Charlie, Mary and Missy headed home after dinner; bundling up against the incredible cold. They took dinner back to Sam and Trisha along with hugs from the kids. Mulder found himself missing them as soon as they were out of sight.
He had felt Samantha’s eyes on him several times, but he had avoided meeting her eyes. She seemed confused, even curious about him but he didn’t let himself hope that he could get close.
It was early, but the kids were already down for the night, so he searched out Scully where she was helping Anne pack and took her hand. Anne turned away smiling, and they left the room together.
Walter looked up from the couch where he and Maggie were sitting, visiting with Bill. He smiled when he saw them heading for the stairs. “Goodnight Mulder.”
Mulder looked over at him and grinned. Scully blushed slightly and looked at her mother, rolling her eyes. Maggie smiled gently and nodded. She knew what had happened and was grateful Mulder was doing better. She knew where his guilt came from, but it was time he put it aside.
Samantha was staring at him, watching him climb the stairs. Walter watched with no comment. It was interesting; his change in attitude had caused a change in hers. Walter knew he couldn’t see colors as well as some of the adults, but he had seen a faint purple light around Mulder and Scully this evening. How well could Samantha see something like that after all of her experiences? He’d have to ask Katy tomorrow.
Walter rose from the couch and held out a hand for Maggie. She took it and gave him a quick kiss. “Let me help Samantha get ready for bed and I’ll be in.”
He nodded and watched her walk slowly up the stairs with Samantha. Bill took a heated brick to warm their beds and followed.
Mulder curled around Scully, keeping her smaller body warm with his own. He’d warmed the sheets and there were several quilts covering them, but she still pressed back into him savoring the warmth.
“Thank you,” he whispered in her ear.
“My pleasure.” She turned, grinning at him.
“That’s nice to hear.” He pulled her closer.
They were a little late coming down the next morning. Everyone was already seated around the table. The smaller live-in group always crowded around one table now for the family feel. Mulder took his seat beside Scully at the far end of the table. Walter and Maggie sat beside Bill and Samantha.
Samantha seemed to be staring even more blatantly this morning, but Mulder ignored her, pouring Scully a cup of hot tea.
Walter looked down at that end of the table. “Hey, Fox!”
Mulder looked up; ready to give him some grief over the use of that name, but Samantha’s head had swiveled toward Walter. Her eyes were large, staring at the bald man and her mouth was open in shock.
“F-f-f-f” Samantha’s lips moved trying to create the sound.
Without a word, the children left their places and formed a semi-circle around her, with Katy’s hand lightly on her back.
Samantha was still staring at Walter, but Mulder moved now and knelt beside her, not touching her. Lexie broke from the group and ran toward the back. Scully started to rise, but Walt shook his head. She was back in moments carrying a small framed picture that Scully had found when they arrived so many years ago. It was small, just of the two kids sitting in front of the fireplace at the house, Samantha and Fox smiling up at the camera. Lexie handed it to Bill. He looked down at it, then over at Scully. He moved closer and put one arm around Samantha.
She startled, then realized it was Bill and relaxed again. She looked down and saw Mulder at her knee, but she didn’t draw away. Bill moved the picture into her line of sight. She blinked, then stared at the picture with the same intensity she had directed at Walter.
Bill pointed to the little girl. “This is Samantha.” He touched the face of the photograph, then Samantha’s face. “Samantha.”
She looked at him, obviously thinking furiously.
“This is Fox.” He again touched the face in the photograph. Her eyes lit up like Christmas trees.
“Fox.” Bill nodded smiling. Then he leaned over and touched Mulder’s face as he had Samantha’s. “Fox.”
She looked confused for a moment, turning back to the picture, as though afraid to look directly at Mulder when he was so close.
Katy silently took her hand and touched it to the photograph, first the young Samantha, then the woman sitting there. Then Katy had her touch the boy’s face and finally Mulder’s face.
Samantha nearly withdrew her hand, but when Mulder made no movement, just allowing her to touch him, she continued. After a few minutes she leaned back into Bill. “Fasss?”
“Fox, yes,” Mulder said softly, “Butt Munch.”
Her eyes widened and everyone could see her searching her memory. Walt’s hand joined Katy’s on her back. Her eyes lightened and her lips seemed to curve into a faint smile.
Almost immediately her eyes began to droop and she sank into Bill’s arms. He carried her into the great room and lay her on the couch.
“Is she okay?” Maggie asked anxiously.
Katy nodded. “What she did took a lot of energy.”
Mulder was only now rising from his knees. Scully’s hand was on his elbow, and once he stood she took him into her arms. “She remembers you,” Scully whispered to him.
He nodded, not speaking, just holding her close. He finally looked over at Walter. “Did you know that would happen?”
Walter shook his head. “I don’t know why I said it, it was a joke.”
Mulder nodded and looked toward the great room.
“You haven’t eaten, Mulder,” Scully tried to move him back to his seat.
He leaned down and kissed her. “I love you, but right now I need to be alone for a little while.”
