Reunion (4)  PG-13

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Scully -

Byers and Langly were more than ready to stop for lunch and to have a good stretch.  They weren't making great speed but no wheels had come off and by the time they would be heading uphill to the site, they should be in decent shape.

They quickly learned that a cart really lasted only a couple of days.  They spent their nights in homes along the way, leaving early because it was getting dark earlier. 

Mulder was in her dreams every night as though checking in on her, giving her advice that she didn't consciously remember.  It didn't matter, he was there for her, trying to help her and desperately trying to get home.


When they finally arrived, the place was as she remember.  As she had suspected it was completely empty.  Admittedly they had not passed through any cities in that part of Virginia but she still had led them away from areas of population.   She wasn't entirely sure why she was so insistent on avoiding areas of higher population, but it felt right.

They were all exhausted but they sent her off to 'her' room, insisting on unpacking the supplies without her.  She wanted to protest but her eyes were closing.

When she woke a couple of hours later, it was dusk but not full dark.  She checked quietly in the other bedrooms until she located the guys.  All three were asleep, so she left them alone.

She made her way to the kitchen to find that the wood stove had been lit before they crashed.  She checked the cabinets and found a couple of cans of stew which she opened and began heating.

While dinner was warming she began investigating the area.  The refrigerator needed to be cleaned out, so she began there. 

The aroma of the stew reached the men shortly and they stumbled into the kitchen.  Scully motioned them to the table and served them over their protests.  After they had eaten, Byers turned to her.  "I think you've saved our lives."

She looked up blinking.  "No, we did it together."

"We wouldn't have found this place, Scully.  We would have stayed in DC until it was too late."

"We, we haven't survived yet," she said in a low voice.

"No, but we sure have a better shot at it."  The others nodded.  "Tomorrow we'll scout out stores and see about bringing back what we find.  You're in charge of being able to find a place for everything after we get it back.  Now why don't we heat up some water.  I'm sure you'd like a bath, I know we would."

She couldn't help but smile.  It sounded wonderful.


The next day, true to their word, they headed out.  She stayed behind and finished the unpacking of their current supplies; they looked woefully inadequate for the long term.  Then she began fixing her room up, personalizing it.  They had all taken rooms on the first floor and hers was slightly apart from the others, and larger with a sitting area in addition to the bedroom.  She realized abruptly it was the honeymoon suite. 

She sank down onto the bed and closed her eyes.  Where was Mulder?  Was he okay?  Did he know that she was alive and waiting for him?  Why had she ever allowed him to leave her behind.  They were together, together in every way now and she had just let him go off without her to cover his back.

She hadn't taken into account the rise in elevation in the foothills of the Appalachians.  It was cooler during the day than she had imagined.  She put on another sweater and checked the linen closet for supplies.

The guys were shivering when they returned, but were pushing three overfull carts.  They struggled the carts inside through the delivery doors.  She shoved them over to the stove and had them describe where they had gone while she began unloading.

She smiled at one of the carts, finding it completely stuffed with paper products and one plastic bag shoved into the corner.  Whoever had pushed this cart hadn't gotten off easy, the underside of the cart was piled high with pre-cut kindling, the kind of firewood that tourists bought.  Well at least they had toilet paper for awhile.

Byers came over as she pulled the plastic bag out of the corner.  "We, uh, we didn't know what you liked."  His face was a deep red and she opened the bag to see what he was talking about.  It contained an assortment of tampons and pads.

Scully didn't look up, knowing her eyes were moist that these three wonderful geeks had thought about her, worried about their selection.  "This is perfect.  Thank you."  Nothing more was said, but she opened one of the boxes of Kleenex and pulled out a tissue.  

They looked embarrassed and after giving them a slightly crooked grin, she moved away toward her bedroom.  She sank down onto the bed, overwhelmed suddenly.  She'd pushed everything away pretending she was just waiting for Mulder to return.  It was the end of the world, literally and Mulder was on the other side of the continent.  How would he get back?  How would she be able to just sit here and wait?

She curled into a fetal position dragging her pillow to her and giving in to her tears.

She woke some time later.  It was dark and she didn't hear anyone.  She sat up and used the lighter by the bed to light the candle on her bedside table.  She started to rise and heard something rustle on the bed.  She looked down and spotted the bag the guys had filled for her.  She reached for it but stopped.

She hadn't needed these supplies lately.  She hadn't needed them since . . . since before Mulder had left, long before he left.  How long had whatever made that light been in orbit?  It could have been affecting her chip.  Or stress, it could be stress.  But she hadn't been stressed before going to Washington.  Things had been the best between them that she could remember.

At least she could rule out pregnancy.  She could rule out pregnancy.  There was no way.  She made her way to her bath and shoved the bag all the way back under the sink.  She'd need it in a few days.

It took a long time for her to fall back asleep for the night.

The next morning she was dressed before the others rose, and had coffee made.  When she heard them stirring she opened a couple of cans of corned beef hash and began heating it up.

