder took a deep breath. "Let's get her out of there. You know the number of the ER?" At the other man's nod he gripped the phone tighter. "Let's do this." Even Byers sat up straighter at the tone of voice he used to get Colonel Baldwin to the phone.
"Sir. This is Lt. Colonel Nixon. General Foreman wants you and your team in his office ASAP."
"Has he found . . . “ The colonel hesitated then, he was in public.
"He wants you over here. The general will brief you when you arrive." Then he broke the connection. It would seem more like an order that way.
"You sound like you're used to command." Byers ventured.
"They're threatening Doc. I can sound like whatever I have to." Byers nodded. "Can you get hold of Langly? Find out if it worked?"
Byers turned immediately to another phone and punched in a number. "What's happening?" Then he smiled and nodded at Mulder. "Bring her here." He broke the connection and nodded. "GI Joe's already out the door, his storm troopers on his heel. Good work."
"Not without you guys. You know we're going to have to vanish."
Byers nodded, "That doesn't mean you're alone. We can set you up with some pretty sophisticated stuff." He could see the hesitation in this man's eyes. "We don't want her hurt either. If a problem develops we can make changes instantaneously, you wouldn't be completely alone."
"That would be better for her. Let me think about it." Byers nodded and turned back to his work. This man had a lot to think about.
Mulder was ready to chew fingernails by the time they appeared on the surveillance camera. Waiting out of sight was nearly his undoing, but Byers raced to unlock the door.
She was in his arms in moments and he wasn't sure he was ever going to be able to let go. When he allowed her to breathe again she gave him a tremulous. "What happened?"
"I don't know unless they spotted me. Right after you left the apartment someone came in. I got out the back and called the guys. God, I thought they had you." He pulled her back to him again.
"They almost did. Colonel Baldwin was pushier today than usual. If Frohike and Langly hadn't shown up . . . “ She shuddered slightly.
"We've got to get out of town. We're not going to be able to go by your apartment. I don't know why they were there, but we're not going to chance finding out."
She took a deep breath and nodded. "They'll know we're missing."
"They might have discovered you were packing."
"Yes, but I have four days coming up, remember? If I go by the apartment and get my stuff and call Mom to let her know where I'll be, we could still - "
"That would mean you going in alone. I can't - "
"Mulder, she has a point. If you could get out of town with them thinking she's coming back, it would be a big advantage."
Mulder wheeled on him. "I will not put her in danger! This is an unacceptable risk."
Langly actually stepped back, but Dana put her hand on his arm. "Mulder, please. They're right. If these people think I still don't suspect and am just going to visit with friends - we can give them a wrong direction, I can even check in with my parents to keep them from becoming suspicious. It's a good idea."
The look of conflict on his face nearly brought her to tears.
"Mulder, we can protect her. I swear, we won't let them have her. She can drive up to the front like always and go in. We'll be at the back, we can go in first, very quietly."
"I'll be the one to go in." He said it quietly this time but with even more intensity.
"You can't." They all turned to look at her. "You can't be anywhere near my apartment. If they are there, you're the prize they’re going for. If they still can't prove I know you, they might just keep watching."
"Might. Doc, I can't - "
"This is the way it's going to go. My car is close by, Frohike and Langly will take me to it. I'll let them go ahead of me. They'll have my key to the back door and let themselves in. Once they've checked out the place, if it's empty, I'll come in and call Mom. I'll tell her I'm on my way to Virginia to see my friend Zoe for a couple of days. She has a couple of kids and it would make sense for me to visit her. I'll pick up my suitcase and leave. They can follow me out; make sure I'm not followed. I'll drive to the train station and park - that way Mom won't be worried about me driving alone. I'll slip out the side and they can bring me back here."
They all stood there staring at her, their mouths open. "Well?" She said, "Let's get going."
Byers looked over at Mulder, "And to think I thought you sounded commanding."
She flashed him a smile and moved toward the door. "Come on!"
As though attached by rubber bands, Langly and Frohike followed her to the door.
"Wait a minute!" Mulder found his voice and was at her side in two steps. "Doc, I . . . “ He looked at the other two, "If you let anything happen to her . . . “ He left the threat hanging but they both nodded.
"Mulder, I'll see you in less than an hour. It's going to be okay. You have to believe it." His lips silenced her and her arms went around him as he pulled her close.
"Don't be late."
She smiled at him then. "It would help if I could get started." Her hand caressed his cheek and she moved toward the door again as he made sure he was out of sight.
Once they were gone, Byers looked over at Mulder as he returned to the room. "They'll look after her."
He nodded but didn't speak. There was nothing else to say on the matter. Now he had to wait, something he knew he did badly. It was going to be a long hour.
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?”
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.
“Yeah.” She pulled herself into a seated position. “Where’s Mu - David?”
Mae settled the baby in Dana’s arms. “Oh, when I got here he said he needed to run an errand. I shouldn't have anyone else delivering anytime soon. My other Moms aren’t even as far along as you were. I told him to go ahead, I could stay here for a little while. Let me get you some water.” When she returned she sat on the bed and watched the baby suckle. “How are you feeling Dana?”
“Tired, a little sore, but good.”
“What about David?”
“Why do you ask?” She sat up straighter at the question and the baby protested.
“I don’t know, he looked a little traumatized. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him earlier, but I was hoping he would have calmed down by now. I think you’re both doing very well.”
Dana relaxed a little. “It was difficult for him. He was afraid of . . . of doing something wrong. He’s probably still having ‘what ifs’.”
Mae nodded, “That’s probably it. He . . . he wouldn’t be out having a drink?”
“No. He did have an errand. Today kind of got away from us. What time is it anyway? I’ve been busy.”
Mae chucked. “True. It’s a little after 5 in the evening. A busy day for you.” They both looked up as they heard the front door open and Dana breathed a sigh of relief that he was home. The thought of what he had been doing, alone, was painful. To be honest, it was frightening.
He joined them in the bedroom, but stood silently watching this woman with their child. After a long moment Mae moved back to the bed. “Do you want me to take him?”
“I’ll take him.” Mulder moved forward and took the baby. Mae watched him but made no comment.
“We named him.”
Mae turned back to Dana, smiling. “Wonderful! What did you decide on?”
“William David. After his father, and mine.”
“I like it. Why don’t I go fill out the birth certificate?”
“Yeah, that’s a good idea.” Mulder answered her.
Mae nodded and slipped out of the room. She’d obviously never been as close to him as she was to her patient, but right now she was actually uncomfortable around the man. He’d always been quiet, withdrawn. When Dana had joined him here he had loosened up, seemed happy - no, elated that she was with him. Now, Mae realized, she was scared for the man. Had he seen Dana’s mortality? Was that it?
Mae shook her head and pulled out the form. She’d be by to check on them. Dana and the baby were doing well; she was being totally honest with them on that point. But something was making her uneasy. It wouldn’t hurt to drop by.
Mae left as soon as they had signed the form. When she had returned to the room they had been sitting in the bed. He was holding both of them. Stroking her hair. But both of them had seemed far away even as they touched each other.
She had been wrong. Yes, they were far away, but not from each other. In fact they were surprised to realize there were other people in the universe when Mae had reentered the room.
Mulder let Mae out and dished up the dinner he had brought home, then rejoined her. “I can come to the table.”
“I know.” He handed her the bowl of rice and vegetables that was her favorite. She smiled up at him and patted the bed beside her.
They ate in silence, bodies in contact, as they had been when Mae observed them. When he took the dish from her and rose, she put out her hand to stop him. “We need to talk.”
He nodded, but kept moving. When he returned he tossed off his clothes and climbed into the bed with her. His need to feel her against him suddenly critical.
“I sent . . . everything to the guys. I gave them some instructions but they probably know enough people to come up with things I didn’t think about.”
“Are you okay?”
He gave an unamused laugh at the question, and didn’t bother to answer directly. “Get some rest. The crown prince will no doubt be wanting your attention soon.”
“I love you Mulder.” His response was to pull her closer and kiss the top of her head. It was enough, she knew how he felt. She curled into him and closed her eyes. Whatever else, she was in his arms.
It was late the next morning when his cell phone rang. They were both in the kitchen, Will dozing in his seat on the counter. They froze and looked at each other, then he was moving, snatching up the phone.
“Yes.” He held the phone so that they both could hear.
“Is she . . .?”
It was Byers’ voice and Dana heard the panic clearly. “I’m fine.”
“Praise God.” That was Frohike’s voice and Dana smiled at the heart-felt sentiment.
“You have the package.”
“Yes and the instructions. We just had to . . . “
“I understand. It was the second; the first is . . . “ He looked down at her, searching for a word.
“Perfect and healthy.” She spoke into the phone but was watching him. He nodded and held her to him.
“Okay, we’ll get to work.” Byers spoke again. He understood why no more could be said.
“You look after her.” Frohike’s voice was clear and forceful.
“I will.” Then Mulder broke the connection. Dana was watching him. She wanted to offer him the comfort he was giving her, but he was building a wall around himself, being strong for her. She couldn’t let it go on much longer.
They settled into a pattern, being a family. He was quiet, like when they had first met, but his arms were always available to hold her or the baby, and give her at least the illusion of safety.
Will had drifted off to sleep while she held him and she rose to put him in his crib. Mulder looked up and watched her walk into their bedroom. He waited, expecting her to return immediately. The time stretched and a frown appeared on his face. He rose and headed toward the bedroom himself.
She was standing over the crib, watching Will sleep he thought at first. When he stood beside her he realized she was gripping the side of the crib, trying to keep from shaking.
“Doc?” He whispered it so as not to disturb the baby, but he turned her taking her into his arms. “What’s wrong?”
“Why haven’t we heard anything? Why . . .?” He tightened his hold on her and led her from the room. “Mulder, why haven’t they called?”
“I don’t know, but it’s something I can change right now.” He reached for his cell phone with his free hand.
“No, it could be too dangerous.”
He shook his head. “I should have done this sooner. Doc, don’t keep things from me. I need to know how you feel. I thought I was protecting you.”
She shook her head and leaned against him. He kissed the top of her head and for an instant let guilt over what he had done to this woman engulf him again. Then he took a deep breath and dialed the special number they had given him.
“Yeah?” It was Langly’s voice.
“We need that information.”
Mulder could almost feel the man tense up. “Give us 30, we need to add some protection.” The phone went dead in his hand.
He lowered the phone and at her puzzled look spoke softly, not releasing her. “They want to make sure the calls aren’t traceable. They’ll call back soon.”
She just closed her eyes and his guilt rose another notch.
He wasn’t really surprised when the phone rang only ten minutes later. “Hello?”
“We can talk now.” Byers had placed the call. “But we don’t have as much information for you as we had hoped.”
“What’s wrong?” Dana spoke before Mulder could.
“The uh, the information we have is . . . this is hotter than anything we’ve ever handled. The people we would normally go to for help just . . . we don’t trust anyone with this kind of information. If it should be traced back to you . . . we can’t take that risk.”
Dana and Mulder looked at each other. “Thank you.” She spoke softly and he pulled her against him again.
“Well, we’re in your hands guys. Any suggestions?” Mulder finally asked.
“We’re learning as we go, our education wasn’t really geared in this direction.”
“Do you need someone with my educational back-ground?” Dana asked quickly.
“No. That is out of the question. No!” Mulder look down at her, his face a mask to hide his emotions.
“We have to know. If I can help in that . . . Mu - It’s only data, I can handle looking at data.”
Their friends were silent. They understood how he felt about this, but they did need help. They were way over their heads in the genetic codes and DNA. Asking her was not something they were comfortable with, but the decision not to go outside of their small group had been unanimous.
“I think it’s a bad idea.”
She nodded, accepting his statement, then spoke into the phone, “Send the information as soon as possible.” She stood and walked into the bedroom, shutting the door behind her.
There was a long silence but Byers was not going to disturb it. Finally Mulder took a deep breath, “Do as she says. And thank you for protecting us.” The connection was broken and Byers closed his eyes as he collapsed back into his chair. Langly and Frohike exchanged looks but no one spoke.
He actually tapped on the bedroom door, not sure if he would be welcome. She opened the door surprised. “Are you through?”
“Is that why you left? To let me talk to them?”
“Of course. I know how much you want to protect me. Did you . . . did you think I was walking away? That I was angry? Oh Mulder, not at you, never at you.”
He lowered his forehead to hers and let his fingers outline her cheeks and lips. “I don’t deserve you.”
She led him back to the living room, pulling the bedroom door nearly closed behind them and sat him on the couch. Then she crawled into his lap and held him. “I need you to snap out of this Mulder. This is not your fault.”
“Not my fault? I explode into your life from nowhere, literally. I get you pregnant, I abandon you, when I return I drag you away from everything, everyone you know, you can’t even go to a hospital to give birth - I end up . . . you should have had better care, and then . . . “
“Yes, you explode into my life, saving me from a mugger. You make love to me, at my instigation, then you leave town temporarily to make sure that I’m safe and the military doesn’t discover that I know you. When you return you ask me to come with you and share your new life and I accept - knowing that I want to be with you more than anyone else in the world. When our baby starts to come prematurely and the midwife can’t get here in time you deliver our baby and probably save both of our lives. Then while I’m passed out, you have to handle an even more horrendous task - alone.”
“You paint too pretty a picture of me.”
“I see you as you really are. What bothers me the most is that I don’t make you happy. You’ve given me everything - your love, our son, my life. But I seem to only bring you guilt and unhappiness.”
“No! That’s not true. I bring the guilt on myself. You only bring me happiness. I just wish I deserved it.”
“Mulder - “
“I know nothing about my life before you - except that I don’t deserve you.”
“Why? Why do you feel like that?”
“I’ve read my file. Doc, I was a joke. They called me Spooky Mulder. They sent me out ghostbusting, checking out . . . weird things - not real cases. I couldn’t keep a partner, no friends that I can remember - at least none that missed me enough to check when I disappeared. No family - “
“You have one now.”
He did smile then. “Yes, I have one now.”
“Dwell on that Mulder. Let me make you happy. Let me love you.”
“Doc, what scares me is that you might some day stop.”
“Well you can quit being scared about that right now. You’re stuck with me, with us. We have a child together Mulder. No matter what, we’re joined.”
He buried his face in her hair, just holding her.
The information arrived late the next day at a prearranged drop off. He hated even bringing it into the house. She was waiting and she didn’t want him protecting her this way. She was a strong woman, stronger than him. She’d proven it over and over.
He squared his shoulders and let himself in. She was cooing to the baby, playing with him on the couch. “Look, Daddy’s home.” She held the boy up. The baby gurgled at him and Mulder took him into his arms after he dropped the package on the table. “Hi Boy. Miss me?”
“We both did. I’m spoiled being home with you.”
She rose, leaving her boys together as she picked up the package. She watched them as she opened it. He was fascinated by this life they are created. Of course both of her men were fascinated with her breasts, but nothing was wrong with that. Just looking at the child did make him happy, that was plain to see. She felt her own smile grow.
Finally, she forced her attention to the papers in her hand. She found herself quickly fascinated by the information she was reading. Keeping herself in doctor mode allowed her to review the data with detachment.
Mulder looked up as she booted up the computer. It looked as though she had completely forgotten they were in the room.
That became the pattern then. When she was working on the computer he bonded with his son and did the laundry and housework. These things weren’t completely unfamiliar to him, but he’d never worked to her standards before. Occasionally he would stop and watch her, her glasses on her head to be slipped down over her eyes at a moment’s notice, flipping between printouts and the computer monitor. She hadn’t shared a lot of information and he found he didn’t really want to know. He was happy, truly happy, and pushed aside any thoughts of that ending. She loved him, it was insane on her part, but it was a fact.
