Somewhere near the Canadian border, Monica Reyes and Dana Scully decided that perhaps flying back to D.C. was not the best plan with the recently-kidnapped and found baby William. Scully wanted anonymity and Reyes could not agree more. They drove to some unknown town in Montana, they purchased three Amtrak tickets reserved for a sleeper car, a plethora of baby supplies, additional clothes and personal supplies and boarded the train to Union Station with an estimated time of four days. Maybe they would decide to catch a flight to Dulles in Chicago and cut the train time in half but there was still time. Right now a few days on a train sounded safer than the massive crowds at airports.
The two FBI agents and sleeping baby boarded the train at two a.m. and made a beeline to their room. Scully held William against her chest tightly as Reyes took the point, her hand hovering near her waist where her service weapon was concealed. “You should get the FBI to compensate you for this cabin, Dana,” Monica remarked. They stopped at the door and it was slowly opened. “God, this is small. I think my dorm room was bigger in college.”
“It’ll be fine,” Scully answered quietly. “Let’s just get settled.
Monica nodded entered first, taking note of double style folded bunk beds (one hidden folded into the wall), a chair, and a small area where a toilet, sink, and shower was. “Well, it is cramped,” Monica answered.
“I am three out of four children that grew up on base housing,” the other FBI agent smiled. “This is nothing.”
William murmured in this sleep and Scully automatically set her son down on the bed to check him. Reyes shut the cabin door soundly behind her and secured the lock. “I couldn't imagine,” Reyes replied, “I just had a younger sister and a townhouse. How is William?”
“Fine,” Scully breathed. She carefully unwrapped the blanket, undoing his onesies, and ran her hand over his untouched baby skin. “No injuries, not even a scratch. I can’t explain it, Monica. It’s been only a few hours and there is nothing.”
“A miracle,” the other woman supplied. She sat in the lone recliner of their sleeping car. “Or at least nothing short of it.
“I don’t know what to believe anymore. I am tired of all this ancient prophecy bullshit. Dealing with the colonists. Mulder. I’m done.” Scully finished her exam of her son and, satisfied nothing was wrong, made him a nest of blankets to sleep in. “Not hungry, are you, William?”
“I’d imagine he be famished.” William cooed at his mother, his small fist reaching to the air in a weak attempt to grab a lock of hair. “The resiliency of children.”
“The resiliency of man,” she answered. She directed her attention to the baby. “You are very much your father’s son, aren’t you?” She blew a raspberry into her son’s stomach as he giggled excitedly. “He should be fine and can feed in a few hours. Enough of that, little one. Sleep, huh?” She drew out a set of plastic keys from the recently purchased baby supplies. He grabbed the keys and shoved them in his mouth to chew on them. Scully kicked off her boots and sighed with relief. “Speaking of man. How is John?”
Monica nodded wordlessly. “I have not had a chance to speak to him or AD Skinner about his condition but I think he is going to be okay. I managed to say a few words to him before we left.”
“That’s very good news.” Scully removed the leather jacket she had leaned against the wall. “It’s not easy, is it?”
“What?” Scully smiled and nodded at her. Monica gave a bashful smile. “John and I already had a special relationship. Back when he was with the NYPD, I helped investigate the disappearance of his son. After the case, with his marriage on the rocks, he reached out and we began to talk.”
The two women let the light teasing between them become a distraction from the tense night they had faced. “Just talk?” Scully asked with a raised eyebrow.
“It wasn’t what you are thinking.”
“They used to say that about me and Mulder for years.” Scully checked her son again who was now just dozing off. “Whenever I visit the Hoover, I still hear the water cooler talk. Stuff happens in the basement office.”
“I guess the basement is famous for making couples,” Reyes chuckled. “So, since we have some time, Dana, why not a game of twenty questions?”
“Really? It’s close to three a.m and it’s still a bit early for that but I don’t think I could sleep.”
“Is that a yes?” Scully glared. “Fine, fine. It’s been a crazy few days. Did you pack any snacks by chance?”
She leaned forward and went through the bag they had hastily assembled with baby supplies and the bare essentials. “Um, I don’t think so.”
Reyes nodded. “I’ll go get us something from the dining car. Be back.”
