Draw Down the Moon 17
The baby was unharmed, only badly frightened. He cried while an EMT examined him, during the ambulance ride, in the emergency room—he finally only calmed down when John took him out of the carrier and held him, whispering to him and stroking his head. Even then, William snuffled against John’s shirt and watched the movement around him with wide eyes.
There was blood on John’s shirt, and at first the medical staff thought it was his own or William’s. Some of it was his—John had several small cuts on his head, though none were deep enough to require stitches—but more of it was Dana’s.
When a nurse came to attend him she offered to have someone take William to Pediatrics. “Thanks, but no,” John said, his arms tightening around the boy. “He’ll just get more upset. Any news of my wife?”
“They’re still working,” the nurse said gently. “I checked for you.” She began to clean his cuts, and in his arms William sighed against his chest. “He’s very sweet—what’s his name again?”
“He’s William.” He was shielding William’s eyes from the bright ER lights, and at the sound of his name the baby tilted back his head and gave a soft, sad coo.
“He has your eyes,” the nurse observed.
John chuckled dryly, then winced as she began to dab his cuts with rubbing alcohol. “He has his mother’s eyes.” He could feel William’s heart beating, his strong supple spine and the heat generated by his small body.
*It may just be you and me, buddy.* The thought made his heart ache.
The curtain separating them from the rest of the emergency room opened and another doctor looked in. “John Doggett?” he said. “Dana Doggett’s husband?”
“How is she? Is she all right?”
The doctor came in and shut the curtains. “I’m Dr. Crowton, your wife’s doctor. I have some things for you.” He placed a handful of jewelry in John’s palm.
John looked into his hand—it was Dana’s cross, her earrings, her wedding and engagement rings. He slipped them into his jeans pocket.
Dr. Crowton said in a voice meant to reassure, “I wanted to let you know her status. We’ve given her a transfusion for the blood loss and we’re working on stabilizing her fever. We are also now putting in stitches to the cuts in her wrists. You did a great job of preventing further blood loss before the EMTs got there, Mr. Doggett.”
“Cop training,” John murmured and bent his head to take comfort in William’s baby-sour scent.
“Oh, you’re a police officer?”
“Your wife is going to be fine, Mr. Doggett,” Dr. Crowton said. “I would strongly recommend psychiatric counseling once she’s strong enough, though. This was a very violent suicide attempt, which is unusual enough for a woman—”
“Suicide?” John said, raising his head. “Is that what she told you?”
“Is it not the truth?” Dr. Crowton said, and beside him the nurse had gone very still.
“I don’t—I’m not entirely sure what happened.”
“He has a minor concussion,” the nurse said softly. “He was hit in the head with a table lamp.”
The doctor’s expression grew even more concerned. “Mr. Doggett, has your wife been acting strangely since the baby’s birth? Sleeping a lot, uninterested in her normal pursuits, not as affectionate to the baby as you might expect?”
“She’s been fine. I mean—it’s complicated. William’s biological father died while she was expecting. She was grieving for a long time—and then there were a few attempts to kidnap William, which didn’t help matters—but since she and I got married she’s seemed okay. We were happy.”
The doctor nodded, frowning. “I see.”
“She could tell me everything,” John began, then stopped. It wasn’t true: she hadn’t told him everything, any more than he had told her.
The doctor looked like he wanted to say more, but said only, “I have to go. We’ll be on the third floor, room 349. There’s a waiting room just down the hall. And we’ll let you see her as soon as we can.”
Dr. Crowton nodded and left. The nurse took a deep breath and continued bandaging John’s face. “I think a social worker is going to want to talk to you,” she said quietly.
“I’m sure you’re right.”
“I’m sorry about what I said before, about his eyes. He does look like you, I thought . . .”
“It’s okay. It happens all the time.”
She pressed the last bit of tape against his skin. “There will be a doctor in here soon to sign you out, and then there will be some more paperwork for your wife. I’ll try to get you up to her room as soon as possible.”