“I’m okay, really. I just need - “
“I know. Not too long,” she said quietly.
He did smile then and kissed her again. “I’ll be on the work porch. I’m okay.”
“Don’t over think it, Mulder. This was good.”
He nodded and headed toward the kitchen. After Mulder was out of hearing, Walter took Scully’s arm. “Should he be alone?”
“Normally I’d say no, but he needs a minute.”
Walter nodded and joined Todd. Scully, Anne and Maggie cleaned up the breakfast as the children sat playing quietly on the rug in front of where Samantha slept. Since she was settled, Bill joined the other men getting the house ready for the day.
Mulder worked the hides, not viciously as he had before, but with the pleasure of doing manual labor. Less than an hour later the door leading to the kitchen opened. Bill helped Samantha onto the porch.
Mulder opened his mouth to warn them of the cold, but hesitated. Someone, probably Bill, had wrapped an extra shawl around her. He met Bill’s eyes and nodded his thanks.
“I’m fixing these furs so that you can stay warm,” he said to her, pointing to them.
She glanced at the furs, then back at his face.
“Would you like to feel it?” He held out a rabbit fur he had finished. She touched it gingerly, then smiled shyly. “You can have that if you like.” She rubbed the soft fur against her face silently.
“I don’t suppose you have any other old pictures,” Bill asked.
Mulder looked over at him. “Yes, I do. I grabbed a photo album when we came up here. When Todd and I go over we’ll get it.”
Bill nodded, watching Samantha as she gently fondled the fur.
Mulder opened his mouth to ask Bill a question when MJ’s voice was in his head. “We’ve got a weak area. Punch through.”
Both men reacted as they had been trained, but Mulder realized that Samantha had reacted as well. He put that aside to concentrate on the task at hand. It seemed to last longer, but when it had passed he opened his eyes to see Samantha slumped over the table. “Bill!” He lifted his sister into his arms and they all moved toward the great room.
The others were just beginning to stir. Mulder lay her back on the couch, then turned to the children.
“Was she helping us?”
Walt nodded. “She’s very strong.”
“Is she physically strong enough for this?”
“It’s all mental, Dad.” The boy smiled. “She’s making a
“I didn’t even realize she was . . . “
“She understands us better than the adults. Words can confuse, what she picks up from us in pretty straight forward.”
After a moment Mulder nodded. “It was longer this time.”
Walt smiled. “Yes, it was. The kids in Pennsylvania handed over a pretty weak area. We blasted right through it. With Samantha we’re going to try a wider range.”
“With Samantha,” Mulder repeated.
“Dad, we won’t hurt her,” Walt said quietly.
“I know.” He looked back down at his sister. She looked so frail physically, but obviously she had strength he hadn’t realized. And she’d come looking for him. Even in sleep her hand clutched the scrap of fur he had given her.
Bundled beyond recognition, Mulder and Todd trudged to the house through the blowing snow. Both held onto the guide of heavy fishing line that had been strung between the clinic and house. They were both packed with supplies and Todd, leading, held a flashlight. It didn’t go far. Mulder marveled again at Bill’s feat of getting Samantha inside alive.
They stumbled up onto the steps. It took both of them to force the screen door to the porch open. They had only kept paths open, but the entryways to unoccupied houses were covered in drifts.
There were drifts on the porch as well, but they were able to open the inside door with little trouble. Mulder wasn’t sure it was any warmer inside, but at least they were out of the wind. He hurried to the fireplace and lit the logs already laid and ready. A little snow had drifted down the chimney, but not enough to dampen the wood.
Once the fire was going, the men began to remove the outer layers of their clothing, then they began inspecting the house.
It had held up well. The roof and windows were tight and the structure sound. Once warmth had begun to seep into the bedroom, Mulder went looking for Todd. He was in the kitchen, inventorying the supplies.
“Are you sure you want to bring Anne and the kids here? We can make room at the clinic.”
“I know you can, but this place needs looking after and it’s more important for Megan and Greg to be there right now.”
“Are you sure? This place needs - “
“It’s your home, Mulder. It’s where Katy was born. Think of it as preserving a national monument.”
Mulder just looked at him for a moment, waiting for the punch line. It didn’t come. “You’re serious?”
Todd smiled then. “Think Ruthie will enjoy the loft?”
“Uh, yeah, and she should be warm up there.”
“Good. Lee will probably sleep with us. Maybe her too, on storm nights.”
“Good idea. Do Greg and Megan know about the plan?”
Todd shook his head. “That’s one of the problems. Malcolm doesn’t communicate that well yet,” he grinned.
Mulder nodded at that.
“We’ll shut down their house after they’re settled at the clinic.”
“You know this leaves me at the clinic with Bill and George,” Mulder said with a sigh.
Todd nodded. “You still have Walter. You’ll be okay. Besides, Scully’s there, so I’m not too worried about you.”
Mulder’s face softened and Todd saw the purple deepen around him. “Yeah,” Mulder agreed.