"What's on the agenda for today?" Langly asked as they took their seats at the table.

"I want to go to the store with you," she said joining them.

"There's no need - "

"Maybe not," she interrupted Byers, "but I can make a better decision about medical supplies.  And we can bring back four carts full."  It was the stubborn look on her face that shut them up.

After the exercise they'd gotten on the way, they made good time back to the store.  She was surprised the shopping area was as large as it was, but this was a tourist area.  Scully left them to continue with the canned and dry foods while she headed for the small pharmacy at the back of the store. 

She stopped in front of the pregnancy tests.  She didn't need one, but there was no reason not to take it.  It was one thing she could check off her list of things that could be wrong with her.  Shaking her head at her own foolishness, she placed a couple of the tests at the bottom of the bag she was filling, then turned her back resolutely from that aisle and entered the actual pharmacy.

Yes, her cart would be used for these things, vitamins and first aid supplies.  With the practice they'd received lately, filling the carts took a lot less time.  She left the food to them, cautioning that protein needed to be at the top of the list.

She made them sandwiches at the store.  They were headed back the to lodge before noon.  She was quiet as the three men discussed making a second trip that afternoon.  They were also finally coming to terms with the gravity of the situation.

They refused to talk about her returning with them but weren't able to talk her out of putting things away.  She didn't fight too hard, there was enough work for everyone.

She watched until they were out of sight, then made a bee line for her bedroom.  The bag was dumped on the bed and she grabbed up one of the boxes and pulled out the instructions.  No way could she wait until morning, that's why she'd picked up two of them.

Feeling foolish she took the test into the bathroom.

She shut the door on the test and headed for the kitchen.  There were a lot of supplies to put away and that should keep her mind off of . . . things.  Damn it, she was actually getting her hopes up and she knew it was impossible.

After forcing herself to finish emptying another bag of spices, she folded the bag and with a grimace returned to her bedroom.  She stopped with her hand on the door and took a deep breath.  She opened the door and stopped with only one foot inside the room.  She could see the bright pink at the end of the stick already. 

Pregnant?  It would explain her symptoms, but it was impossible.  She'd made her peace with that, hadn't she?  What had happened?  Okay, she and Mulder had finally . . . and they hadn't taken any precautions because they had known she was barren.  Oh god, Mulder, please hurry home.


Mulder -

Hal was obviously pleased to have the company, though he didn’t crowd them.  He did bring out the chess board and asked Skinner to play, eventually scrabble as well.  They began sharing some history and slowly time passed.  Only Mulder remained more to himself.  His nightmares had not abated and he didn’t want to talk about them.  The lack of sleep made him even more antsy and he began taking more and more care of the horses to give himself a little privacy.

It was on one such excursion that he looked up as the door opened and Patti blew in, pulling the door closed behind her with effort.

“Is something wrong?”

“No, mostly I wanted to make sure you were all right.”

“I’m fine,” he said, wincing slightly at the phrase.

“Uh huh,” she acknowledged clearly not believing it.  “Talk to me about Scully.”

He jerked at the sound of her name.  “What?”

“Tell me about her.  She’s obviously important to you and you need to get it out.  Maybe it will help with the nightmares.”

He scowled at her but she ignored it.  “I picture her tall and commanding.  Skinner said she’s a pathologist, so - “

“No, she’s not tall.  She hits me about here.”  His hand indicated a space just above his heart.  He stopped then.

“She really cuts up dead bodies?”

Mulder looked down, “Yeah.  Looking at her you’d never guess it.  She’s little, dainty though I’d never say that to her.  She doesn’t look like she could cut apart ribs or stick her hands in gore, but she doesn’t even flinch.  She’s strong, the strongest person I know.”

“You really love her,” Patti said quietly.

He looked up startled, blinking at her.  “What?”

“I said you really love her.”

“She’s my partner,” he responded.

Patti grinned, “Right, partner.”  He started to bristle but she continued.  “A blonde right?  With a hot body.”

“She’s, she’s a redhead.”

“Really?  I’d never have guessed that.  But I was right about the body.”

He didn’t respond, but she saw the light color touch his cheeks.

“You are lovers, aren’t you?”

“I don’t believe that’s any of your business,” he shot back at her.

“Then why do you think something’s wrong?”

That stopped him again.  “I, I don’t know.”

“You two are really close.”

“Yes,” he could admit that at least.

“That’s why you believe she’s still alive.”

He turned then and loomed over her.  “She is still alive!”  Patti managed not to retreat.  He was the one that backed up apologetically.  “She is.  I would know.”

Patti nodded.  “I believe you’re right.  What about Skinner?  He never talks about family.”

“He’s a widower, no kids.  His job is, was his life.  I guess getting me home is his life now.”  He finished the horse he was working on and moved to the next stall, she followed.  “So you tell me, what about Hal?”

“Never married.  He’s really been a cowboy all his life.  I didn’t know there were people that did that any more, not in real life.”

