Title: Connection
Author: Jayne Austin
Feedback: Please I think.. Jausti6483@aol.com
Rating - R
Category: Pre-X-Files
Spoilers: None
Keywords:MSR, angst

Summary: Would they have bonded as kids?


Fox dropped his duffel bag on the floor of the living room. This should be a nice weekend, quiet and restful. Mom was visiting her cousin in Pennsylvania, not that she would ever come here, and Dad was out of the country again doing whatever it was he did.

Who knew when he'd get back here again? He'd be leaving for England in a few weeks and had a lot to do before then. It was still early in the season; in fact he hadn't seen anyone else up here on the way to the cabin. He had to smile; nothing had changed here since he could remember. It's not like they were up here enough to wear out the upholstery or anything. He turned around in the room, those lamps had been here when he was born and the extra jackets hung on the pegs by the back door. He'd had pretty good time here as a kid, teaching Samantha to swim and ski and catch a softball. His smile faded, only memories now. He shook himself, don't think about that.

He headed back to the car to bring in the groceries he'd brought up for the weekend. He'd been sure to bring food, canned beans and soup were usually the only things left up here besides cleaning supplies. Trips up here had been rare the last few years, he wasn't sure he could even trust the soup.

Fox glanced over at the lake and shivered. It looked beautiful, but he knew exactly how cold it was this time of year. Maybe he could take the boat out anyway. He should check on it in any case. That caused him to look over at the boathouse. He stopped in his tracks; the door was slightly open. Great, someone had broken in. Hopefully there still was a boat. He'd better check it out.

He started down the worn path to the lake; grass would never grow here again if it wasn't already. He and Samantha had pounded down this path a million times as kids. At the last second he hesitated and picked up a piece of firewood from the stack outside the back door. Whoever had broken in was probably a couple of states and two months away, but why take chances.

The movement inside the boathouse brought him to a stop and caused his hands to tighten on the wood he held. He should be able to take them, at least he had the element of surprise. People didn't normally think of swimmers as athletes, not like football players, but he was in good shape. He just needed to be careful.

He slipped in through the door without a sound and spotted the form of the person bending over the boat. Without missing a beat he had his arm around his throat pulling him back, the wood coming up in his other hand to be used if necessary.

This was just a kid, filthy and smelly but a kid nevertheless. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"Let go!" The kid jerked in his arms and his gripped loosened as he realized he had hold of a girl.

"I'll let go if you promise to stay still." The girl nodded sullenly and he released her stepping back but holding the firewood ready if she came at him. She backed away from him and he had his first good look at her.

He really couldn't get a sense of what she looked like. She looked like she'd lived in the woods for weeks and what she was wearing could not be considered clothing by any stretch of the imagination. It might have been at one time, now it was shapeless rags of indeterminate color and size. Her hair seemed to have a red glint to it and when she looked up at him for just a second he saw how blue her eyes were. Even as they stood there frozen he saw the grimace of pain cross her face.

"Are you okay?" He took a step toward her and stopped as she cringed away.

"I'm fine. Leave me alone."

"The last thing you are is fine. Did you run away?" She looked up startled, but didn't respond. "Did you run away from home?" He repeated.

She relaxed slightly at that, which made no sense. "No. Are you going to let me go?"

He had to stop and think about that. She had broken into the boathouse but obviously hadn't taken anything. What she seemed to need most was food and a bath. He realized suddenly that he was speaking.

"Come on up to the house and eat something." Her eyes narrowed suspiciously and she didn't move. "Come on, I won't bite."

Her eyes turned to the piece of wood he still held in his hands and he glanced over at it himself. He lowered it and leaned it against the wall of the boathouse, raising his hands away from it. "My name's Fox, and you are?"

She ignored that still shying away from him, slightly hunched over and turned away. He saw that grimace of pain again. "Are you hurt? Do you need a doctor?"

"No!" Well, at least he'd gotten a reaction. If she'd come out from the side of the boat where he could see her he'd have a better idea of what was wrong.

"Look, I'll stand over here and you can get past me without me even being close enough to touch you. Head on up to the house and I'll fix you a sandwich. Okay?"