He was putting Will down when he heard her. He hurried back into the living room. “You okay?”
“Yes!” Her smile was beaming. “The guys just emailed me the results of the paternity test.”
“Pa . . . paternity?” He was stunned and it showed.
“Don’t worry.” She was kissing his face. “There was never any doubt about Will. You were always the only possibility there.” She felt him relax slightly. “But I had Byers check the DNA for all three of us. It took awhile because of the privacy issue. Mulder, the other . . . none of your DNA was there. None of mine either. Mulder, you and I did not create . . . that. I don’t know how . . . Mulder, you and I had a healthy baby and we can have more.”
“More? You’d have more children with me?”
“Of course I would. Did you think -?“
“It . . . it never occurred to me that you would go through that again. I . . . I -“
“Mulder, make love with me.”
“Wha . . . Doc, I want you. You know that, but no. Not tonight. Your body’s not ready - “
“Not ready for one of your marathons maybe.” She smiled up at him as the color rose in his face, “but I know how gentle you can be. We can take it slow, but I need you. Will’s asleep.”
She smiled as she realized her suggestion had caused a reaction, regardless of his words. “Very serious.” She led him into the bedroom.
She was up before him the next morning and greeted him with a beautiful smile when he emerged from the bedroom wearing only his boxers. He met it with one of his own. There was nothing this woman couldn’t do.
He got his robe while she served up breakfast and actually got to eat most of it before Will made his presence known. While she was nursing she glanced over and caught him massaging his forehead. “Mulder? You okay?”
He nodded his head, “Just a little headache.”
“Isn’t that my line, and wasn’t I supposed to use it last night?”
He gave her that fake smile and chuckle and she dropped it, but noticed he took a couple of aspirin. She couldn’t remember him ever taking anything before. He was extraordinarily healthy.
Relax Dana, she told herself. It’s just a little headache. She finished nursing Will, then gave him his bath. She had the baby dressed when she spotted Mulder rubbing his head again.
“Mulder, I’m going to put Will down. Why don’t you take a nap too?”
“You’re the one that needs her rest.”
“Just for a couple of hours, okay? I’ve got some things I can check on the computer.”
“You wouldn’t mind?” That scared her though she hid it. He was hurting more than she realized.
“No, I wouldn’t mind.” She kissed him as she headed to the bedroom. She wanted to help him to his feet, but he would never allow that. When she got the baby down she moved over to the bed and kissed him, pulling the covers back over him. She tossed his robe to the foot of the bed and slipped out of the room, pulling the door almost closed.
She’d been working about twenty minutes when she heard the door open. She looked over at the sound and was immediately on her feet. He was clutching his head, unsteady on his feet. “Mulder, let me help you.”
She had her arm around him, but he staggered and went down. She couldn’t hold him and found herself with him on the floor, him on hands and knees. He sank on down, curling into a fetal position. "Mulder!" She had his head in her lap, checking his pulse.
"Doc." It was a groan.
"Don't try to talk."
"What? What do you remember?"
"You." And he lost his grip on consciousness.
When he came to he was still on the floor, now covered by a blanket. His head was no longer cradled in her lap, but resting on a pillow. There was a blood pressure cuff on his arm.
"Mulder, can you hear me?" His eyes focused on her. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
"Three." He started to rise.
"Don't. Mulder just lie still."
"I'm better Doc." Her eyes showed how little she believed that. He smiled at her but it faded, just gazing into her, seeing deep inside of her.
"Mulder?" Her voice shook slightly.
He nodded and allowed her to help him to his feet. She led him to the bedroom and had him recline on the bed, then pulled the covers over him. He realized he was still only in his boxers. He closed his eyes, trying to organize his thoughts. When he opened them again he saw her fear plainly etched on her face. He took her hand and drew her close to him. She came willingly needing to feel his arms around her.
"I remember you." He whispered into her hair.
"It's all back. The block they put on me - it's gone."
"You remember everything?" She pulled back slightly to see his face. He nodded and pulled her back against him.
"It had to be when you were missing. Skyland Mountain." She shuddered slightly and burrowed into his chest. He tightened his hold of her. "There's no record, I must not have been missing that long, but I was there. There were . . . beings. Like the other, adults. I don't know what they were doing to me." He shook his head. "It doesn't matter. They were moving me; allowing me to walk, exercise. I don't know. Two of them were with me, not speaking. They never spoke aloud. We were passing a cubicle and I heard a woman scream. I heard you scream. I didn't hesitate, I just moved toward you. It caught my escorts off guard, but I was already beside you.
"One of them grabbed me. They're strong Doc. I knew I didn't have a chance. But then one of two with you stopped him. They let go of me and all four of them left the room.
"You were hysterical. I don't think you even realized I was human at first. You were in too much pain. They had, they had hurt you. It took hours for you to calm down enough to let me touch you. I was . . . I was wearing a little less than I am now. You . . . you were nude. There was nothing to cover you with, but I'm not sure you were even aware in the beginning."
Her breathing was shallow and her fingers were pressing into his skin. "Doc, they never came back. They let me stay with you. We were together in that room for what had to be days. Food appeared, but we were left alone. When you could talk . . . Doc you were so strong. You began to trust me, let me help you, hold you. There was only the one table in the room. We . . . we shared it. You slept on . . . on me, but nothing happened except that I saw how beautiful your body is. We were there for each other. You were the only human I saw. We talked; we shared our lives for those few days. Once the original trauma faded and you got to know me, trust me, we . . . we got close. Doc, I fell in love with you then - for the first time."
There were tears in her eyes now, but she didn't speak.
"Then I woke up in my apartment. You were gone from my memory. I didn't remember any of it. I didn't remember you. But it didn't last. Okay, it lasted for a couple of years, but even when I didn't remember, I was . . . I was drawn to redheads." He gave her a slightly embarrassed grin then.
She tried to reciprocate. "I don't know what brought it back. Maybe I saw you, maybe a picture of you. I don't know. But I had to find you. I went back to Skyland Mountain - that was my mistake. I went to them, I went unprepared. And this time they took it all away."
"I don't . . . Mulder, I don't remember any of this."
"I know. Doc, it was too traumatic. But they . . . they did something to you. They implanted that . . . that thing."
She was watching his eyes. "And my, my real pregnancy triggered . . . "
He nodded, "I think so."
They just held each other then, until Will stirred wanting to be fed.
Once he was settled again, she was centered enough to continue their conversation. "Are you in danger, now that you remember again?"
"No. I won't be making the same mistakes again. I'm not looking for them anymore. I have you, and Will. I don't want anything else. Let someone else save the world from ET."
"Will the military leave you alone?"
"If we handle it right."
"Handle it? Do you think they'll find us here?"
"Maybe not here, but I need to take you home. You need to see your parents, your family. And they should meet Will."
"No. I want to see them, I do, but not at the expense of your safety. I won't."
"It will be okay. We have help. I'm not leaving you. And I won't let you be taken from me ever again."
"I was." Mulder was watching the baby as he squirmed slightly in Pilar's arms.
"I meant Dana."
Dana chuckled at that. "No, I wasn't scared. David was incredible." Her face grew serious then and she looked over at him. Mulder met her eyes and shook his head slightly.
Pilar watched this interchange and smiled to herself. These two were so good together.
She watched them both freeze when the cell phone sitting on his desk rang. The look Dana shot him looked almost panicked. It rang a second time and still no one moved. "Do you want me to get that?"
"Wha . . . no. I'll . . . “ Mulder picked up the phone and placed it to his ear. "I'll take it in the bedroom." Dana's eyes followed him out of the room.
"Dana, are you okay?"
"I'm fine." She forced her attention back to Pilar.
"You don't think David's talking to another woman, do you? Because I can tell you, he doesn't know there are other women." Pilar cut her eyes at her.
"It's, it's probably his editor."
"Is there a problem with the book?"
"Not that I know about. I'm sure it's not a big deal." Dana purposely turned from the door.
Pilar watched her and decided to help distract her. "You know, I think this one needs changing."
"Oh, give him here."
"Let me." Pilar rose and found the diapers.
"Be sure and protect yourself." Pilar laughed at that and began a conversation on inappropriate behavior to Will. But she kept an eye on Dana; something was definitely bothering her about the phone call. Pilar glanced back over at the bedroom door.
"Are you psychic?" Byers’ voice traveled to him.
"What?" Mulder had closed the door.
"You ask about her parents and her father has a damn heart attack."
"He what? Oh shit. How is he?"
"No word yet on his condition. He's been taken to Walter Reed."
"But he is alive?" Mulder had sunk down onto the bed.
"Yeah, so far. Listen; there is one other thing. This happened about an hour after he had a visit from our friendly colonel."
Mulder was silent for a long moment. "Stay on top of it. Call me as soon as you know anything. Now what do I say to her?"
"I'm sorry man."
"Call back regardless in a couple of hours. Okay?"
"Yeah. Tell her we're thinking about her." The phone went dead in Mulder's ear.
He remained on the bed, reluctant to return to the living room. What words was he going to use? Her father could be dying and she was nearly a continent away. The man didn't know if his beloved daughter was even alive and Colonel Baldwin was involved. Mulder closed his eyes and finally rose to his feet.
Dana looked over at him when the door opened and the expression on his face caused her to shudder. She stood, leaving Will with Pilar. She approached him and put her hand on his arm.
He took her into his arms. "What?" He led her to the couch and seated her, ignoring Pilar who stayed quiet, holding the baby.
"Your Dad's had a heart attack. He's alive Do-Dana. He's alive and in the hospital. They're going to call back as soon as they have any information." His hold on her tightened as her face went white.
She didn't need this, but there was no way he could keep it from her.
"What am I going to - "
"We're going home."
"No, you can't." His eyes glanced over at Pilar and she went silent.
Pilar moved over to them then. She placed the baby in Dana's arms, knowing that was what she needed right now. "Dana, you have to go. Just like I did. You gave me good advice, now you have to take it too."
Dana looked up at her and started to speak, then thought better of it and just brought the baby to her face.
"Listen, you two need to talk. And I need to spend a little time with Michael before I go back to Mom's. Let me know what you decide and what we can do to help. Please." Dana turned to her friend and hugged her, the baby between them. Pilar's own eyes filled with tears to match Dana's. Mulder watched helplessly.
After Pilar left, Mulder put the baby down and tried to comfort Dana. Since there was no comfort that he could offer, he switched gears to planning. "Is he too young to travel on an airplane?"
"Will, is he too young?"
"I . . . no, with a car seat they should let him. As long as his ears aren't infected, and he's been fine so far. But Mulder, you can't go."
"You sure as hell aren't going without me and we both know you need to be there. It's time to let them know they haven't won Doc. We know they can't trace us through DNA with the evidence the guys have. We can have them flood the research facilities with samples, the media too. That would tie up a lot of resources."
"Mulder, it's not enough. No one can guarantee your safety. If I went - "
"Stop right there. That's not going to happen. What I couldn't tell you while Pilar was here, Colonel Baldwin was there, just a short while before the attack."
Her eyes widened, "He was there?" Mulder nodded.
"We have to go. We have to be with your family. They have to know you're alive."
She closed her eyes as he took both of them into his arms and after a moment nodded.
Mulder had the cab driver pull into the driveway in order to have quick access to the garage door. He wanted as little exposure as possible, to the point of not even checking their luggage. They could buy what they didn’t have while they were here.
He'd been adamant about their friends not knowing the time of their arrival or specific plans. If any trace could be made from the information and physical evidence that was even now being delivered all over the country, he would do everything in his power to distance Doc and the baby from it.
Dana fed in the code and ducked quickly into the garage, pulling the overnight bag behind her, not waiting for the door to open completely. Mulder had Will against his chest, under his coat, the larger suitcase in his other hand. She hurried to the kitchen door and was relieved to find it unlocked.
"Charlie? Is that you?"
Tears formed in her eyes at the sound of her mother's voice. She turned toward the sound. Mulder watched the older woman, who resembled Doc around the eyes, enter the kitchen.
She stopped in shock, her eyes impossibly wide. "Dana? Oh my god, Dana!" She threw her arms around her daughter and they held each other in an almost painful grip. "We thought you were . . . Dana." Tears were pouring down her face now. She drew back suddenly, holding Dana out from her. "The baby?"
"He's okay Mom." She turned toward Mulder. "This is Mulder, my husband."
Mulder took a step forward, unsure of his welcome. Her body stiffened and her expression became one of horror. "You! You're the one that kidnapped her."
"No Mom. No, I left with him. I went on my own. I wanted to go." Dana moved to Mulder's side and took the baby he now held so that she could see. "Mom, this is Will, our son."
Her mother managed to tear her eyes away from Mulder and fastened them on the infant. "Oh Dana." She stepped toward her without hesitation and took the baby boy into her own arms.
Mulder remained silent. He had known her family would not be happy with him, but the look of horror on Mrs. Scully's face had been devastating.
"Mom, how is Dad?"
She looked up and then over at Mulder. "He's better. There wasn't a need for surgery. The attack was brought on by stress."
"What did Colonel Baldwin say to him?"
That brought a startled look to her face. "You know about the colonel?"
"He's the reason we had to leave town. Mom, Mulder hasn't done anything, he's been used by the military. Look, it's a long story and I want to tell you all of it, but please, I need to know about Dad."
“They’re keeping him for observation, but he’s out of intensive care. Bill is with him now and I’m expecting Charlie any minute. I thought you were him when I heard the garage.”
“What about Melissa?”
“Oh she’s been here. She’s gone to her apartment to clean up, change.”
“Her apartment?” Dana and her mother were moving now toward the living room, so Mulder trailed behind them.
“Yes. She moved home when, when you where kidnapped.”
“Mom, I wasn’t kidnapped. I know what you’ve been told, but it wasn’t true. None of it. Please.”
Mrs. Scully glanced again at the tall dark man following them. There was something hidden about him, something almost scary. She jumped as she heard the front door open.
“Mom? You here?” Her younger son entered the house as always, loudly and with abandon.
“In here Charlie.”
Dana rose to meet him. As he turned the corner and spotted her, he froze.
“Dana? Dana!” Then he had her in his arms. Mrs. Scully was watching this man Mulder. He had forced himself to remain seated when Charlie took Dana in his arms. He’d had to physically remind himself that this was her brother with his arms around her.
When things finally calmed down a little and introductions had been made, Charlie took his newest nephew into his arms. “Well Grandma, four grandsons. My generation of males sure knows which way a sperm should swim.”
“Charlie!” His mother snapped at him while Dana smiled at him indulgently. “Well I love my grandsons. All of them. But I wouldn’t mind having a granddaughter some day.”
“Well don’t look at Mary and me. We’ve done our duty passing on the Scully name.”
“Maybe Mulder and I can give you that granddaughter next time Mom.”
Mrs. Scully looked over at Mulder and caught the expression on his face. “Do you not want more children, Mr. Mulder?”
“I . . . I . . .” He glanced over at Dana, not sure what to say.
“Don’t mind him Mom. He’s still a little traumatized. Will came a little early and a lot fast. Mulder ended up delivering him.”
“What?” Mrs. Scully looked up aghast.
“Way to go Bro!” Charlie clapped him on the shoulder. Mulder was struck dumb by the casual acceptance of her brother.
