Draw Down the Moon 5
John poured himself a cup of coffee, sat down at his desk, turned on his computer, and thought about love.
He thought about a cherubic-faced girl, a blonde mischievous boy, and William’s bright curious eyes. He thought of the way Dana had looked when she was pregnant, how round and radiant she had been.
He thought about William’s “I know you” gurgle and the way the baby lay so trustingly against John’s shoulder. He thought about how Dana slept the same way, relaxing completely, her body limp with belief in him.
He thought about the softness of her skin across her lower back.
He rubbed his eyes and watched his e-mail download, the usual mix of science and bunkum that made up his day. He’d developed a way of communicating with the crackpots, a calm, authoritative manner that impressed him very much, since mostly he wanted to tell them to move out of their parents’ basement and stop playing so much Dungeons and Dragons, go out with a girl and leave the science fiction in the video store where it belonged. The scientists were the hard ones: they had proofs and facts to back up their theories, and they were even more urgent than the crackpots. He never knew what to say to them. He forwarded them to Monica and let her deal with it.
Monica came in and said good morning, and followed his routine: coffee, desk, computer. “Did you have a good weekend?”
Dana’s mother hates me and I may be a father again soon, despite every instinct against it, but otherwise . . . “Yes. Did you?”
“Uh-huh. A friend came into town to surprise me. We had a great time. It was like being back in college.”
“Good. I bet it was great, two old friends goofing off . . . We bought tomato plants.”
“Uh-huh,” Monica said again. Before he married Dana, Monica would have told him in detail how her weekend had been: where she’d eaten, what she’d done, what jokes her friend had made, how she’d gotten that hickey on her neck. But her attitude towards him had changed with the wedding ring, and she was distant, in her way. Not the aloofness Dana would pull around herself when she disapproved, but a sadness, a longing. He knew Monica wanted to relate her weekend to him and felt she no longer had the right. She lived in a world that had never attracted him much: no-strings sex with old fuck buddies who turn up on a weekend, for example. While he worked on the garden and thought about rewriting his will and made love to his wife.
He sighed and rubbed his eyes again. Cynicism was not his style, either.
He was only into his second cup of coffee and hadn’t found anything worth pursuing yet in his in-box or the newspaper, when footsteps came down the hall and Dana appeared in the doorway, the baby on her hip and her bag in the carrier. “Hey, baby,” she said. “I need to look at the files a little.”
“Hi,” he said, and rose from the desk to kiss her and take William. “What’s going on? Are you okay?”
“Yes,” she said, putting the carrier on his desk. Someone—probably a security guard at the front—had thought it cute to clip a red Visitors badge onto William’s overalls. Dana’s old ID badge hung carelessly from the breast pocket of her sleeveless blouse. Between that, her sandals and wrinkled khakis, she was far beyond FBI dress protocol. “Hi, Monica.”
“Hi,” Monica said, watching the scene with interest, and she came over to coo at the baby while John held him and watched Dana. As if she were completely unaware or unconcerned that there were other people in the room, Dana commenced methodically opening drawers and pulling files. She flipped through one after the other, her frown gr
owing more and more frustrated.
John sat down at his desk again and held William on his lap so his hands would be free to type. William wobbled, twisting back his head to look up at John, and John ran his fingertips absently over William’s cap of hair. “What’s your mom up to, huh, Will?” he whispered.
“I’m looking for something,” Dana said, her attention on the page she was reading.
“What are you looking for?”
“I’ll know when I see it.”
John grimaced. Mulder may not have minded when she was cryptic, but he preferred a straight answer. “Is it bigger than a breadbox?”
“John . . .” She met his gaze, her face serious. “Please. I’m not in the mood for games.”
“I could help.” William grabbed for his hands and John let him grasp his fingers.
Dana glanced at Monica and said, “I saw someone in the house this morning.”
John felt his jaw tighten and William twisted to look up at him again. “Who? Did you call the police? Detective Page said he’d drop everything the next time someone—”
“It wasn’t . . . ” She glanced at Monica again. “It wasn’t someone after William. It was a little boy.”
“One of the neighbor kids came into the house?” John said, not understanding why this would upset her.
“I don’t think so. He tried to speak to me, then disappeared.”
“He ran away?”
“He evaporated.” She spread her hands to illustrate. “Just gone.”
“So you saw an apparition,” Monica said from her desk, and both Dana and John looked at her. “That’s what it sounds like to me.”
“John and I had a case, when we first started working together, regarding a little boy who reappeared ten years after he was abducted, without aging a day. He was very solid, but he was a ghost of some kind. The child I saw, he reminded me of that boy— but I can’t figure out where I’ve seen his face before. I’m thinking it’s something unsolved, but none of the children in these cases look like who I saw this morning.” She sighed, putting the file back in the cabinet.
