Draw Down the Moon 21: Epilogue
It was late when they arrived at the cabin: John did not remember the way as clearly as he had thought, particularly with the heavy rain that followed them from South Carolina. Finally around ten he called his parents, checked which turn-off to take from the rural route, and got them to the cabin at ten-thirty.
They brought the children inside first, Jacob placid and sleepy in his car seat, William chafing against the straps and whining to be let out. “I’ll bring everything inside,” John said, so Dana unstrapped William and let him run around the ground floor while she started unpacking. The cabin smelled of orange oil, the wood glowing and the kitchen so clean it sparkled.
“Your mother said she’d clean up but I didn’t expect this,” Dana remarked while John carried the portable crib up to the loft.
“She’s thorough,” he said with a grin, and stopped for a kiss before going out into the rain again.
She put their groceries into the fridge and cupboard, as well as William’s plastic plates and spoons. “Dink, dink,” William said when he saw his cup, so Dana poured some milk into a sipping cup and screwed the lid on tight.
“Stay in the kitchen,” she told him, because he had a tendency to wander while he ate and get crumbs everywhere. He nodded solemnly and sat with a thump on the floor to drink. He offered the cup to Jacob, who just yawned and rubbed his eyes.
“Baby sleepy,” William observed.
“Mommy sleepy too,” Dana answered. “Should we just unpack everything else tomorrow? What are you going to need, do you think?” William looked at her with wide eyes over his cup, and she smiled, bent and ruffled his hair. “Where’s Teddy? Did you leave him in the car?”
“Yis,” he said, and John came in with the last armful which included a damp teddy bear. “Teddy!”
“Here’s your bud,” John said, shifting the cooler, bag of toys and blankets to one arm so he could drop the bear in William’s lap. William let his cup fall to the side and grabbed the bear, giggling. “That’s everything, I think,” John said to Dana as she righted the cup.
“If it’s not, it’ll wait until the morning.”
John put everything down by the sofa and sank into it, sighing and stretching out his legs. William stood and went to him, climbed into his lap with the bear and plopped at John’s side with the same loud sigh. This made John laugh, and he picked William up to hold him in his lap. “Aren’t you sleepy yet, Willie boy?”
“Yis,” said William. “No. No no no.”
“Here,” Dana said, handing John William’s cup. “Will you see if you can get him to drink the rest of this? I need to nurse Jacob.”
“Sure thing. Drink up, Will.” He held the cup for William like a bottle and the boy relaxed against his chest, clutching his bear and drinking his milk with contentment. Dana took Jacob from his car seat and unbuttoned her shirt, and curled up at the other end of the sofa to nurse him.
William stopped drinking long enough to say, “Baby dink.”
John chuckled. His eyes were closed. “Baby dink, brother dink, mommy dink and daddy dink. It’s the Dink family.”
Dana laughed too, making Jacob squeak. “Here, honey,” she murmured, guiding her nipple back into his mouth. She leaned her head against the back of the sofa, stroking the baby’s fine dark hair, and closed her eyes too.
“Did we bring enough stuff to keep them amused if this rain keeps up?” John murmured.
“You know Will’s happy with a cardboard box most of the time. We’ve got enough.”
“Wain wain . . .” William murmured, his eyelids finally starting to droop. John looked at his face and put the cup aside.
“Do you want him in the crib or the trundle bed?” he murmured.
“Will he be okay in the trundle bed?”
“Yes—it’s about an inch off the floor and it’s got a little railing all the way around.”
“The beds still need to be made up,” Dana said apologetically.
“I’ll do it.” He laid William on the sofa, stayed a moment to rub William’s stomach when he whimpered, and went up to the loft.
“Thank you, perfect husband,” Dana said, making John laugh again.
She listened to the rain with her eyes closed while Jacob nursed and William began to snore. The sound of rain always soothed her. Rainy nights were quiet nights, intimate nights, when one could enjoy shelter and companionship. As late as it was, she hoped they’d have enough time to talk a bit, just the two of them, before they went to bed.
They had talked about it before, of course. Obliquely sometimes, because neither of them really knew how to refer to what had happened. “That night” was a good enough name. But the concerns of ordinary life had caused them both to bring it up less and less, until sometimes Dana thought the only thing that proved it had not all been a dream were the white scars on her wrists.
She’d taken to wearing watches and cuff-style bracelets to hide them. Answering people’s questions or, worse, meeting their pitying gazes was too much. No one would believe her if she said the truth, “I did this to save my son.” But here, away from everyone but her most beloved, she rolled up her sleeves and took off her watch.
The orderly whose clothes she’d stolen had decided not to press charges—too embarrassed, John said, to admit being taken down by a woman. Afterwards she’d submitted to counseling and psychological tests, and tried over and over to explain it wasn’t a suicide attempt, she really was very happy. No one knew what to make of her: after the incident she was glowing with health and joy, absorbed in tending her babies, and not an example of despair.
Finally the court-appointed psychologist closed her file and said, “Go home. You’re fine. Have a good life.”
So she did. And she was.
John put William to bed while she was still nursing Jacob, and lit a fire in the fireplace while she put the baby to bed too. The tiny cabin only had one bedroom: a long loft that ran the length of one wall, with a small bathroom at one end. As boys, John had told her, they’d slept in bunkbeds on the ground floor with his parents in the loft and his youngest brother in the trundle bed. She liked that cozy arrangement, and checked on William in the trundle bed on the way to putting Jacob in the crib.
