Jerry tapped on the office door, “Hey, Mulder?”
Mulder and Walter looked up. “Hi. I didn’t realize you were back.”
“Just got in. We did really well, but I wanted you to know we brought someone back with us. Another hunter that had been injured.”
Jerry nodded. “Yeah, I don’t think Greg or Todd go to the can without a couple of syringes on them.” He grinned. “And I recognized him.”
“Recognized?” Mulder moved over to the man.
“Yeah. Remember that vaccine run I did to Canada a couple of years ago? Well, I was at his village. It was pretty primitive compared to here, but they did all right. We vaccinated all the women and kids, and a lot of the younger men. Ian was one of them, so he’s had a second dose. We didn’t have to question the red blood, he was injured when we found him.”
“Where is he now?” Walter asked.
“The clinic. Scully and Beth are patching him up. Don’t worry.” Jerry’s hand came up when Mulder made an automatic move toward the door. “Greg and Byers are with them too. His name is Ian Montgomery.”
“Okay, let’s go meet him.” Mulder nodded to Walter to join him. “Oh, you said you did well, venison?”
Jerry grinned, “Yeah, two deer and an elk. But the prize was a litter of pigs. The mother is what got Ian. She had a late litter and apparently Ian stumbled onto it. She attacked and got his leg. We did field first aid, I’m sure he’ll need stitches.”
Mulder nodded as they headed over to check out their newest visitor. “Anybody know anything about raising pigs? I wouldn’t mind a pork roast in our future.”
Walter laughed, “We’ll figure it out. We’re gonna need a bigger barn between chickens, rabbits and now pigs. I’m turning into a real farmer.”
“I don’t know, I can’t really see you in checked flannel with a pitchfork.”
Jerry chuckled, then turned slightly serious and looked at Mulder. Mulder stopped immediately, "What else?" he asked.
"Nothing really. You know that George was with us. Well, he and Ian got along really well. They seem to share a philosophy."
"On?" Mulder pressed.
Mulder looked over at Walter, but nothing was said. They knew that George and Julie weren't that close. He hadn't realized that it was common knowledge and he should have. Finally Mulder turned back to Jerry, "What, uh, what makes you say that."
"They were . . . crude." Jerry shrugged. "There was no call for that kind of joke or comment. I said something, I think Greg did too. They weren't obvious about it after that, but they hung together."
Mulder nodded, "Thanks. I guess I should spend a little time checking into this." He sighed, okay he had the credentials, but he'd made a conscious decision not to practice. That was before the world changed, now he did whatever had to be done.
Mulder and Walter approached the room Scully used for examinations and deliveries and spotted Byers leaning against the door jam. He straightened up when he saw them. "Greg's in there with them."
Mulder winked at him and moved on into the room. Beth looked up, Scully continued her work, but he saw the smile come to her lips when he entered. He looked over at this Ian Montgomery, and stopped.
Ian was not what he'd expected. He was a tall man, even sitting on the table with his leg extended for Scully's ministrations; tall and well proportioned. His wavy blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail that Langly would envy. He was grinning down at Scully with startling blue eyes.
He looked up as Mulder and Walter entered the room. "There, all done." Scully stepped back and Beth started applying the bandage. Mulder watched Scully head for the sink and then looked back at Ian.
"They fix you up okay?" Mulder asked.
Ian looked up at him then. He had to have been aware of him, but hadn't bothered to take his eyes from the women until Mulder spoke. He gave him a slow and easy smile. "They sure did. You got yourself a real fine lady doctor there."
Mulder nodded, "Yes, best doctor in this part of the world." He held out his arm and Scully stepped into his embrace. "So, Jerry tells me that you were injured on a hunt. Out there alone?"
Ian nodded, he'd taken in the protective way this man was holding the woman and tucked the information away. "I've been huntin' all my life and we don't have that many people to send out in a group like you do." He stuck out his hand, "I’m Ian Montgomery, live up near Ottawa in Quebec."
