Lovely In Her Bones

“If I begged.”

“Beg,” Viggo said. “Please.”

“Watch me prostrate meself,” Dom said, putting the glass aside and getting up. He walked down the sloping garden paths and stood watching them, his hands in his jeans pockets.

Dana noticed him first and stepped out of Henry’s arms. “Do you want a turn, Dom?”

“I’d love a turn.” He put his hands carefully on her waist.

“All right—step forward when I step back.”

“I know how to do this,” Dom said, but followed her footsteps anyway, pulling her closer to him than Elijah or Henry had held her. Her lips were softly curved, as if she didn’t realize she was smiling, and Dom thought, She’s happy. And it took so little to make her happy.

He bent his head closer to hers and said, “Viggo wants to take your picture.”

“I’d prefer not to.”

“I know, but I really want him to, too. It’d just be for me, really, so I can have something to look at while I’m gone.”

“Do you need to look at me that badly?” Dana murmured.

“Yes, I do. Until you get a webcam, at least.”

“I’m not getting a webcam.” She noticed Viggo, kneeling up the slope with his camera, and stopped waltzing. “All right, let’s get this over with, then.”

“I don’t want you to pose,” Viggo said. “No one wants a picture where you look stiff and uncomfortable. Just go on dancing—I’ll take pictures when they’re right.”

Dana didn’t look any more relaxed, and said, “I’d like to stop dancing, actually. I’m getting a bit tired.”

“Oh, Dana, I’m sorry,” Elijah said quickly from where he was lounging on the grass with a cigarette. “You should have said.

She shook her head. “I’d just like to sit down for a bit.”

Dom took off the light jacket he’d been wearing and spread it on the grass. “Suitable?”

“Thanks.” He helped her sit and then lay on his back beside her. Dana tucked her feet beneath her skirt, very proper, and reached over to brush her fingers through his hair. Viggo eased down onto the grass too, camera nearby, grinning widely when Henry draped himself over his shoulders.

“You know, Dana,” he said, “you’re the mystery here. The rest of us, our lives are out there for all to see—but you’re the one with stories to tell, and no one knows them but Dommie, who’s keeping quiet.”

“Out of respect,” Dom said.

Dana went on playing with Dom’s hair. “I don’t have any stories.”

“You should tell Viggo about the zombies,” Elijah said.

Dana chuckled but didn’t say anything, looking down at Dom. He caught her hand and pressed a kiss to her palm.

“Zombies,” Henry said. “For real?”

“Zombies,” Dana said quietly. “Werewolves. Vampires. Ghosts. Aliens. Witches—scary witches, not earth-worshiping witches, though I’ve met a few of those too. Evil government conspiracies—a lot deeper than what you’re thinking.” Viggo shrugged and Dana said, “If it’s ever kept you awake at night, we’ve run into it.”

“Fear demons,” Dom said.

“Fear demons,” she confirmed. “And the end of the world.” She looked up quickly at the sound of the camera, but Viggo was already lowering it.

“Lightning in a bottle,” he said. “The price for a meal is a story, Dana.”

She shook her head, looking out at the garden, her hand still in Dom’s hair. “I’m not a good storyteller.”

“Yes, you are,” Dom said.

“Tell us more about Mulder,” Elijah added.

She inhaled slowly and said, “A story about Mulder, then.” She thought for a few moments more, then said, “This one doesn’t have anything scary in it.”

“That’s fine,” Viggo said.

“Henry gets nightmares,” Elijah added and Henry shoved him.

“Hush,” Viggo said before the boys could start messing around more. “Go on, Dana.”

She smiled briefly, looking at none of them, and said, “My mother gave me a small gold cross when I was fifteen. I wore it every day, just about, for the next fifteen years. It wasn’t so much about faith in the church—I’ve had my issues with Catholicism like any modern woman—as it was having faith in something. Every person needs something to believe in. Something that’s larger than they are, more grand, more real.

“As time passed, for me that something became Mulder.”

Dom sat up at this and put his arm around her. She leaned her head against his shoulder but didn’t even look at Viggo when the camera clicked again. She said, “He was larger than life. He drove me crazy sometimes—he was stubborn and loved to hear himself talk and could be an utter ass—but I couldn’t imagine spending a day without him, either.

“Before all this, before I really understand what we meant to each other, I was . . . taken. Abducted, in the terminology. I was gone for three months . . . on the night I was taken my mother found my cross at my apartment, and when it became clear I was not going to return soon she gave it to Mulder. As a memento, maybe, or as something for him to hold onto to . . . he wore it the entire time I was gone.”

She paused for so long that Henry started to get restless, and Dom wondered if that was the end of the story—she wasn’t wearing the necklace now, and he thought any story that left you with more questions than answers wasn’t much of a story. Finally she took a slow breath and continued: “When I was returned he gave it back. At the time I wanted to give it away, to someone who had helped me while I was in the hospital, but—well, maybe there is a ghost in this story after all.

“Anyway, years later I was taken again, and again Mulder found the necklace and gave it back to me when we were safe. I never took it off after that: it was his promise, you see. That he would always bring me home.”

“You’re not wearing it anymore,” Elijah said softly.

Dana’s head was still on Dom’s shoulder, practically buried in his neck. She said quietly, “When Mulder died I buried it with him. I put it in his hand just before they closed the coffin lid. I’d failed him—I’d broken the promise. I couldn’t bring him home.” She lifted her head and said, looking directly at Dom for the first time since she’d begun to speak, “I’m not sure what I believe in anymore. Excuse me.” She got to her feet and headed back to the house.

Dom started to rise too but Viggo said,  “Give her a minute,” and he sank back down.

“But she’s–” Dom exhaled and ran his hand through his hair.

“I didn’t know Mulder was dead,” Elijah said. “Did you know he was dead? She didn’t say anything about him being dead when she was telling us stories on Friday.”

“I knew. She told me the day we met. Didn’t know much else about him, except he’s her son’s dad and she misses him a lot. Didn’t even know what he looked like until Thursday. Oi,” he added when he heard the camera click.

“I want to remember that look. Dom in love. I was beginning to think I’d never see it again.”

Dom made a face at him and got up, figuring enough time had passed for Dana to have control of herself again. He followed the path up to the house and tried the first bathroom inside: the door was closed but he could hear water running. He rapped lightly with his knuckles. “Dana?”

“Come in.”

He opened the door and paused in the doorway, uncertain, as she splashed water on her face and dried it with a hand towel. She said, “Maybe I should have told about the time we ran into vampires in a trailer park in Texas. It has a better ending.”

“That was a good story,” Dom answered. He bit his lip, watching as Dana hung the towel, and blurted, “I’m just an actor from Manchester. I’m not going to save the world anytime soon and I’d probably piss myself if I ran into an actual zombie. I’ve never fired a gun and—and—if you ever went missing I don’t know how I’d find you. But I’d look, Dana. And I wouldn’t rest until I’d brought you home.”

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