Leaving the fire banked, they made their way back to the clinic. Mulder had already overruled Todd’s objections to returning with them that afternoon. He would carry Ruthie and as much food as he could stuff in a pack. Todd could carry Lee and they’d keep Anne between them.
Scully, Anne and Maggie had everything packed when they returned. The goodbyes were tearful even though they would only be a few yards away in normal weather. With the little ones, Anne at least would not be traveling back and forth with any regularity.
Mulder had to smile at Ruthie. She couldn’t walk bundled up the way she was, but she would need every layer to be outside. Walter loaded the packs on the men’s back and a smaller one for Anne.
“Ruthie, you need to hold onto my neck when we get outside. Cuddle in close.”
“I will Mulder. It’ll be okay.”
He winked at her and took her from Bill, securing her in his arms. He saw that Lee was inside of Todd’s coat. “Okay, let’s get you guys settled.” He leaned over slightly to get a kiss from Scully, then motioned her back away from the door.
Todd led the way with Anne close behind him. Mulder brought up the rear trying to shield Anne and Ruthie from the heavy wind with his body. They made good time, but Mulder was glad to get everyone inside. He sat Ruthie on the couch close to the fire and Anne helped him lower his pack. Mulder helped Todd with his pack as Anne built up the fire.
“You doing okay, Ruthie?” Mulder knelt down beside her. She was shivering but she nodded, smiling. “Really?”
“Yes,” she said softly. “It will be warm soon.”
“Yes, the room’s getting warm real quick.”
She shook her head. “Not the room, the planet.”
Mulder blinked at her. “Are you . . . warm, really?”
She nodded seriously. “We’re moving the jet cream. When it’s more north, it’ll get warm again.”
“The jet cream. Hey, that’s great news.” He hugged her, grinning. “I want to help with that.”
“You are; everyone is.”
Mulder moved away to help with the unpacking, but the smile stayed on his face.
When they arrived at Greg and Megan’s place the next morning, Mulder wasn’t surprised to find most of their packing already done. He picked up Malcolm to give him a hug. “Thanks, big guy. You’ve saved us a lot of work.” The boy grinned and babbled something appropriate. The words weren’t there, but Mulder understood a ‘you’re welcome’ when he heard it.
George had accompanied Mulder and they made short work of battening down the house for a long-term absence while Greg and Megan finished packing. They left the wood box full and several days worth of food for emergencies. George and Mulder loaded their packs and Mulder put Malcolm inside of his coat so that Greg could concentrate on getting Megan to the clinic safely.
The sky seemed lighter, as though the cloud cover was thinner, but they didn’t take the time to check it out.
Once everyone was inside and Maggie was cuddling Malcolm in front of the fire, Scully brought hot soup around. Bill brought Samantha in from the children’s room once the flurry of activity calmed down.
Greg froze at the sight of a stranger. Bill seated her in an easy chair and perched on the arm. Greg glanced over at Mulder.
“This is Samantha, my sister.”
“Your . . . “ Greg met Megan’s eyes. “Your sister? I, I didn’t . . . How?”
Mulder smiled at that. “She was returned.”
Greg just stared at him.
Megan looked over at Scully. “Returned?”
“She was a gift, because we’re helping them clear the atmosphere.”
“She was with . . . them?” Megan glanced over at the silent woman.
“Since she was eight. It’s a long story. I’m sure someone will fill you in.” Mulder turned to Samantha though he didn’t get too close. “Samantha, this is Greg and Megan and Malcolm. They’re going to live here with us now.”
Samantha ducked her head at the direct comment from him, but the sight of Megan, caressing her stomach, caught her eye.
Scully stepped closer. “Samantha, Megan is going to have a baby, like Lee. Do you understand?”
Samantha moved closer to Bill, but there was a slight smile on her face.
“I’m pleased to meet you, Samantha.” Megan spoke softly and Samantha looked in her direction if not directly at her. They all turned to Malcolm as he babbled something and smiled. Samantha returned his smile and relaxed.
Megan’s pleasure at having company again was contagious. She had Scully and Maggie laughing as they cooked and mended clothes. Scully noticed that Samantha had begun to want to be close to them without Bill always within arm’s length. She still avoided Walter and George, but she watched Mulder now and didn’t shy away when he came into the room and she stared openly when he kissed Scully.
Her main attention however, was on Megan’s stomach. Megan had begun sitting beside her when she fed Malcolm and asked Samantha for her help, even having her feed the boy herself on occasion. When Megan allowed her to feel the baby kick, Samantha’s delight brought tears to Maggie’s eyes.
Though Bill continued to share her room at night, she was becoming more and more social in her silent way. The children included her, welcoming her to the classroom and letting her help them with the map.
The breaks in the weather came more and more often and the adults realized that Katy, Walt or Lexie now took Samantha’s hand, joining with her to attack the clouds. Whatever they were doing, it was working. Mulder motioned for Scully to join him at the window after the latest attempt. The ice had dripped just a little. Scully remembered thinking that the heat of his kiss after that discovery should melt a path to the North Pole.
Links to other sites on the Web
Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.