She glanced again at the piece of wood he'd placed against the wall, between the fishing equipment and some old towels. "I'm not going to hurt you."

"Who else is here?" Paranoid little bitch, ungrateful too. Should he admit he was alone? Hell, he could take her.

"No one. Look, if you don't want the sandwich, fine. But you're getting out of here, so either head up to the house or toward the road. Go on."

You would have thought he'd asked her to pick which death she'd prefer, knives or guns. What had scared her this bad? But she did step toward the door. He waited where he stood on the far side of the boat, giving her all the room she obviously needed to feel safe and when she was out, followed her with his hands out to the side, showing that he had not armed himself again.

Well, she'd opted for the house. Hunger must have won out. "Wait, I haven't had a chance to unlock this side of the house. Come on around."

She followed him at a distance now, watching his every move carefully. He stepped inside, but didn't hold the screen door open for her. He sensed that would put him too close for her comfort. He headed immediately for the fuse box and switched on the power to the house.

"Why don't you wash up. The bathroom is over there. I'll make you that sandwich. Oh, there's not any hot water yet, but it won't be long." She didn't respond, merely turning toward where he had indicated, seemingly glad for the excuse to be out of his presence. He sighed and began unloading the groceries he had brought with him.

He made her a turkey sandwich, being generous with the meat and adding a thick slice of tomato and lettuce. The drinks he'd brought weren't really cold but he didn't think she'd complain.

He glanced up when he heard the bathroom door open, then turned back to the task of storing his food in the rapidly cooling refrigerator. Well, she'd tried to clean up a little. She'd gotten at least two layers off of her hands, and her face was obviously cleaner.

She seated herself awkwardly on the stool and stared at the sandwich. "Hey, it's okay. Go ahead and eat." She didn't wait for a second invitation, but attacked the sandwich. She had fine table manners, but it was no secret that she was ravenous. Damn, if he fed her often he would be down to the soup and the beans.

"You want another one?" That sandwich was history as well as the chips he'd opened for her.

"No, uh thanks." She didn't want to face him.

"Listen, the water's hot by now. Do you want to take a shower or something?" She looked up quickly and then away, but not before he saw the longing in her face. "It's okay with me. There's a good lock on the door and I'll be on the porch reading or something."

"You sure?" Still not able to face him.

"Yeah. There's soap and shampoo in the shower I think, if not it's under the sink. And towels in the closet in there. There should be a robe hanging on the back of the door."

"Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why are you doing this?"

That question caught him off guard. He didn't know. Why was he trying to help this kid? He still didn't even have a name for her. He shrugged, "It just feels right, like something I'm supposed to do."

She nodded and turned on the stool. She placed her hands on the counter to help herself up and he wondered again if she were injured, not that she'd let him get close enough to check. Well, a shower would help. He heard the lock turn on the door and finished cleaning up the kitchen.

He grabbed one of the books he'd brought for the weekend and settled himself on the screened in porch, feet up, soda at his side. His attention kept wavering from the book. Why was he helping this girl? She was obviously a runaway, probably did drugs, she hadn't gone into the boathouse by accident. What had she thought she could steal from there? His head turned involuntarily when the water shut off in the bathroom and he found himself waiting to hear her emerge.

It was still a while before he heard the door open and he waited to see what she would do next. She didn't come out to the porch and eventually his curiosity got the best of him and he placed his book on the small plastic table beside the chair and stood.

He walked quietly to the entry to the living room, not consciously trying to take her by surprise, but wanting to see what she was up to without being observed himself.

She was wrapped in the old robe his father had always left here, sound asleep on the couch, her back to him. She'd put her wet hair up in a ponytail and her skin was pink from the scrubbing she'd obviously given it.

Well, if she had fallen asleep that quickly she was as exhausted as she was hungry. Okay, she wasn't hurting anything and maybe it would do her good.

He stepped back out to the porch to try to get into his book this time and found himself instead picking the book up and bringing it inside, to read in the large chair that his father had always used, facing the couch. Why? He couldn't think she was going to do anything now? It didn't seem to matter, it felt right, so go with the flow.

He'd read a couple of chapters, occasionally glancing over at her. As the deep sleep of the deathly exhausted passed, she began shifting around on the couch, dreaming he assumed. She managed to roll over and her hand came up to caress her stomach.