The nurse started to leave, then said, “It’s not just in his eyes. I can see how much you love him.”
Again William sighed against John’s chest, his eyelids finally drooping with sleep. John looked up at the nurse and said simply, “I’m his dad.”
The nurse gave a trembling smile and pulled aside the curtains to leave.
Alone again, John leaned back against the slightly-raised pillow. He made sure William was comfortable enough to sleep, and slowly rubbed the baby’s back with his fingertips. He closed his eyes.
Skinner and Monica arrived at the hospital together. Monica kissed John’s cheek and said, “How is she?” as William leaned out of John’s arms to be held. She took the baby and kissed him too.
“I haven’t been told much.” John sank into one of the plastic-covered chairs and realized his hands were shaking. He clenched them against his knees. “She’s got a fever of 108.”
“Oh my God,” Skinner said, sitting in the chair beside him. “I didn’t know that was possible.”
“It is possible,” John said. “And they won’t let me see her until they’ve brought it down.” Monica was standing in front of him, the baby on her hip, and he reached up to put his finger in William’s chubby fist.
“She’s going to be fine, John,” Monica said. “She’s going to be okay.”
“Yeah,” said John, rubbing his thumb over William’s dimpled knuckles. The baby tried to bring his finger up to his mouth and John let him gum it for a while. “I called her mother. She yelled at me for about ten minutes and then said she was on her way.”
“She yelled at you?”
“Yeah.” William decided he was tired of being held by Monica and leaned out of her arms towards John, who took him back. “And he slept a little and one of the nurses found us some formula and a bottle, but I can’t keep him here forever. We’ll run out of clean diapers. He should sleep in his own bed.”
“We—I could take him home,” Monica offered. “I know where everything is.”
John smiled at her wearily. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know if I can . . . without her.” He closed his eyes. His body felt too heavy to hold up any longer.
Monica sat in the other chair and murmured, “Walter, will you take the baby?”
“Of course.” At once William was gone from John’s lap. Monica leaned close to John and brought his head to her shoulder.
“You won’t have to,” she said in her most comforting tone. “You won’t have to do anything without her. She’s going to be fine. She’s going to come home. Everything’s going to be fine.”
John inhaled and exhaled deeply. He was grateful to Monica for this, but only one thing could really soothe the ache in his heart.
He fell asleep in the chair, his head resting on his hand, and was suddenly awakened by a hard slap across his face. His head exploded with pain and his eyes snapped open. Th
e world swam into focus, for him to see Mrs. Scully glaring at him with eyes like steel.
“What have you done to my daughter?” she demanded. “What have you done?”
“William is coming home with me. You’re not capable of taking care of him.”
“You can’t do that. I’m capable—more than capable—of taking care of him and he’s too upset already for one more change in his life.”
“I am not leaving my grandson alone with you!”
A nurse approached them at this point. “Ma’am, this is a hospital. You must keep your voice down.”
Mrs. Scully said between clenched teeth, “My daughter tried to kill herself today because of him.” She accused John, “You’re supposed to take care of her. You’re supposed to look after her. You’re supposed to protect her. You’re supposed to—” She stopped, her eyes glistening, and said again in her hard voice, “I will never forgive you for this.” She turned and stalked away, towards the elevators from where she had come.
John put his hand to his forehead and nearly fell back into the chair. He ached everywhere—the pain of the concussion and need for Dana and worry for all of them, and, worst of all, suspicion that Mrs. Scully was right.
Monica and Skinner, along with the baby and his diaper bag, were nowhere to be seen, though John supposed they were seeking out a place to change the baby’s diaper or get a cup of coffee.
He reached into his pocket and took out her rings and necklace. He slipped her wedding band onto his smallest finger.
He wanted Dana to pull him into her arms and scrub her hand through his hair. He wanted her voice, her fingers, her hip against his, her chuckle, her toes drawing up his leg, the look in her eyes that said You mean everything to me.
