She sensed him too late, as his hand covered her mouth and he pulled her back against his hard body. “Don’t be afraid,” he whispered. “I’m not going to hurt you, just be
He didn’t remove his hand, and before she could have responded in any case, she heard the other footsteps. The new person approaching was wearing boots and making
no pretense at stealth. She and her captor stayed completely still back in the shadows.
‘Boots’ ransacked the pantry, stopping only when he was joined by a second man. “No one else’s here.”
“Yeah, I didn’t see anyone either. Take that stuff and let’s get out of here.”
“You don’t like it out here?” the second man teased.
“Hell no! Too much open space. Could be a sniper behind any tree.”
“And you weren’t worried about that in the city?”
“I know the city and I’m going back. There’s food and I know some people; we’ll be okay there.”
The second man grunted, but then they gathered up some food and left. The sound of motorcycles pulling away caused the man holding her to relax.
He released her and stepped back. “Sorry.”
She turned, finally able to see her captor. He was a young man, good build, not too tall, but taller than her, probably 5’ 10” with sandy hair and blue eyes. He stepped around
her, closer to the corner.
“Are you going to rape me?” she asked finally.
“Wasn’t planning to.” He didn’t even look in her direction, trying to see around the corner without exposing their position.
She just blinked at that statement.
Finally he turned back to her. “It’s not that I don’t find you attractive. That’s just not my style.”
She gave a nervous chuckle. “Thanks.”
He grinned then and she relaxed further. He sure didn’t look predatory, but who could tell these days. He extended his hand. “Kevin.”
“Nice to meet you. You’re not here alone are you?”
She tensed up again slightly at the question.
“Look, I’m not going to hurt you. It just seems a little dangerous for you to be here alone. Those guys aren’t the only ones out here.”
“I know. I, I just don’t have anywhere else to go.”
“This is home?”
“It was, when I was a kid. I came here when . . .”
“Yeah. You didn’t find anyone?” He was staying back, out of reaching distance and trying not to be intimidating. He was well built, probably had played sports at one time.
For these days he was in great shape.
She shook her head. “I didn’t really expect to, but . . . “
“Not everyone died.”
“I realize that.” Her head came up. “But I saw enough that did. I’m a, I was a nurse.”
“Then you still are, just not practicing,” he said matter of factly and moved out into the area that held the pantry the men had ransacked. “Hungry?”
She nodded and reluctantly followed him. “Why are you here?”
“I’m just on my way to find an old friend.”
She didn’t comment on that, watching him look through the remaining food. “Ah ha, they missed this.” He picked up a can of Brunswick stew triumphantly and she smiled.
“Too bad crackers are so stale now.”
“Are you really not going to hurt me?” she asked after a minute.
“I’m really not going to hurt you, Beth,” he responded seriously.
After another moment she nodded. “Come on.” She turned then and led him out the back door of the house and after looking around darted between a couple of houses and
finally crossed a street. She let him in a house less then a block away. The abandoned look of it was just in the front. Smart woman, she’d hid the fact that someone was living
here very well.
She led him to the back and he saw the living quarters she had set up well away from any windows. She had a hot plate set up on an old piano bench, hot pads protecting the
wood and her few utensils set up in a wide hall, away from the windows. Through a door he saw a real bed and bath.
“Did you live here?”
She nodded. “I guess I’ve inherited it now.”
He grinned. “I left my inheritance back in Iowa.”
“Iowa? That’s quite a ways. Where are you going?”
He shrugged. “When I started out, I was heading for Washington, DC, but that doesn’t feel right anymore.”
“What do you mean?” she paused from opening the can of stew he had found. “Were you not able to get in touch before communications cut off?”
He took off his jacket and folded it neatly. “I didn’t try. I haven’t seen the man since I was a kid.”
“So he doesn’t know you’re coming?”
Kevin shook his head.
“He could be anywhere, or . . . dead.”
“He’s not dead. I’d know it if he were.”
She opened her mouth to respond to that, then thought better of it and returned to her task.
“Guess that sounds kinda strange,” he admitted.
“If you need to hold on to the belief someone you love is still alive, I understand,” she said quietly.
