Mulder smiled as he noted Alex’s blank look. He knew exactly what the man was doing; getting a dose of sunshine. They had moved on from corkscrews to larger implements. Several times a day Mulder would notice the eyes of the people around him go unfocused and know they were working on the weather.
So far there had been no discernable change, but the children assured them they were helping. Even seeing the sunshine in their mind was helping.
The snow wasn’t melting and there were now deep paths between the dwellings, the barn and the ice house. At Scully’s request, Greg and Megan had moved into the clinic, taking Alex’s room. Julie had had two other children and Chloe lived in the same house as well as Esther. Becky and Langly were living with Brittany, Will and Jennifer. That house was closest to the clinic and with Will there, Scully wasn’t concerned. Greg and Megan lived farther away, and Malcolm was just a little too young in Scully’s mind to be in charge if there was a problem.
They had transferred most of their wood to the big house but Charlie and Mulder were becoming concerned about the supply. They could chop as long as a lantern would last, but that wood took time to dry.
A day of sunshine would be so wonderful.
Mulder stopped as he heard MJ’s voice in his head. “Push your fist through it. A big fist, the size of King Kong. Do it now!”
Mulder didn’t take the time to look around, but he could see directly in front of him that George and Peter had stopped in their tracks as well. The one-two punch with the huge furry paws he visualized aimed toward the sun worked and he saw a large patch of sunlight. Smiling he saw other fists break through around him. MJ had picked a great visual this time. When had the kid heard about King Kong?
It didn’t last long, but that much sun had caused a smile on every face he could see.
Mulder took a trip over to Frohike’s place later that day. “That was great work, MJ. It did wonders for morale.” He gave the boy’s hair a tussle, then took the seat Beth offered.
“I can’t stay long. I was on my way to check out the barn, but I wanted to thank you. Will we be able to do that again?”
“That part of the storm should be back soon and we’ll take another crack at it.”
“That part . . . have we seen this storm before?”
“Mulder, it’s all one storm, a planet-wide storm. This part is where we started with the corkscrews.”
“We’ve been looking at the same part of the storm over and over?”
MJ nodded. “We’re working on the weakest points so far and we are making progress. Today we really put a hole in it. You saw.”
“Yes,” Mulder grinned, “I definitely saw. When will this section be over us again?”
“Well, we have managed to slow it down some. Probably at least a week.”
“That’s slowed down?”
“Mulder, we’re working on it. The jet stream moves fast this time of year.”
“I’m not complaining, honest.” Mulder glanced up at Frohike. “Do you guys need anything?”
The older man shook his head. “We’re doing okay. The sun helped this morning. My eyes are getting real tired of the dark.”
“No trouble with the electricity?”
“No, but I think I’d go for a hike right now if I could.”
“Why, Frohike! I didn’t know you exercised,” Mulder chuckled. “I agree though. How long has it been since I got in a run.” He shook his head, and reached for his coat.
Bill was taking his turn at the woodpile. He had the flame turned low to make the light last as long as possible. His eyes had adjusted to the gloom and he had a nice pile of wood. The wind was down and with the heat he had generated with his work, he had opened his jacket and pulled the flaps on his cap up away from his ears.
The sound, like a whimper, caused him to stop in mid-swing. None of the kids were out here, were they? He turned and saw her. He blinked, positive that he was seeing an apparition. It was a woman, long dark hair moving slightly with the slight wind. She was wearing only the thinnest of material, barely more than a slip and gauze-y looking, though it covered her arms.
“Are you - “he wanted to say real, but she wrapped her arms around herself and shivered violently. She moaned then and he moved to her.
She shied back, but he looked down and saw that she was also barefoot. “I’m not going to hurt you. I have to get you inside or you’ll freeze.”
She looked at him, her eyes wide with fear and pain, but she didn’t speak.
Bill shrugged off his coat and started to wrap it around her. She whimpered again and took another step away from him.
“I’m not going to hurt you. I’m going to take you inside, where it’s warm.”
She looked down at her feet. She seemed confused, but the next step was obviously painful. She stopped, surrendering to him as tears formed in her eyes.
He wrapped the large coat around her, then lifted her into his arms. She weighed next to nothing, but she was rigid in his arms. “I’m not going to hurt you.” He moved as fast as possible back to the clinic.
When he burst into the main room, the children that were living in the clinic came boiling out of the classroom. “Where’s Dana?” he demanded as he hurried to the fireplace with the strange woman in his arms.
Scully hurried in from the kitchen, summoned by the mental call of the children as much as Bill’s call. “Oh my god.” She rushed to Bill’s side as he lowered the woman onto the rug in front of the fire. “Get those heated blankets,” Scully ordered, not checking to see who was listening.