"Funny, with that accent I would have put you a lot farther south." Mulder forced a smile.
"Yeah, I grew up in South Carolina, but when ‘they’ came, I happened to be up in Canada on my yearly huntin' trip."
"You didn't try to get home?" Walter asked.
Ian shook his head, "Couldn't for awhile, then I tried to contact my ex-wife, but far as I know, she didn't make it. I was with friends and we just decided to stay."
"It's a good thing you found a place."
Ian looked down at Scully again. "Well, we more created our own. It's a nice place, not enough of everythin' but we get by."
"I expect you'll want to be getting back before cold weather sets in. Rest up and Scully will check on your leg again later. Dinner is a community thing here in this building, so you don't have to worry about doing too much walking."
A big smile split the man's face, but Mulder noticed that it didn't reach his eyes. "Well that's a good thing. And I'm lookin' forward to some home cookin' for a change. Been awhile.”
Beth approached him then with the crutches. “You should use these for a couple of days, just to keep some weight off.”
“Thanks Sweetheart.” He took them, gracing her with yet another of his smiles.
Byers, who had remained at the door, straightened up then. This man was actually checking out Frohike’s wife. Walter noted it as well and moved closer to Beth. “Dinner will be ready soon, Ian. If you’d like to clean up, Greg can show you around.”
Ian looked at the bald man with the air of command, after a moment he held out his hand. “Ian Montgomery.”
“Walter Skinner. This is Fox Mulder.” They both saw the recognition in Ian’s eyes, but he didn’t comment. Walter continued, “Your nurse here is Beth and the doctor is Scully, Mulder’s wife.”
Ian’s eyes narrowed slightly before he could stop it, but immediately he recovered. “Well it’s nice to meet ya’ll. I would like to clean up a little.” He turned to Greg.
When he joined the others for dinner, Ian took a seat beside George and looked around. He was smiling again. His smile was beginning to get on Mulder’s nerves, so he moved to the other side with Scully.
“Boy,” Ian turned to George, “Ya’ll have it made. I haven’t seen this many women since before . . . “
Julie came over then, with a basket of bread and offered some to the two men. “George, could you put John and Esther down tonight? I told Megan I would - “
“This is yours?” Ian interrupted.
“Yeah, this is Julie, my wife.”
George nodded. “Well, you are a lucky man.” He looked the young woman up and down thoroughly. She turned away and hurried to a seat beside Jennifer and Will, her face flaming. Jerry had observed the encounter. His face had gone dark and he walked over to take the seat on the other side of Julie.
“This seat taken?” He asked her
“No, please join us. Bread?”
“Thanks, did you make it?”
She nodded shyly.
George and Ian were often seen together, and though he wasn’t on the work rolls, Ian did assist the younger man in his work while nursing his leg. So far he’d made no comment about returning home. It hadn’t been that long, so Scully hadn’t pushed it, but his injury was healing well.
It was late when George left Ian at the clinic and returned to the house he and his family shared with his brother’s family. He hurried to his bedroom. Julie was getting ready for bed when he came in.
He didn’t quite look at her when he spoke. “I want you to get dressed and head over to the clinic.”
“The clinic? Is something wrong?”
“No. I just, I told Ian that you would keep him company tonight.”
“I would what?” Julie stared at him dumbfounded.
“Ian hasn’t been with a woman for weeks. I just said - “
“I’m your wife. How could you even think that I would - “
“Right, I’m your husband and I want you to - “
“No! No, I won’t do it. I’m not some thing that you own. I will not keep some other man ‘company’ tonight.”
“If I tell you - “ But Julie had left the bedroom, walking away from him. That incensed the man and he took off after her.
He caught her in the hall, grabbing her arm and jerked her around. “You’re going to do this. Ian is a friend of mine and I - “
“You’re crazy. I will not - “
He backhanded her, the blow causing her to crash back into the wall.