“I . . . I don’t think your father could have handled that.” Mrs. Scully stammered.
“Dad!” Charlie chortled, “Hell, I couldn’t have handled it.”
“Well, all I did was catch him. Your sister did all the work.” Mrs. Scully watched this quiet, unknown man and felt herself thaw a little toward him. He loved her daughter. That was undeniable. Colonel Baldwin had fed them a sack of . . . horse manure. This man had not kidnapped nor tortured Dana. Her eyes narrowed, why were they so anxious to get their hands on him that they would lie?
Mrs. Scully brought herself back to the present when Charlie addressed her. “Mom? Did you hear me? I heard big brother Bill is here. Where?”
“Oh my goodness. He’s at the hospital. I was supposed to relieve him, but with everything - “ She rose from the couch.
“Mom, it’s okay. I’m sure he doesn’t mind. You needed the time. Should I go with you?” Dana looked over at Mulder.
“Mrs. Scully, Dana is very anxious to see her father, but I think just showing up at the hospital is a bad idea. I’m not sure startling Mr. Scully would be a good idea, and . . . and I don’t know who might be surveilling the place. I can’t put her in danger like that.”
“Whoa, wait a minute. In danger? What are you talking about?” Charlie looked up.
“It’s a long story, Charlie. I’d rather we only had to tell it once. Maybe this evening when everyone’s here?” She looked over at her mother, who nodded. “Tell Dad I’m here, and that I want to see him, if you think it would be safe. As soon as we know . . . “ She took Mulder’s hand.
Mrs. Scully realized suddenly that Dana was as concerned for his safety as he was for hers. What was going on?
"Charlie, you stay here with your sister. I'll send Bill home, but I'm not going to tell him. After he's gone I'll break it to your father carefully. He's too excitable to be around your father."
Charlie chuckled at that. He knew his brother well. "Yeah, that's probably a good idea. Is Missy coming back over here or going to the hospital?"
"Here. She was planning to cook. I want you to wait for me to tell this story you have. I don't want to miss any of it. Promise me."
"I promise, Mom." Dana hugged her mother again. "Tell Ahab I love him."
"You know I will." Another quick hug and Mrs. Scully headed for her car.
After she was gone, Mulder and Charlie carried the bags up to her old room and found the folding crib that Charlie's kids had used when they were babies. Dana nursed Will and got him down for a nap. When she returned downstairs her husband and her brother were talking. Actually Charlie was talking, telling embarrassing stories about her to Mulder.
"Enough. I can tell him a few stories about you too, you know."
"Yeah, but it's not the same. You're the one he married."
Mulder sat there, watching this camaraderie with fascination. He and Samantha had gotten along okay, more so when their parents had been fighting. He'd tried to protect her, but as was his pattern, he'd failed then too.
She looked over at Mulder and saw that he was struggling, with memories, with being here. Her mother had injured him with her reaction. She'd seen it, but it had happened before she could stop it.
"Mulder? You okay?"
He looked up at her, she knew him too well. Hell, she'd known him before he knew himself. He nodded and gave her a lopsided grin. "Are your other siblings like this one?"
"No." She mock glared over at Charlie. "He's the worst. Bill's in the Navy, like Dad and a very upright citizen. Missy had been gone awhile. I haven't seen her in a long time, but she's always gone her own way."
"Bill's the upstanding citizen? I'm the college professor, married for ten years with two kids."
"How you ever got tenure is beyond me." She shook her head at him as she moved closer to Mulder and took his hand. He pulled her into his lap and kissed her.
"Hey, watch it. She is my sister."
"Yeah, but she's my wife and I can't help myself." Dana stuck her tongue out at Charlie and he laughed. Mulder was mesmerized. What an incredible relationship they had.
They heard Will cry and looked at the stairs. "I think that's for me." Dana started to rise, but Mulder placed her on her feet.
"Why don't you see if Mom has any iced tea?" She headed up the stairs. Mulder turned toward the kitchen. Charlie made some comment about a pit stop and disappeared toward the back of the house.
He heard the front door open and he tensed, checking for his weapon. An attractive young redheaded woman wandered into the kitchen and stopped when she spotted him. Instead of being frightened of this strange man in her mother's kitchen, she looked intrigued. She looked him up and down, and apparently appreciated what she saw.
"I don't believe we've been introduced."
Before Mulder could answer, Charlie walked up behind her. "Interested Missy?"
She accepted a kiss from her little brother. "I could be. Friend of yours?"
"Yeah. He's also the husband of our sister."
Missy's posture changed immediately. "Dana? Dana's here? She's okay? She's married!"
"One question at a time. Yeah, she's here, she's great, and this is Fox Mulder, her husband."
"Fox is right. Wait a minute, isn't he the guy - "
"Yep. Apparently the 'official' story from the military is less than factual."
Mulder just stood there, not sure how to get into the conversation, or if he even wanted to.
"Missy?" Mulder hadn't heard Doc come downstairs.
"Dana!" They threw their arms around each other, both talking at once, with more than a few tears being shed.
Finally Doc pulled Missy over to her husband. "Did you meet Mulder?"
"Not really." And held out her hand to shake with him.
Mulder took it and nodded. "Pleased to meet you."
"I guess I didn't made a great first impression."
"What?" Dana looked between the two as Charlie tried to hide his amusement.
"I didn't know he was your husband, Dana."
Charlie laughed then, "She came on to him, Dana. You better keep an eye on her."
Dana's eyes widened and she looked over at Mulder. He looked back at her kind of sheepishly. He hadn't done anything but stand there while this family interacted around him, but he was embarrassed nevertheless.
"It's okay Dana. I know he's off limits now. Don't worry."
"He's as off limits as it gets, Missy." She had moved into the protection of his arms, which closed around her automatically.
"I get it, honest. But you did very well, Dana." She looked him up and down once again. Mulder looked helplessly over at Charlie, who was enjoying himself immensely.
Finally Charlie decided to come to the assistance of the only other male here. "Missy, aren't you in charge of dinner tonight?"
"As if you could cook. Yeah. It's mostly done, why don't you big strong Y chromosomes get the stuff out of my car?"
Charlie glanced over at Mulder. "I'll get it, but you have to help with clean up." Mulder nodded, and Missy looked a little confused, but didn't ask.
While Missy finished up dinner with Dana's help, Mulder and Charlie set the table and opened the wine. This was definitely going to be a celebration tonight.
When Will stirred, Dana and Missy went upstairs to check on him. As they were coming back down, the front door opened and Bill let himself in. He stopped dead still at the sight of Dana, then moved toward her. Mulder and Charlie had stepped in from the dining room, and Charlie pushed the door closed behind Bill.
Bill crushed his sister to him and Mulder
saw her wince in pain. Charlie saw it too and put a hand on Mulder's arm.
"He's not really hurting her. It's okay."
His words made Mulder pause. He was hurting her, but it was unintentional, in his joy to have her back. Bill finally released her and she turned toward Mulder. She held her hand out to him and draw him close to her.
"Mulder, this is my big brother, Bill."
Bill turned to see who she was speaking to and froze. "You! You're the son of a bitch who took her!" He lunged for the phone, lying on the entry table.
"No! Bill, no!" Charlie reacted at Dana's words and shoved into the larger man. The phone ended up on the floor and Mulder scooped it up.
Bill watched as his sister moved into the safety of this man's arms. "What the hell is going on here? Don't you recognize him?"
"Bill, please, calm down. This is Fox Mulder. He is not my kidnapper or torturer. He's my husband, Bill and the father of my son."
Bill gaped at her, not taking it in for a second. "He's wanted by the military! He's in possession of information vital to national security and - "
"Bullshit, Bill. We've been fed a load of it. Mom knows he's here. When she gets home, we're all going to have a nice dinner, then hear the whole story. Until then, we're all going to stay calm and not do anything stupid that could hurt our sister. Understand?" Charlie had never been more serious, and Bill hesitated. "Look at him Bill, he's not going anywhere. Dana and the baby are here, where would he go?"
"Please Bill, trust me. He's never hurt me. I'm not entirely sure what you were told, but when Mom gets here, listen to our side. Please."
Bill looked at the four of them. They looked ready to take him on if he didn't cooperate. What the fuck was going on here? Finally he nodded. The man wouldn't be going anywhere, if he wanted to talk, fine, then Bill would call Colonel Baldwin. He nodded curtly.
"Thank you Bill." Dana sighed with relief. "I'd like you to meet my husband, Fox Mulder."
Bill's eyes narrowed but he nodded at the man. "I'd like to talk to you." Mulder nodded, but kept quiet.
"Uh, listen, why don't we all have a drink?" Missy moved over to Bill and took his arm.
"Yeah, I could use one." Bill looked down at Missy's hand and squeezed it.
Bill looked over at Dana. "Better. He may come home tomorrow or the next day." He saw her eyes light up at that news. "How do you think he's going to feel to find this man here?"
"After he knows the truth, wonderful. He'll be happy for me and he'll love his new grandson."
Bill shook his head and turned to follow Missy to the kitchen. Charlie rolled his eyes at Mulder and the three followed them. Bill had the liquor out and splashed a generous portion in his glass, then set the bottle on the counter.
"What would you like, Doc?"
"Iced tea." Mulder nodded and poured them both a glass. He looked over at Charlie. "I think I'll have a drink. Missy?" She nodded.
They carried their drinks into the living room and sat in uncomfortable silence for a little while. Again it was Charlie that took up the conversation and had them talking about what they had been up to recently. That's how Mrs. Scully found them when she returned. They weren't comfortable with each other, that was obvious, but they were civil. Maybe for the present that was the best she could hope.
Dana rose to greet her mother. "Is Ahab okay?"
"He's a thousand times better. He knows that I've heard from you and that you're okay. He's agreed not to give any information to Colonel Baldwin for now. That took a little persuading. He doesn't know you're here, but the doctor's going to let him come home tomorrow."
Dana threw her arms around her mother, then smiled her delight over at Mulder. His smile rivaled her own and Bill watched curiously. Nothing was making sense to him.
The cry of a very young baby startled him. His new nephew, he hadn't actually seen him yet. "I'll get him Doc. Stay here with your family."
That very nearly brought tears to her eyes, but she smiled. Bill just watched the two of them. Mulder took the steps two at a time to check on his son, and to escape the tension in the room.
The three women headed to the kitchen to serve up Missy's meal, leaving Bill and Charlie alone.
"You want to explain what's going on here?" Bill hissed at Charlie.
"I don't know any details, Bill. But I do not believe that man hurt our sister. He loves her; you can see it in everything he does. And he loves his son every bit as much as you love Matt. I just don't think that Colonel Baldwin was as honest as you want to believe."
"The colonel doesn't have to tell us everything. If national security is at stake - "
"Get off it Bill. I know you're gung ho military, but that doesn't cut any ice with me. I want to hear their side. And the fact that the other side is a colonel does not mean I'm going to automatically believe it, you know the opposite is probably true."
Bill shook his head; this was an old argument between them. There was more of Missy in his brother than him. They fell silent as Mulder returned downstairs with the baby in his arms.
"Bring him here, Mulder. Let Bill see him. Matt's getting to be a big kid now. He needs to see what a little one looks like."
Mulder did as Charlie said, and after a slight hesitation, handed his son to the large man. Bill took the boy carefully and nodded slightly at Mulder. That had taken strength on this man's part, and made the most impression yet on Bill.
The baby joined them for dinner, in the seat of honor on the table beside Dana. They all took a glass of wine to celebrate both the return of Dana and the health of their father. Conversation stayed light, up to date pictures were passed around of the other grandchildren.
When the meal was done and food put away, Mrs. Scully turned to Dana. "We need to talk now. Okay?"
"Of course." Dana took hold of Mulder's hand. Missy brought the bottle of wine with them into the living room and refilled glasses for everyone but Dana and Mulder.
Dana held the baby in her arms, sitting in the protective circle of his arm. She started the story after another quick glance at him.
Mulder took a deep breath and leaned back. That was everything he could tell them. There could be no mention of the other, of where they were living now, or their friends that had helped them from here.
"I know you have questions, lots of them, but Doc is exhausted. This has been a very long day and she's not fully recovered from the birth. I'm going to put her and Will to bed, then I'll come back down and answer all of the questions that I can."
"Mulder, I'm - "
"Don't say it. Come on."
Dana smiled and looked over at her mother. "I guess I'm going to bed. I'll see you in the morning."
"He's right, Honey. Get some rest and we'll talk then."
Mulder helped her to her feet and waited as she kissed her family goodnight. He took the baby from her, then placed his other arm around her and held her close as he helped her up the stairs.
The Scully's sat quietly, absorbing the information they had received. Bill drained his glass and checked the bottle, it was empty as well. He rose and flipped on the TV, the others didn't bother him.
When Mulder returned, Mrs. Scully and Missy had retreated to the kitchen and Charlie had joined Bill in front of the TV. "She okay?" Charlie looked up.
"Yeah. Being here is the best thing for her."
"She should have been here all along." Bill muttered.
"I wish she could have been. I wish it had been safe for her."
Bill kept quiet at that and turned back toward the TV. "Hey, Mulder, have you heard this story?" Charlie increased the volume. "Labs all over the world have gotten these samples and they can't analyze them. I heard some of this on the radio on my way in. They're saying the DNA is weird. They were trying to say it was all a hoax, but the CDC, Walter Reed, and the Mayo Clinic have received this stuff. Now the news says its in London, Paris and Frankfort."
"They're saying it's not..." he chuckled, "not from earth. If that's true..."
"Who was trying to say it was a hoax?"
"Well, after they said it was extraterrestrial, some spokesman tried to. When the reporters started asking questions he retreated. Then they got word that the information was worldwide. The 'authorities' are regrouping, and they're calling on religious leaders."
"Religious leaders? Are they expecting mass panic or something?"
"Well, if we've got proof of ET, they might. A lot of people don't want to think that we're not alone in the universe."
Mulder nodded, he needed to get to a phone, talk to the guys, but he needed privacy for that. Besides, he'd promised to be here to answer questions. He looked up as Mrs. Scully joined them.
"Is she sleeping?"
"I hope so. She's very glad to be home."
"And we're very glad she's here and safe, she and the baby."
He noted that he was left out of that pleasure, but he wasn't surprised. He waited for a moment, then sat beside Charlie and looked up at their mother. "I assume you have questions."
"Yes, Mr. Mulder, but not tonight. I need to sleep on this and in the morning, I need to bring my husband home. I'd rather talk about this later. I think I'll go on to bed too." She turned to Missy, "You're welcome to stay here tonight. I'll find a bed somewhere, or you can sleep with me."
"I think I'll head on home, Mom. But I'll be here in the morning when you bring Dad home."
Mrs. Scully nodded, "Drive carefully." She walked her daughter to the door and kissed her goodnight. "Guys, you know where everything is." Both boys stood to give their mother a goodnight kiss. Mulder stood as well and she took his hand. At the last minute she brushed a kiss against his cheek. "Thank you for bringing my baby girl home."
He was speechless, but managed to nod. Once she was out of the room he sank back down onto the couch. Charlie grinned over at him. "She keeps us on our toes too."
"What about your family?"
"Well, you know about my sister. My father was...was murdered a few years ago. Then Mom died of a stroke shortly before I went missing this last time. Doc is my family, Doc and Will."
"I'm sorry." Charlie touched his shoulder.
Mulder looked up at him and gave him a sad smile. "She more than makes up for any loss."