Mulder was only a few steps behind her. He’d been working the hides in the workroom off the kitchen.
The woman, upon seeing the crowd of people descending from all sides, moaned in fear and burrowed into Bill’s chest.
“It’s okay. These people just want to help you.” Bill let his arms tighten around the woman.
“Everyone, please give us some space here. Walt, you come here beside me, everyone else, please move back.” She took the blankets that Todd had raced for when he saw Bill.
They all stepped back, Walter and Maggie moving to the children. Walter leaned down to Katy. “What’s going on?”
She just shook her head; her eyes glued on the woman.
“Bill, what’s going on?” Scully moved slowly towards them.
“I don’t know. She was just there, at the woodpile.”
Bill nodded. “I was alone and then I wasn’t.”
Scully knelt beside them. “She couldn’t have been outside long. There’s no sign on frostbite on her feet.”
“She got there somehow and I sure as hell didn’t see a truck,” Bill hissed. The woman whimpered in his arms and he relaxed, cuddling her until she calmed a little.
Mulder stepped away, his presence wouldn’t help things right now and Scully knew what to do. He moved closer to Skinner. “We need to see what happened out there.”
“I’ll go, you need to stay here,” Walter agreed immediately.
“Not alone.” Mulder looked around the room. “Take George with you.”
George nodded and moved toward the alcove holding the outdoor clothes.
“I left a lantern and one of the axes out there,” Bill said quietly, not looking in their direction.
“We’ll take care of it,” Walter assured him. Bill gave a short nod.
Scully settled beside them, with Walt on the other side. “You’re going to be okay. You’re safe now. Can you look at me?”
Instead the woman seemed to burrow even deeper into Bill’s chest.
“It’s okay. No hurry, you’re safe now.” Scully looked over at Walt, who nodded to her.
After Walter and George had left, Mulder turned to Katy. “Can you get anything from her?”
“She’s scared,” Katy offered.
Mulder looked down at his daughter. Yeah, he could see that himself. “Anything else?”
Katy shook her head, just watching the young woman. What was going on?
A disturbance at the door got his attention as Kevin entered and began shedding some clothing. “What’s going on?” He headed straight for Katy.
Katy took his hand but didn’t speak. Kevin looked over at Mulder, but he just shrugged. After a few minutes, Mulder motioned for everyone to return to work except for Walt, Scully and Bill.
The woman seemed to be warming up, which meant that she hadn’t been outside too long. This made less and less sense but the woman was definitely not able to communicate. Scully rose and Mulder moved in her direction. “We haven’t given her the injection, Mulder.”
Before Mulder could respond, Walt shook his head. “Not now. She’s human, don’t worry.”
Mulder took Scully’s arm and led her to her office. “What?”
“The kids, did you notice them?” Mulder asked, his voice low.
“Not really, I was concentrating on the woman,” Scully said, looking back over her shoulder toward the main room.
“They weren’t . . . okay, they were surprised to see her as much as we were, but then they were communicating like mad without including us.”
“You could hear them?”
“No, but I could feel it.”
“Are you going to ask Katy?”
“I tried. I don’t think she wanted to tell me.”
“Are you serious? You think Katy would - “she stopped when she hear Walter and George return.
“Come on,” Mulder said, taking her hand, returning to the main room. Todd had taken the lantern and ax while the two men removed their outer clothes and boots. “Cold out there?” Mulder asked.
“Yeah, damn cold. It’s gotta be below zero, even without the wind.” Walter blew on his hands.
“What did you see?”
“Fascinating. No footprints leading to the area except Bill’s. Two, maybe three footprints for her, bare footprints. Mulder, it’s like she just ‘materialized’.”
“Materialized. So they dropped her here, but why? Who is she?”
“You’re thinking the aliens gave her to us?”
“I don’t know many humans with that capability,” Mulder responded. “I think we need to talk to Katy now. She knows something, they all do.”
“And Walt didn’t want us to inject her,” Scully reminded him.
“Is it okay to leave her with Bill?” Mulder asked.
“Yes. She’s most comfortable with him. She’s not going anywhere. Are we all going to talk with Katy?” Scully responded.
“I don’t want her to think we’re ganging up on her, but I think all three of us need to hear what she has to say. And she’ll want Kevin with her.” Mulder moved in that direction.
“Katy?” Mulder stopped in front of his oldest daughter.
She looked up, clearly nervous and tightened her grasp on Kevin’s hand.
“I think we need to talk.”
Mulder blinked at that. She always called him ‘Dad’; all of his kids did. He met Scully’s eyes and saw the fear there. Mulder led them all to Scully’s office and after a last glance at Bill and the strange woman, shut the door.