“John,” Monica said, “do you know anything about the people who lived in the house before you?”
“The house is ninety years old. There must have been dozens. But it’s not haunted.”
“You got it for a song, didn’t you? Sometimes haunted houses are priced below their value because they’re so difficult to sell. Did the realtor say anything to you—”
“It was a good time to buy. My house is not haunted,” John said. “It’s ridiculous.”
“Then how else can you explain what’s been happening since I moved in?” Dana said. “The noises I’ve been hearing? Even the thing with your money—for four days that’s been happening and we don’t know how or why. William’s not doing it, I’m not, you’re not.” She stopped, then said quietly, “Let me see your wallet.”
John stood, holding William with one hand, and took his wallet from his back pocket. “What do you think is in here?” he said, quietly too, as he handed over the wallet.
“You have a picture. I’ve always wondered why you only have the one.”
John clutched William to him a little tighter. He didn’t keep many pictures in his wallet, just one of William and one of Luke. “Dana . . . “
She took out the picture, its corners fuzzy with age, and studied it. “Why do you only keep one picture of Luke, John? You had seven years to collect them. I just have the one picture of Emily. I wish I had more—it’s why I take so many of William.”
“I can’t. I just can’t.”
She nodded and looked up at him. “What I really want to know is, why is he choosing to manifest now?”
William squealed as John’s arms tightened around him. “First of all,” John said sternly, “Luke never even lived in that house. Second of all—second of all I can’t even believe you’re suggesting this. It’s an old house. It makes noises. You had a bad night last night. You’re tired, you’re distraught—Dana, this doesn’t even make sense.”
“A haunting isn’t always connected with a place,” Monica said in a calming tone. “Sometimes it is about a person. Luke may have attached himself to your energy—”
“That’s enough, Monica,” John growled and thrust William into Dana’s startled hands. There was more to say but he didn’t want to say it—not while anger was boiling up inside him and he would only say something that would cause Dana pain.
He left the office and went into the mens’ room by the elevators. He ran some cold water and splashed it onto his face, and stayed leaning over the sink, his elbows on the counter and his face in his hands.
John had never lost his faith—he’d never had faith to begin with. He’d gone to church every Sunday until he left home, because that was what was expected of him, but after that he entered churches only for weddings, funerals and christenings. He knew Dana’s faith was important to her and he respected her devotion—envied it, a little—but did not share it. He believed in no afterlife, no limbo, no heaven, no hell.
Burying his son had broken his heart because he had no hope of anything further. The prospect of Luke’s ghost offered no comfort—it only added to the feeling of bleakness and loss.
In a few minutes he heard a soft knock on the restroom door. “John? It’s me. May I come in?”
“Sure,” he said dully. He didn’t look up as her feet crossed the tile and she laid a hand on his back. After a moment more she draped herself over him and slid her arms beneath his jacket to embrace him around his chest.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t think of how much it would upset you. I should have known. I’m sorry.”
“I don’t like to think of him wandering the earth. I want to believe he’s at peace. Whatever peace might be.”
“Of course you do,” she whispered. “Of course you do.”
“It’s just—” He stopped, unable to continue, and turned to her to wrap his arms around her. She made comforting noises and held him close, her fingers in his hair and her cheek rubbing against his.
After a few minutes he lifted his head and said seriously, “Dana, do you think Emily is evil?”
“No, of course not.”
“What do you think the dream meant? You dreamed that she was evil. That she wanted to take William away from you. What do you think that means—to you, what does that mean?”
She stroked his cheek, thinking about it. “I think . . . it wasn’t about Emily herself. It was about my fears. I was so afraid while I was pregnant that William would be like her—that he’d need doctors and tests and medication they wouldn’t tell me about . . . that he’d bleed green.” She pressed her lips together. “Even though I know he’s normal, I still have fears. And it’s so hard to let them go.”
“But why Emily? She was your child. You loved her. Why would you be afraid of her? Why not the—what’d you call him—the Cancerman, or that Russian fella? People you’re really afraid of?”
“I don’t know, John.”
“I think you’re afraid of Luke,” he said, and she closed her eyes.
“I didn’t even think ‘ghost’ until I saw him this morning, and I didn’t think of Luke until I realized where I’d seen him before.”
“I don’t mean a ghost. I don’t for a second think that Luke is haunting you or me or the house—and even if he were, I can’t believe that he’d be evil. He was a good boy. He was a happy and well-loved boy. He may have died in terrible fear—” His voice cracked and he had to stop and bury his face in her hair again. Dana stroked his back until he was ready to speak again. “I can’t believe he’d intend to hurt you, or even scare you. I can’t believe that.”