Scully watched Reyes double-check her service weapon before disappearing out into the aisle of their room. She leaned against the wall of the lower bunk and watched William stretch in his sleep. Scully remembered how Mulder used to tease her about her supernatural ability to sleep anywhere and she could hear his voice now teasing that their son had inherited the same ability as well. God, she missed Mulder more than anything. Being a single mom, trying to protect William against the world and unnamed conspiracies, it was weighing on her. She still had the support of the Lone Gunmen, her mother, Monica, John, and Skinner but how much could she endure herself.
Scully was naturally a private person. She kept her cards close to her chest. She remembered Missy joking she would have made a great poker player. When she started working on the x-files, she found Mulder to constantly invading her space. As the years progressed, she welcomed it. When they decided to become serious two years prior, she could not imagine anything else. Now, more than anything, she wished he was here now. At least they could protect their son together but he was trying to do that by staying away.
Where was Mulder? Scully sometimes woke in the middle of the night feeling the ghost of his touch or thinking she heard his voice but William’s crying would come moments after. She tried to push away the memories of the alien artifacts, Mulder on the table, seeing what happened to him happen to their son. She remembered under the guise of cool sheets, sated with their lovemaking, the rain stoning his Alexandria apartment windows, how he whispered about that experience. She thought he was crazy but he mumbled things that no one else could know but she loved him. At that moment, she knew there was no else for her but him.
Now though, she had never felt more alone. Was she angry for Mulder leaving? At the time, she agreed reluctantly and now, she would do anything to have him here with her. Maybe then William would be safe. She glanced at her son. Or maybe he would be safer without her in his life. The thought crept into her mind like a snake before she quickly shushed such horrible thoughts.
The train click-clacked on the train tracks. William was already being rocked to sleep by the gentle swaying motion of the sleeping car. She adjusted his blanket and sighed. Anonymity. Maybe William would be spared if no one knew he was the child of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. She was startled out of her reverie when Reyes came back with a paper bag.
“Hey,” she smiled. “They didn’t have much but I got us some dinner. And a bit extra?”
“A bit extra? Sounds like trouble” Scully stretched and helped take the bag. “It smells good.”
“Yeah. And for William, since I know he starting to venture beyond the bottle, they had some baby food to purchase we can try. We got some soup and sandwiches with some tea. And for dessert…” Reyes produced a large bottle of cheap white wine. “Something for later.”
Scully chuckled. “You know how to make the best of things.”
“Well, after being stationed in New Orleans for so long, you learn a thing or two about partying and food solving problems.” They both balanced their soups and sandwiches in their laps, the ice teas settled between their feet to keep them from being spilled over. “I got you chicken noodles and chicken salad sandwich. They didn’t have much to offer in variety.”
“It’s perfect,” Scully sighed. She watched Reyes open her soup container and stir it with a plastic spoon. “Monica, I never properly thanked you.”
“Just…” Scully paused. “When I asked you to be William’s godmother, I did not make the decision lightly. I couldn’t imagine anyone else. You helped protect William when he was born, you came when I asked you...I couldn’t have kept him safe without you. I couldn’t have done anything without you. Thank you, Monica. I mean this from the bottom of my heart.”
“Anytime, Dana. You know that. Do you need any napkins?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
With a sleeping William in the corner of the bottom bunk, Scully and Reyes ate their simple dinner of soup and sandwiches in silence. William continued to sleep, the women disposed of their trash and unscrewed the bottle of warm wine and shared it over plastic cups. Perhaps it wasn’t the best of decisions to indulge in a bottle of wine but Reyes, Scully, and William were finally just faces in a crowd. They could just relax for a moment.
William continued to sleep as the two women let down their guard for a moment. Their weapons were close by. Their boots off. Scully lounged against the wall of the bottom bunk, occasionally glancing at William who was snoring soundly. Monica’s tall body was tangled in the single recliner. Half the bottle was gone.
“We should sleep,” Reyes sighed. She swirled around the warm wine in the plastic cup. “But then again, it’s only been three hours and the ride back to Washington is still another 20 hours, at least.”
“I think the ride is 20 to 30 hours. Or something like that,” Scully replied. “It’s still a long ride.”