The door to the next bedroom flew open and Peter stepped out into the hall. “What the hell!” He hurried to Julie’s side, helping her to her feet. Her cheek was bleeding. “Go in my room. Julie, do you hear me? Go to Chloe, now.” He pushed her lightly toward his room. Chloe, who was standing at the door, put her arm around Julie, drawing her into their room.
Once the door was shut, Peter turned back to George. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? You can’t hit her. What were you thinking?” He hissed, mindful of the kids asleep nearby.
“This is none of your business, Peter.”
“It is now. Beating your wife? What’s going on?”
“I told her to do something and she was resisting.”
“Resisting. What the hell did you ask her to do?” Peter stared at his brother.
“That’s none of your business.” George turned then and stalked off. Peter blinked and didn’t stop him, turning instead to his room.
“How is she?” He asked Chloe immediately.
“She’s going to have an awful bruise and his ring cut her face. I don’t know if she needs stitches. I’ve bandaged it for now. She absolutely refuses to go over to the clinic.”
He nodded, “We can ask Scully to look her over in the morning. Did she tell you what the fight was about?”
Chloe glanced over at the closed bathroom door, and nodded.
Scully looked up at the tap on her door. “Come in.”
Chloe opened the door and led Julie into the room. “Hi. We’re sorry to bother you, but I thought you should have a look at this cut.”
Scully had Julie take a seat and carefully undid the bandage that Chloe had placed on her cheek. She grimaced when she exposed her cheek. “Julie, how did you do this?”
“I, uh, I got up to check on the kids last night and there were some shoes in the middle of the floor. I tripped and hit my face.”
Scully looked over at Chloe, who looked away. “Well, you need to be more careful. I don’t think you’ll need a stitch, but I’m not a plastic surgeon. Why don’t we get Walt in here for just a minute? Chloe, would you get him. He’s in the classroom.”
As soon as the door was shut, Scully took the chair next to Julie. “Julie, you can talk to me. If there’s anything - “
“There’s not. I’m okay. I didn’t really want to bother you, but Chloe insisted.”
“I’m glad she did. If you change your mind, I’m here. Please, come to me or someone and let us know what’s going on. We can help you, protect you.”
Julie nodded, but didn’t speak. There was another tap on the door and Chloe returned holding Walt’s hand. He moved immediately to Julie and reached for her face. The pain receded.
At lunchtime, Scully packed a small picnic for herself and Mulder, and took it over to the office. Kevin looked up as she entered. “Well hi. I guess that’s not for me.”
She grinned, “Not this time. Why don’t you take a nice leisurely lunch hour somewhere?”
His eyebrow rose, “I guess I can take a hint. Oh, Walter’s over at the icehouse, but you still might want to lock the door.”
“Get out of here.” She laughed at him, pulling the door closed after him.
She moved over to the door to Mulder and Walter’s office and tapped lightly. “Go on to lunch Kevin, I’ll meet you there in a minute.” He called.
“It’s not Kevin.” Scully stuck her head in the door.
“It certainly isn’t.” Mulder grinned up at her. He spotted the basket in her hand, “This for me?”
“Yeah, the food too.” She moved closer.
“Umm, what did I do to deserve this?” He slipped his arms around her.
“I was hungry, but there was something I needed to talk to you about, in private.” The smile on her face dimmed.
“Something wrong?” He pulled back a little.
“I’m afraid so.” She kissed him lightly on the nose and took a seat. “I can’t prove it, yet, but I think George hit Julie last night.”
Mulder froze, his eyes searching her face, “Are you serious? Is she okay?”
Scully shrugged, “She has a black eye, and a cut on her face. She told me she tripped in the dark, but I could tell she was lying. Chloe was with her, but we didn’t have a chance to talk.”
He sighed heavily. “Maybe I should talk to Peter.”
She nodded. “Spoiled lunch, didn’t I?”
“Nope, but I admit I can’t imagine how a man could possibly do something like that. I mean, she’s his wife, the mother of his children.”
