When Mulder and Scully arrived at breakfast the next morning with the children, it seemed as though everyone was smiling.  If they weren’t smiling at them, they were smiling to themselves.  Mulder’s arm around Scully was warm and easy. 

Bill was late arriving at the table and looked rough.  Scully looked over at Charlie, who only shrugged.   

Byers, who had taken the seat beside Mulder, saw the exchange.  “He didn’t get much sleep last night.  None of us did.”

"What happened?”  Mulder asked. 

“Nightmares.  They sounded pretty bad.” 

“He’s remembering.” 

Byers nodded.  “I think I’ll find a kid and get a good morning hug.  Otherwise I’m not sure how useful I’ll be today.” 

Mulder nodded and watched him move away.  “Bill’s going to be here again today, right?  With Chrissy?” 

“Maybe he should.”  Scully agreed.  Before she could continue, Bill sat beside her with his plate. 

“I have more questions.” 

“Of course you do, Bill.”  Scully said soothingly.  “This evening - “ 

“Now.”  His demeanor was hostile.  “If what I’m remembering is true, if aliens really have taken over the damn planet, why is he just sitting here?  He’s Fox Mulder, alien hunter extraordinaire, and he’s decided to become a farmer and just let them have the earth?” 

“Bill - “ 

“We have to do something!” 

Charlie’s hand landed on Bill’s shoulder.  “Why don’t you relax?” 

“Relax?  You want me to relax?  We’re just sitting - “ 

“Why don’t we go back to Scully’s office?  We can talk better there.” Mulder interrupted. 

“You still want to talk?” 

The others in the room had all stopped and were watching them.  Bill’s anger had caught them off guard.   

“Bill, you’re upsetting everyone.”  Charlie spoke in a low voice, nearly a whisper.  “Let’s go in the office.” 

Bill looked furious, but Mulder and Scully had already risen from their seats.  He shoved his seat back and followed them to the office.  Charlie joined them, but shook his head, forestalling their mother.  Walter’s arm was already around her. 

Bill ignored the mutterings of the others.  Charlie shut the door behind them and leaned against it as Mulder and Scully sat on the couch and Bill, after a slight hesitation, took a chair. 

“You had questions?”  Mulder leaned forward to listen. 

“You’re damn right I do!  You’re the alien expert, why the hell are you sitting here, doing nothing?” 

“What is it you want me to do?  Grab a gun and go after them?” 

“Well, why not?  We can’t just - “ 

“In the first place, Bill, we can’t tell them from us by just looking.  That’s why you didn’t know you were living with them.  And if you do stumble across one, and by sheer luck wound them, you’re the one in trouble.” 


“They’re stronger than us, a lot stronger, and just to add to the fun, they bleed green.  And it’s toxic.” 

Bill looked a little green himself at that.  “How, how do you know that?” 

“I’ve been exposed.”  Mulder said dryly.  “Several times.” 

“So, so what can we do?” 

“We’re doing it, Bill.  Scully, sorry Dana, started working on a vaccine against the virus as soon as we got up here.  I was given a vaccine when I was exposed to the black oil in Russia.  When I found Dana in Antarctica - “ 

“Call her Scully.  It doesn’t sound right coming from you.” 

Charlie’s lips twitched. 

“Uh, thanks.  When I found Scully in Antarctica, she . . . she was . . . “ 

Scully took his hand in hers.  “I had been infected by them.  I was in a, an incubator of sorts.  Mulder smashed it open and gave me an injection that stopped the process.  He saved my life.  And made me immune to the virus.” 

Bill’s eyes moved from one to the other, then leaned back in his chair.  “The shot you gave me, the one that killed Krycek?” 

"Destroyed the Krycek clone."  Mulder corrected. 

"And that's different than an alien?"  Bill asked quickly. 

"Yes.  We think clones were created to interact with us before there were enough of the aliens to do so.  We could be wrong.  The rebel aliens might have created them to help us - " 

"Rebel aliens?" 