“Can I ask you something, Dana?”
Scully was bone tired. William was sound asleep lulled by the swaying train car. The wine and the swaying car was not making things much better for her. Monica pushed off her boots with her feet and fell to the ground with a heavy clump. “The basement…” Reyes began, swishing her plastic wine cup, “things happen?”
“What do you mean?” She stretched to check William before lounging on her side. William was safe and protected behind her. The glass of wine was safe in her hand. “X-files?”
“No,” Reyes shook her head. “You said the basement does things. I heard the rumors when I came. About you and Mulder.”
“It is unintentionally a matchmaker.” Scully chuckled and played with William’s hair. “I got living proof.”
“Don’t use my godson in this, Dana,” she laughed.
Scully chuckled as well. “My son is no one’s bargaining chip unless he wants to be a pain in the ass and get an extra bottle. That’s Mulder’s fault then.”
Reyes sighed and observed Dana’s sadness “You miss him.”
“More than anything, Monica.” Scully sighed. “More than anything.”
“When did you know? You and Mulder?”
Scully smiled coyly. “It’s a long story. I told you we tried IVF before, right? Then maybe. Perhaps earlier but after the New Year and the prospect of a new millennium,” she smiled. “All it took was a kiss. Why your interest in the basement and the history of my relationship with Mulder?”
“You know I have this intuition.”
“Is it more than a party favor with numbers?”
Reyes laughed. “Me and John. Things are...different between us, Dana. We’ve…” She smiled and bit her lip. “Things have happened as well. Our friendship has taken on a more serious note.”
“You’ve kissed!” Scully laughed. She checked her son before smiling back at her friend. “The basement strikes again!”
“We were trying to grab the same file and we just sort of...collided.”
“Collided? Really? Lips and all? You expect me to believe that?”
“Shut up, Dana. I’m just very relieved John is all right.”
“As am I. Probably you more so.”
“Again,” Monica chuckled. “Shut up.”
Scully let the lightness linger before the bitter thoughts returned. “I wouldn’t have been able to save William if it weren’t for you tonight.”
“I wasn’t alone,” Reyes defended seeing her friend’s sorrowful face. “You have John, Skinner, the Lone Gunmen.”
“But I’m still a single mom,” Scully sighed, finishing the last of her wine. “Bill points it out quite regularly.”
“My eldest brother. I haven’t told you about him, have I?”
“Bill hates Mulder.” Scully made a face. “Hates him. I don’t know what mom does to pacify him but ever since Mulder went on the run, he likes to point out that, and I quote, ‘Baby daddy abandoned his son.’”
“Mulder cares about much more than that.” Reyes defended. “I’ve seen it.”
“I know, I know,” she acknowledged. “But we’ve exchanged emails but they are fewer and fewer. Monica, after tonight, I am at wit’s end. A mother's love can't stop everything. I can’t help but think that William would be safer away from me. Away from Mulder.”
“Dana, you’re drunk. Stop talking like that.”
“I haven’t had that much.” Scully lowered her voice. “What if it’s true though? Maybe God is punishing me? Maybe it’s all this has been a joke.” She stared at the floor. “What if William would be safer without me? Without the pressure or the attachments of me or Mulder as parents?”
“Dana, don’t say that.”
“What if it’s true?”
“I’m not going to let anything happen to William nor will anyone else. He has the best mother anyone can ask for. He has a father that loves him.” Scully’s withering gaze lingered on Reyes and she ignored it. “I won’t let anything ever happen to my godson and I will defend him until my last breath. John won’t. Skinner nor the Lone Gunmen will. Especially your mother. Your son is more blessed than anything in the world to have such a large family.”
“I guess,” she murmured.
Reyes sighed. “We’ll be ready next time. Nothing will happen to William.”
“Why does there have to be a next time?” Scully asked.
Her friend sighed and slipped on her boots. “Be back.”
Scully watched her friend leave and she downed the last of her wine. The gloomy thoughts were like a plague. She managed to keep them away for the past few months but they came like a tsunami. Scully didn’t know how much time passed when Monica came back with two open bottles of Shiner Bock. “Last round, promise. Dana, what is it?”