“Maybe that’s part of the problem. I haven’t seen him touch Esther since they got here. All of the kids stay away from him. It’s not like they’re afraid of him, they just know he’s not comfortable around them. I was hoping it would get better when he had spent some time here, but it hasn’t.”
“Then he’s missing out on a great opportunity.” Mulder shook his head and pulled her into his arms. “I’ll take care of this, but now I have my own opportunity not to miss.”
“Hey Peter,” Mulder called to him as he headed toward the clinic that evening, “can you give me a hand here?”
“Sure.” Peter nodded to Langly and Todd and peeled off to see what Mulder needed. He smiled at the man as he got closer, “What can I do for you?”
“Why don’t we step in here?” Mulder moved back toward his office. Peter’s smile dimmed.
“Is something wrong?”
“That’s my question. I guess I’m the law around here, Peter. I don’t stick my nose in often, I haven’t had to. But I think something happened last night and since everyone here is kind of under my protection, I need to know what it was.”
Peter looked down at his feet.
“I don’t think you had anything to do with it, in fact I think you were the protector last night.”
Peter looked up and sighed slightly. “George isn’t . . . he’s never done anything like that before, I’m sure.”
Mulder looked at him for a moment, then motioned for him to take a chair, and sat beside him. “We haven’t spent a lot of time together, Peter. You’re older than George, right?”
“Yeah, I’m the oldest. It was just the two of us.”
“Were you close, growing up?” Mulder offered.
“Uh, no, not really. We didn’t . . . we had different interests. He was great at sports, hunting, those things.”
“Hung out with your father a lot?”
Peter’s face darkened but he didn’t respond.
“Peter, did your father ever hit your mother?”
Peter sighed then and wiped his mouth with his hand, “A couple of times. He’d lost his job. When he got hired again, he never . . . I never saw him hit her again. He was really stressed.”
“Were you close to your father?”
“No.” He looked away then.
“Okay. Why did George hit her?” Mulder moved on.
“Listen, I’ve talked to him - “
“Peter, I’m sorry. This isn’t going to be public knowledge if I can help it. That’s why we’re here, but I have to know. Is it Esther?”
Peter looked up startled, “Esther? No. I don’t . . . “ He glanced toward the door, then back at Mulder. “George offered her to Ian last night and she refused.”
Mulder’s mouth dropped open. That had never crossed his mind. “I . . . I don’t know what to say.”
“Neither did I.” Peter sighed, “George and Julie had to get married, they were too young, then she lost that baby.” Peter shrugged, “I’m a little surprised they didn’t get a divorce then. I think she wanted one. Maybe her mother . . . anyway there was a lot of tension, then the world changed. We were lucky, my family, Chloe, the kids lived. My, our Mom was already gone and Dad died in the first wave. George, Julie and John moved in with us.”
“I wasn’t Dad’s favorite, but - “
“But you were the one that kept everything together. I hadn’t realized. You ought to spend a little time with Charlie. If you haven’t already heard about Bill, Charlie and Scully’s brother, you will.” Mulder stood and walked around the desk to give himself some space to think.
“It’s obviously time for Ian to leave. I’m just not sure how to handle the . . . the rest of it. I told you, I’m not going to talk about this but I would like to discuss things with Scully. She’s the best part of me and I’ve learned to trust her judgment.”
Peter nodded, “I know what you mean. If I’d lost Chloe . . .” Peter shook his head. “Julie will be okay with us. Actually George left the house last night and I haven’t seen much of him today. I was on carpentry and he was helping with the tanning of the deer hides. I guess Ian was with him.”
Mulder nodded. “Okay, if you need any help . . . “
“Yeah.” Peter rose, “Guess I better catch up with my family for dinner. We through here?”
“Yes. Thank you, and thank you for last night.” Mulder shook the surprised man’s hand.
“She’s my family.”
“She’s mine too, now.” Mulder moved with him to the door.
Mulder tried to behave normally at dinner, and pretty much succeeded. Only Scully noted the difference. As soon as they had eaten she got the children together. It was already dark, so Mulder grabbed up the two younger ones to their loud giggles while Katy ran ahead.
