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Draw Down the Moon

Draw Down the Moon 13

“You ready yet, babe?” John called as he walked into the bedroom with William. “I dressed the munchkin . . .”

His voice trailed off as Dana stepped out of the bathroom, putting in an earring. “Did you put him in the green overalls? Oh, good,” she added when she saw he had. She took William from him and gave the baby a kiss. “I just need to get my shoes on and get the diaper bag together—is something wrong? Do I look all right?”

John put his hand on her cheek. She’d mentioned that she’d bought a new dress, but he hadn’t seen it outside of its protective plastic bag before now. It was a lace top with a silk skirt, the palest of pinks and clinging tightly to her body, to emphasize her full hips and breasts and tiny waist. The only jewelry she wore were two small hoop earrings, her cross and her wedding band. Her hair curled softly around her face, which was still aglow with satisfaction from their romp that afternoon. Her lips were full, her cheeks were rosy, her eyes were bright.

“What?” she said again, and pressed a palm to his hand. “You left a little stubble burn. Does it still show?”

“You look wonderful,” he said quietly, which made her smile. She took his hand from her face, still holding his fingers.

“And I love you like crazy, but don’t distract me. We should be there by seven.”

“D’you think if we give my folks the car keys and twenty bucks they’ll take William for a while tomorrow?”

Dana laughed and let go of his hand. “It’s worth a try,” she said as she walked away. Smoothly she bent to pick up her shoes, and carried them and the baby down to the nursery.

“Dana?” Hannah said as she came out of the guest room. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Will you hold him while I get the diaper bag together?” She offered the baby. Hannah took him and at once started cooing.

“Who’s my sweet boy? Look at that smile—are you happy to be going out tonight?”

John leaned against the doorway, watching them and smiling. His mother had seven grandchildren but she made no secret of wanting more. William certainly could fulfil any babylust she was currently feeling. He was in a good mood tonight, too, squealing and squirming, waving his fists and throwing back his head.

Meantime Scully was packing the diaper bag with diapers, bottles, a can of formula, a change of clothes, small toys, blankets, and books. Dana’s diaper bag was an enormous square-bottomed canvas bag that could be worn as a satchel or a backpack, and it could hold any amount of baby paraphernalia. If William was unhappy at any point tonight it would not be due to any lack of amusements or comforts.

Dana slipped on her shoes and slung the bag over one shoulder, tickled the baby’s chin and said to Hannah, “Would you like to take him to the car?”

“Absolutely.” She said to John, “Will you see if your father’s ready? He wasn’t happy with the clothes we brought for him.”

“I’ll have a look,” John said, and went down the hall to the guest room. His father sat on the bed, dressed but holding his shoes and frowning. “Are you all right, Dad?”

“I feel underdressed.”

“You look great. Do you want some help with your shoes?” He knelt at Samuel’s feet and took one shoe from his hands.

“Johnny,” Samuel said quietly. “I keep wanting to call the baby Luke.”

John continued tying his shoe for him and said, “Sometimes, so do I.”

“He’s a sweet baby. A good boy. And Dana is very pretty—but you should have had a proper wedding, Johnny.”

“We will, sooner or later.” He took the other shoe and put it on his father’s foot. “That’s what this party is for tonight, anyway.”

“Odd, how little he’s changed,” Samuel said, then frowned when John looked up at him. “No, that’s not right. He’s not a little boy anymore.”

“Luke has been dead almost nine years, Dad,” John said gently. His father had suffered a stroke three years before, and though physically he’d recovered almost fully, mentally there still were lapses. “The baby’s name is William. Dana’s son William.”

Samuel nodded absently and looked down at his shoes. “Ah. We must be ready to go.”

“Yeah. We’re ready.” John helped Samuel stand, and let him hold his elbow as they headed to the stairs.

***

The circular drive in front of the Kershes’ house was already filled with cars when John brought the car to a stop. “We’re late.”

“It’s all right with me if they started without us,” Dana remarked as she started unbuckling William from the car seat. John chuckled and got out, opened the door for his mother and helped his father out of the car. Samuel took Hannah’s arm to walk up the drive, and John took William as soon as Dana had him unharnessed. The baby held himself straight and looked around as they walked, his eyes wide with wonder and his hands clinging to John’s tie.

Dana said quietly, “I have a confession to make. I’m a little nervous.”

“There’s no need. You know that.”

“Lisa’s so . . . poised. I don’t feel poised.”

“You are, babe.”

“I used to be,” she muttered. “I’m out of practice.”