Katy and Kevin took the chairs. Mulder leaned against the desk. Scully took her seat and Walter leaned against the door.
”Katy, this isn’t an interrogation, even if he looks like one,” Mulder smiled at his daughter. “We do need to know some things and I know you can help us. We need to know who she is, and if you know, how she got here and why.”
“Katy, what is it?” Scully asked quietly as the girl still hesitated.
“She’s Samantha. You asked for her, well, Mom did, and as payment for staying here, they sent her back to you.”
No one moved; no one even seemed to breathe for a long moment. Then Walter was moving toward Mulder. He had lost all color in his face. Kevin rose as well and took Mulder’s other arm. Mulder collapsed into the vacated chair.
Scully was already moving around her desk. “Mulder?” When he didn’t respond she turned to Katy. “I asked for her?”
Katy nodded, miserably. “They made you forget. We didn’t think it was possible to send her back, so we thought it would be better not to . . . Mommy, I’m sorry.”
“We can talk about that later. Katy, we’re not angry with you.” Scully turned back to Mulder. “Mulder, talk to me.”
He shook his head though he still didn’t speak.
Again Scully turned to Katy. “Is she all right?”
“She, uh - “ Katy looked over at Mulder. “Not really. They, they did a lot of things to her for a long time.”
Mulder let his head sink into his hands and moaned. Scully leaned over him, as though protecting him with her body. “We can talk about this later - “
“No! Tell me; tell me what happened to her!” Mulder head flew up then and Katy cringed back from the look on his face.
“Mulder - “ Scully started, but he grabbed her wrist, stopping her.
“Why doesn’t she speak?”
“She, she’s forgotten how. She hasn’t used her voice in a long time.”
Mulder’s Adam’s apple bobbed. “Does she know who she is?”
“No.” Katy shook her head. Mulder closed his eyes and leaned back.
“Honey,” Walter reached for his granddaughter and took her up in his arms. “How did she get here?”
“They dropped her here. We didn’t see it coming. We didn’t know they could . . . I’m sorry.”
Walter hugged her tighter. “You have nothing to be sorry about, none of you do.”
“We didn’t know why they made Mom and Dad forget about asking about Samantha.”
“It doesn’t matter, Sweetie.” Scully reached out for her hand, though she didn’t move from Mulder’s side.
“Does she remember anything? Anything about before?” Mulder’s voice was muffled, his face buried in his hands.
“Only you.” Katy said sadly.
“Me?” Mulder’s head flew up.
“Well not exactly. She remembers ‘Fox’. She’s not sure what it means but it’s something she, she clings to the word.”
“Oh god.” Mulder’s head was down again. “It’s what she was screaming, begging me to help her.”
“Mulder, stop it.” Scully tried to get him to look at her. Finally, in desperation, she crawled into his lap and held him that way. His arms went around her, clasping her to him. Katy reached out and caressed one of his hands and he loosened his death grip on Scully to take it in his.
Scully kissed his cheek and leaned against his shoulder. “Katy, what should we do?”
“We’ll look after her, heal her, but she needs some recovery time.”
“Heal her from what?” Mulder’s voice was muffled against Scully’s neck.
“Dad, she’s been held by them for a long time. They . . . we can fix all of that. She will have to relearn some things.”
“Like what?” Scully looked over at their daughter.
“How to walk, how to talk, how to eat - “
“Eat?” Mulder looked up then.
“She hasn’t been fed by mouth for a long time. She can do it; we just have to teach her.”
Mulder shook his head, but he didn’t say anything else, just holding Scully even tighter. Skinner motioned for Katy and Kevin to leave with him. Katy looked back at her parents once more then followed the two men from the room. Once the door was closed, Kevin picked her up and hugged her. Walter let his hand rub her back as she settled her head against Kevin’s shoulder.
After a moment, Walter looked toward the main room. “I kind of expected everyone to be here.”
Katy shook her head. “It would only scare her. We all know she’s here, and who she is, but the adults don’t know about this yet.”
“Wise decision, Honey.” Walter made his way back to the couch. Samantha was still in Bill’s arms, her eyes drooping from weariness. She startled when she saw Walter approach and Bill tightened his hold around her.
“Sorry,” he whispered. “Can I get you anything?”
“No, it’s okay. I’m hoping she goes to sleep soon, so Dana can check on her. Any ideas on who she is or where she’s from?” His voice was low as well, but she didn’t see to mind him speaking.
“We’re, uh, we’re working on that. Thanks for being here for her.”
Bill nodded and Walter retreated. Even from a distance, Walter could see Samantha relax once he was out of reach. His heart ached for Mulder. He had finally found his sister, but she was . . . like this. No illusions now about what she had been through. He looked around for Maggie. He felt the need to be in her arms now.
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.