“You hype them up, you put them down.” Scully shot at him as she joined them.
“Uh oh, kids I’m in trouble. You have to calm down right now or your Mom will have my hide.”
That only increased their laughter and Scully rolled her eyes.
“Don’t worry, I’ll handle it. Then you and I need to talk.” Mulder said quietly.
Her face sobered and she nodded. Katy had opened the door, so they all hurried in. The temperature had dropped rapidly since the sun had gone down. It was going to be winter very soon.
All three kids hurried off to put on their pajamas so that they could get a story. “Scully, maybe you better read to them tonight after all. Last night I told them an old case file and it seemed to wake them up more than put them to sleep.”
“A case file? An X-File?” Her eyebrow was sky high. “Which one?”
“Well, uh, the Jersey Devil, you know growing up in the woods.”
She just looked at him.
“Ah come on, you know I didn’t get into specifics or - “
She shook her head then, but he could see the twinkle in her eyes now. “No more X-Files Mulder.”
“None?” He gave her the puppy dog face and she had to look away.
“None that aren’t preapproved. Okay?”
He smiled, “Okay. I’ll get the kitchen.” He looked up as the kids hurried back to the main room.
Scully didn’t skimp on their time, but she also didn’t dawdle, and all three were tucked in bed in less than an hour. She met Mulder in the bedroom after the final goodnights.
“Mulder, are you okay?” She settled on the bed and patted the space beside her.
He sat and took her hand, playing with her fingers, concentrating on them rather than meeting her eyes. “Mulder?”
“George did hit her. Peter broke it up.”
“So it was what we thought.” Scully let her other hand caress his shoulder.
“No, it was nothing like what we thought. You’re not going to believe - “ He looked up finally and sighed, “George offered her to Ian last night. She refused and he got . . . angry.”
“Offered . . . “ She looked confused for a moment, then her eyes widened. “You don’t mean - “
“Oh my god.” She rose then and began pacing in the bedroom. “He actually wanted his wife to . . . he offered her to another man? That bastard.”
Mulder only nodded. She finally looked up. He rose then and took her in his arms. “Mulder, how can she stay married to him?”
“Scully, that’s not our decision. I agree with you, but - “
“Are you going to talk to him?” She interrupted.
“I can talk about the abuse, I will do that, but offering her services to someone else? I don’t know how to handle that. I think it’s despicable, I think the man is scum and if she wants to leave him, I’ll support her, but . . . “
Scully just looked at him for a long moment. “This was Ian’s idea.”
Mulder nodded. “I think it’s time for him to leave. What about his leg?”
Scully shrugged, “He’s doing okay. If it were you or Kevin or Walter, no way would I let you walk that kind of distance. He’s healing well, no infection. Walt made sure of that, though we didn’t let Ian know what was going on.”
Mulder smiled grimly. “Okay, Walter and I will talk to him tomorrow. I want him gone before the weather changes. Too bad George isn’t going with him.” His arms went around her and she leaned against him.
“We didn’t bargain for this, did we Mulder?” She sighed.
“Nope, and I’m not sure I’m the best person to handle it.”
She hugged him tighter. “You’re not alone in this Mulder, remember that. We have a wonderful family here. We’ll handle it.”
He leaned down and kissed the top of her head. “I know. You’re what gets me through.” She looked up and met his lips. “I’m never going to share you with anyone.” He nodded toward the bed, “Want me to show you why?”
She managed to smile then, “I think I need that.”
After breakfast, Mulder looked for Ian. He’d apparently eaten earlier along with George and was already out.
Mulder rounded up Walter and brought him up to date.
“Mulder, we can’t let this get out. Julie doesn’t deserve this.”
“I agree. Only you and Scully know outside of her family. I hope that’s where it stays. I know Scully and you won’t be talking about it.”
Walter nodded, “Come on, let’s advise Ian his welcome is up.”