"I know there's a lot to absorb, but there's every possibility you know more than we do.  Let Chrissy help you again today and tonight after dinner we'll meet.  I'm not putting you off, Bill, but there is work to be done.  We live here, we have to eat, live.  That takes precedence." 

Bill looked less than happy, but said nothing when the others rose.  He followed Scully to the main room and turned away when she kissed Mulder goodbye. 


"We need to get a crew working on the barn.  It needs to be expanded and winterized.  With two colts and a calf - " Kevin was looking at the work lists. 

"Wait a minute," Mulder interrupted him, "Two colts?" 

"Yeah.  Both mares are pregnant."  Kevin nodded. 

"When did that happen?"  Mulder looked between Walter and Kevin. 

"Purple explosion day."  Kevin grinned. 

Walter glared over at him.  "Do you have to refer to it that way?" 

"What do you want me to call it, Walter?  Hump day?"  Kevin asked innocently as Mulder burst out laughing. 

Walter's eyes narrowed.  "Hey, I should be the one complaining here."  Kevin continued.  "You two were . . . well, you know." 

Walter growled then, which drew a chuckle from Kevin.  Mulder was wiping his eyes.  Suddenly Mulder sat up straight, "Is anyone else, uh . . . " 

"Knocked up?"  Kevin offered.  Walter hesitated then, watching Mulder.  "In answer to your question, no.  No one else is pregnant.  I asked Katy as soon as I figured out what was happening.  Her response was 'we're trying to cure him, not scare him to death.'  Then I got the patented Katy look." 

Both older men relaxed slightly, even Walter chuckled at that.   

“Well, I guess now is a good time for building.  The first crops are in.  We’ll get the saw mill going again.”  Mulder straightened up. 

“I still want to fix that room for Katy.”  Kevin reminded him. 

“Barn first.  Katy’s okay where she is for now.” 

Kevin nodded and put the clipboard on the wall behind the desk, then followed Walter out. 


After dinner, Bill was no where to be seen.  Mulder started up to his room, but Scully stopped him.  “He was with Chrissy most of the day.  Maybe we should give him some time.  Bill’s not shy about approaching us.” 

Mulder nodded at that.  “Then let’s get home.  I’ll round up the mobile ones.  You get Chrissy.”  He kissed her forehead and went in search of their kids. 

The kids were actually waiting for them, and seemed to hurry them back to the house.  Once the door was closed, Mulder turned to see the three oldest sitting on the couch as though waiting for them.  He and Scully exchanged looks. 

“Should I put Chrissy down?”  Scully asked. 

“Not yet.”  Katy said, “We need to talk.” 

“Why do I feel like I just got called to Skinner’s office?”  Mulder said in an aside to Scully as he took Chrissy and held the chair for Scully. 

“We have good news, we think.”  Katy said then.  “We found Matthew.” 

“Matt?  He’s alive?  He’s okay? Is he in California?”  Scully seemed to fire the questions at them.  Mulder’s hand took hers and she smiled, chastised and leaned back. 

“He’s healthy, but he’s in Florida.” 

“Florida?  How -  “ 

“When Tara died, his other grandparents took him.”  Katy shrugged.  “They lived in Florida, so they took him home with them.  They didn’t . . . “ 

“What Honey?”  Mulder put Chrissy up on his shoulder and patted her back. 

“They didn’t like Bill very much.” 

“Are they dead?” 

Katy nodded.  “His grandmother had a heart attack a couple of years ago.  His grandfather raised him until he died a few months ago.” 

Scully’s eyes opened wide.  “He’s alone?” 

“No, but he doesn’t have any family.  He doesn’t use the name Scully.” 

“Doesn’t use . . . What is his name?” 

“He calls himself Matthew Hartley.” 

“Hartley.”  Scully looked over at Mulder.  “That was Tara’s name before she married Bill.  Why isn’t he using Scully?” 

“He, he doesn’t want to be a Scully.” 