“Babe,” he said gently and stopped walking. “If you’re uncomfortable, we’ll leave. I mean it. It’s okay.”

“I want you to have fun with your friends,” she said, looking uncomfortable already. “And help me keep track of Will, okay? I don’t want him to get passed to complete strangers.”

“I’ll keep him close,” he said. He bent to kiss her, and William reached for her too and grabbed hold of a lock of her hair.

“Ow,” Dana said and worked his fingers loose. “That hurts, little man. Let go of Mommy’s hair. There we go.” William laid his head on John’s shoulder and started sucking on his fingers. Dana smiled and stroked his head. “Be nice to Daddy’s friends, okay?”

“Our friends,” John said with a sigh, because they’d been having this conversation all month. “Come on. Let’s go say hello.”

The garden gate was open, and small lights in the trellis led them to the large back yard, where the party was already underway. The band was playing “Moonlight Serenade,” wait staff circulated bearing trays filled with champagne flutes, and the Kersh daughters were leading a small gaggle of children into the garden proper at a run. William started at the sight and sound of so many other children and hid his face in John’s neck. Dana took a deep breath.

Lisa Kersh broke off from a group near the buffet table and came to greet them. “Dana, Johnny,” she said warmly. She hugged Dana and shook John’s hand. “This must be William.”

“He’s a little shy,” Dana said.

“That’s understandable—sometimes these get-togethers make me want to just hide in a corner too.” She smiled and patted William’s back lightly. “Dana, your mother’s already arrived, if you want to say hello to her.”

“Oh, has she? Wonderful.”

“She’s over . . .” She waved her hand towards one side of the garden vaguely. “I’ve lost track of everyone. She was talking to Walter Skinner, last I saw.”

“Lisa, this is my mom and dad, Samuel and Hannah Doggett,” John said, and she shook their hands too. John thought Dana’s word, “poised,” described her very well She was tall and round, with mocha skin and hair she let curl as it wished. Tonight she wore chunky amber jewelry and a black dress, making John think of an elegant lotus next to Dana’s petite rosebud.

“Well, come in, have some hors d’oeuvres,” she said, drawing them further into the yard. “We’ll eat in about half an hour. Dana, will you come with me? There are some people I’d like you to meet.”

Dana threw a nervous glance to John, but he only took the diaper bag and kissed
her cheek. “You’ll be fine,” he whispered into her ear, and she nodded and followed Lisa towards another cluster of guests.

“We should find you a comfortable place to sit,” John said to his parents. “Would you like to meet Dana’s mother?”

***

The evening, John thought, was showing all signs of being a success. He saw Dana actually laughing more than once as they moved among the guests, and when they met up with each other she said nothing about wanting to leave. People admired William and congratulated them on their marriage, with no snide remarks about Mulder or the X-Files. Dinner was delicious, light summer fare with more champagne.

When the dessert course had been served Alvin Kersh began to tap his glass with his knife and got to his feet. “Friends and family, I would like to welcome you all to our home tonight. As you all are aware, we’re honoring the elopement,” he paused to smile, several people laughed, and Dana lowered her head to hide her blush, “or, I should say, marriage, of our friends John Doggett and Dana Scully. Will you all join me in toasting the future of Mr. and Mrs. John Doggett.”

Glasses raised and everyone echoed the wish: “To John and Dana.” Someone began to tap his glass and in moments many others joined in, so John leaned over and kissed Dana gently. She cupped his cheek in her hand. “This is so embarrassing,” she whispered under the applause. “I feel like we’re on display.”

“We are on display, babe. It’ll be over soon.” He kissed her again and got to his feet, and she looked up at him with surprise.

“Everyone, thanks. Thank you so much for coming and wishing us well. We’ve been married six weeks as of today—” He had to stop while the Lone Gunmen began to whoop, and he grinned at them. “And it’s been very nice. Very wonderful, in fact.” He smiled down at Dana. She smiled back and touched his hand.

“Many of you know we had a very brief engagement—a little over twenty hours, in fact—and Dana’s missing something every bride should have.”

“John,” she said. “You didn’t.”

“I didn’t think it was proper to give you a dog tonight,” he said as he got down on one knee. Dana gasped and covered her mouth with her hands when he took the box out of his jacket pocket. He opened the box and showed her the ring within. People began to whistle and clap. “Dana . . . will you marry me?”

Her eyes widened at him over her hand, but finally she lowered it and said, “Yes. Always. I love you.”

“I love you too,” he said as he put the ring on her hand, above her wedding band. It was a gold ring, to match their bands, with three diamonds. It was beautiful on her hand.