Ian was again working with George, this time chopping wood. George tensed when they approached, but they ignored him, turning to Ian. “We need to talk to you about your plans, Ian.” Walter spoke. “Why don’t you come over to the office with us.” It wasn’t a question and Ian recognized that, nodding.
He was only using one crutch now and seemed to move quite well Mulder observed. If he took it easy, he could make it back. They’d make sure he had sufficient food for the trip. Maybe it wasn’t best for a man to travel alone, but he’d made it down here that way.
Back at the office, Walter offered a chair to Ian as he and Mulder took their own chairs behind the desks. “Ian, we think you need to get on your way back if you’re going to get home before winter sets in. You realize of course, that we hadn’t planned for you. I know you’ve been working for your room and board, and we appreciate it. We’ll make sure you’re well supplied for the trip home, but it’s getting late in the year.”
“I . . . uh, I was kind of thinking I could be useful around here.”
“I’m sure they need you at home. They’re probably very concerned by now, and probably need your help getting that last bit of supplies in themselves.” Walter spoke reasonably.
“My leg - “
“Scully says you’re fine for the trip.” Mulder interrupted.
Ian’s eyes narrowed for just an instant. Walter wasn’t completely sure he hadn’t imagined it, it was gone so quickly.
“Well good. If the doctor thinks I’m healed, I guess I do need to be headin’ back. You’re right, they’re probably real worried about me by now. You say I can count on ya’ll for supplies.”
“Yes.” Walter nodded. “I don’t think you’ll need the crutches anymore, but we’ll find you something if you think you’ll need it.”
“Oh don’t bother. I can cut myself a walking stick if I need one.” Ian glanced at the window, “Weather should be good tomorrow. I could get an early start.”
Walter nodded. “We’ll start getting things together for you.”
“’Preciate that, Sir.” Ian rose from his seat. “I better start gettin’ my things together. It’s a nice place you have here, I certainly have enjoyed my stay.”
Walter rose as well and after a moment so did Mulder. “You let us know what you need Ian and we’ll see what we can spare.” Walter walked around the desk and opened the door for the younger man, then followed him out.
Mulder knew he hadn’t handled that the best, but the guy made his skin crawl. Another reason to be grateful Walter was here. After he was sure the other two were gone, Mulder left the office to get to his assignment for the day.
Scully emerged from the bedroom with the laundry in her arms and stopped, surprised at the sight of the man in her living room. “Ian? What do you want?”
He smiled his easy smile at her, “Well you did such a good job of fixing me up, I thought I’d try a walk.”
“So your leg is feeling okay?” Scully felt some unease. Maybe he had just been for a test walk, but why here and why had he entered the house without knocking? Shouldn’t he be with Mulder and Walter? They’d said they were going to talk to him.
“Sure is. Good doctoring you have around here.” He moved closer and she tensed slightly, but didn’t back up.
“I wanted to show my appreciation to you.” He moved into her space then and she did take one step back, then chided herself for the movement. She had no reason to be afraid of the man.
That was her error. She realized it as he knocked the laundry from her arms and seized her, shoving her backwards toward the bedroom.
Katy looked up suddenly. The movement caught Kevin’s eye as he entered the common room. He moved in that direction. “Katy?”
“Uh, I don’t know. Are you okay?” She didn’t respond, having gone inside of herself. “Katy?”
“He’s gonna her hurt.”
“Who, Katy is Scully in trouble?”
“Ian.” She looked up at Kevin then. “They’re at my house. He’s thinking about what causes purple for Momma and Daddy, but he’s all red.”
It took Kevin a couple of seconds to translate that, then his face paled. “Katy, you stay right here. Do not leave the clinic. Promise me.”
She nodded, but she looked . . . scared. He hadn’t seen Katy scared before. There was no time to handle that right now. Instead he moved rapidly toward the door, not quite breaking into a run. Todd and Anne were just outside, coming for dinner.
“Where’s Mulder?” Kevin asked Todd quickly.
“Just behind me I think. What’s wrong?”