Bill sat watching them, not speaking, just observing. He wasn't sure how he felt about this man, and he had tons of questions, but he did love Dana. Even he had to give him that.
"I think I'll go up." Bill stood. "Thanks for bringing Dana home. Dad needs this too." Mulder nodded.
After a few minutes Charlie spoke again. "You want me to hang with you, or do you want some time alone?"
"It's okay. It was a long day for you too. I'm glad you're part of the family Mulder, you make Dana very happy." He clapped his new brother-in-law on the shoulder and headed upstairs, not waiting for any comment.
Charlie headed for Bill’s room, and didn’t bother knocking.
“What do you want?”
“I want a promise.”
“A promise?” Bill didn’t bother to rise from his seat on the bed.
“Yeah. Dad’s coming home tomorrow. Don’t call anyone about Mulder.”
“He’s wanted by the military. He’s a threat to National Security.”
“That’s the story, yeah. You know my feelings on that; we don’t have to debate it now. I just want your promise that you won’t call until we know more. For Dad, Bill.”
After a long moment Bill gave a reluctant nod. "Not yet, but I’m not convinced he’s as innocent as you think he is.”
“Fine. I just don’t want Dad or Dana hurt if we can help it.”
“Go on to bed, Charlie. I won’t call yet. You have my word.”
Mulder relaxed back against the sofa, letting his head drop back, exhausted both mentally and physically. After a minute he sat up and reached for the remote, finding CNN. If this was the top story, he needed to know what was being said.
He listened for a while, a smile beginning to grow on his face. Then he reached for his cell phone. "Hi."
"Seen the news?"
"Oh yeah." Mulder's smile grew. "Did you send anything to Georgetown?"
"Nope, only the big research institutes. If we sent to them, it might remind them of the last time you surfaced."
"What are you hearing?"
"They jumped to the ET conclusion pretty fast after it became international. No one in the US would say it, but the people in Paris jumped right on it."
"What about Russia?"
"They got it, they're just not talking yet. Brazil seems to be asking the best questions - former Nazi's? We don't know."
"Are you safe?"
"Yeah. We covered out tracks a couple of thousand ways. Our DNA doesn't even show anywhere, if they go that far - and they will. How's Dad?"
"Good. He's coming home tomorrow."
"Do you want the house under surveillance?"
"Yeah, if you can manage it. If our good colonel shows up, I want a lot of noise about it - press, police, whatever. I'm not going quietly and if they mess with my family . . ."
"We get it. Relax tonight, no one's going to bother you."
"Our pleasure. Get ready for a second wave in the near future."
"Be careful." Mulder broke the connection and rose to his feet. The exhilaration hadn't lasted long. He was in a deadly game here, and his family was the only thing that really mattered. He climbed the steps wearily and silently made his way into their bedroom. He stripped down and crawled in beside her.
"Ummm, love you."
"Go back to sleep Doc." He spooned around her and to his mild surprise, drifted off to sleep himself.
She wasn't in the bed when he woke, and the baby was gone. He leaped from the bed and threw on the slacks he had discarded the night before. He vaulted down the stairs and skidded to a halt in the kitchen when Mrs. Scully and Doc looked up startled.
Dana realized her mistake instantly and was on her feet. "Mulder, I'm sorry. I didn't think . . . I just, I heard Mom down here and . . . "
"It's okay. I just, I should go take a shower." He pointed back upstairs.
Before he could turn she was beside him. "I am sorry." She rose up on tiptoe and kissed him. He glanced over at his mother-in-law and nodded, then made his way back upstairs.
When Dana looked over at her mother she was startled to see her laughing quietly. "I'm beginning to think you might be in good hands with this man. I'm surprised he didn't pull a gun on me."
Dana dropped her eyes, he would have. "Maybe I should go check on him. You keep an eye on Will?"
"Be happy to." Mrs. Mulder glanced over at her grandson.
She found him in the bedroom. "You okay?"
"Yeah. A little embarrassed, racing downstairs like Batman or something."
"I appreciated it. Mom thought it was sweet."
"Sweet? Oh god, am I ever making a great impression on your family. I get you pregnant, I abandon you, I come back and kidnap you . . . “ He snorted.
"Wanna share a shower, Batman?"
"You're evil, this is your mother's house."
"And you're my husband and we have a built in babysitter."
"Doc, it's too soon."
"Yeah, for everything, but we could have a nice shower."
"With your brothers outside the bathroom door?"
His eyes widened and a smile started growing on his face. "You really are evil." But he followed her into the bathroom.
She watched him get dressed, as she lounged on the bed. "You certainly look more relaxed."
"Don't go there Doc. I cannot believe...Well, I can't." He responded to her grin.
“Come on, I’m hungry. And I think I heard the boys.” He followed her downstairs. This was the longest they had gone without being with their son.
Breakfast was ready and everyone else was already at the table.
“Mom, I’ll go with you to get Dad. Bill and Dana can stay here. That way Mulder can stay under wraps and Dad can be here and comfortable when he finds out everyone’s okay.”
His mother nodded. “Yes, I think that’s best.”
Bill had started to speak, but subsided at her words.
“We’ll clean up.” Dana rose, “Go get him. I can’t wait any longer.”
Mrs. Scully smiled and looked over at Charlie. “I’m ready.”
Dana all but shooed them out the door. “Mulder, why don’t you bathe the kid? Bill can help me down here.”
“Okay.” He knew she needed time with her brother, even if this particular brother made him much less comfortable than the other one.
When Dana heard the garage open she looked over at Mulder. The mixture of delight and anxiety were clearly visible on her face. “I love you.” He mouthed to her.
“I know. Why don’t you go get the baby?”
He nodded and headed upstairs. It was better that he not be present right now.
“I feel fine. If you’re going to hover, I’m going to send you home now.” Dana smiled at the sound of his voice. She stood in the living room, Bill on the far side of the room.
As they entered, Dana moved forward. “Hi, Ahab.”
“D . . . Dana? Starbuck!”
He moved toward her and she met him, their arms tight around each other. When they stepped back, his hand trembled slightly as he touched her face.
“Ahab, sit down. If you get too excited I’m going to put you to bed.” Dana cautioned him.
“I’m fine, just damn glad to see you.” He pulled his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped quickly at his eyes. Mrs. Scully moved him toward the couch and rather than argue, he sat and looked up at Dana. His eyes widened and he reached out his hand to her, pulling her down beside him.
“That bastard. He caused you to lose your baby, my grandchild.”
“Ahab, no. You’ve been fed a boatload of lies. The baby’s fine.” She turned then to look toward the stairs.
Her father turned as well and stiffened. “Ahab, Dad, I’d like you to meet Fox Mulder, my husband, and Will, our son.”
Mulder approached him then. “I’m very pleased to meet you, Captain Scully. Would, would you like to hold your grandson?”
Her father’s eyes narrowed, but when he looked at the infant in this man’s arms he nodded. Mulder laid the baby in the older man’s arms and stepped back. Dana moved to stand in front on him and his arm went around her, just below her breasts.
William Scully looked up from his grandson’s face and took in the easy posture of these two people. “I want to know what’s going on.” In deference to the infant in his arms he spoke softly, but the command came though loud and clear.
“Dad, don’t you think you should rest a little?” Bill took Dana’s seat beside his father.
“All I’ve done for the past few days in rest. Now I want answers.”
Bill looked up at Dana. She was the doctor. She nodded and took Mulder’s hand to sit with her. Mulder drew a chair up closer for her to be able to sit facing her father.
“He’s your husband?”
“Dad, it started a long time ago.” She took a deep breath and felt Mulder’s hand on her back. “Remember when I was missing a few years back? You know I don’t have clear memories of that time, but Mulder does. He was there. He looked after me, kept me safe. Then, when we were released, neither of us remembered anything. His memories returned, but he didn’t know my name, who or where I was. He made the mistake of letting them know he remembered, so they took him again.
“This time they wiped all of his memories. He didn’t even know his own name. They released him, or dumped him, or someone set him free. We don’t know.” She turned to look at him and her father watched the interchange. “He spotted me in a store and approached me when I left.” She smiled at the memory. “He was very careful to keep his distance. He was obviously homeless and probably mentally disturbed. He asked if I knew him and when I didn’t, he left me alone. What I didn’t know was that he followed me home and started camping out in my alley.”
“He stalked you?” Her father was watching him now as he listened to Dana.
“I was the only thing that seemed familiar. And it was a good thing he was there, Ahab. I was mugged a couple of nights later, right there in front of my apartment. The man had a knife. If Mulder hadn’t been there . . . “ She leaned back against him and he ran his hand over her hair. “He was injured in the process, and I am a doctor. I took him inside and bandaged him up. We talked, I fed him, let him get cleaned up. I offered to take him to a neurologist, but he was too paranoid to go. Instead I took a sample of his blood in, and that’s what set everything in motion.”
“You haven’t said much.” Her father turned to Mulder then.
“She tells it well, and you’ve got no reason to believe me.”
“Are you a threat to National Security?”
“No Sir, I am not. And I have never, nor would I ever, harm your daughter.”
“It’s true Ahab. He’s never hurt me. When he found out the military were after him, he left. He left to keep me safe.”
“Why didn’t you turn him in?”
“I didn’t trust Colonel Baldwin. I knew he was lying from the beginning. Even not knowing Mulder’s name I trusted him. I don’t remember when we first met, not in the way people usually remember, but I knew him. I trusted him Ahab. I don’t know how to explain it. I introduced him to some friends of mine I thought could help him. They did, and he was able to get away safely. He didn’t know about the baby.”
Her father looked down again at his now sleeping grandson. “Go on.”
Mulder spoke then, “I came back, just to bring some information, and I found out. There was no way I could leave her here. The good colonel knew she had seen me, and we realized he was monitoring the pregnancy. I had to get her out of town. She wasn’t safe, and if you knew where she was, he would have found out. I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused you, but she is too important. I couldn’t take the chance.”
“Why do they want you? Why is your blood so strange?”
“It’s not any more. They’re worried I’m going to remember.”
“What is it you remember?”
Mulder shook his head; “I’m not putting you in danger. No one knows that we’re here, that Doc is here. It has to stay that way.”
“How can it stay that way? Never leave the house?” Her father sat up straighter then and the baby stirred slightly. “You’re not staying. You’re taking Starbuck away again.”
“I have to. I’m sorry, but it’s the only way to keep them safe.”
“Dana, no.” Her mother spoke then. This hadn’t been discussed last night.
Mulder saw the tears in Doc’s eyes then. He fell silent, what could he say?
“Dad, you’re not buying this I hope. You know the military doesn’t kidnap people, run tests on innocent civilians.” Bill put his hand on his father’s arm.
William turned to look at his son then, “I remember being that young and naïve.”
Bill pulled back as though burned.
“Is your father William Mulder, worked at the State Department?”
That caught Mulder off guard, “Yes Sir. Did you know my father?”
“I met him once, years ago. I remember a story, your sister. Didn’t she disappear?”
Mulder nodded, unsure what to say.
“Did they ever find her?”
“No Sir. She was never returned.”
William shook his head, “I remember thinking how that would affect me.” He looked at his youngest daughter again. He took a deep breath. “I think my grandson has the right idea. I’m going to lay down for a little while.”
“Are you okay?” Mrs. Scully leaned toward him.
“Yes. I just have a lot to think about. Fox, I’d like to speak to you later.”
Dana took the baby from her father’s arms and handed him to Mulder. “Let’s get you settled first.”
“Don’t fuss. I’m okay.”
“I know, but let the boys walk you upstairs. Do you want anything to help you sleep?”
“No. I probably won’t sleep. I just need to . . . to think for a little while.”
There was no response to that. Bill and Charlie stood to flank their father as they headed upstairs. Dana and her mother trailed them. Mulder watched from downstairs.
“You doing okay?”
He turned; unaware there was anyone else in the house. “Missy, I didn’t hear you come in.”
“I know. It was pretty intense in here. I’ll see Dad a little later. But I wanted to be here.” She started to turn toward the kitchen, then stopped. “Is there anyway you could move back here?”
He didn’t respond, but she saw the conflict on his face. There was no way he was going to put her sister and that baby in danger. She should have kept her mouth shut. He was already in a terrible position and she hadn’t wanted to make it worse.
He headed upstairs then, with the baby. Will would be wanting Doc soon. Concentrate on now, it was the only thing he had any control over anyway. He looked up when Doc entered the room. “Is he okay?”
“Yes. He’s a little tired, but he’s glad we’re here.”
“Yes. All three of us.”
He didn’t want to disagree with her. He wanted to . . . to just remember their shower this morning. He didn’t realize she had moved so close to him.
“Yes ma’am.” He gave her a light kiss on the lips.
“No, kiss me.” She wove her arms around him.
He complied with more enthusiasm this time and they found themselves on the bed, his finger outlining her nipple. “Be careful, I’ll leak.”
“I don’t mind.”
He pulled her to him, resting his chin on her hair. “All of this, the fact that I never had it and now I’m taking you away from it. I hate what I’ve done to your family.”
Mulder straightened his spine and tapped on the door. Captain Scully had requested to speak with him.
He opened the door. Captain Scully was seated in a chair. He didn’t offer a seat to Mulder, so he stood, facing him.
“I’m not happy that you got my daughter pregnant before you married her.”
“No Sir. I regret the timing of the pregnancy, but not the pregnancy itself. I love my son.”
“And my daughter?”
“More than I could ever say.”
The older man took a deep breath. “Have you ever had a father-in-law before?”
A strange way to ask if he was divorced, but this man was in charge. “No Sir.”
“Well, our job is to be as intimidating as hell. How am I doing?”
Mulder blinked then and felt a smile twitch at his lips. “Very well, Sir.”
“Good. Why don’t you have a seat?” He motioned to the bed.
Mulder nodded and sat facing him. “Thank you.”
“I’d like to talk to you about your father.”
“My father?” That caught Mulder completely off guard.
“I never actually worked with him. I only met him the one time, but I heard quite a bit about him. I was stationed at the Pentagon for a couple of years. I wasn’t assigned to any of his projects - I didn’t have that level of security clearance. Your father had a reputation for integrity. He had the courage to stick to his convictions and didn’t mind ruffling feathers. I never knew the exact nature of his work, but I heard rumors. I dismissed a lot of it, I laughed at some of it.”
The older man sighed. “I never made any connection with his work and Dana’s disappearance, your sister’s disappearance. I admired your father, I think I see him in you.”
Mulder blinked, his eyes suddenly moist. He looked away.
“Are you okay Fox?”
“I, huh, I wasn’t close to my father. He was a harsh man. He didn’t show a lot of affection before Samantha was taken. Afterwards . . . I always felt he blamed me.”
“For her disappearance.”
“Why? Why would he blame you?”
“I . . . I was babysitting. She was my responsibility.”
“How old were you?”
“Twelve. Samantha was eight.”
“Twelve? You were just a child. You’ve felt guilt about that all these years?” He leaned back in his chair. “Well, that makes your protectiveness of your own family more understandable.”
Mulder faced him then, ‘his family’ yes. Where ‘his family’ was concerned there was no such thing as overprotective.
“Are you working on a way to come home?”
“I don’t know what would make it safe.”
His father-in-law nodded. “I’d like to help with that.”
“I want my daughter to be able to come home. She liked living here and her mother . . . We’d like her back. I still know people. People that worked with your father - people that agreed with him. I’d like to help.”
“I’d appreciate that. You have to regain your strength first. I don’t want to be responsible for any more pain.”
