Reunion (9/10) PG-13

He watched her approach him from her kitchen New Page 1


Mulder -



The storm blew itself out in the night and morning brought light to see the destruction the storm had wrought. 


The southeastern corner of the hospital had lost part of the roof and they could easily see the path the tornado had taken.


“Do we stay or go?” Skinner turned to Hal.


“Good question.  I say we go on.  We’ll probably have a couple of days at least, and this place is more splinters than structure now.


Skinner nodded and they reloaded what little they had taken from the wagon and saddled up.  They shoved the wagon back through the doors, damaging them slightly as they forced it through.


They picked the path of least resistance, heading east as always.  They had left the town proper and were out into the countryside when movement drew their attention.  To their shock, a young man ran toward them, waving his arms.


“Help!  We need your help.  We can't get her out!”


Mulder and Skinner exchanged glances.  A trap?  No, this guy obviously did need help of some kind.  “What’s wrong?”


“The house collapsed!  Brenda’s trapped under the rubble.”


Brenda?  “Where?” Mulder asked quickly.


“This way.  I was looking for a car jack, I never thought . . . “ then he was running back yelling that he had found help.  Other heads rose above the rubble and looked in disbelief at the people riding toward them.


The oldest man, still younger than Mulder, recovered first.  “Over here!”


Mulder and Skinner dismounted and tossed their reins to Patti.  Hal jumped down from the wagon and Carolyn climbed down more slowly, holding those horses.  Harry started to climb down, but Carolyn barked for him to stay put.  At her tone he didn’t even attempt to argue.


Patti and Carolyn secured the horses and with Harry between them now, approached the others.


“I don’t think she’s badly hurt, except for where her leg’s caught, but we haven’t been able to shift anything and we’re afraid of making it worse,” said the man that seemed to be her husband.


Skinner had walked around the area and nodded.  Everyone seemed to have calmed down at little with the additional help and looked to him automatically to lead.  “We need to shore up this side before we try to lift anything off of her.”


“Brenda,” the man in charge said.  “My wife, I’m Carl.  This is our son, Tom.  That’s Pete, his wife Lillian, her sister Rose and her friend, Trudy.”


Skinner made quick introductions of his companions, then he and Mulder took Pete and they began carefully shifting rumble to see where to shore up the wall.  They worked quickly, following Skinner’s orders.  Patti stayed in the hole, talking with Brenda, explaining what was going on.


Mulder slipped down into the hole when everything was in place.  “Brenda, we’re getting ready to lift this off of you.  When we do, Patti and Tom are going to pull you out.  They’re going to try not to hurt you, but we have to get you out and we don’t exactly have all the safety equipment we’d like to have.  Do you understand?”


Brenda met his eyes and nodded, calmer herself now that Carl had more help.  She could be hurt worse by the rescue, paralyzed and she knew it, but there wasn’t much choice.  “Let’s do it,” she said, her voice steady.


Mulder winked at her and turned to Patti.  “Be as careful as you can, but get her out.  We’re not going to be able to hold it up long.”


“We’ll do it,” she assured Mulder, patting Tom on the shoulder.


“Everyone ready?” Skinner called out.  With the assent, he and Mulder put their shoulders against the levers they had placed.  Hal, Carl and Pete did the same on the other side and slowly they felt the wall shift. 


“Do it!” Mulder yelled to Patti. 


She looked over at Tom and they each took one of Brenda’s arms and began easing her out from her prison.  Brenda bit her lips to keep from crying out and sweat beaded on her forehead. Tom faltered, but Patti’s look made him continue.  Lillian and Rose were there to help carry her once she was free of the obstruction.


“She’s free!” Patti called and men allowed the barrier to drop into place.  Carl was already racing to Brenda’s side.


She managed to open her eyes and gave him a small smile.  “Good to be out.”


Carl nodded, unable to speak.


“Let’s move her out of the way here,” Skinner said, moving over to help with the transport.