"Oh my god!" The sound woke her and she struggled to a sitting position, staring at his saucer-wide eyes. When the fear on her own face penetrated he clutched at his ragged composure and tried to reassure her. He put out one hand, his book clutched in the other. "I'm not going to hurt you."

She was cowering at the far end of the couch now. "Please, it's okay. You're...are you going to have a baby?"

She nodded slowly, her body on alert, ready to defend herself to the best of her abilities. "Could I at least have something to call you? I'm Fox, I'm the one that fed you and let you get cleaned up. I'm not going to hurt you now. Calm down, please." The please was heartfelt and she knew it, he was eyeing her stomach as though she had dynamite strapped around it.

His expression would almost have been funny if anything had been funny recently. "Dana."

"Dana. When, uh when is the baby due?"

"I don't know." That finally drew his eyes back up to her face.

"You don't know?" She stiffened at that and he backed away from the question. "Is that why you ran away?"

"I didn't run away!"

"Your parents didn't throw you out?" He knew it happened, but he couldn't imagine it. Even his parents wouldn't do that.

"No! They wouldn't..."

"Okay, just ...just stay calm. Look there's no phone here, but I can take you down to the store and you could call someone from there." She shook her head, rejecting the idea completely. "Don't you think they're worried about you?"

"Not now, I can't call them yet." She looked down at her swollen abdomen, shaking her head again.

"If you didn't run away and they didn't throw you out, why aren't you home right now?"

She looked up angry now, "Why do you care?"

For some reason that angered him as well. "Hey, I catch you trying to steal something from the boathouse, I feed you and let you get cleaned up, I let you sleep on the couch before I even know your name. I have a right to some questions here."

She sank back against the couch then, but at least she wasn't cringing from him again. He watched that quick grimace of pain flit across her face again. "You're not...you're not having the baby are you?"

"What? No."

"Well what's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong. He's just awake and kicking me. There's not a lot of room anymore." He tried to grin at that.

"Look, you need to be home with your family now. Why won't you let me help you?" She was quiet for so long he didn't think she'd answer.

"I'll contact them after. Where am I anyway?"

"Quonochontaug."

"Where?"

"Quonochontaug, Rhode Island."

"Rhode Island? How the..."She clammed up again.

"You didn't know what state you were in? How did you get here?"

"I don't know."

He shook his head. "Let's start over. Why did you leave home?"

She took as deep a breath as she could manage. She wasn't sure of him, but she did feel safer than she had in ages. "I was taken."

He waited but when she didn't continue, "Taken? You mean kidnapped?"

"I guess so. I never saw anyone. They kept this bright light in my eyes."

"Bright light?" That caused a jolt of adrenaline to surge through his body. It felt like every hair on his body was standing at attention.

"Yeah, then I was on a metal table, it was cold and they hurt me."

"Is that...were you...raped?" That was hard to say, she was just a kid. Probably Samantha's age.

"I don't remember anyone doing...that. Just the needles and tubes. Then three days ago I woke up in the woods near here. And I was pregnant. I was virgin before, before this." She looked up at him. Why did she care if he believed her? He'd gone completely still at her story, not blinking. His breathing even seemed to have stopped. "Hey, are you okay?"

"Yeah."

"Bull. What's wrong? Don't you believe me?"

"What? Yeah." He was thinking, reaching for a memory. He was deep inside himself now. She watched him closely, what had she triggered?

"Are you okay?" She repeated.

That broke his train of thought and he was back in the present. "I'm, uh, I'm sorry. It was like I was trying to remember something. It's gone, don't worry about it. Did you say three days ago?"

"Yeah, I woke up not far from here. I didn't know where I was and then I realized...well." She looked down at her body.

"You didn't know about the baby until you woke up?" She looked up defensively and he decided to back off. "Sorry, it's just that you must be pretty far along. For you to only know for three days..."

Her shoulders slumped and she conceded the point with a shrug. "Whoever took me must have kept me drugged. Maybe now that the baby's almost here they didn't want me anymore. I don't know."

She looked so forlorn, so vulnerable he wanted to approach her, maybe put his arm around her. He didn't want to scare her or make her more uncomfortable, so he stayed where he was.