For the first time William Scully smiled. “You’re taking blame for that too. Good man, my daughter never has to worry about doing anything wrong again. Right?”
“Am I that bad? She says I am.”
“Pretty close. You might want to lighten up on yourself just a little. You have made my daughter very happy. You could savor that.”
“Thank you Sir.”
They both settled back and got to know each other.
Dinner was over; it had just been the four of them tonight. Bill and Charlie had returned to their homes in Ohio and California. Bill had given his father a promise not to do anything without consulting him first. Mulder was helping Dana carry the dishes to the kitchen when his cell phone rang. They both froze and her parents looked at them, sensing the instant tension.
Mulder withdrew the phone he always wore. “Yeah.”
“Baldwin’s on his way over. Get out of sight!”
He looked up at Dana. “Baldwin. Take Will upstairs, hurry!”
“The house is under surveillance?” Captain Scully sounded puzzled but not outraged, yet.
“For her protection, yes. What are you going to say to him?”
“I’m not going to give you to him. Don’t worry about that. Get the dishes out of here Maggie. We’re supposed to only have the two of us here now.”
She was on her feet immediately and Dana scanned the downstairs for any signs that a baby was staying there.
“Captain, I . . . “
“Would you tape your conversation? I need to hear what he asks, what he says.”
The older man nodded, “I think there’s a hand held recorder in my desk. I’ll get it.”
“Go. Get upstairs yourself. I know how to protect my family too.”
Mulder nodded and headed up the stairs. He’d have some explaining to do later, but for now they just had to remain quiet. She was nursing Will as he entered; good he was usually at his best when his stomach was full. He might even go to sleep.
They had been right; he arrived in about ten minutes. Mrs. Scully opened the door and let the man in. If he noticed she was nervous, he made no comment. She led him into the living room where Ahab sat on the couch in his robe.
“Captain Scully.” Baldwin stuck out his hand. The hesitation was minimal and could have been attributed to his illness. They shook hands. “I’m glad to see you looking so well. I’d heard you were taken ill.”
He seated himself without being asked. “I was wondering if your daughter might have contacted you, possibly while you were in the hospital.”
“Dana? If she’s being held against her will, and tortured, how would she be able to call me?”
That caught Baldwin off guard. These people hadn’t questioned him often, except for any information he might have accumulated.
“Well, huh, we’re hoping he retains enough humanity to - “
“You say this monster was an FBI agent. Lying in the hospital, I thought about all of this, about him. He’s a threat to national security, but he was a decorated agent, commendations out the wazoo, a solve rate of over 60%. What the hell could he have found that would cause a man like that to become unhinged?”
“Well, I - “
“I mean this kind of man was used to learning unthinkable facts, seeing horrific clues. I heard he worked on the side, on something called the X-Files. Hunting for aliens I heard.”
“Who have you been talking to?” The man had paled considerably at the word aliens.
“I know some people at the Bureau. Are you telling me the man actually discovered aliens and they did something to him?”
“No . . . no, of course not.” The colonel sputtered.
“Well then, the government? Because he got too close?”
“Now wait a minute - “
“It just seems to me that something very traumatic happened to this man to break him. And the fact that you recognized him from some weird blood. Something was done to him. If you say it’s not aliens, then it just about has to be the government. You know, national security.”
“Captain Scully, I wouldn’t repeat crazy theories like that.”
“Is that a threat? I don’t plan to repeat anything to anyone. I’m trying to figure out the mind of the man that took and may have murdered my daughter. You understand that, don’t you?”
“I really wouldn’t pursue that, um, that line of thought.”
“You think the government might come after me?”
“Captain Scully, I would just advise you to let us handle this matter.”
“Like you have for the past few months?”
The colonel rose, his face
red. “I don’t want to keep you up for too long sir. I’m glad you’re feeling
better and I’ll be in touch if I learn any more information regarding your
”Thank you, Colonel.” He stuck his hand out again to shake and this time it was Baldwin who hesitated.
“Sir. Ma’am.” He turned toward the door and Mrs. Scully followed him, shutting the door firmly behind him.
“Was that wise, Bill?” Mrs. Scully returned to the room.
“He was rattled.” Ahab smiled, “I enjoyed that. If he’s gone, get Starbuck and Fox. They’re going to want to hear this tape.”
When Mulder and Doc returned to the first floor, Will asleep in their room, Mulder spent a few minutes ensuring that in fact Colonel Baldwin was gone.
After listening to the tape several times, he turned to Doc. "I think we need to call a plumber."
She smiled and nodded. "Mom, come with me." She led her to the kitchen and had her place the call to their friends. In less than half an hour, the van pulled into the Scully's driveway. Frohike came to the door, and Mrs. Scully let him in as Dana opened the garage door to let the others slip inside.
Both parents were taken aback at the trio. Mulder stood quietly by as they hugged his wife. He worked hard not to tense up at the sight. "Captain, Mrs. Scully, these are John Byers, Ringo Langly and Melvin Frohike. They've been very valuable help to Doc and me."
The captain shook their hands as well and Mrs. Scully left to put on some coffee. "Thanks for the warning."
"Hey, we can't let anything happen to Dana or our godson."
Mulder grinned, but Captain Scully spoke up, "You're watching our house?"
"Not exactly. We're more watching the colonel. When he checks out a car he has to give a destination. We have a friend . . . "
"Fine, that's enough. More than enough." Captain Scully spoke. "I guess you want to hear this tape."
Byers nodded and took the machine from his hand. The other two men moved closer and they listened carefully to the tape straight through. Frohike looked up at Mulder, "We can use this. With just a little bit of editing . . . "
"They can't be able to detect anything."
"Mulder, who do you think you're talking to?" Langly grinned at him.
"My apologies to the masters." Mulder bowed.
"That's better. Let's hear it again."
The three of them drifted to one side of the room as Dana sat beside her father. "How did you meet these men?"
"At the emergency room. "Byers and Frohike brought Langly in with a badly infected cut. I treated him and they decided I was trustworthy. They found out somehow that I was single and just started looking after me. It was really rather sweet."
"What do they do for living?"
"Well, they publish a newsletter." Dana looked away.
"Uh, the Lone Gunman."
"The Lone . . . you are kidding?"
"You've, uh, you've heard of it?" She glanced over at the men.
He pursed his lips and nodded. "You say they've been a big help to you and Fox?"
Mulder joined them on the couch. "A very big help. They were the ones that let us know you were ill."
"I see. I guess I shouldn't judge people I don't know."
"Hey Mulder,” Frohike looked over at them. "Is there anyone at the Bureau you can trust?"
"There's information we can't get to, things that aren't on line. What about your boss?"
"Who's Skinner?" Doc joined the conversation.
"He's the Assistant Director I reported to when I was there."
"Can we trust him?"
Mulder rose and pulled her up beside him. Without speaking he led her to the dining room. The three men exchanged glances.
"What is it Mulder?" When he stopped, but still didn't speak.
"Skinner, on occasion, acted as though he was on my side. I never heard him refer to me as 'Spooky'. And he did give me the assignments, which I took to mean he believed in what I did, at least some of the time."
"I'm sure he believed in you and your work. If he kept on giving you the assignments, think about it."
"And if I'm wrong, you and Will are exposed. I will have put you in danger."
She took his hand, "If we ever want to come home, we need help. This Skinner is the first name that came to you when Frohike asked. I think you need to try it."
Mulder closed his eyes. All he wanted was their safety. He felt her hand on his arm and he took her against him. He nodded slowly. "I love you Doc."
"Good. Because I love you too. Come on, let's have Ahab call your boss."
Mrs. Scully opened the door to the official looking man. "Mrs. Scully?"
"I'm Assistant Director Walter Skinner. Your husband called and asked me to stop by."
"Yes. It's nice to meet you. Please come in."
"Thank you." He stepped inside and waited for her to shut the door behind him.
"My husband is in the living room. Would you like some coffee?"
"No thank you." He followed her in and Captain Scully rose when he entered the living room. "Sir, it's a honor to meet you."
"And you. I hear you're ex-Marine."
"Yes sir, Nam."
"Have a seat." Captain Scully took his easy chair, and Skinner sat on the couch.
"Sir, I wish I could tell you that the investigation into your daughter's disappearance was going better."
“Thank you Mr. Skinner. I suppose you realize I feel the need to look into this myself. I’m curious as to your involvement in the case.”
“Yes sir. It was considered a conflict of interest for my unit to handle the investigation, since a suspect reported to me.”
“Agent Mulder.” Skinner nodded. “Do you know the man well? Is he harming my daughter?”
“Captain Scully, it has not been determined that Agent Mulder is involved in your daughter’s disappearance.”
William Scully stared at him for a long moment. “Do you think he took her?”
“The man I know would not harm your daughter.”
Another pause and then, “Why is he called ‘Spooky’?”
The question obviously caught Skinner off guard. He took a minute, then looked the captain straight in the eye. “Because they’re afraid of him. His intuition and insight are phenomenal. The man sees connections where no one else does. And he’s usually right. We were talking about him when he was still at the academy. His solve rate is the highest at the Bureau, but he’s not usually politically or bureaucratically correct. He also doesn’t care about the credit, about having the notch in his belt. He honestly wants to find out the truth and to hell with who gets the bust. The climbers at the FBI find that suspicious.”
“You like the man.”
“Yes sir. I do. I don’t know if he would consider me a friend, we never socialized, but I respect the man. I cannot see him harming Dr. Scully.”
“What if something were done to him?” The elder Scully was watching him closely now.
"If he were brainwashed or . . . "
Skinner looked at him closely for a long moment. "What do you know?"
But Captain Scully was looking past him now. Skinner turned to see Dana Scully approaching him from the next room. Before he had a change to assimilate the sight, he realized that the tall figure behind her was Agent Mulder.
He was on his feet without realizing it and moving toward them. "Dr. Scully? Are you, are you okay?" Before she could answer he was watching Mulder again. "What's going on?"
"Director Skinner, I'm very pleased to meet you and I appreciate the way you spoke about my husband."
"Your . . . “ His voice died away, but his eyes scanned her body. "The child, you were pregnant."
Mulder finally spoke, "Our son is asleep upstairs."
"Your son. What the hell is going on here?"
"That's what we would all like to know, Director Skinner." Captain Scully spoke from behind him. "Why don't you sit back down, there's more you need to know."
Skinner sank back down onto the couch. He couldn't think what other option would work at this point.
"We'd like to know what you know about Mulder's disappearances." Dana spoke softly. "Did you search for him? Do you have any idea who took him or where?"
"I was pulled from that investigation."
"Both? I'm not sure what you're talking about."
Mulder didn't respond, turning instead to Doc, "He's not aware of the first time. I didn't think it was that long."
Dana turned back to Skinner, "How well do you know Colonel Baldwin?"
Skinner's eyes narrowed and he pursed his lips. "Not well."
"I'm guessing you don't have a lot of respect for him." Captain Scully remarked.
"No sir, I don't. Can someone bring me up to speed on what the hell, excuse me ma'am, is going on?" He glanced over at Mrs. Scully but she only nodded, not offended.
"I can give you the short version now, you shouldn't hang around here long enough for the full blown version."
"I need all the information - "
"We need information. We need your help to get it. I want my wife and son to be safe, that's my only goal. And I need to know what you can find out that will make that happen."
"I don't understand."
"You will Director Skinner." Dana spoke softly again and smiled gently at him. He cared about her husband, he respected him and she felt instinctively that he would help them. She felt Mulder's eyes on her and turned, nodding at him.
Mulder took a deep breath and sat in a chair opposite Skinner.
“You’re right, I need to get out of here. I’ll set up a new email at my apartment tonight. Mulder, could I have a word?”
The two men moved to the far side of the room alone.
“These ‘samples’ of possible alien DNA that have shown up all over the world - are you involved in that?”
Mulder face was totally impassive and in less than the blink of an eye Skinner spoke again. “No, don’t answer that. Forget I asked it. I don’t want to know.” But a small smile came and went on his face. There was almost vindication in it. Mulder nodded once and Skinner turned back to Captain Scully.
When Captain Scully led Skinner to the front door, the younger man's face had turned grim. "I think Mulder's right. It's not a good idea for me to be seen around here again too soon. I'll check in with these friends of theirs as soon as I know anything."
"Thank you Mr. Skinner. Anything you can do to help protect my family, let my daughter and her family come home, will be appreciated."
"Yes sir." He shook the older man's hand and headed toward his car.
Mulder watched the door close behind Skinner then headed upstairs, where Doc was nursing the baby.
"Is he gone?"
"Yeah." He sat on the bed, watching his family - a sight he never tired of. "Doc, we've been here long enough. We need to lay low while our friends do their investigating. Things could get complicated."
"And you think Will and I will be safer elsewhere."
"Yeah." He grinned at her.
"You'll be with us?"
"I'll take you back, make sure you're settled."
She sat up straight then, disturbing the baby, her mouth falling open. "No. Mulder, no. You will not do any investigating on this without me. If you're not planning to stay with us, we're not going."
"Doc, I'll need to check out what the guys find.”
She held her silence until Will fell asleep at her breast, then lay him gently in his bed. She turned to Mulder then and despite her smaller size, he felt intimidated by her look.
She crooked her finger and he followed her out into the hall. She closed the door silently behind them. “You - will - not - leave - me - behind.” It wasn’t loud, in deference to the sleeping baby, but he fought to hide the flinch
“Don’t even try.”
"Doc, I won't leave unless we've discussed it. How's that?"
After a long moment she nodded. "I'll start packing. I do understand the need to get away from here for now. I've talked to Mom and she understands."
"I'll do everything I can to bring you back - safely."
"I know that, and I know what a great team we are - together." He nodded a little sheepishly, conceding her point for now.
"My dad's doing very well and you were right. I had to go."
"I was just giving you the advice you gave me." Pilar was checking out the baby as she spoke.
"And your mother?" Dana looked at Pilar
"She's through with the chemo for now and feeling a lot better because of it. The doctors are very optimistic."
"That's wonderful, Pilar. Can you stay home for a while?"
"Yes, Mike's happy about that. He'll be joining us for dinner. You sure you don't want to eat at our place? That way I can handle all the clean up."
"Here is fine. That way when Will conks out we won't have to move him."
Pilar nodded and surrendered the baby to her. "Okay, I'll check on the food and be back in a little while."
Dana put Will in his carrier and smiled as he waved his arms and bounced. He was a happy baby and healthy. She hoped it would always be that way for him. She didn't realize Mulder was watching her from the door to their bedroom.
She had adapted to everything he had thrown at her. She'd followed him across the continent. She'd given birth to his son, alone with him, and survived the . . . the second birth. He took a deep breath; the guys were ready with the second wave. And this one had a twist to it; Skinner's idea, and a damned good one. It made him especially glad Skinner was on their side.
"You know I love you."
Dana looked up and smiled at him. "Yeah, I know. Just so you know, I am glad to be home."
"This place feels like home to you?"
She nodded, "It's where our son was born. It's the house you bought with me in mind. It's where we've lived together as husband and wife. I miss Washington and my family, but now that I've seen them, and they know that we're alive, it's not so hard being away from them."
"You're good for me."
She shook her head, "I'm great for you and don't you forget it."
He laughed then, a rare thing for him and she relished it.
"Come on, we've got company coming tonight."
Pilar opened the door and announced them as she held the door for Mike. "Put it down on the counter, it's hot."
Mike nodded and placed the casserole down, then walked over to see the baby. The two women watched him and Dana saw the longing in his eyes.