Katy sighed, “He doesn’t think about Bill, unless he gets mad.  He doesn’t know him, and his grandfather was really mad at Bill for not being there when Tara died.  That’s all he kept saying to Matthew before he died.  His grandmother never wanted Tara to marry Bill because he was in the Navy.” 

Scully was obviously at a loss for words.  Her joy that her nephew wasn’t all the way across the country had dissipated. 

Mulder’s arm went around Scully, pulling her against him.  “We’ll bring him home, Scully.  Don’t worry.” 

“He won’t want to come.”  Walt said gently. 

Mulder looked up from Scully.  “Won’t want to come?” 

The three kids exchanged looks.  “He’s got no good reason to leave Florida.  He doesn’t know or like his dad.  He hasn’t seen Bill in over seven years.  He’s not going to want to leave his home to be with him.” 

“Let’s, uh, let’s sleep on this guys.”  Mulder looked back at Scully.  “Come on.  Bedtime.”   

The kids didn’t argue.  They just got up and came to Scully, hugging her.  Mulder watched them giving her comfort. 


Mulder sat on the bed silently watching her nurse Chrissy before coming to bed.  She was watching the baby’s fist open and close on her breast, trying to stay calm.  When Chrissy released her nipple, drifting off, Scully changed her diaper gently and put her down. 

Mulder pulled down the covers and settled her in the bed before climbing in beside her.  “Want to talk about it?”  He asked softly. 

She burrowed her face into his chest, drawing comfort and strength from him.  “I only saw Matty a couple of times.  When he was born . . . “ 

Mulder nodded, that was a time he wouldn’t forget.  Emily. 

“He was just toddling the last time.  Remember I took a couple of days and went with Mom to Ohio?  I didn’t really think about it, but I don’t remember Bill holding him.  I mean, we were all over him, Mom, Mary and me, so Matty didn’t lack for attention, but Tara took care of all of his needs.  I remember Sam fell asleep on Charlie’s lap one night and it looked so natural.  I don’t remember Matty going to Bill.  It’s not entirely his fault.”  Scully tried to defend her brother though Mulder hadn’t spoken.  “His job meant that he was gone a lot.  It was the same for us, when we were kids.” 

“Was your father affectionate?” 

Scully paused, thinking that question over.  “He was to Missy and me.  Probably not as much with the boys.  I know he fixed us dinner some nights when Mom had something at the church, or went out with some of her friends.  We enjoyed Dad’s ‘grub’.” 

“How old is Matthew now?”  Mulder was thinking out loud. 

“He was nine in December.” 

“That’s a hard age for a boy.  We’ll have to uproot him to bring him here.  He may remember your mother, but I doubt there’s anyone else besides Bill.” 

“Florida is closer than California, but not that much.” 

“We’ll think of something.” 

She nodded, letting her arms go around his waist.  He pulled her tighter against him.  “Get some sleep, Scully.” 

“Soon.”  She met his lips. 


They kept quiet about this knowledge the next morning.  Mulder wanted Charlie, Walter and Kevin to brainstorm options with him before talking to Bill. 

Mulder noted that Bill assigned himself to the sawmill that morning and nodded.  He still had a lot to work through, but sitting around wouldn’t make it any better. 

Walter leaned back in his chair.  “That is a long time to have someone - let’s face it, three someone’s gone.  We can’t ask Todd, not with Anne pregnant.  And I don’t want to lose Greg or Will for that length of time.  I don’t know that George could walk that far, and I’m not sure I’d want him on an expedition like that.” 

Charlie looked around at each of them.  “Much as I hate the idea, Bill and I should go.”  He grimaced at the thought.  “For a third we could take Sam.  He’s nearly old enough and that way we’d have communication through Katy.” 

Mulder didn’t realize he was shaking his head until Walter called him on it.  “Who then, Mulder?  You’re not going.  We can’t chance that.” 

“I don’t - “ The door opened.  MJ and Missy came in.   

“This looks ominous.”  Charlie grinned at his baby girl and her twin. 