"Did you just get here this morning?"

"No, I walked until it was dark that first day. I didn't know where I was and for the longest time I tried to believe this wasn't true." She gestured at her body. "When it started moving I couldn't do that. I stumbled onto your boathouse that night and it wasn't locked. The lock was hanging there and from a distance it looked locked, but it wasn't." Her chin went up defiantly. "I slept in there that night on those rags you had in the corner."

"It must have been awfully dirty."

"It was."

"Why didn't you come up to the house?"

"I didn't know it was here and I was too tired to move anyway. Then I found some stale cheese crackers so I ate them and went to sleep."

He nodded but said nothing. He wanted her to keep talking. "In the morning I saw the house and came up here but it was locked. I didn't want to break in, I'd never done anything like that, so I went looking for help."

"Not many people around this time of year." She nodded at that.

"No one, and everything was locked, so I came back to the boathouse to see if there was anything else there to eat. I was starving by then and the baby was moving so much I could barely walk."

"He must have been hungry too." She smiled at him then. She had a pretty smile and seeing it made him want to see it again. Fox couldn't help it; he smiled back and was rewarded with seeing Dana relax another notch.

"Anyway, there was some old hard candy on your boat and it was easier to reach the water - at least I had someway to pull myself back up, so I slept there again. I slept a lot more the second night; I've never been so tired. When I woke up again I was desperate enough to break into your house after all. I checked it one more time, then I went down there to find something to help me break a window. That's when you found me. I didn't steal anything but the crackers and the candy."

"You're welcome to them. I wish there had been more. You're probably hungry again aren't you?"

She looked away from him. "I'm sure you didn't plan on having to feed me."

"Hey, you're welcome to whatever's here. Then we really ought to get you some help. You've obviously been missing for months."

Funny, even as he said it he realized he didn't doubt her story for a minute. He knew it was the truth and he trusted her. That was unusual for him. What was it about her?

"I don't want them to see me like this. I want to go home, I miss my family and I want to see my mother, but not like this. I couldn't explain to them. After the baby's born..."

"Yeah? After it's born, what?"

"I'm not sure."

"Are you going to keep it?"

"I'm fifteen years old. I don't know what to do with a baby." He nodded in agreement. He hadn't even babysat, not since his sister disappeared, not that there had been a long line wanting his services anyway.

"What about adoption?"

She looked down and seemed to notice her hand caressing her stomach for the first time. She nodded without looking at him and he realized a tear had escaped and was trickling down her cheek. He couldn't help himself; he joined her on the couch, not too close, but close enough to touch her. She didn't draw away and after a moment allowed herself to relax against the hand he had placed on her back.

"Want to change the subject for a while?"

She nodded, accepting the tissue he offered. "Why are you up here this time of year?"

Fair enough, "I wanted to see this place again before I left to go to school. I've been accepted to Oxford, so I'll be in England for a while."

"Oxford?" Her eyes showed her surprise. "You're that smart?"

He tried to glare at her, but failed. "Probably not. My Dad works for the state department and this is just a sop to keep him happy."

"They don't do things like that. You have to have the grades or they won't take you. What are going to major in?"

"Psychology, maybe even psychiatry eventually, if I can hack a medical degree. The human mind fascinates me. The way memory works, why we lean toward one career instead of another." He shrugged.

"I think you'd make a good psychologist. It's easy to talk to you, I don't feel," she looked away a moment and then back at him, "judged."

"Why would I judge you? You had no control over what happened to you."

"And the fact that you believe me." She continued as though he hadn't spoken. "You don't know me, but you're accepting what I say. I didn't expect that."

"You don't look like you'd lie to me."

"Thanks." She spoke low, again not looking at him. She hadn't lied, she knew that but to have him believe seemed like a bonus.

He already knew some tricks. Her eyes had not dilated when she spoke and her body language was open. Not as good as a polygraph, but the same basic principal. And he just knew somehow she was telling the truth, stupid because intuition was such a false tool, but there it was. He just knew.

"Why aren't your parents up here with you?"