*What’s happening to you, baby?* he thought, and leaned his head on his hand with a slight groan.
A nurse approached him. “Mr. Doggett? Your wife is asking for you.”
John got to his feet at once and followed her to Dana’s room. The nurse opened the door for him but did not go in. “She’s still very weak, so try not to overtire her.”
“Okay,” he murmured and went to Dana’s bedside.
Her eyes were closed. Her face looked even more drawn and pale, the bruise around her eye more dark. Her bandaged wrists were drawn up to her chest, her fists clenched even though she was supposed to be relaxed and resting. He touched her cheek, and he could still feel heat baking her body.
Dana turned her head towards him at his touch. “Hey,” she murmured, her eyes opening a fraction.
“Hey.” He pulled over a chair and sat close so he could continue stroking her cheek.
“How is William?” she whispered. “Is he hurt?”
“Monica and Walter Skinner are watching him. He’s fine.”
“And you?” She turned her head to press a kiss to his fingertips. “Are you okay?”
“Your eyes are red.”
“They get that way sometimes.”
Dana smiled as much as she could, but it faded fast. “My rings are gone.”
“I’ve got them, honey. Your doctor gave them to me.” He took the rings from his pocket and showed her. “See? Your cross, too.”
“I was afraid I’d lost them. Hang onto them, okay?”
“I will. You’ll get them back the day you come home.” He put the rings away and went back to stroking her cheek. “And that’ll be soon. As soon as you’re better.”
“I don’t know if I’m going to get better, John.”
“Of course you are, honey. They haven’t told me what this is but they know how to treat it—”
“They don’t. I heard them. They don’t know what’s wrong with me.” She took a long breath. “John. I want you to talk to Chuck. Ask him if he’s heard of anything like this.”
“Chuck Burks, the ghost hunter?”
She nodded, wincing. “And Byers. Talk to Byers. And there might be something in the files, but I don’t remember anything . . .”
“Burks and Byers, they’re not doctors.”
“We need what they know.”
“Okay, okay. What should I tell them? You’ve got a fever, you’re hallucinating—”
She shook her head. “Not hallucinating. John. There’s something—someone—inside me. I can feel it. It’s like an infection. He’s trying to find a place he can burrow in. And John . . . he knows you very, very well.”
John leaned closer as her voice grew fainter, his face creasing with worry. “I don’t understand. Who is it—what is it?”
She lifted her hand to his cheek. “You feel this heat? This is how much he hates you.”
“Why? What did I do? Who is it?”
She smiled again and let her hand fall to her chest. “That’s the secret now, isn’t it.” Her eyes closed and her head tilted back, and she said in that terrible cold voice, “The child is mine.”
John watched her, breathing quickly through his open mouth, afraid to say a word.
“He has always been mine and he will always be mine. He is mine to claim, mine to do with as I please.”
He couldn’t help himself: “Why? Why do you want him?”
“In your heart,” the not-Dana said, “you know what he is. You know what he’ll be. I can’t let that happen. I won’t let you stop me.”
She inhaled a gasping breath and before he could help her sit up her eyes rolled back in her head and she started convulsing.
John whipped his belt from his jeans and folded it, and forced it between her teeth. “Bite! Bite, Dana!”
The door to the room slammed open and a nurse ran in. “She’s seizing,” John told her, and she nodded, reaching over Dana to help him hold her down. The door slammed open again and more nurses came in with a doctor as well, with a crash cart and other supplies he didn’t recognize. In the noise and confusion he was pushed out of the way, and backed up to the wall while he watched them work over her.
One of the nurses finally noticed him and came to tell him, “This may be a while, why don’t you wait outside.”
“But I—okay,” he gave in at the nurse’s look. “Okay. I’ll be right outside. She might ask for me,” he added as the door shut. He whispered to the closed door, “She might . . . need me.”
He could see them through the small window in the door, trying to stop the seizure, and Dana’s small body still thrashing. He felt cold down to his bones.