“The beer,” she replied, taking the open bottle. “Never mind.”
“Mulder and I...we were happy. The leather couch against the man. I think that was the night William was conceived. Mulder thinks the night he came back from Stonehenge.” She smiled and sipped the beer. “Sorry for not being good company.”
William snorted in his sleep. Scully checked on her son and chuckled softly. “What?” Reyes asked.
“He snores like Mulder.”
“Do you think Mulder will ever come back?”
“I will take that as the alcohol talking and not my friend,” Scully warned.
“Sorry.” Reyes held up her hands in defense. “I just…”
“I know,” Scully waved her off. “It’s just...I know I have you as his godmother, Skinner as the godfather, and my mom...the Gunmen...but it doesn’t feel like it’s enough, Monica. I can’t keep him safe.”
“Are you afraid of him?”
Are you afraid of him? Of him implied Scully was afraid of her son. Of course, she was nervous, especially after what she had seen and been through. Not mention Mulder. Both sides of the gene pool had something to contribute with alien genes. She knew how to handle that. That had been her life for the past eight years. Now, to be afraid for him? That changed the entire equation.
“Afraid of him,” Scully repeated. “No. Afraid for him. Very much so. Ever since he came into this world, William has only known danger and trouble.”
“And a mother’s constant love and more aunts and uncles than he could want.”
Scully watched William sleep soundly on the corner of her bed. “Maybe so.”
Monica lounged back as finished her beer. “Do you want to know what I think, Dana? We take our victory for the night. William is safe. We’re safe. Maybe we don’t stay cooped up on the train. It’s a two-day ride to Chicago. We can hop on a flight at O’Hare and be home then. Skinner can give you some time off. I don’t know. Get out of town. Go see your mother. Or your brothers.”
Scully raised her critical eyebrow.
“Okay, maybe not visit your brother in California but at least take some time off.”
“I’m not going to get an affirmative answer from you tonight, am I?”
“Well, I am not telling you no.”
Monica gathered up their trash and sighed. “You are stubborn as hell, Dana.”
“That I am.” Scully shifted uncomfortably. “Distract me. Tell me about this new blossoming relationship between you and John.”
“You are enjoying this, aren’t you?”
“It’s nice not to be the subject of the watercooler talk.”
“There’s nothing to tell. It just sort of happened. Why don’t you
Reyes shook her head and looked at her watch. “It’s late. Why don’t we both try to get some sleep?”
“Do we remember to purchase additional clothes?”
“I honestly don’t remember.” Reyes knelt in front of another duffle bag to dig through it. “Ah! Here we go.” A set of cheap cotton pajamas for Scully and a tank top and boxers for herself were produced. “I guess so. I’ll watch William first if you want to use the bathroom to change.”
Scully was too tired to argue and took the cheap Walmart pajamas and disappeared to change. A strange moment of deja vu came over her as she shut the lavatory door. Some memory with Mulder on some case where she had forgotten to pack her pajamas and he had run out to get her something that night. Maybe it was the same set? She cast the memory aside and finished changing. When she came out, Monica had already changed and was washing her face by the sink. “William is still out like a light,” she answered before Scully could say anything. “And I fixed the beds.”
Scully must have been very tired. William continued to sleep soundly on the bottom bed but a second smaller bed had folded out from the top and was already fixed with sheets. “Um, thanks.”
Reyes smiled. “I’m going to bed. I recommend the same.”
With that, she climbed into the upper bunk and Scully slid back into the bed with her sleeping son. Someone turned out the light and the cabin was enclosed in darkness. Scully checked her sleeping son one last time before rolling onto her stomach to look out the window. All she saw was the darkness of Montana plains, the full moon, and countless stars. She wondered if he was out there too, watching the same stars with her.
A muffled reply from above acknowledged her.
“Thank you for helping me get my son back.”
Reyes was more alert. “You’re welcome. Now get some sleep.” She yawned. “We still have a long ride back to D.C.”
Scully rolled back onto her side to watch her son sleep in the shadows. The adage it takes a village to raise a child echoed in her thoughts, temporarily banishing any insecurities that she had earlier, as she finally gave into rocking of the train car and fell asleep.