He was surprised at the change in subject this time, but answered readily enough. "Dad's in Europe somewhere and Mom hasn't set foot in this place since they got the divorce. I still have good memories and I wanted to refresh them before I leave."

"Are you an only child?"

"I am now. My sister, well, she's been gone six years."

"I'm sorry." That was obviously a painful subject for him, she was sorry she'd asked.

He shook himself slightly to get rid of those thoughts. "What about you? Any brothers or sisters?"

"Two brothers, one older and one younger and an older sister."

"Wow. Big family."

"Catholic." She grinned. "And Navy, so Mom said whenever Dad was in port, we added to the family."

He smiled back at her. She liked her family, that must make it even harder now to be away, alone. If he didn't see his own family again he wondered if he'd notice.

He realized she was struggling to her feet. "Wait, what?"

"I have to use your bathroom."

"Oh." He was already on his feet assisting her. That earned him a shy smile.

While she was out of the room he headed back to the kitchen area to see what might appeal to her. He was sure she was hungry even if she didn't want to admit it. One sandwich in three days? He had his head in the refrigerator when she returned. She perched again on the stool to watch.

"I brought one of those frozen lasagnas and some barbecue. What are you hungry for?" He glanced up at her when she didn't answer.

"Are you going to let me stay here tonight?"

The question surprised him. "Well sure, I mean, I thought we could stay here tonight and then I'll take you home with me tomorrow."

"Whoa, wait a minute. I'd like to stay here tonight, but then I have to move on."

"Why? If you don't want to go home where do you have to be?" He was truly puzzled.

"That's not it. You don't have to look after me. I can take care of myself."

"Listen, I don't doubt that. I'd say normally you could probably take care of both of us with no problem. But you are going to have a baby, soon. Do you really expect me to just watch you walk away?"

They watched each other for a few minutes, until she could feel a smile start on her face. "What's that look?"

"Look?" He asked innocently. That caused a laugh, the first he'd heard from her. "Why don't we decide what we're going to do tomorrow? You're...you're not going to have the baby tonight, are you?"

"I don't think so." She laughed lightly again. "You choose supper." She said obviously changing the subject. "How long have you been coming here?" Dana watched him in the kitchen. He knew where everything was. Her brothers probably couldn't even find the clean dishes.

"Oh, we've always come here. I think Dad bought the place before I was born. We were here every summer until. . ." His voice trailed off.

His sister, she thought. Say something! "Must be nice to have a place that long. Being a Navy brat we moved at least every two years, sometimes more often. A lot of the houses looked alike. Navy bases aren't exactly up on new designs, but they were all different. You had to go to new schools, meet new people, hopefully make at least one friend."

"I bet you don't have any trouble there."

"My sister Melissa doesn't, and Bill always makes whatever team he tries out for. I guess it takes me longer."

"Do you date? I mean, uh..." They both were looking at her stomach now.

"I'm not allowed to date yet."

He couldn't help it, he chuckled. He hadn't meant to, but the sight of her on the stool, so pregnant it looked like she'd pop any minute making that statement just struck him as funny. It took her a second, but then fortunately she saw the humor and laughed herself. This was almost as weird as waking in the woods had been. She'd never even really talked to a boy except her brothers. Now...for some reason that made her laugh even more.

He was enjoying it until he saw the tears in her eyes and realized this was rapidly turning into hysteria. "Dana?" He had rounded the counter and before he knew it had her in his arms. It didn't even feel awkward. He held her as her laughter turned to sobs. He found himself mildly surprised this hadn't happened earlier. She was just a kid, taken from her family, used in a horrible way and now feeling that she couldn't even turn to them for help.

Fox found himself humbled that she would trust him enough to show this kind of emotion. She didn't know him at all, they'd met under uncomfortable circumstances a few hours ago and now...now part of him didn't want to go to England and leave her to face what was ahead of her.

Back up, Fox. This isn't really any of your business and you shouldn't be involved. Yeah, right. She was beginning to get some control again, so he led her back to the couch and seated her, lifting her feet to the coffee table. "You okay?" He'd been able to feel how agitated the baby was from her emotions.

"Yeah." She wouldn't look at him and was obviously terribly embarrassed. "I'm sorry."

"No need to be. There's just me here and I probably wouldn't be holding up as well as you if the positions were reversed."