MJ smirked at him and took the seat Mulder had ignored.  Missy climbed into her granddaddy’s lap. 

“We think we’ve got a way to get Matthew here.”  MJ announced. 

Mulder looked over at Kevin, who shrugged. 

“There’s a family with Momma Ruth, who had a couple of people in Florida they want to bring home.  They don’t live with Matthew, but it’s close enough.  They can bring Matthew back to Momma Ruth’s and we can pick him up there.  It’s still a trip, but only a couple of weeks instead of months.” 

The adults exchanged looks.  “You guys have already set this up?”  Mulder asked. 

“Katy’s been talking to Momma Ruth, working out the details.” 

Kevin chuckled and the two kids looked at him and grinned. 

“What?”  Walter asked. 

“Katy.”  Was Kevin’s only reply. 

“So, when do we tell Bill?”  Mulder looked over at MJ and Missy, clearly including them in the question. 

“Not yet.  We need to get some more things worked out.”  MJ looked at Mulder, “You know he’s not going to want to come.  Whoever goes is going to have to force him.  They’ll do it, for you, but there could be problems.” 

“Kidnap him?”  Charlie asked. 

Walter closed his eyes.  This was getting more complicated by the minute. 


Dick checked the packs on his horse.  The ropes were secure and they had gifts and trading goods.  He settled the gun in his holster.  It looked like a regular gun, but it was a trank.  Melanie carried the rifle in her pack.  There was concentrated vaccine in the canisters and of course Ricky would be with them. 

He and Melanie had chosen not to have children in their old lives.  They had both been corporate bigwigs.  They had enjoyed the travel and, yes the power they had wielded.  He could laugh now.  How useless that part had been. 

They had been out of town when the virus struck.  Planes had been grounded, so they had rented a car and driven until they couldn’t get gas.   It had been Melanie’s idea not to head home, the news coming over the radio had been dire in New York City, so they had headed toward Florida, toward his sister’s home. 

They hadn’t made it.  They had finally stopped in a small town near the border of North and South Carolina, Refuge Mission.  The place had felt right even though they had laughed at the name. 

It had been their plan, when things returned to normal, to head home.  Now Refuge Mission was their home.  They worked with Momma Ruth and were making a real difference in the world, helping to disseminate the vaccine.  And they had Ricky now. 

He looked over as Melanie and Ricky came from their house and smiled.  In the old world he would never have considered taking a four year old on such a trip.  Hell, he wouldn’t have considered taking Melanie on such a journey.  Now he wouldn’t go without them. 

When he’d seen Todd and Anne arrive, just the two of them, he’d been startled.  They had come all the way from New England, from Mulder, to help them.  They were younger than he and Melanie, but they had been doing this important, no, this planet saving thing. 

Melanie had taken the vaccine, and after Jimmy and Rita had been born, so had he.  Then they’d had Ricky.  Why had they ever thought children weren’t for them? 

He and Melanie had been on short trips, administering vaccines and showing certain designated people how to recreate the serum.  This would be their longest, but he wanted to bring his sister and her family to his new home.  Her husband had taken off when things had gone to hell.  Dick didn’t know or care if he was still alive, but Stacey was and he wanted her with him; her and both of her kids.  Family meant more to him now.  Stacey would be so stunned to meet Ricky. 

The boy in question raced up to him and Dick lifted him in the air.  “You ready, Sport?” 

The boy nodded, “We’re going to get Aunt Stacey and my cousins, Terry and Mack.” 


“And on the way back, we’re going to get Matthew for Mulder!” 

Melanie, who’d been listening, chuckled.  “Right.”  She winked at Dick, then turned as Momma Ruth joined them in the dawn light. 

She hugged Ricky, then Melanie and finally Dick.  “You be careful.  I’ll be with you and of course Katy and the others will be watching.  If you need anything, let me or them know immediately.  You have plenty of vaccine?” 

“Yes ma’am.  And those seeds you suggested.” 