“Come with me. Anne, keep an eye on Katy.” Kevin grabbed Todd’s arm, but he didn’t have to convince him further. Something was obviously wrong.
“Ian’s with Scully. Katy said . . . she said he was going to rape her.”
Todd actually stumbled, but then was racing to keep up with Kevin. They both spotted Mulder at the same time, headed toward the clinic with Langly and Alex. Mulder’s head came up as though he felt them. The smile vanished from his face at the looks on theirs.
“Katy says Ian’s with Scully. That he - “ Kevin didn’t need to finish. Mulder was already racing toward his house. The others were right behind him, but unable to match his desperate speed.
Only Alex was fast enough to see him take in the fact that the door to their bedroom was closed. Mulder’s shoulder only had to hit the door once and he was inside. He took in the entire scene in an instant. Ian had Scully trapped on the bed beneath his body, his jeans were down around his knees and one of his hands held her arms above her head. His weight had her trapped beneath him.
Mulder’s hands closed on the man’s shoulders and pulled him off of her, throwing him to the floor. Then he was on top of Ian, choking the life from him.
The other men burst into the room. There was no question what had been interrupted. Kevin snatched the blanket from the foot of the bed and covered Scully as she cringed, chest heaving from pain and fear.
“Stop him.” She managed to get out.
“What?” Kevin leaned closer.
“Don’t let him kill . . . Mulder, don’t kill him!”
Mulder’s hands only tightened. Kevin didn’t see a particular problem other than the fact it wasn’t his hands around the man’s neck.
Okay, maybe murder . . . “Mulder, Mulder we’ve got him. Mulder, let him go.” Kevin glanced at Todd and both men were pulling at him. Alex joined them and they got his hands from Ian’s neck. Mulder actually snarled at Kevin, then seemed to realize what was happening. He took a shaky breath as the man beneath him coughed and tried to squirm free.
“Get him out of here.” Mulder lurched to his feet and knelt on the bed beside Scully. His touch was as gentle as his voice was hard. “Put him in the shed. Post a guard.”
Kevin nodded as he and Todd jerked Ian to his feet. Alex and Langly moved closer to help guard him.
Alex looked back at the two of them as the men exited the room. Scully had been hurt and he didn’t blame Mulder for his murderous rage. Did Mulder realize he’d been injured just as deeply?
Then they were alone again, the door pulled to, though it would no longer latch. His eyes searched her, taking in the bruise that was forming on the left side of her face. His finger touched it lightly.
“Sc . . . Scully, are you . . . are you okay?”
She managed to nod. He took the blanket and parted it. His eyes closed at the bite marks on her breast. Scully watched his fists tangle in the blanket.
“I’m okay.” She touched his face to bring his eyes back up to her.
“Yes. He . . . he didn’t - he was too busy trying to teach me a lesson.”
“God, Scully, I . . . “ He pulled her against him, words failing him. He just held her and let his arms show her how he felt.
Ian was subdued enough not to want to fight, especially with four guards. Once out of the house, Langly had bound his hands. No one approached them, though they were observed as they marched him to the shed that had once protected Mulder and Kelly through an icy night.
Just outside the shed, they stopped and Langly removed the stick from the latch to open the door. There was no lock, it was only closed to keep animals out, but they would have to rig something.
Ian turned to Kevin, “He nearly killed me. What the hell was he . . . and that bitch of his scratched - “ He was silenced by Kevin’s fist into his face and Ian hit the ground.
Kevin shook his hand out. He had never hit a man before and his hand hurt, but he would be more than happy to do it again, and he was pretty sure he’d broken the man’s nose.
He looked over at Todd, who nodded to him. “You might want to put some ice on that.”
“Yeah, I’ll do that.” They hauled Ian back to his feet, his hands holding his face as blood poured from his nose. They shoved him into the shed and Todd secured his feet with a second rope.
Todd and Kevin left him there to rejoin Alex and Langly. “Wait! You can’t leave me - “ He coughed on the blood he had swallowed, “I need some help.”