He kissed her and she wrapped her arm around his shoulder and hid her face in his neck a moment. “You,” she began, but just kissed him instead of finishing.

“Me,” John said and kissed her back. “Love you.”

“Love you,” she whispered. “Love you so much. You made me believe again, baby.”

He pressed his lips to her forehead, deeply moved by those words. Funny that a skeptic could renew the faith of a believer, but far stranger things had happened to him since they’d met.

***

Once dinner was over the band struck up again, and John danced with Dana to a slow, sweet version of “The Way You Look Tonight” After they had danced for a while, Dana went to relieve her mother of William, and John wandered around with a glass of champagne.

Monica ambled up and pressed her elbow against his arm. “Hey, stranger.”

“Hey. Are you having a good time?”

“Yes, though Dana’s friend Ringo keeps trying to chat me up. It’s okay, though—he’s going to lend me his Vandals album.”

“Nice of him,” John said, wondering who the Vandals were.

“You look a little antsy. Where’s Dana?”

“Getting the baby. If he’s out of her arms for more than five minutes she starts to worry.”

“Imagine that,” Monica murmured, taking a drink of champagne.

Skinner joined them as well, with a quiet, “Agents,” as he sipped his champagne.

“Hello, sir.”

“Have you danced tonight, sir?” Monica said, and Skinner looked at her, puzzled.

“Should I?” he said and sipped his champagne again. “I heard from Sheriff Harris about the Wilkes case yesterday. She’ll need the two of you to give depositions in a few weeks.”

“We left statements,” said John.

“There are some things that are still unclear, that the court needs you to clarify,” said Skinner. “She said it was mainly some things you said to Wilkes, John.”

“Oh,” John said, and started looking around for Dana.

“I’ve been wondering that myself,” Monica said. “We hadn’t even uncovered her completely but you still knew that her hands were tied behind her back—and how did you know all those details about their relationship? I’ve been dying to know and you haven’t said a thing about it.”

“Let’s not talk shop,” John said. “It’s a party.”

“But what are you going to tell them?” Skinner asked, letting his curiosity show. “How did you know, John?”

Oh, hell, he thought, taking a gulp of champagne. He said, “Ghosts.”

Monica visibly started, blinking at him. “Ghosts?” Skinner chuckled uncomfortably.

“Sure. Ghosts told me. Amy’s ghost, specifically. How else would I know all that? I didn’t know either of them before we arrived, I only know because she told me.”

Skinner said, “You’re serious,” looking at him as if he were seeing someone other than John Doggett.

“Yeah. It’s the truth. I only knew where to find her because I saw her ghost. And . . . and Luke’s ghost. Luke was there.” He took another gulp of champagne.

“John,” Monica breathed, “do you realize what this means? You believe.” She started smiling at him like he’d given her mathematical proof of the existence of God. “You’re a believer now, John.”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” he said, and felt a touch on his arm. He looked over to see Dana clutching the baby, her face pale and her eyes starting to swim.

“I want to go home,” she said in a firm and quiet voice. “I want to go home right now.”

“Dana—babe—has something happened?” He set down his champagne flute on the nearest table and put his hands on her shoulders. “Did somebody say something to you?”

Dana began to breathe more quickly and her lips thinned. “Yes. Someone said something and I want to go home.”

“What? Who? What did they say?”

“I want to leave, John,” she said again.

“All right, all right, we’ll go,” he said, caressing her cheek.

She flinched away and he dropped his hand. “Do you want to say goodbye to anyone?”

“No. Where are your parents?”

“They were dancing a minute ago. Dana, what is it?” He started to take William but she only held the baby to her tighter and walked rapidly away from him, towards the gate. He looked helplessly at Monica and Skinner, wanting to apologize, but Monica shooed him on and he hurried to find his parents and follow his wife.

Samuel and Hannah didn’t notice anything amiss in the car, talking instead about the food and the people they’d met and how beautiful the Kershes’ house was. Again Dana sat in the back seat with the baby, and said little. Said nothing, John realized when he parked the car. Said nothing as she took William out of the baby seat, said nothing as she nursed him and got him ready for bed, said nothing as they listened to his parents talk in the family room. Didn’t even smile when Hannah told stories of John’s childhood.

And, he noticed too, she had taken off the engagement ring.

They weren’t alone until it was time for bed, and then too she was silent. She changed her clothes and washed her face, cleaned her teeth and sat on the edge of the bed to brush her hair, like usual.