Momma Ruth nodded, “You best get going.  It’s not a quick trip.”  She looked at Ricky, “You know where to find Matthew.” 

Ricky nodded smiling. 

“Okay, then.  You call me if you need me.” 

Ricky hugged her neck.  Melanie mounted her horse, and Dick seated Ricky in front of her.  Dick gave Momma Ruth another quick hug, then mounted his own horse and they headed south. 

Thanks to Ricky and their guides along the way, they made good time on the trip south. 

It was nice to encounter few people.  The ones they did meet and share a fire with had known the symbol.  Goods had been traded - vaccine and seeds for a variety of other small goods.  And of course information.  There were fewer encounters with the others to report now.  There was no real evidence that they were retreating, but it was obvious even to those living in the boonies, that the ‘invasion’ had not gone as planned.  ‘They’ ruled the cities and humans held on to the rural areas. 

The reunion with Stacey, Terry and Mack was everything Dick had hoped.  His sister’s relief that they were alive and the incredible news of Ricky had her in tears for an hour. 

The news that they were anxious to return home with them was more than welcome.  When the community learned that there would also be a side trip to the panhandle of Florida, a quick meeting was held and a small group was assembled to accompany them for a trading trip.   

Dick was pleased, it gave them a chance to vaccinate more people and gave them all rides for a longer time.  With Stacy and kids able to have rides, the trip could be cut by several days.  He was ready to be home with his family. 


The community that included Matt was a small one.  Ricky told them there were only three children there that had been born like him.  The oldest was only two, the youngest only a few weeks. 

Ricky scouted the area and let them know that none of the ‘others’ were around.  One of the members from Stacey’s community had been there before and introduced them.   

Dick asked to speak to the leader of the village.  Joe, a man about Dick’s age, quickly joined them and invited them to his home. 

“We’re really happy to see you.  We’re a small group here.  Trading is essential to us.” 

“We’re glad to be here ourselves.  We’ve heard that you have a boy here, a Matthew Scully.” 

The man looked confused and offered Dick a seat.  “I’m sorry, but, the only Matthew we have here’s name is Hartley.” 

“Right.  I heard he was using his mother’s maiden name.  He’s nine, lived with his grandparents?” 

“That’s him.  His name is Scully?” 

Dick smiled, “Yeah.  Her nephew.  They found out Matthew’s father is alive.  We’ve been asked to pick the boy up and take him up to meet his father.” 

“That’s incredible.  I would never have thought the boy . . .” 

“Is there a problem?” 

“No, no.  I’m pleased the kid has some family.  He, he’s a difficult child.” 


“Look, he was raised by doting grandparents since he was three.  He’s a little . . . spoiled.” 


Joe looked away, then met Dick’s eyes again.  “They . . . indulged him.  He was a poor little orphan.  They gave him whatever he asked for, the better food, not having to help with the chores.  After Mildred died, I thought it would be a little better, but Jack . . . I’m sure the boy's father is just what he needs.” 

Dick nodded, “I know you have three children here that were born after their mother’s were vaccinated.” 

Joe nodded. 

“Have you been around them much?” 

“I don’t understand.” 

“Why don’t we talk?” 


Joe leaned back, obviously overwhelmed at the information he had just been given.  “This is . . . good, right?” 

“My opinion, wonderful.  I know you need some time to assimilate this.  Why don’t I met Matthew?” 

“Right.  I’ll have someone run get him right now.” 

Shortly a knock on the door announced Matthew’s arrival.  Dick stood as the door opened.  A boy stepped sullenly into the room.  He was bigger than Dick had expected.  It had been a long time since he’d seen anyone even slightly overweight, but this boy . . . His hair was long and greasy, and his attitude was plain in his posture and furious little eyes. 

“Matthew Scully?  Hi, I’m Dick Reynolds.  I have some very good news for you.” 

Matthew bristled immediately.  “My name is Matthew Hartley.”

“Your father is Bill Scully, and he’s alive.  He wants you to come live with him.” 