“He needs a lot more help than he realizes.” Todd spoke to no one in particular and they moved toward the clinic to reassure Katy and the rest of the community.
Mulder looked around the room. All of the adults were assembled, down to and including Sam. Suzie and Katy had the children at Frohike’s house. No one questioned their abilities, though Suzie was older, everyone knew Katy would take care of things.
Scully sat quietly off to one side. Her bruises were very obvious now and she felt uncomfortable, but she held her head up. She knew these people weren’t judging her and they would have killed Ian if she had asked, but it was still difficult, and Mulder was so angry.
Even Walter couldn’t remember a time when Mulder had looked more grim. He cleared his throat and the quiet room went silent
“Everyone here knows what happened. I’m here to tell you, it will not happen again.” Even the people that had known Mulder for decades flinched at his words. “The women that live here are precious and to be cherished. If there is anyone here who does not agree with that philosophy,” he paused there looking at the men, pausing slightly at George, who blanched and looked away, “is more than welcome to leave here today.”
The dead silence continued.
“Are there any questions?” His voice was cold, harsh.
Charlie hesitated, then, “What’s going to happen to Ian?”
“He’s leaving. He’ll be escorted two days from here and left with two days food. He can decide where to go from there. Anywhere but here.”
“Mulder, will that, will that be safe, for us?” Charlie continued.
“He’ll be . . . watched, wherever he goes.”
“Mulder, MJ said there’s a storm coming.” Beth said quietly.
“Is there?” But his eyes belied that question. If the man died, he died. He looked at the rest of them then, “I’ve had a lot of . . . volunteers to escort Mr. Montgomery out of here. Todd and Greg will be in charge of that.” He looked down at the young man trying to be unseen in front of him. “George will also accompany you, and Jerry.”
There was some murmuring at that, but it died out quickly.
“I don’t think there’s anything else I need to say. Anyone else?”
No one spoke. After a moment Mulder turned and left the clinic. Charlie glanced over at Scully. She was watching him, but didn’t follow. He met Mary’s eyes, then rose and stood in front of his sister. He took Scully’s hand and helped her to her feet, then turned her toward her office and led her there.
“Sis, how are you really?” He asked once the door was shut.
He looked at her then and a blush took over her face. “Charlie, please.”
Charlie looked over at the door, “How’s he?”
“I don’t know. He’s angry, he . . . I think he feels . . . helpless. I asked him not to kill Ian and he didn’t. But he . . . “
Charlie nodded, “Yeah. I want to kill the SOB myself.”
“We probably have. His leg isn’t healed. Two days food won’t get him home.” She spoke directly, without emotion, and after a moment Charlie nodded.
“Let me take you home.”
“No Charlie. I’d rather be here. I think Mulder is fixing the door and he probably isn’t being very quiet about it. He needs to do this.”
“Yeah, and if he’s armed with a hammer I don’t especially want to be there.” Charlie turned, to give her some privacy.
“Yeah.” He turned back.
“Do you think he’ll be okay?”
Charlie looked at her closely then, “Mulder’s strong Dana.”
“No, he’s not. He looks it and acts it, but he’s not. And . . . and when I’m in danger . . . “
Charlie nodded then and sank into the chair beside her. “You’re right. Want me to talk to him?”
“I don’t know.”
Charlie sighed. “Let’s let him work on the door for a little while. What he really needs is you.”
“He was treating me like a china doll last night.”
“Do you blame him Dana?”
She looked down at the floor and finally shook her head. “I wish I could kill Ian myself.”
“Dana, you and Mulder have each other. That’s really all either of you need. You will get through this, I don’t doubt that for an instant. You’re both in pain now, terrible pain, but it will get better. I promise.”
His big sister met his eyes and he handed her a handkerchief. That caused her to realize tears were running down her face. She took it with a trembling hand and he took her in his arms. She let go then, allowing herself to sob against his chest as she hadn’t allowed herself with Mulder last night.