Mike turned away when Mulder joined them. "Seen the news?"
Mulder shook his head, "Something happen?"
"Yeah. Remember the alien stuff that was sent to the different countries? They got some more."
Dana looked up startled and tried to catch Mulder's eye. "I haven't seen it. Do you ladies mind if we turn on the TV?"
"No, I don't." Pilar spoke, "I think this is fascinating. You'll probably think I'm crazy, but I've always hoped that we'd be visited by aliens. If they could come here, then they have to have a better technology than we do."
"You're not worried that they might want to take over?"
Pilar shrugged, "Could they really be any worse at it than we are?"
Mulder blinked at that, but didn't speak.
"Here." Mike found the report he was searching for and sat in front of the set. Mulder joined him on the couch and Dana perched on the arm of the couch next to him.
"Interesting, the institutions that were the most vocal about it being alien DNA got the samples." Pilar mused as she leaned forward. "Did they say they had photos?"
Mulder's hand squeezed Dana's knee as he felt her stiffen.
"Are they not going to show them? I want to see what an alien is supposed to look like." Pilar pouted a little at that.
"It might not be the kind of thing we'd want to see just before we eat." Mulder rose. "They're repeating themselves now. Why don't we go ahead and eat, then check back for any updates."
Mike nodded and rose. Mulder put his arm around Dana to help her to her feet. "You okay?" He whispered as he nuzzled her neck.
She nodded, but her eyes looked haunted to him. He hadn't been aware the guys were going to send photos or he would have warned her, or stopped them.
Dana forced herself to eat and carry her end of the conversation. Fortunately Pilar was more than able to carry a conversation on her own. Mulder kept the topic away from aliens for which Dana was grateful.
They didn't stay late, in deference to Dana having to get up to feed the baby in the middle of the night. Mulder barely had the door closed behind them when Dana had the television back on.
"Doc? It will be okay." He saw her hands were shaking.
"Will they release the pictures?"
"I don't know. I didn't know the guys were going to send any. Doc, we don't know for sure that they have. The media isn't always . . . "
He did more than that, settling her onto his lap and pulling her close. "Doc, you know how careful the guys are. They won't let anything out that could be traced to you or Will."
"What about you?"
"Me too. Besides my blood chemistry is back to normal; you've checked that yourself. There's no reason to suspect that I'm involved in this in any way."
She tensed as the story came up on the news. They both turned to listen. There didn't seem to be anything added to the report until the last minute. A suspect in the distribution of the information might have been identified.
For a moment Mulder thought she was going to faint. "Doc, Doc it's okay. The information was planted. Come on, it's not us." He lay her gently on the couch and massaged her wrists.
"It was Skinner's idea. There's just a partial fingerprint on the sample sent to Paris. Remember, they were the most open minded about the DNA last time."
Mulder grinned, "The colonel."
"What if he talks? What if he tries to implicate you?"
"What if he does? Your parents can testify that you’re okay. Skinner's filing the paperwork to decriminalize your case. Apparently we eloped, rather than me taking you by force. And he's burying the paperwork. No one will be looking for either one of us, officially or otherwise. And if they have already traced this to the good colonel, he's going to be too busy to chase after us."
"He won't give up that easily."
"No, he won't. But it will give us time to make public contact, while he's out of the picture. If we turn ourselves in, saying we weren't aware of the problem, and they test my blood . . . "
"The people that did this to us will know."
"Yes. But if we're high profile, gain sympathy . . . Let's face it, a beautiful, well-educated woman like you, with a newborn son, from a good military family . . . Come on."
"How long have you been planning this? And why didn't you say anything?"
"Skinner came up with the basic premise after meeting your father. He wasn't real fond of the colonel's methods either. You made a pretty good impression on him too - it never occurred to him that I could get a woman like you to look at me twice."
Her arm snaked around his neck pulling his lips down to hers and he reclined beside her on the couch. "You know I'm furious with you for keeping this from me."
"It was to protect you."
"You protect me like this again and Mom may have to give up on her dreams of having a granddaughter."
"Doc, are you threatening me?" The question died on his lips as her knee pressed gently on a vulnerable area.
"Threatening, promising, whatever you want to call it. Don't leave me out Mulder."
He nodded, not about to disagree at this point.
“Tell me what brought this about.” She eased the pressure a little and he grinned.
It struck everyone that the investigation into your kidnapping was handled . . . strangely. Your parents reported you missing when you didn’t return from Virginia, the police had your car, but you had never arrived at your destination. Also, the woman that was supposed to be expecting you had no idea you were coming. Because of the pregnancy it was bumped up to the Bureau almost immediately.”
Dana nodded; that had been hard on her mother and she owed Zoe an apology as well, but that would have to come later.
“I wasn’t a suspect, because there was no connection between the two of us. Then the military stepped in, with no jurisdiction by the way. Baldwin floated me as the only suspect and forced the Bureau to step away since I was one of theirs. Apparently Skinner always felt hinkey about Baldwin but his hands were tied. He didn’t know where I was, if I was even alive, and of course he had never met you.”
She leaned up and kissed his lips, interrupting his story.
When he got his breath back, he continued, “anyway, um, Skinner didn’t like the way I was being railroaded and continued keeping files and following what Baldwin was doing to the best of his ability. That was the part the guys couldn’t get to - the reason the Bureau was shut out of a ‘routine’ kidnapping investigation. Baldwin is going to have a lot to answer for when the connection with his print is made. He’s the one that tried to identify me by the weird blood. Skinner talked to Dr. Symons at your hospital. He’s a fan of yours apparently, and he’s convinced that Baldwin did something to you. That’s not hurting our case any either.”
"I don’t want to learn these things after the fact, Mulder. Don’t treat me like some kind of wimp.”
“You’re right and I’m sorry. I just - “
“Want to protect me. I know. We’ll do better if we protect each other.” She sighed, “We should see if the guys have been in touch.”
“Right. Does this mean you leave my lap?”
She smiled at that, “Not for long.”
He booted up the computer and pulled up their email. He looked up at her and she joined him, standing at his shoulder to read.
//Big news, our bird is learning French. Sorry to hear you didn’t make the finals in the finger painting contest. Looks like a weather change brewing here. How’re things out there. Love from the Uncles.//
Mulder leaned back. “Well?”
“It sounds to me like the colonel is in touch with the research facility in Paris, and they know for sure the finger prints on the package aren’t yours. I wonder how long it will take them to check the military database?”
“Not long, especially if the ‘uncles’ drop a hint or two. All hell could break loose when his finger prints are confirmed.”
“It should keep him busy for a while.” Scully glanced toward the nursery with a mother’s eye, but the fussing subsided on it’s own.
“True. You know, it might be a good time to resurface, especially if he goes off half-cocked and mentions me. We can just say we eloped. Your parents and Skinner can collaborate that story.
"You're going to think I'm crazy, Mulder."
"I'd hate to leave here."
That stunned him into silence.
"I told you."
"It's not . . ." He smiled then, "I don't think you're crazy. Living here with you has been the most incredible time of my life."
"But it's not real life, is it?" She ran her hand through his hair as he looked up at her. “You need to get back to your job, I need to get back to mine. We need to have a normal life for Will." She sighed.
"Dana, it's going to be okay. Colonel Baldwin has been completely discredited. He's a known crack pot." Skinner looked up and took the cup from her hand.
"Maybe he is Walter, maybe his obsession with Mulder has driven him over the edge, but what he knows happens to be true. That was Mulder's blood I had analyzed. They have taken him twice and they've taken me. He knows that. Maybe they’re willing to let him be the scapegoat, but his superiors know too."
Skinner looked over at Mulder. The younger man was focused on his wife. Finally Skinner spoke. "Mulder, help me out here."
Mulder shook his head. "This is up to her. If she says no, you turn around and go home. We stay underground."
Scully's eyes widened at that statement. He'd never said that to her. "Mulder - "
"Doc, if you don't feel safe, we don't go."
She sighed, "If we stay in the public eye . . . "
"I think that will keep you safe, Dana. I'd guarantee it if I could. You have my word I'll do everything in my power to keep you safe."
"I know you will." She reached for Mulder's hand and he met her halfway. "What do you think?"
"Doc - "
"No. I really need to know. This is a mutual decision."
Mulder looked over at Skinner, who immediately excused himself.
“I could go without you, expose Baldwin and keep you and Will -“
“No. Don’t mention it again Mulder. If you go public, so do I. Will and I will not be separated from you. Walter thinks he can keep us safe. We have to trust someone.”
“I’m more inclined to go with Frohike. They’ve taken me twice while I worked for him.” He shook his head; “I’m kidding, mostly.” He took her hand. “If we’re going to do this, now is the best time, while Baldwin’s off balance.”
She nodded and gave him a quick kiss, then rose and went to find A.D. Skinner.
She picked up the phone. Her mother nodded and took Will to the kitchen. "Zoe? Hi, it's Dana."
"Dana! Oh my god, Dana! Are you okay?"
"Yes, Zoe, yes, I'm fine."
"The . . . the baby?"
"A boy! I can't . . . Dana, I was so scared. Did they get that agent? Is he in jail?"
"No, Zoe - "
"Zoe, listen to me. It wasn't a kidnapping. I'm so, so sorry I got you involved. Mulder never hurt me, he couldn't. We eloped."
"E . . . eloped? But your parents - "
"I know, we had to leave town. You’ve met Colonel Baldwin."
"That man is a psycho."
Dana smiled, "You get no argument from me. Fortunately, he's in custody now and can no longer harass Mulder, so we've come home."
"The colonel was the reason you had to leave? So it's true, he has been sending that stuff to the labs around the world?"
"I don't know about that, but at least Mulder can come home now. I just wanted to apologize to you. I really didn't realize how obsessed Colonel Baldwin was, or that we would be gone as long as we were. You heard about Dad's heart attack?"
"Yes. I heard he was home now."
"He is and doing very well. They think stress caused the attack. We know the colonel was harassing him as well."
"Dana? What in the world did that colonel think was going on?"
"Well, I'm not sure, but you've heard about what’s been sent to the labs. They can't identify it as earth based. Not to get too technical, but the DNA of the samples . . . listen, Zoe, I think Baldwin knew it was for real and wanted to get the information out but didn't want to incriminate himself. For some reason he fixated on Mulder because of his work at the FBI. When Mulder found out and went underground, Baldwin used that to show guilt on Mulder’s part, instead of protection for me. Since he's military, he got the FBI to drop the case. It's been a nightmare."
"Dana, I can't imagine! Are you sure you're safe from him now?"
"Well, he's out of the way. We don't know about his superiors. We don't know how high up this goes. But we wanted to come home, let our son get to know his grandparents."
"Of course you do! Is there anything I can do?"
Dana smiled, "You can forgive me for what I did to you."
"Done already. If you need anything else, I want to be there for you. I can't wait to see your baby."
"You're such a good friend, Zoe. As soon as I know you wouldn't be in danger, we'll come see you. But not yet. Until we know for certain . . . "
"Okay, for a little while. But I'll be in touch. If you don't call me, I'll call your mom."
"That's a deal. I hear the baby. I promise I'll talk to you soon." She hung up and turned to Mulder. "She'll be on our side. She didn't think much of our colonel either. It's a good thing he's such a prick; it's making our work a lot easier."
Mulder gave her a slight smile and let his knuckle caress her cheek.
He’d been on the phone as well, with Skinner. Things were in place for them to meet with the people that he thought could help them. Skinner had contacted the men through ‘unofficial’ channels and Mulder was wary of them having information about when they were supposed to arrive in town. The ‘uncles’ had planted information on several arrival dates and times and Mulder had no doubt that each of them would be watched.
He watched her leave the room to go get Will and closed his eyes. This was too dangerous a game to have her involved. But could he handle her fury if he kept her out?
"Thank you for coming in Mr. Mulder, Dr. Scully - "
"That's Dr. Mulder." Dana interrupted quietly.
"Excuse me, Dr. Mulder. I'm sure you are both aware of the . . . the allegations that Colonel Baldwin has raised, and in light of the information being distributed around the world - "
"I understand Colonel Baldwin has been implicated in that distribution." Mulder looked directly at the large man seated at the center of the table.
The members of the panel exchanged glances. Finally the man in the center spoke, "We're here to get answers from you at this time. Assistant Director Skinner came to us with a proposal to allow you to return to the Bureau. Colonel Baldwin is under investigation, that's all we're at liberty to say at this time."
"The allegations that Colonel Baldwin made were about me," Mulder spoke up, "Why is my wife here?"
"Your . . . wife may have information regarding the information that has been leaked to the research labs."
"Let's cut the crap here. You want my blood to prove that the abductions can't be traced to you." That caused fear and shock to appear on the faces of far too many of the people questioning them. The man in the center made a move to clear the room. They had not expected an agent of the federal government to blurt out such information. "Fine, you can have my blood but we'll do this my way."
"Mr. Mulder - "
"That's Agent Mulder, and everyone in this room stays. You try to go behind locked doors and all of the information I have will be public in a matter of minutes. You don't want to test my resolve on this. Now we can pick some people to accompany us to a lab - you pick five and I pick five. They will escort us to a lab of my wife's choosing where they will observe the extraction of my blood and the processing of it. The technician will not be out of our sight and neither will my blood. And if I decide that Morley Safer is to be one of my witnesses, you will have to live with that."
"Agent Mulder - "
"If you want my blood, and my silence, I want to be left alone with my wife and my son. You've already got enough trouble with whoever is sending out the information. It's been verified by too many legitimate laboratories to be swept under the rug again, but I didn't send it. You better check into your own spooks a little more closely in the future." He rose and Dana stood with him. "You ready to make your choices? I am."
"You seem very secure."
"No, just determined. Whatever it takes to keep my wife and son safe, that's what I'm going to do. If you want my cooperation, this is a one time offer."
The men facing them were whispering, glancing over at them. Mulder and Dana stood quietly, watching them. Mulder wasn’t familiar with most of them, though he had seen two of them in the halls of the Bureau. They didn’t work there, at least officially, but they had access. This was becoming more interesting every minute.
"Agent Mulder, if we keep our end of the bargain, how can we be sure that your 'witnesses' will keep quiet as well."
"I have honorable people on my side. Can you say the same?"
The man's face darkened, but he didn't contradict the words. "Choose."
Dana watched the entire procedure with an eagle eye, and made certain that everyone present had an unobstructed view. There could be no one who could voice a doubt about the process.
Dr. Symons was careful to not only show, but to explain what he was doing at each step, as though holding a class. When the work was done he held up the results for all to see.
"It's just blood, O+ and a little high in hemoglobin, which is a good thing. I detect no drugs. This is definitely not the same blood I tested in my lab the day that Dr. Sc - excuse me, Dr. Mulder brought the sample to my lab. You understand that Colonel Baldwin stole all of the equipment from my lab that day, so I only have my own memory; however, that blood chemistry is not something I'm likely to forget. It was the first time I had seen anything like that. The information I have been able to glean from the samples being sent out, lead me to believe that was what I processed before."
The five men chosen by the panel exchanged glances. It had all taken place before their eyes. Mulder did not have the blood chemistry that had been sent out. They had the proof and the witnesses.
"Thank you Agent Mulder, Dr. Mulder. We apologize for the inconvenience we have caused you."
“Apologize for the inconvenience. How nice. Will my family be left alone?"