“He’s not a loved one, not really. He’s someone who did me a favor a long time ago. I feel like he needs some help now and I . . . “ he wound down. “Guess I can’t explain it.”
“That’s okay. It sounds nice to have a goal. This stuff should be ready in a few minutes. Would you like to wash up?”
“I’d love it.”
“If you want to take a shower, it’s okay. With just me there’s plenty of hot water, at least until the power goes off.”
He smiled. “I’d appreciate it. I’m beginning to wonder about the electricity myself. Guess there haven’t been any major storms, not that we’d necessarily hear about them, but
I can’t believe someone hasn’t driven into a pole or something.”
She nodded. “I keep expecting it, but I still have the freezer stuffed. Go on.”
“Thanks.” He headed for the bath with his backpack and she got dinner together, slicing some of the fresh bread she had made the day before.
He didn’t take long, emerging with his hair slicked back and in different clothes. “Smells great.”
She chuckled. “I cooked all day.” She pointed to the small table beside the staircase and he took a seat. He looked in amazement at the fresh bread and gaped when she
placed the glass of iced tea in front of him.
“I didn’t expect - “
“Go ahead and eat. It’s nice to have some company.”
They were quiet, enjoying the meal. When they were through, she gathered up their dishes. “I should handle clean up,” he reached for them.
“That’s okay. While I’m doing this would you like to do some laundry?”
“Are you serious? It’ll take awhile.”
“I’m enjoying your company.”
Kevin nodded at that; he felt the same. He was pleased she wasn’t frightened of him anymore as well.
While she did the dishes he got his clothes together and filled the washer. This was a perk he hadn’t imagined.
His laundry was done now, and he’d done a little work around the place to try to repay her for her kindness.
“I guess I need to get going.” He finished repacking his backpack after unloading the dryer.
“It’s already almost dusk. You won’t be able to get far before it’s dark,” she wasn’t really facing him.
“There’s not a lot of traffic now.”
“Or safety. Look, it’s okay with me if you want to crash here tonight. You could have that room. I sleep upstairs.”
He looked at her closely. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”
She smiled then and he could see the relief on her face. “You’re not. I, I think I’d feel more comfortable having you here.”
She nodded and relaxed. He told her of his trip east as they both worked on mending clothing that evening. When he had started out there were quite a few people on the
roads as they left the cities for the country and visa versa. As he continued though, there were less people. Abandoned cars were more prevalent and a few dead bodies,
but surprisingly few of those.
She told him of her journey as well. She had been one of the last to leave the hospital. He had protested the word abandon from her, but she just shook her head. “We had
used up all of our supplies. There was nothing coming in. We had lost all of the doctors, the senior nurse finally sent us away. No one was coming in for treatment any more,
and we couldn’t feed the living. It felt like I was giving up, but . . . “
“You couldn’t have done anyone any good by staying longer than it was safe.”
She looked over at him, her gratitude obvious. “I knew that, I know that. Anyway I came home. It took weeks.” She fell silent then.
He watched her for a moment. “What happened?”
Startled she looked over at him. “Nothing.”
She swallowed. “Yeah. Well, nothing happened but it was close.”
“Can you talk about it?”
“Nothing . . . “ she closed her eyes. “I was attacked. One night I didn’t take the precautions I knew I should have. There was only one guy, thank goodness. I was able to fight
him off. I had apparently been eating better than him. It was a wake up call.”
“You’ve been more careful since then,” he nodded. “Why are you letting me stay?”
She blinked at that. “I, I don’t know. You don’t give off that . . . vibe.” She smiled at him.
“Thank you,” he nodded.
He stirred, waking and spotted her standing in the doorway. “Beth? Is something wrong? Did you hear someone?” He rose from the bed, aware he was wearing only boxers
and a t-shirt.
“I’m sorry.” She shook her head, but didn’t retreat.
“It’s okay. Did something happen?”
“You’re leaving tomorrow.”
Puzzled he nodded.
“I don’t want to be alone.”
“Oh.” He looked closely at her, then made his decision. “Come on, get in.” He took her hand and led her to the bed. She only hesitated a moment, then crawled in and looked
up at him.
He gave her a reassuring smile and joined her in the bed. “Just relax.” He turned her away from him and spooned around her. He made no move on her, she was here for
security and he wanted to give her that.