“What do you mean, I’m afraid of him, then?”
“I think you’re afraid of happened to him,” John said slowly. “You’re afraid I won’t be able to protect William.”
“I trust you,” she said, grasping his hands. “I believe in you. I know you’d fight to your last breath for him, just like his natural father would.”
John lowered his head. This was the question he’d been struggling with for days, but he had to ask. “Do you only love
me for how I remind you of Mulder?”
She actually chuckled. “No. You don’t remind me of Mulder at all, except that you both are good, strong, decent, kind men. I love you for you, John. Just for you.” She cupped his face in her hands and wiped his damp eyes with her thumbs. “Someday I’ll tell you the list, if you want.”
John managed to smile, and turned his head to kiss her hand. “You keep a list, huh?”
“Ever-growing.” She tugged his head closer and stood up on her toes to sweetly kiss him. “I love you, baby,” she murmured. “I trust you with my most precious possession. When you’re near me, I’m not afraid of anything.”
He gave her a true smile at that, and she smiled back and kissed him again. “I’d better go see what Monica’s up to with William,” she said. “Should I come back around noon and take you to lunch?”
“I’d like that.”
“Okay.” Dana wiped his face with her palms. “Don’t doubt me, baby. You have all I have to give.”
He nodded, and watched her go with a quiet sigh. He knew he hadn’t convinced her and she certainly hadn’t convinced him, but once again they understood each other, if nothing else.
And he found himself thinking what an amazing woman their daughter would be, with a mother such as Dana.
At lunch they tacitly agreed it was not the time or place for a personal discussion, and so kept the conversation light and general. William felt social, so he kicked his feet, blew on his lips, and cooed at the wait staff when they passed by.
“He has your eyes,” one of the waitresses said to John, and Dana smiled behind her glass of water.
“Thanks,” John said simply.
After they had paid the check and were getting ready to leave, Dana said, “Let me see your handheld.”
“You want all my stuff today,” John said, but handed it over anyway. “What are you looking for?”
“Yes, it’s that ‘all I have is yours’ thing. I’m taking it seriously, boyo. I’m giving you something.” She lined up their computers to each other on the tabletop and tapped her screen a few times. After a moment she nodded. “Okay. I wrote something for you. It’s in your memos. I want you to read it when you miss me.”
“What is it?” he said, taking his computer back.
“It’s part of my list.” She smiled at him and stood up. “I need to get him home. I’ve already nursed him in public once today.”
“Okay. See you.” He stood too and kissed her cheek, getting a caress in return.
He managed to wait until he got back to the office before curiosity got the better of him—and, he reasoned, he did miss her.
He took out the PDA and opened the file Dana had given him.
Ten things I love about you
1. Your eyes.
2. Your smile.
3. The way you kiss me, like there’s nothing more important you should be doing.
4. The way you hold me, like I’m the most precious thing you’ve ever touched.
5. The way you make love to me, like we’re one person instead of two.
6. The way you treat William, as if he were your own child.
7. Your laugh.
8. Your hands in my skin in the dark: when I feel them I know I’m safe and loved.
9. Your voice first thing in the morning.
10. Your big feet.
John smiled, rubbed his jaw, and decided he had enough time before he had to start working again to write something for her to find.
He was about to start writing when he heard the elevators down the hall open again, and footsteps down the hall. Dana twice in one day was too much to hope for—but it was the other person he least expected to see, Deputy Director Kersh.
Kersh stood in the office doorway, his back ramrod straight. His eyes swept the scene before he said, “Agents.”
“Hello, sir,” Monica chirped.
“Sir,” John said.
“Agent Doggett, I understand you got married last week.”
“I mentioned this to my wife last night, and she wants to throw the two of you a party.” He said this as if asking if they’d filed their income tax on time.
“That’s very kind, but—”
“She said she’ll call Agent Scully—Mrs. Doggett—” He grimaced. “Dana. To ask her.”
“Oh,” John said. “If Dana wants to, that’s fine with me. Please thank Lisa for me.”
Kersh nodded once and glanced at Monica again, who shot him a huge grin than only made his frown deepen. “Agents,” he said again, turned on his heel and left.
John had to grin a bit too. Before the X-Files he’d been a frequent visitor to the Kersh home, and he liked Lisa Kersh. The invitations stopped when he teamed up with Dana, but apparently Lisa’s affection for him hadn’t. The Kershes had a beautiful home, and if she could convince Dana to let her throw the party John knew it would be a tasteful, enjoyable evening.
If Lisa could convince her.