"Yes sir. You’re not going to have any worries on that count. You obviously do not have the blood chemistry that the Colonel was tracking. That’s been proven in front of witnesses. There is no evidence that the information being released to the public came from you or that you had knowledge of it.”
“Are you saying that it would be safe for me to bring my family home and for the both of us to resume our careers?”
“I’m saying we have no reason to continue our investigation where you and Dr. Mulder are concerned. Obviously we have no control over your position with the FBI.”
Mulder actually laughed then, and the older man looked away, not meeting his eyes. After a second he rose, “Again, our thanks for your cooperation.” He turned and left the room, followed by his witnesses.
Byers clapped Mulder on the shoulder. “Well done.”
“Thanks. You think the video pick up worked okay?”
Byers nodded. “We won’t use it, unless you tell us. I better get back.” Mulder shook his hand, then thanked the others.
He turned to Doc then, “Let’s go home.” She nodded and hugged him quickly, ready to get back to Will.
“You think they’ll really leave us alone?”
“They don’t want me to go public. We had witnesses that are prominent in the government and the public sector. And we’ve got the video. They don’t know what else we have or know; they’re not going to want to take the chance - not with the web being accessible to the whole world. I don’t trust them Doc, but they don’t trust me either. I think that’s called détente.”
She grinned and they walked to the car together.
Mulder took her hand to help her from the car. Skinner’s car was where he had left it. She looked up at this husband of hers. She had never seen him as he had been today. He had been in command in that room, calm and confident. He had done it for her, to protect her and Will. She had been right to entwine her life with this man’s.
She hurried toward the door, anxious to see Will and let her parents know Mulder had passed the test with flying colors. As she reached for the knob, Mulder grabbed her arm and without a word pulled her behind him. Still without speaking, he pulled a gun from his ankle holster. She hadn’t been aware he was armed and she gasped. He put his finger to his lips and she nodded.
He eased the door open and looked around before continuing on. She followed him, every sense on alert. She barely managed to keep from running into him when he stopped abruptly. She peeked around him and spotted Assistant Director Skinner sprawled on the floor.
She clutched Mulder’s arm. “Will.” She barely breathed the word.
He nodded curtly, in full agent mode now. He squatted beside the comatose man and felt for his pulse. He nodded to her and continued on. Whatever he saw made him turn and block her.
Her eyes widened in fear. “Mulder, what!” She struggled past him then, and saw her father on the floor, blood oozing from a wound on his scalp. ”Oh my god!” She was around him then and on her knees. “Call 911!”
Her father groaned then and stirred under her hands. “Dad, it’s Starbuck. An ambulance is on the way. Where are Mom and Will?” Her voice shook on her son’s name.
Bill’s hand came up to his forehead. “There were three of them. Walter and I - “
“Ahab, don’t try to talk.” She was checking his pulse. “I want you to just relax.”
“Doc?” She felt Mulder close behind her.
“I, uh, I need to check Skinner.”
Mulder nodded, he moved toward the steps with a heavy tread. He knew he wasn’t going to find Maggie or his son upstairs. They were gone, taken, while he had wasted his time trying to cut a deal.
While Dana checked out AD Skinner he made a thorough search of the rest of the house. As he had known, there was no one else there.
He had to hold it together. Doc needed him. This wasn’t going to be like Samantha. Humans had stolen their son, and they would find him.
He was moving toward her voice before he processed the word. He was down the stairs in three steps. “Doc?”
“The first ambulance is here, let them in.” He moved immediately to the door and opened it. The EMTs were rushing up the walk and he could see a second ambulance turning the corner onto the street. The police were brining up the rear.
He closed his eyes for a minute, letting despair overwhelm him, then the EMTs brushed past him.
They were treating Skinner already. His father-in-law was sitting on the couch, holding a towel to his head. “Starbuck, I don’t need to - “
“Dad, listen to me. You are going to the hospital; you are going to be checked out. Don’t fight me on this because you will lose.”
The captain recognized the voice of command and subsided. “We need to be looking for your mother and Will.”
“Mulder and I can handle that. But I have to know that you’re okay. I can’t . . . “ She nearly lost it then and struggled to regain her voice. “I can’t worry about you too. Please.” He nodded and looked up at his son-in-law, silently asking him to look after her.
Mulder nodded with his eyes and moved Dana out of the way of the second set of paramedics. At his touch she shuddered and his arm went around her to keep her on her feet.
“Mulder, what are we going to do?”
He shook his head as the police approached them. They gave their statements. It didn’t take long, the only thing missing from the house besides Will and Maggie was the smaller diaper bag. At least whoever had taken them had allowed that. Then he tilted her head up to him and wiped a tear from her cheek. “You should be with your father.”
“No. I’ll have Missy meet him. His heart is fine; he just needs a couple of stitches. I’m staying with you.”
“Doc - “
“We can’t be separated now. Mulder, please.”
He nodded after a moment, then turned to the policeman standing in front of him. “I need to make a phone call.”
The cop nodded and moved slightly away. Mulder pulled his cell phone from his inside coat pocket. “Frohike, they’ve taken Will, and Doc’s mom.”
“Those sons of bitches. What do we do?”
“Get hold of the others. Make sure they’re safe and ready to broadcast. But do nothing for thirty-six hours or until you hear from me.”
“You got it. What else can we do?”
Mulder looked over at Dana; she was staring at something in her hands and looked completely devastated, tears leaking from her eyes. “Pray.” He broke the connection and moved toward her. He could see the object in her hands now, one of Will’s pacifiers. He had to close his own eyes for a moment against the pain.
No, he couldn’t give in yet. He had things to do.
No, he couldn’t give in yet. He had things to do.
“Doc, why don’t you go upstairs, lie down. We need to get out of their way down here anyway.”
“Mul - “
“Come on, I’ll take you.” He lifted her to her feet.
“Mulder, I can’t lie down. I can’t . . . “
He didn’t speak, just holding her against him, and supported her up the stairs. He led her into their bedroom and seated her on the bed.
“I need to make a phone call, Doc.”
“Don’t leave, please.”
He hesitated a moment, then nodded and joined her on the side of the bed. She watched him pull out his cell phone again.
He dialed a number quickly, from memory, then put his free arm back around her.
“Yes.” The man’s voice was tentative, as though the call had caught him off guard.
“Fox Mulder here.”
“How did you get this number?”
“I’m resourceful. And it’s a good thing for you. I want my son back and I want him now. He and Maggie Scully.”
“What are you talking about?”
“While you and I were visiting, some of your goons broke into my in-laws home, attacked the Captain and Skinner and took my son and mother-in-law - “
“Mulder, listen to me, I swear we had nothing to do with this.”
“I believe that about as much as I do your assurances of earlier today. I want them back, unharmed, now. I figure with your connections . . . “
“Mulder, don’t do anything rash. Give me a little time, forty-eight hours. I’ll - “
“Twenty-four. I want my family back and safe. You don’t want to know what I can do if I have to.”
“Mulder, don’t - “
“I wouldn’t disconnect this number if I were you. I may need to communicate with you and I don’t want to waste any time trying to find you. I might not be very patient.”
“This number will not be disconnected and someone will be here to answer it at all times. Whoever answers will know how to find me if I am away. I will find your family Agent Mulder. Believe me, I did not authorize this and I will get to the bottom of it. I need to get off the phone and begin what needs to be done.”
“On the off chance that you would recognize the truth, you might want to check on the colonel. His obsession with me - “
“I agree Agent Mulder. Please convey my concern to your wife. I will be in touch with you shortly.” The connection was broken and Mulder closed his eyes. The man had been shaken, that hadn’t been faked. What if he was telling the truth and someone else had them?
Her voice drew him back from the edge. She needed him; madness would have to wait. He sat beside her on the bed. “Right here, Doc.”
“What did he say?”
“That it wasn’t them.”
“Do you believe him?”
Mulder hesitated then, reliving the phone call, hearing every tone and nuance of the man’s voice. “Yes, I do. But he’d come up with ideas before we hung up. These men aren’t stupid Doc. They wouldn’t have lasted as long as they have if they were. They know what danger they’re in - exposure is the last thing they want.”
“They’ll get Will and Mom back for us?”
He nodded. “They will, Doc. Don’t worry.” He spoke with more assurance than he felt. Maybe having his memories intact again wasn’t a good thing.
She looked so vulnerable lying there. Her hands were trembling and, when he took them into his own hands, they were cold as well. “You need to rest, Doc.”
“I can’t. Mulder, I shouldn’t even be lying here. I need - “
“Doc. Right now the only thing you can do is look after yourself.” He rose and removed her shoes, then pulled the afghan up over her.
“How can I - “
“Your mother’s with Will. She’s not going to let anything happen to him. She’s got four kids and four grandkids. No conspiracy, no man is going to be able to get past that. I remember how she looked at me the first time she saw me, when she thought I had harmed you. She made my blood run cold. Other than the two of us, I can’t think of anyone more ferocious in the defense of our son.”
Dana actually managed to smile a little at that and nodded.
“I want you to nap now, because I’m going to need you to be strong later.”
Her smile faded. “What?”
“I don’t know, that’s why you should gather your strength now.”
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“I’ve got something that’ll help.” She looked puzzled and reached for him as he rose again from the side of the bed.
He squeezed her hand. “I’ll be right back.” He was back immediately, with a glass of water. He placed a capsule in her hand.
“Seconal?” Where did you get this?”
“Before I came back for you . . . Even I have to sleep occasionally, Doc. Come on, take it.”
She shook her head, “What if you need me?”
“That’s a constant Doc. Come on, do this for me.”
“Are you going to leave me?”
He looked stunned at the question. “What?”
“Are you drugging me so that you can make some sort of deal? Exchange yourself for Will and Mom?”
“No. Doc, I hadn’t even . . . I’ve proven I’m useless to them biologically. The information I have is available at the press of a button. No, Doc. I just want you to rest. Then you can be awake while I try to sleep.”
She looked deep into his eyes then and after a moment glanced back at the capsule in her hand and popped it in her mouth. She took the glass from his hand and swallowed the pill.
He took her jacket and skirt, then began unbuttoning her blouse, as her fingers already were becoming clumsy. He left her in her slip and draped her robe across the foot of the bed.
“I love you, Doc.”
“And don’t you forget it. Hold me? While I go to sleep?”
He nodded and toed off his own shoes while she scooted over to give him room.
He stretched out beside her and pulled her into his arms. She came willingly; absorbing what comfort she could from the feel of him around her.
He felt her tears off and on as she lost her struggle against sleep and murmured what he hoped were comforting sounds in her ear. When her hand slid from it’s grip on his chest, he knew she was finally asleep.
He placed her tenderly on the pillow and she automatically rolled toward him.
Mulder looked down at her after propping himself up on one elbow. Even asleep her face was drawn. She had drifted into REM sleep and the dreams weren’t pleasant.
Why hadn’t he listened to her? Where in hell had he gotten the idea that any place was safe? Would these men he didn’t want to trust, find his son? And Maggie, he couldn’t forget Maggie. Could Doc survive a double blow like that?
It was almost as thought she felt his own need for comfort and squirmed toward him, a hand coming to rest on his thigh.
It hit him then, that’s what he needed - the comfort of her body. He wanted to be sheathed within it and then oblivion for a little while.
He was going mad, to be thinking of that now. And she was asleep; it could be considered a form of rape. Later, he would find his own comfort later. Now he had work to do.
He tucked the afghan around her, kissed her forehead and headed downstairs.
The police had followed his instructions and the FBI was now on the scene. He checked his watch, he’d been upstairs less than thirty minutes but it felt like a lifetime.
“Mulder? I’m sorry about this.” An agent approached him, hand extended. Mulder found some slight comfort that they had assigned Greenbaum. He was easier to be around than some, his slightly stocky body belying the keen mind hidden underneath. And he’d never called him Spooky to his face.
“Jerry. Thanks for getting here so . . . “ His voice trailed off but he shook hands with his fellow agent.
“We’ve got the phone lines in and we’re set for their next move.”
“There won’t be a request for ransom.”
“Okay. What are we looking for?” Good, he was treating him as an equal, not just the . . . the father of the victim.
“Did you hear about this morning?”
Jerry nodded, “Yeah, your blood’s as red as mine.”
“They wouldn’t have taken him. Where is Baldwin being held?”
Jerry looked embarrassed then, and glanced over at the agent by the phone.
“Jerry?” Mulder had stepped closer to him and the older agent suddenly understood why this man intimidated so many agents. He’d been hearing about his memory, his insight, hell, his brilliance since the man had exploded from the academy, top of his class. He’d heard the stories, the jokes about little green men - for the first time, he believed them. He believed it all. This man knew things, understood things he never would.
He took a deep breath. “Baldwin’s not in custody anymore. General Foreman had him released.”
“Where is he?” Mulder spoke quietly, his voice not raised in any way, but Jerry feared for an instant that he would humiliate himself by wetting his pants - and the man hadn’t even moved.
“We’re . . . we’re working on that. We only found out about ten minutes ago. A guy called, said he was a friend of yours,” Jerry flipped through his pad. “Langly. He said his name was Langly.”
Mulder nodded once and stepped back, looking over at the other man present.
Jerry took the opportunity to straightened his tie and catch his breath.
“If Langly calls back, I have to speak to him.”
The younger agent nodded quickly but didn’t speak.
Mulder turned back to Greenbaum, who straightened up immediately. “Have you had word on how my father-in-law or Skinner are doing?”
“Not yet. You want me to call over there?”
Mulder shook his head, “I’ll do it. Thanks.” He took the cell phone Jerry extended and moved to the other side of the kitchen. Jerry noted that he didn’t bother with a phone book.
After a couple of long minutes he was finally connected. “Melissa? It’s Mulder. How’s your Dad?”
“Going crazy wanting to hear from you. Any word?”
“Not yet, the FBI is here, and we’ve got other help. Can I speak to him?”
“Sure, just a second.”
“Mulder? What’s going on?” The Captain was using his command voice. Mulder felt a desperate need to hand over command to him, but that wasn’t possible.
“We don’t have much . . . Langly called, Baldwin’s free. General Foreman had him released.”
“That SOB! He’ll hear from me.”
“Not now, not until . . . “
He heard the older man sigh. “You’re right. Look, I’m fine. They stitched me up, my heart’s fine. I should be there.”
“I could use your help there, Sir.”
“They won’t give me information on Skinner. If you or Melissa could get his status, maybe talk to him - he might have recognized someone, something.”
“Yeah, we could do that.”
“And I haven’t talked to Charlie or . . . Bill.”
“Shit, Bill. He’s gonna go ballistic. Yeah, I can handle that from here too. It wouldn’t be a good idea for you to talk to Bill. Okay, but how’s Starbuck?”
“I gave her something to make her sleep.”
“Good. When she wakes, have her call me. Mulder, don’t do anything stupid. You look after her . . . and yourself.”
“I will. Thanks . . . Dad.”
There was a brief pause. “I’ll check on Skinner and call you back, Son. This is going to be okay. Don’t ever underestimate Maggie Scully.”
“I wouldn’t dare. Talk to you soon.”
He broke the connection and leaned against the counter, closing his eyes. How many years since he had called anyone Dad? He straightened up and turned to Jerry. “Anything?”
Mulder nodded and dialed a familiar number. “Yeah?”
“Frohike, what’s happening?”
“All five of your people have been alerted and are safe.”
“We’re working on it. How’s Dana?”
“At the breaking point. She’s asleep right now. I thought it would be . . . “
“Yeah, you’re probably right. Mulder, we’re gonna find them.”