Dick blinked at that.  “What?” 

“I don’t want to.” 

“It’s your father, Matt -” 

“Matthew.”  The boy interrupted him. “And I don’t want to go.” 

“Uh, Matthew, there’s no family here to look after you.  Where we’re taking you, you’ll have family, people that love you.” 

“Who, my father?  He’s a jerk.  I don’t want to have anything to do with him.” 

Dick stared at him for a moment.  This was a nine year old?  He glanced over at Joe, who nodded slightly. 

“I’ll have someone get his things together.”  Joe stood and moved toward the door. 

“No!  I won’t go.”  The boy actually stomped his foot.  Joe didn’t stop, shutting the door behind him. 


Dick let himself into the room he was sharing with Melanie and Ricky and sat heavily on the bed, shaking his head. 

“Dick?”  Melanie moved quickly toward him. 

“Matthew is not what I was expecting.”  

Ricky hurried over to him and crawled in his lap.  “It’s okay, Dad.” 

“Is it?  The boy does not want to go with us.  And he’s going to make the trip back . . . “ 

“We’ll look after things.  We only have to take him home with us.  His Dad will be taking him to Mulder and Scully.  That’s what he needs.” 

“You’re sure?”  He looked down at his son, already feeling better. 

The boy smiled up at him and hugged him.  Dick took a deep breath and pulled Melanie down beside them on the end of the bed.  


Ricky was asleep when they heard the knock on the door.  There shouldn't be a problem, but Dick motioned Melanie behind him. 

A girl stood there alone.  She looked up at Dick, and held out her hand.  "I'm Lynne Alexander.  I'd like to go with you." 

Dick struggled not to smile.  She was very serious.  "Why don't you come in?"  He moved to allow her in the room.  "This is my wife, Melanie.  That's Ricky."  He pointed to the boy asleep in the second bed. 

Lynne nodded and shook hands with Melanie.  "I . . . I'd really appreciate it, if you'd let me ride out with you.  I have my own horse and a couple of goats.  I wouldn't be a drain.  I can make cheese and knit, and I'm not afraid of work." 

Dick put his hand up to slow her down.  "Lynne, how old are you?" 

"I'm 21.  I know I don't look it, but I can show you ID, not that it means anything.  I lived here with my mother, but she died a couple of months ago.  Now . . . there's someone interested in me and I’m not . . . " 

"Is someone bothering you?" 

Her shoulders slumped.  "Not . . . he hasn't hurt me.  He's a widower and wants another wife.  I don't have any family, so it's the obvious solution, but I don't . . . he's old." 

"How old?"  Melanie asked quietly. 

"He's 45."  She looked mournful. 

Again Dick hid his smile, but at 21 he had felt the same. 

"I don't love him.  If I were gone, he'd find someone and I'll be leaving most of my things behind.  Please, I won't slow you down." 

"That's not the issue.  Let me talk to Joe in the morning.  I don't want anyone to think we've kidnapped you." 

"So you'll think about it?"  Her anxious question belied the hope now showing in her eyes. 

Dick glanced over at Ricky.  "I haven't said yes, but let Melanie and me talk." 

Lynne nodded.  "I can be ready to leave whenever you say." 

Melanie smiled and rose from her seat.  "You're a brave young woman to be willing to uproot yourself." 

"Thank you.  You . . . you will . . ." 

"We'll talk to Joe first thing in the morning.  You try to get some sleep." 

The young woman, Dick upped her from girl now, nodded and thanking them again, then let herself out. 

Dick met Melanie's eyes.  "Lynne should come with us."  Ricky said in a sleepy voice, then rolled over, fast asleep again. 

"Well that settles that." Dick said. 


Joe voiced some concerns the next morning.  It occurred to him that he was letting two of his most vulnerable neighbors go off with virtual strangers. 

They were still talking when there was a tap on the door.  It opened, and Ricky joined them, taking a seat beside his father.  Dick suppressed his smile as Joe looked confused and slightly put out. 