She wiped her eyes and blew her nose. "You're a very nice man."

He actually blushed, which surprised her a little. "You just rest a little. I'll get some food started. If you want to take a nap, the bed would be a lot more comfortable."

"I'm not going to take your bed."

"You are tonight." He held up his hand, "No argument. Why should two people sleep out here and only one in there? I'll make it up when I get the lasagna in the oven."

"I can make the bed."

"You can help me. Okay? Just sit here a minute and rest." She nodded, the crying jag had exhausted her and standing again just seemed more than she could handle. The next time he glanced over at her she was asleep. He paused in his activity, what she must be going through. He sighed and put dinner in the oven, then quietly went into the bedroom and made up the bed. She hadn't had a decent night's sleep in days. Should he wake her to move her? Yeah, it would be a while until the food was ready. He leaned over her, brush the hair that had escaped her ponytail from her face.

"Dana?" He said softly. "Let's move you to the bed."

She nodded wearily, barely aware of his words. He supported her into the bedroom and she was asleep again before he could leave the room. He left the door open in case she needed him.

The aroma of the lasagna brought her out of the room. "How do you feel?"

"I'm fine. Hungry."

He grinned, "That I can fix." He brought her plate to the counter, along with ice tea. She noticed his own plate held about half what hers did.

"I can't eat this much."

"Eat what you can. We'll reheat the leftovers later." He was rewarded with a smile and she began to eat.

Afterward she insisted on washing the dishes over his protests, but did allow him to dry and put away. They sat then on the porch and just visited. He was a little shocked at how easy it was to talk to this strange girl especially under the circumstances. She was kind of attractive, and would be even more so if she were at her best and maybe a little slimmer. He'd never been this close to someone who was so pregnant. They were just normal people with another person inside them. Okay.

She had finally asked the date which had led to tears again. The last thing she remembered was a swim party to celebrate the end of summer in August. Finding out it was spring break in April had stunned her. "I missed Christmas, a whole year of school. They think I'm dead." He started to speak, but she stopped him, "I know, but I can't, not yet."

He shrugged and nodded. A tough decision either way, he found himself wondering how he could possibly handle it.

It wasn't long before she was yawning again. "Go on to bed Dana. You don't have to make any decisions or do anything tonight. Just rest and I'm sure you'll feel better tomorrow."

"I already feel a lot better. Not to have to wake up every few minutes to listen for what made the last sound is nice. Thank you."

He helped her to her feet. "I still feel bad about taking your bed."

"I don't mind, really and I'm not ready to go to bed anyway. I don't sleep a lot and I brought some stuff to read."

He woke to the smell of cinnamon buns the next morning. "I hope you don't mind. I spotted them in the refrigerator last night and figured they were for breakfast."

"You didn't have to do this. I would have - "

"You've done enough for me already." She turned back to the refrigerator and took out the juice that he had brought. From the back he couldn't tell she was having a baby and he found himself admiring her hips as she bent over. Damn, he was a pervert; she was only fifteen years old.

After breakfast he took a shower and then left the bathroom for her. He dug through the closets until he found an old caftan that his father had brought his mother as a joke from some trip to the south pacific years ago. It wasn't very attractive and his mother had never worn it, but it should fit her. She couldn't wear his father's robe forever and what she'd arrived in wasn't worth burning. He lay the dress on the bed and left the room before she finished her shower.

She came out wearing the caftan, her eyebrow arched awaiting his response. He smiled but had the good sense not to laugh. Lime green was not her color, but it was indeed big enough for her.

"I need a promise from you Fox."

"Okay." He looked back in her eyes, a much more attractive alternative.

"You'll never talk about this in the future. You won't even laugh about it with your new friends at Oxford. This is just too humiliating to ever be discussed."

He didn't even smile, just took her hand in his. "This is between us. I won't be talking about it to anyone. But I need a promise in return." She nodded. "Let me know how you're doing, what happens when you get home. I know I'll be too far away to be much help, but you can talk to me about it, know someone is on your side."

Her eyes filled at his words and she nodded. "I promise." She finally whispered.

He felt as though he should move back away from her. What was it about her that brought out this protective instinct in him? Okay, part of that answer was obvious, but this was different, it was more. He mentally shook himself.