“Yeah, call me.”
“You got it. Tell Dana we’re thinking about her.”
Mulder made some noise that sounded like an assent and hung up. Now what was he supposed to do? Waiting was his worst trait.
“Mulder,” Jerry approached him, “can I get you something to eat? Coffee?”
Mulder’s stomach roiled at the thought. “Thanks, no. I’ll uh, I’ll be in the other room.”
Jerry nodded sympathically. The man didn’t mean to be spooky. He was sure of that. How would he hold up under the same circumstances? And hadn’t his sister been taken years ago? Shit, talk about a nightmare. He watched the younger man move into the living room.
Mulder stood just inside of the larger room, unable to focus on anything. If he thought about what was happening, he’d go mad. That would have to come later. Right now he needed to step away. He moved to the bookcase and pulled a photo album from the shelf.
He sat and began leafing through the book, watching his wife grow up in front of his eyes. She’d definitely been a tomboy, keeping up with her brothers, while Melissa had hung back. He actually smiled at some of the pictures of her, with her pigtails and skinned knees.
He didn’t know how long he had allowed himself to be lost in the past when he heard her cry out. The album hit the floor as he raced to the stairs. Jerry met him at the bottom of the steps.
“It’s okay.” He was already moving up. Jerry wisely stayed at the bottom and after a moment, moved back to the kitchen.
He let himself into their room where she was sitting up crying, but she didn’t seem to be awake yet. “Doc, Doc it’s me. I’m here.”
She focused on him then, “Mulder.” She reached for him and he took her into his arms. It felt like the only safe place in the world. Her grip on him tightened and she tried to get even closer, her tears slowing as his lips took possession of her.
After a moment he broke away, “Doc, god, I’m sorry. I - “
“Don’t stop. Please, Mulder make it all go away for a little while. Please.”
He blinked at her as she reached for his zipper, but didn’t bother to protest. He needed this as much as she did, more.
When they collapsed back onto the bed, she realized they hadn’t even removed any clothes. They’d never done it like this before, but it had been right.
Mulder was almost unconscious from his release, his eyelids felt leaden.
She leaned over him, awake now, as though the drugs had vanished from her system with her orgasm. She brushed his hair from his forehead and kissed it, then pulled the afghan over him and slipped on her robe.
“Sleep, Baby. I’ll take care of things for a little while.” She could tell he wanted to protest. She kissed him again. “It’s your turn to rest. Just for a little while. I’ll wake you soon.”
He seemed to nod and she waited until he stopped his struggle and surrendered to sleep. She let herself out quietly and headed downstairs.
Jerry came to his feet when she entered the kitchen. “Mrs. Mulder?”
She nodded, tightening the sash of her robe.
“I’m Jerry Greenbaum, FBI. I’ve never worked with your husband, but I know him. We’re doing everything we can - “
“Thank you Agent Greenbaum.”
He nodded, “Would you like some coffee? We just made a fresh pot.”
“Thanks.” She accepted the cup from him and added some cream and sugar. “Can you bring me up to date?”
Jerry sighed. “There’s not been much activity. Did Mulder tell you that Colonel Baldwin was released?”
She looked up stunned and he took the cup from her hand as she sank into the nearest chair. “Released?”
“I’m sorry, I thought . . . Yes, General Foreman ordered him released. That’s the lead we’re working on first. We’ve had a little trouble locating the General but we have a lead on the car that picked Baldwin up.”
“Is there . . . is there any word on my father, or AD Skinner?”
“Mulder talked to your father, but I haven’t heard anything.”
“I’m going to call him now. Is there a phone I could use that won’t - “
Jerry handed her his cell phone. She nodded her thanks and headed to the living room. She spotted the photo album on the floor and picked it up. It was turned to a camping trip they had taken when she was nine or ten years old. She glanced at the stairs; Mulder must have been looking at this when she’d cried out in her nightmare.
Tears threatened to form in her eyes, but she shook her head. She needed to talk to Ahab and she didn’t want to upset him any more than he was. She dialed quickly and Melissa answered the phone.
“Missy? How’s Dad?”
“Dana! He’s fine. What’s happening?”
“Nothing as far as I can tell. Missy, I’m so scared.”
“I know. But Mulder seemed really confident when he called before. He knows about this kind of thing. We’re just going to have to trust him.”
“I do, but he’s . . . he feels so guilty.”
“Yeah, but it’s not his fault. I believe him; I believe these people have conspired against us for generations. And I think he’s the only one they’re afraid of.”
Dana was silent for a minute. She hadn’t expected this. “Missy? Who have you been talking to?”
“Uh, Langly. After he came over to the house when you came back the first time, we’ve . . . He’s fun in a Zonker Harris kind of way.”
“You’re seeing Langly?” She knew this was a stupid topic of conversation, but at least it was keeping her mind off of unthinkable thoughts for a little while.
“Dad’s back, he wants to talk to you.”
“He’s was checking on Skinner. Hold on.”
Dana could visualize him as he took the phone. “Starbuck! Are you okay?”
“Yes, Ahab. I guess you are too, if you’re wandering around the hospital.”
“I’m fine. They put a couple of stitches in my scalp. I’m only here to help Mulder. Skinner’s still sedated, but they’ve upgraded him to serious. It looks like he’s going to make it. He’ll have a hell of a headache, but . . . “
“Good. You’re helping Mulder?”
“Yes, we talked, he thought since I was already here, I could be his eyes and ears. In my opinion, it took a hell of a long time for the FBI to put a guard on Skinner. Have they found Baldwin?”
“You know about that?”
“Mulder’s keeping me in the loop. Where is he?”
“He’s resting. We haven’t gotten any word yet.”
“Dana, your mother is the strongest woman I know. You need to have faith.”
“I’m trying Ahab. But Will is so little, I . . . “
“But you have to know your mother will look after him. Starbuck, you know that.”
“I’ve talked to Charlie, he’ll probably be calling you soon.”
“What about Bill?”
“He wasn’t in when I tried. I’ll call him again.”
“Maybe I should - “
“No, Starbuck. Let me handle him. You don’t need that, and I need to . . . “
She heard his pain then and realized how strong he was being for her. “You’re right, we need your help.” She looked up as Jerry came to the door and motioned that there was another call.
“Ahab, there’s a call coming in. I’ll let you know what’s going on as soon as I know anything.”
“You do that Starbuck. We love you.”
“I love you too. Bye.” She broke the connection and turned toward Jerry.
“It’s Langly. Mulder said he had to talk to him. Do want me to get him?”
“No, he needs the rest. I’ll talk to Langly.” She followed him into the kitchen. “Langly?”
“Dana? Are you okay?”
She ignored the question, “What have you found?”
“That Baldwin wasn’t released by Foreman. Foreman is in Germany in the hospital. He had an angioplasty while he was there for a meeting. He’s gonna be okay, but he hasn’t been on the phone to anyone.”
“So it was maneuvered.”
“Yeah, we’re working on it now but it’s slow going. I know you don’t want to hear that - “
“No, I don’t. But at least you’re learning something. Any idea where Baldwin went when he got out?”
“No, but that’s our top priority. How’s your Dad?”
“He’s good. He’s staying at the hospital to help out. Missy is with him.”
“Good, she’ll be an asset there too.”
Dana refrained from comment, but later she’d see what the situation was. For some reason, having Missy see Langly felt . . . right.
“I need to get off this line, Langly. Let us know what you find and we’ll let you know what the FBI finds. Langly, thanks.”
“You got it Dana. Keep the faith.” He hung up and she handed the receiver back to Jerry.
She sat at the table and told them about General Foreman. She could tell he didn’t want to get this kind of information from her, but in all fairness, he took the information and immediately went to work on it.
Things were moving too slowly. She could feel her anxiety trying to overwhelm her again. She didn’t want to wake him, but she needed to see Mulder, be near him. “I’m not really helping down here. I think I’ll go back upstairs.”
“Of course. Dana, we’ll let you know as soon as we find out anything.”
She nodded and struggled against the tears that were too close. Dana turned from him and headed upstairs. She carefully opened the door to their bedroom. Mulder was still asleep, but not peacefully, jerking occasionally and he made a noise she could only describe as a moan once.
As scared as she was for their son and her mother, she knew his suffering was as bad or worse. He hadn’t slept like this since he had finally come to believe that she was really with him. She slipped into the chair beside the bed. Dana picked up her purse and pulled out her wallet. She opened to her favorite picture - one of Mulder and Will asleep on the couch.
They both looked so relaxed, Will was obviously totally secure, sprawled across his Dad’s chest. Even in sleep Mulder was holding their son protectively, his hand almost large enough to cover the baby. She let the tears come then. Her baby was missing, what would she do if . . . Samantha had never been found. That was what haunted her and was obviously haunting him as well.
Would their relationship be strong enough to get through this? Would she lose him too? No, she couldn’t, neither one was as strong alone as they were together. They had to hold onto that. She had to make him see that she didn’t blame him for this. He blamed himself enough.
He suddenly cried out, “No!” and she jumped, dropping the picture.
“Mulder, wake up. I’m right here. We’re together.”
His eyes flew open and he grabbed her. “Doc?”
“Yes, it’s me.” She caressed his face with her hand and he leaned into it. “Bad dream?”
He shuddered slightly and didn’t bother to respond. “How long was I asleep?”
“Less than an hour. You haven’t missed anything.”
“Doc, I can’t believe I attacked you like - “
“I think it was me attacking you. I needed it and I think you did too. Mulder, I’m scared. I’m so scared.” He sat up and pulled her against him then.
“Me too. But I gave them twenty-four hours. I think they’re going to honor it; I have to believe they will. We just have to wait.”
“Yeah, I know. Not my strong suit.”
“Mine either. Mulder . . . “
“Don’t hold anything back from me Doc.”
“I’m not.” She sighed and burrowed deeper into his side. “I want Will and my mom. I need them. And I keep thinking about Samantha.”
His arm tightened involuntarily, and he didn’t speak.
“Mulder, I know you’re thinking about her too. You can’t hold anything back from me either. We have to be there for each other. I don’t want you to think you have to be strong for me. I know you’re as scared as I am, hell, maybe more. I know you’ve been through it and I know it wounded you. I want to be strong for you.”
“Doc, I’m okay. With you here beside me, I’m okay.”
She sighed. She could hear the truth in his voice, but neither one of them was ‘okay’. She knew that too. Twenty-four hours. How the hell were they supposed to get through twenty-four hours?
After a moment, he hugged her close, then sighed, “Doc, I need to check in with Jerry.”
She nodded and kissed him. “I’m going to get dressed again and I’ll be right down.”
“Doc, you could - “
“Don’t even say it.”
He nodded and rose from the bed. She followed him shortly, in time to see one of the agents she hadn’t met yet accept a pizza at the front door.
“Mrs. Mulder, I hope you don’t mind.” He motioned to the box.
“No, of course not. Have you seen my husband?”
“He’s in the kitchen.” He looked like he wanted to say more, but refrained. She was grateful; one more assurance that everything was being done would probably send her over the edge. It was going to be a long night.
Jerry was still there, though she was pretty sure his shift would be over. She felt gratitude for that as well. It was probably because he was a friend of Mulder’s. She wasn’t going to ask, she was just glad he was still there.
She entered the kitchen and Mulder seemed to sense her even though she was barefoot and knew she had made no noise. He motioned her over to where he and Jerry were talking.
“Sounds like Baldwin had some help. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of the general, but he’s off the hook on this one.”
She nodded, feeling a touch of guilt that she hadn’t remembered to tell him of Langly’s call. They settled in to wait. No one seemed able to sustain a conversation. That was fine with both of them, they were comfortable with silence. They’d had to be when his memories were still gone.
Sometime after midnight, he had convinced her to let him take her back upstairs. She wasn’t sleepy but bone weary, and in increasing pain without Will there to nurse. That kept her from resting as much as the never-ending thoughts that kept swirling around in her head.
She finally fell into a restless sleep around dawn. Mulder sat with her, not even trying to sleep, just watching over her. There was nothing else he could do.
“Mulder!” Jerry yelled up the stairs to them.
They exchanged glances and both raced down the stairs, her shorter legs not hampering her at all.
“We’ve got them! They’re fine and on their way here. Mrs. Scully is refusing to go to the hospital, says it’s unnecessary.”
Dana actually smiled then, “Yeah, that’s Mom. Where, where were they?”
Jerry looked down at his notes, “In Virginia. They were at a place called Skyland Mountain. They - “ He broke off when he saw the blood drain from Dana’s face. He reached for her, but Mulder was already seating her in the chair and pressing her head between her knees.
“Doc, it’s okay. They’re okay.”
“Skyland - “
“Don’t think about that. They’re on their way home.”
He was whispering to her, but Jerry could hear most of it. Why was this place in Virginia such a big deal?
She looked up at the older agent suddenly, “Why were you looking for them there?”
“We weren’t. To be honest, we weren’t even close. Apparently your mother got away, with the boy, and hid out in the lodge at the top of the mountain. The phones had been turned off, but a maintenance worker came up this morning to work on the place. He found them, but he didn’t have a cell phone, so he drove them down; that takes about an hour.”
“Dad should be here.”
“Right, you should call him. He and Missy should both be here. How long until they get home?”
Jerry glanced at his watch again. “They should be here within the hour.”
Dana nodded and grabbed a phone off of the table. She took it into the other room, but Mulder could hear her tone if not her words. He smiled for the first time in days, listening to her.
Mulder picked up the phone after a short hesitation. Doc was nursing Will, who seemed to have no after effects from his ordeal. He dialed the number, unsure if it would still be a working number. The man he had spoken to the day before answered.
“Mulder, I was expecting your call.”
“I . . . I wanted to thank you.”
“You assume we had anything to do with this?”
“Yes. Skyland Mountain. Baldwin’s disappeared, without a trace. Do you ask favors of them? Do they actually work with you on occasion?”
“Agent Mulder, we made your twenty-four hour deadline. May I count on you to keep the agreement that we made?”
“You will leave my family alone.” It wasn’t a question. He hadn’t actually expected an answer to his first one either. He knew what had happened. He also knew he’d never prove it, but Baldwin was out of their lives.
“We have no reason to be involved with your family. We wish you well.” The connection was broken and he looked over at Dana and nodded.
She hurried into his arms with Will and he held them, soaking up the very essence of these two people that he loved above all else.
He looked up as she approached him. “He’s asleep again.”
“You should have let me go.” He leaned forward and caressed her huge belly. Placing a light kiss on it.
“It’s the only exercise I can get now, heaving myself up and down off the couch. Besides, she stops with the kick boxing when I’m walking.”
“Well, slows down.” She grinned at him. He helped her back down onto the couch and began rubbing her lower back. She sighed and leaned into it.
He smiled. This was what he had always wanted, this family with this wife. And he hadn’t missed any of the pregnancy. This pregnancy - they had traced it back to that frantic coupling while Will was missing. He didn’t regret the fact that they hadn’t even thought of using protection during that time. Now their daughter was due in a matter of days.
There was only one baby this time. They had been extremely cautious about the testing in the beginning, but they knew she was okay and that there was no ‘other’ to mar their joy.
He had cut back on his work, doing more deskwork and consulting, jobs that would allow him to stay home. Skinner understood, better than anyone else at the Bureau and he was grateful for his support.
He smiled even wider as this precious wife of his reminded him to keep up the massage. Yes, she was the perfect mate for him and mother for his children. He renewed his efforts to keep her happy.
Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.