Her OB/GYN had worried the seizures and fever she’d experienced had damaged the fetus, but the tests revealed a healthy, living child. William had been born in an abandoned spa town with Monica and a roomful of strangers in attendance, but Jacob was born in a hospital with John counting seconds between contractions and kissing her when they laid the messy, screaming baby in her arms. They almost named him Samuel, but Dana felt strange about having a Sam in the family and chose the name of John’s grandfather instead. Jacob John Doggett was very much his father’s son: he had John’s piercing eyes and slender frame, the same stubborn nature and obstinate brows. He fascinated William: many times Dana found William peering at him through the crib bars, babbling to him, pulling the baby’s toes or patting his cheeks if Jacob’s face was close enough. John called him bugaboo and J.J., and would say to William when he held them both in his arms, “He’s your little friend, isn’t he, Willie boy?”
She loved her guys. She couldn’t imagine a day without them.
Babies in bed, peaceful for the time being, Dana descended the stairs and joined John on the sofa. He’d turned out most of the lights, and when she pressed herself against him he put his arm around her and pulled her close. He kissed her head.
“Listen to that come down,” he murmured.
“If it clears by dawn it’s going to be beautiful tomorrow.”
” He kissed her again. “And if it doesn’t, we’ll have cocoa and popcorn and play board games.”
Dana chuckled and turned her face up to kiss him. She laid her head on his shoulder again. He rubbed her back and said, after a while, “Do you ever wonder . . . why?”
“Why they came back. Why it’s so important that we both raise William. Why William is special enough to save that way. I mean, children . . . things happen to children every day.”
“Yes, they do,” Dana said quietly. “And I’ve known from the beginning that the threats against William came for a reason. I don’t want to know that reason, though. Not yet. Maybe not ever.”
John made a thoughtful noise. Dana closed her eyes, listening to his heart beat, the fire crackle and the rain fall. He said, “Do you miss Mulder?”
“Yes.” There was no point in lying about it.
“Are you still in love with him?” he said even more quietly.
“John,” she said, surprised by the question. She sat up and turned to face him. He had that look he sometimes got, the look that said he was trying to open up and had no idea how to go about it.
He said, “I have no illusions, Dana. That whole thing made me realize how far he’d go for you. And I—I . . . don’t know if I could.”
“Oh, sweetheart,” she said and kissed him. “You’ve done something for me that no one has ever done. You’ve changed since that night. It’s not just coming to church with me. You’ve changed what you believe.” She kissed him and put her arms around his neck. “Do you have any idea how great a gift that is?”
He didn’t say anything for a moment, then pulled her to him and fiercely kissed her. She opened her lips to his tongue and moved into his lap, her fingers in his hair. “I love you,” she whispered when his mouth moved from hers to kiss her face. “You do know that.”
“Yeah,” he murmured. His tongue traced the curling lines of her ear and she shivered with pleasure. “I know.” He kissed her neck. “I love you too, babe, I just . . . sometimes . . . I feel like if I step the wrong way or think the wrong thing you’re going to be snatched away from me.”
“Oh, no,” she said, “no, never.” She kissed him. “I don’t know what’s coming, but I know I can face it if you’re with me.” She took his hand and wove her fingers between his. “Family, John. That’s where love lives.”
His eyes grew damp and he smiled at her ruefully. “You always do this to me, girl.”
She smiled too. “I know. I like it when you get emotional.”
John chuckled and shook his head, took her face in his hands and kissed her again. She could feel his pulse rising but he was still holding himself in check. She smiled against his mouth and moved onto her knees, to press her hips against his and kiss him more deeply.
“Mm ” John murmured and stopped kissing her. “The kids?”
“Sleeping,” she reminded him, and he grinned and pulled her in for a kiss again.
Shoes. Her shirt, his shirt. An unbuttoned fly, a warm hand sliding down a trembling stomach. His mouth tenderly exploring the upper curves of her breasts, then the lower once he’d removed her bra. Her mouth and fingers on his chest and shoulders. Her jeans and panties, her hips squirming against the sofa cushions as he kissed her thighs, sucked her labia and caressed her clit with his tongue until she had to stifle her cries with her hands. His jeans and boxers hastily pushed out of the way, his body between her legs, both of them moaning as he slid inside her. And all the while kissing, kissing, kissing.
When the last spasm had passed and they lay quietly on the scratchy sofa, his head on her breasts and her fingers moving slowly through his hair, Dana let her eyes close and the sounds of the night surround her. Rain, fire, breathing, baby murmurs. Her body was warm and content, loved down to her bones.
Eventually they moved upstairs. John opened the far window a crack so the fresh rainy air could soothe them. Dana laid an extra blanket over Will, made sure Jacob was warm enough in his sleeper, and crawled beside John between the crisp sheets. He held her and kissed her, and she rested her head on his chest.
The rain continued throughout the night. When dawn came it was clear.
E N D
“You see, there are two ways into another’s dreams. We can go through the dream king; or we can go by the moon’s road. But the dream king has little time for you women, and even less for my kind; while the moon is ever ours. It’s time to draw down the moon.”
— Neil Gaiman, Sandman #34: “Bad Moon Rising