"You want to take a walk, down by the lake. It's pretty down there and it's not too cold."

"I haven't been cold since I woke up in the woods. I think my internal thermostat's broken. A walk would be nice, you don't think anyone will see me in this?"

"Only me." For some reason that caused her to blush and he noted it, but didn't say anything.

They walked slowly down around the lake; Fox pointing out places and talking about things he'd done here as a child. He offered to take her out in the boat but she declined, unable to see herself climbing in and out of the boat at this time.

After lunch she took a nap while he read. When she woke it was her turn to talk about things she did with her family as they sat on the porch, just being together.

It was cool enough for a fire that evening. They sat in front of it, sipping instant hot chocolate that he had found it the cupboard, just being together and comfortable with it.

She shook her head as though to clear it. "You okay?"

"I feel ...strange. I don't know."

"You're not in any pain?"

She looked up at him then and saw the apprehension on his face. "No. No pain. It's just a weird feeling, maybe a little dizzy."

"Did we do too much today?"

"Hardly. I'm fine, I shouldn't have mentioned it."

"Maybe, maybe you should lie down."

"Maybe you should relax." She was watching him now; "You actually look guilty. You haven't done anything to me except rescue me. Really." That didn't seem to help. "What happened to you?"

"Me? Nothing."

"Why don't I believe that?" He shrugged. "You know, I've noticed it before. You take on guilt for everything, you even feel guilty that I'm pregnant and you haven't touched me."

He tried to grin, but couldn't sustain it. "I'm the reason my sister is gone." There, he'd said it out loud. It was probably the first time ever.

"What do you mean?"

"I was keeping her when she disappeared. I was twelve, she was eight. I was babysitting, I was responsible."

"What happened to her?" She asked this softly, not wanting to stop his flow.

"We don't know. No one knows. She disappeared. When my parents came home I was there, but I couldn't speak, couldn't tell them anything. We never found her."

"Tell me about it." She wanted to hear and his voice kept her from concentrating on the weird feeling that wouldn't go away. She found herself holding his hand as he opened up to her, the story pouring out of him as though a dam had broken.


She jerked awake with a gasp. It felt like a spike was being driven up her - a burning, tearing agony. When the pain subsided she cried out, "Fox! Oh god, Fox!"

He came awake immediately and raced toward the bedroom. The sight of her writhing on the bed, the sheets fisted in her hands brought him to a dead stop. "Oh shit."

"Do something!" She gasped out.

"Yeah, yeah. I'll get you to the hospital."

She managed to nod before the groan shook her. He paled noticeable, but there weren't many options here. He wasn't about to deliver a baby.

"Do you, do you think you can walk?" He wasn't sure where to hold her, to help her.

"I don't think so. God, this hurts! Fox, I need help!"

"Okay, okay! Just don't have the baby now. Stay calm and don't push." Her glare at him scared him almost as much as her pain. He'd helped her to her feet now, but she couldn't straighten up. She was clutching her stomach and leaning heavily against him.

"Take it easy, Dana. The car's right outside."

"Fox, I can't do this. It hurts too much. I can't."

"They can give you something at the hospital. I'll get you there as quick as I can."

"That better be damn quick." She was groaning again and had doubled over.

"Dana." It was only a whisper. She didn't try to speak when the contraction ended, only looking up at him, fear plain in her eyes.

He managed to open the door without losing his grip on her. The car was only a few steps away, but they never made it.

The light that struck them was paralyzing in its intensity. He could feel her being removed from his frozen arms but couldn't move or even cry out to stop it. He'd felt this before, this helpless inability to protect someone he cared about. He couldn't even turn his head, but could feel her presence now slightly above him and moving away. In his mind he was screaming for them to let her go. Then oblivion.

The two men watched a technician leave with the child. "I don't understand. Why let her escape temporarily? Why even let them meet if you're going to erase their memories?"

The second man removed the cigarette from his mouth and exhaled. "A connection has been made. It was necessary, trust me."

The End

Read More Like This Write One Like This
PreXF list
Teens list
Halloween Flashback Challenge
Picture It Challenge
Return to The Nursery Files home