“I’d think they were rare myself.”

“You know he’s saved our lives.”

“What?” Mulder looked up startled.

“Letting us stay here.  There’s food, shelter and he knows the territory.”

“I know that.”

“Do you believe it?”

He just stared at her, but she waited.  “Yeah.”

“So don’t be mad that we’re still here.”

Mulder took a deep breath.  “How old are you again?”

She grinned.  “Getting older by the day.”

“What about your family?” he decided to change the subject.

Her smile disappeared.  “I miss my Dad.  My stepmother, not so much, and her brats not at all.”

“What about your mother?”

Patti shrugged.  “She ran off with some guy years ago.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Me too, but it was a long time ago.  I don’t really remember her.  Dad and I did okay, then he met Cynthia and he felt sorry for her.  She couldn’t handle her kids and he . . . anyway,” she shrugged again.  “They’re really gone, as in not coming back, aren’t they?”

“It’s too early to give up on that.”

After a moment she nodded.  “I’ll do the next stall, then you come back in with me and join us.  You don’t have to stay apart.  We’re all looking for someone.”

Mulder stared at her for a long moment.  She picked up the curry brush and moved away.  Mulder took up the shovel. 


Mulder turned the calendar hanging on the wall beside the refrigerator.  It was finally March, nearly five damn months since this nightmare had begun and he was still two-thirds of the way across the country.  She did know he trying to get home to her, she had to. 

The weather had been good for a couple of days.  Skinner saw Mulder standing out in front of the barn, watching the sky.  Mulder turned to him, “It’s time.  We need to get moving.”

Rather than answer Skinner watched the sky for a minute himself.  “Let’s talk to Hal.”

Mulder turned toward the house and Skinner followed.  Hal was in the kitchen, putting some beans on to soak for dinner.

“We need to get moving,” Mulder said without preamble.

“I know you’re anxious and I don’t blame you, but you need to wait.”

“Wait for what?  Next winter?” Mulder couldn’t help his tone, his frustration was growing.

Hal met his eyes calmly.  “There’ll be one more storm.”

“Gone psychic on us?” Mulder’s sarcasm was thick.

“Nope, just lived here a long time, son.  I agree we should start getting ready.  I’ve checked out the wagon and it looks good.  We can get the things we need together.  But there’s gonna be one more.”

Mulder opened his mouth, but Skinner’s hand on his arm stopped him.  “Mulder, let’s get our gear together.  If he’s wrong, we’ll be ready to leave.”

“How long are we going to wait?”

“Give it a couple of days,” Hal said quietly.  “I don’t want to be right, but it’ll take that long to get everything together anyway.”

Mulder looked up at the ceiling.  His dreams were getting worse, but they knew that as well as he did.  Last night had been typical, something was different, wrong even.  She wasn't alone, but he didn't know the people around her.  It was as though they were standing in his way, keeping him from her.  He had to get home.

The next morning proved Hal right.  It was barely light outside when wind picked up.  The temperature, which had been stable during the night, began to drop.  By lunch time sleet was falling.

Hal walked up behind Mulder, who was standing watching through the front window.  “I’m sorry.”

Mulder looked over at him.  “No, I’m sorry.  I just . . . “

“Yeah, I know.  But my experience says this is the last gasp.  Not saying spring is great weather, but we won’t freeze.”

“We’ll head farther south.”

Hal nodded.  “Into tornado country.”

“You’re just a ton of fun,” Mulder growled.

Hal chuckled.  “Too much experience, or age.  We should finish getting things together.  In a few days we can start out.  I don’t think we can get to the next ranch in a day with the wagon, but we can probably make a way station.”

“Way station?”

“Even cowboys don’t love sleeping outside all the time.  There are places set up for an overnight.  No facilities really, usually a wood stove, bunk beds.  It’s always left so the next group can just show up.”

“You didn’t mention them before.”

“They aren’t that much good in cold weather.  They don’t even have running water.  It’s literally shelter from the storm for a night, maybe two.” 

Once again, Hal had called it and they took off three days later.  It was as though that last gasp had proved that winter had lost its strength and the days were actually comfortable.  They had reached the way station that first night. 

Again Hal had been right.  This was a structure with a roof and a door.  No windows, four sets of bunk beds with a Franklin stove in the center of the room.  The wood box was filled and there was more wood stacked on the outside as the only insulation.

Hal didn’t seem phased by the accommodations, fixing a fine, hot meal for them using their pots and dishes.  After washing up they got ready for bed.  There was little else to do and they didn’t want to waste any more fuel than necessary for the lamp.  Hopefully others would come this way as well.

“There's a small town most a day’s ride from here.  Don’t know what we’ll find, but at least we’ll have shelter and if it’s empty, there should be supplies.”

“Okay.  I need a new map anyway.  We’ve gone off the edge of this one,” Skinner smiled.  “We are making progress.”

Patti looked over at Mulder, who nodded.  They were closer, he had to hold onto that.



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, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.