John got ready for bed as well and lay down, picked up one of the books on his nightstand and opened it at his bookmark. The brush made a shirring sound through her hair. He loved brushing her hair.

The words blurred before his eyes and he set the book back down.

“So are you going to keep
up this silent treatment or are you going to tell me what happened at the party? Because if anybody said anything to upset you I’ll break their kneecaps myself.”

Dana stopped brushing and slowly placed the brush on the nightstand. She said evenly, without turning around, “You trust Monica more than you trust me.”

John stared at her silk-clad back and tried to think of something to say.

“I have to wonder what else you’re telling her that you’re keeping from me.” She took a deep breath. “I admit I’ve been keeping things from you too, but it was to protect you. Not to keep from embarrassing myself.”

“Dana,” he began, but she went on in that soft, relentless voice.

“There are ghosts in this house, John, and you knew it. Yet you let me go on thinking that if I believed, there must be something wrong with me. So I haven’t told you about everyone that’s here, everyone that I’ve seen. And I do see them. I hear them. I even smell them sometimes.”

“Dana, please—”

“Emily likes to make rooms smell like honey. It makes her happy. And Luke plays with William—I’m sure you’ve noticed him laughing when no one’s there. And Mulder watches the baby sleep.”

“Dana, they’re all dead.”

“And Luke told you where to find the body of Amy Wilkes.”

He moved closer to her and put his hand on her back. “Dana,” he said, “I had a dream. It was just a dream.”

“But you believed it. Have you ever believed a dream before, John?”

He closed his eyes. “Yes.”

She turned at last. “When?”

“A few weeks ago, I had a dream about Luke where he told me we have to protect William.”

“You knew that already.” Her brows furrowed.

“It’s more than we thought.”

She shook her head as if in disbelief. “You knew of another threat to my son and you didn’t tell me?”

He laid his hand against her cheek. “Baby, I—”

“And don’t you tell me it was to protect me. I can’t be any more afraid than I already am. You couldn’t tell me because you couldn’t admit it.” Her voice was beginning to tremble and a tear escaped one eye, which he wiped away absently with his thumb. “I believed in you. I trusted you. I thought you would always tell me the truth. I thought you were the only person who would never lie to me. How can I believe anything you say now, if you’d hide something so important from me to protect your pride?”

“Dana, it’s not about pride or love or truth—”

“How can I love you when I can’t trust you?”

John removed his hand from her face, too shaken to answer. He picked up her hand. “Where’s the ring?”

“I took it off.”

“I can see that. Why?”

“Because it felt like a lie.”

“Dana.” He kissed her shaking hand. “It’s not a lie.”

“I don’t know what to believe.”

He looked down at their hands. “How could I tell you this? Would you even believe me?”

“Yes! Yes, I would! I thought you’d never lie to me.”

“You kept things from me too.”

“And I hated it! I wanted to confide in you but I hated seeing that look on your face, like I’m going crazy.”

“Baby, I never thought that, not for a second. I worried, I was afraid for you, but I never thought it was because you were hallucinating. Never. I just didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know what I was seeing either. I was—I’ve been having dreams unlike any I’ve had before and I don’t know what to make of them. I believe them because they feel so true. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. I didn’t know how.”

Dana studied him, closed her eyes and sighed. “I’m tired and I want to go to sleep. Can we talk about this tomorrow?”

“I’m not sure what more there is to say.”

She leaned her forehead against his shoulder. “I don’t know either.”

John pulled himself and Dana back to the headboard so he could lean against the pillows, and he held her loosely between his legs. “Do you believe me when I say I love you?” he whispered.

She sniffled for a few minutes before she answered him. “Yes.”

“Do you want to put the ring back on?”

She nodded. “It’s in the bathroom.”

“I’ll get it.” He kissed the top of her head and went into the bathroom for her ring. It had been carefully placed in the unused soap dish. He slipped it over the end of his thumb. He came back to bed and took Dana’s hand to place the ring back on her finger. “It’s called a Now and Forever ring,” he said. “It’s what’s in my heart, Dana.”

She studied him, hesitated, and kissed him. “I know,” she whispered. “We’ll talk tomorrow.” She turned off the light and lay down, not touching him.

John lay down too and touched the sleeve of her pajama top. He held the fold tightly between his fingers and closed his eyes.

When John awoke in the morning, Dana was not in bed beside him. She was not in William’s room, in the guest room, or any of the rooms downstairs. She was not in the garden, and both the cars were still parked in the drive. None of her shoes were missing from the closet.

She was gone.

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