“Try to get some sleep,” he whispered to her, hugging her tighter for an instant.
She seemed to slip into sleep quickly and when he realized she had drifted off, he let his eyes close as well.
He didn’t know how long he had slept when he felt her hands on him. “Beth?”
“I don’t want to be alone,” she said again.
“Are you . . . “
He brushed her hair back and gave her a gentle kiss.
Her hand moved inside his t-shirt and he pulled her closer.
They made love slowly, savoring each other, feeling safe and together. They drifted back off to sleep holding each other.
He was alone in the bed when he woke. He smelled the coffee and rose, slipping back on his boxers and found his t-shirt, mixed in with the sheets. He moved out into the hall
and spotted her at the table, her back to him.
Her head came up, but she didn’t turn.
“Beth, did I . . . I told you in the first five minutes we knew each other that I wouldn’t rape you. Did I?”
She turned then, startled. “No! I, I took advantage of you.”
He smiled then. “It doesn’t feel that way.”
“Kevin, I’m older than you, aren’t I?”
He shrugged. “That depends on how old you are.”
She chuckled then. “I’m 28. You?”
“Yeah, you’re a little bit older.”
“I’ll be seventeen soon.”
Her eyes widened and she didn’t seem to be breathing. “Sixteen! Oh god, I, I should be arrested!”
“Hardly. I’ve always been old for my age. Do I look sixteen?”
“No, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are. I, good lord . . . You, you weren’t a virgin.” There was no question in her mind on that count, remembering their encounter vividly.
He didn’t respond directly. “May I have some of that coffee?”
“What? Oh, of course.” She picked up a cup, but wouldn’t face him.
“Beth, please, don’t be - “
“I’m, I’ll be okay. You, you’re leaving this morning aren’t you?”
After a moment he nodded. He’d hoped she wouldn’t freak out, it was one of the reasons he hadn’t mentioned his age. No one looking at him would guess, but a direct question
. . . “I think you should come with me.”
“What? No, listen you shouldn’t feel guilty. I was the one - “
“I’m not feeling guilty. I thoroughly enjoyed last night. I just don’t want to leave you here.”
She turned back to the hotplate. “Who’s this friend you’re looking for anyway?”
He accepted the change, for now. “He’s a guy that helped find my sister. His name is Fox Mulder and - “
“The FBI agent?”
Kevin stopped, stunned. “You know him?”
“I worked with him. Well, not really with him. When I was working in Wisconsin, we had a plane go down and there must have been a haz mat problem. The army showed up
and all of these soldiers were brought in with the most horrible burns. I’d never seen fifth and sixth degree burns before. The doctor in charge at my hospital recruited his partner
to help out. What was her name; it started with an “S”?”
“Scully,” Kevin said quietly, watching her.
“Right, Dr. Scully. Anyway they drafted her to work with them in the burn unit. It was terrible. We couldn’t save any of them.”
“You remember him.”
“Oh yes. He was no hardship to look at, but the way that colonel treated him . . . We all remembered that.”
“You have to come with me.”
“That’s why I found you. You’re supposed to go with me to work with Mulder and Scully. They touched your life, kind of like they did mine. We have to go.”
“You’re serious,” she sounded completely astounded.
“Do you want to stay here, alone? You’re a nurse, Scully will need you. Beth, please,” he sounded urgent now, desperate to convince her.
She just looked at him for the longest moment.
“It’s crazy, it’s a crazy idea.”
“But it feels right, doesn’t it?” he said softly.
“This is home.”
“And it always will be. It’s where you grew up, but it’s not where you need to be now. I ducked into that house to stay out of sight. I chose it, I thought, at random. I’ve learned to
go with my feelings lately. You were there; you were supposed to be there.”
“We can’t . . . I mean - “
He raised his hands. “You’re in charge of that. I loved being with you, if it’s too uncomfortable for you to be with me like that, just be my companion. You look after me and I’ll look
after you. They do need us.”
She nodded. “I know they do,” she said slowly.
He smiled at those words and held out his hand. “Friend?”
She didn’t hesitate that time. “Friend.” She took a deep breath. “Where are we going?”
“Farther north,” he shrugged. “You have any maps?”
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.