"I understand you have questions."  Ricky spoke to Joe.  "I'd like to help." 

"Now look, son, your father and I were talking.  Why don't you go play with - " 

"Matthew and Lynne need to come with us.  Mulder wants to make things better for Bill, and Lynne will be a big help to them.  Would you like to talk to Katy?" 

Joe looked up at Dick, at a loss. 

"Katy is the first of the children.  Anything you'd like to ask, go ahead.  If she doesn't know, she can find out.  Since your little ones can't talk yet, Ricky's been visiting with them.  I can tell you that Mulder will be very grateful for the help you've given him."  Dick said quietly. 

Ricky stood then and approached Joe.  "May I touch you?" 

"Uh, sure."  Joe held out his hand.  The pain in his knee and the constant ache in his lower back cut off as though a switch had been thrown.  "What did you . . ."  Ricky stepped back. 

"It's a present from Mulder.  You've had the vaccine, now he wants you to be a friend.  Please send his nephew home." 

"And Lynne?  She has no family there." 

"No one will hurt Lynne.  Mulder protects women, and allows them choice.  She won't be force to marry.  There are other women that live near Mulder, who carry their own weight.  She will be okay." 

Joe looked over at Dick again, "This is what you were talking about yesterday." 

Dick nodded, "I don't understand the mechanics of it, maybe only Mulder and Scully do, but I've benefited from it.  Weather, injuries, information shared - humans have an advantage now and you will be part of that."
Joe leaned back and after a moment he nodded.  "I've always thought of myself as a good judge of people.  I'm going with my gut." 

Dick smiled, "We'll send word when we get to North Carolina, and I’m sure Mulder will let you know when they've arrived safely to him." 

Joe rose and held out his hand.  They shook, then Joe shook Ricky's hand.  He appraised the boy for a moment.  "You're a lucky man, Dick." 

"I know." 


They began gathering things to take with them.  Lynne's claim to a horse turned out to be an understatement.  When she brought her things to the motel for an early departure the next morning, in addition to the horse and the goats, were a donkey, a large dog and a young cat, barely out of kitten hood. 

Dick watched with mouth open.  "You do know that you're wealthy."  He said with a grin to Lynne.  "What kind of dog is that?" 

"He's half border collie, half Wilson." 

"Wilson, I don't - " 

"Sorry.  The Wilson's were our neighbors.  They're dog got loose and . . ." 

Dick laughed out loud then.  "You know how to care for all of these animals?" 

"Yes."  She said shyly.  "I was going to go to vet school, before.  I've always been around animals, and they like me." 

"I can tell.  Are you going to stay here tonight?" 

She shook her head, "I want to stay home one more night.  And I'm sure I'll think of one or two more things I really need to bring.  Don't worry; I'll be here at first light."  She started to turn away, then stopped.  "How's Matthew?" 

Dick grimaced, "Unhappy." 

"You better make sure he stays here tonight, if we want to leave early." 

Dick appraised her for a moment.  "Not a bad idea.  We have his things already, but having him might be the key.  Thanks." 

She nodded and left. The boy’s fury at being ‘held prisoner’ at the motel was loud and nasty.  Joe actually posted a guard to make sure that he didn’t slip away in the night.


The next morning no one was well rested, but they dressed in the pre-dawn light.  Getting Matthew to move was the hardest part.  When Dick started to physically dress him, he finally gave in and got ready.   

When they assembled before the horses, Dick helped Ricky up into the saddle in front of Melanie.  “Lynne has said you can ride with her.”  Dick looked down at Matthew. 

“No!  I want to ride alone.”  He glared at Dick. 

“We only have three horses for five people.  You can share with Lynne, or you can ride with me.”  Dick looked down at him, already dreading the trip. 

The boy blanched at that and finally shut his mouth.  Dick helped him up onto Lynne’s horse.  Matthew was nearly her height, and probably weighed at least as much.  They’d have to take it slow.  Oh joy.