As gently as possible they moved her to a cleared area and Patti brought their first aid kit over.  Skinner and Mulder exchanged glances and shaking his head slightly, Mulder took a look at her leg.  It was obviously broken. 


“We’re going to need a splint and some crutches.  Is there anyone else here?”


“No, we haven’t seen anyone else in months.  I can’t believe you showed up when you did.”


“Hal, you and Patti need to ride back to the hospital.  Get the supplies we need and penicillin if you can find it.”


They nodded and mounted up, riding back toward the hospital.  They were back quickly with the supplies, including pain medication.


Skinner held her steady as Mulder closed his eyes for a moment, then pulled her leg jerking it back into alignment.  “Brenda?”


“She’s passed out, Mulder.”


“Good.  Give her the penicillin.  We need to immobilize this leg, and treat her other cuts and scratches.”  He looked up at Carl.  “She’s going to be okay.  She might limp, I’m not a doctor, but I think she’ll be okay.”


Carl nodded his thanks.  “I still can’t believe you showed up . . . “


After a moment Lillian spoke, “We’ve got some lunch together for everyone.”


Carl didn’t leave Brenda’s side, but the rest moved away to give him some space and recover themselves.


They ate the bread and cheese and discovered that Patti and Hal had added canned corned beef to the sandwiches.  Mulder nodded his appreciation.


“Are you all family?” Skinner asked Pete after they had eaten.


“Uh, no.  After everyone disappeared, we headed out trying to find someone.  Lillian and I have been married a little over a year, no kids yet.”


Skinner nodded.  They couldn’t be much more than twenty. 


“Rose is Lillian’s sister.  She and Trudy were visiting us when . . .  Our parents, Trudy’s family, they were gone.  We got out here on bikes with what we could carry and found Carl and Brenda.  Rose knew Tom from school; he’s a few years behind her.”


“How old - “


“Tom’s ten.  Rose and Trudy are fifteen.”


Skinner closed his eyes.  Children, they were leading a caravan of children across country.


It was decided that they would stay the rest of the day even though they had only traveled a few miles.  These people had lost everything, literally.  Mulder, Skinner and Hal settled the horses and had a quick meeting.


“We have to at least offer to take them with us,” Hal said.


“I know,” Mulder sighed.  “How do we make this work?  The wagon can’t carry them, Brenda will have to ride, but we’ll need more supplies and have less room to haul them.”  He didn’t mention that they would be slowed down even more, there was no need.


“Patti agrees,” Hal offered.


Skinner sighed, “We’ll think of something.”


They returned to find the women digging through the rubble to find what they could salvage.  Carl joined them, leaving Trudy to sit with Brenda. 


“Carl, we’re on our way to Washington.  We can’t stay here, but if you want to come with us . . . “


The man looked around at the devastation that had been his home.  “It was hard, before this happened, now . . . “ he shook his head.


“Don’t suppose you have any horses in that barn?” Mulder nodded toward the slightly damaged structure at the far end of the yard.


“No,” Carl managed a smile.  “Only two cows and a calf.”


Skinner’s eyes popped.  “You have cows?”


“Uh, yeah, but they’re not much good for riding.”


Skinner turned to Hal.  “Can they carry supplies?”


“Well, sure.”  Light dawned in his eyes.  “That would free up two horses.”


“It’s still not enough.”


“Uh, we’ve been using bikes to get around and we have plenty of those.  Everyone around here had them and we’ve kind of collected them.  They’re in the barn too.”


Skinner looked over at Mulder shaking his head.  Mulder just grinned.  “Let’s start packing.”


They found a dresser that had landed not far away and were able to recover some clothing from it and from the dryer that for some reason was still in place where the house had been.  They piled the things that could be salvaged near the wagon.  These people really had lost just about everything.  Once again there was no way to leave them behind.


Pete was familiar with the area and led Mulder over to the nearest house where they were able to gather a few more things.  Hal had determined they should be on their way in the morning while the weather held.


Brenda was their main concern when packing the wagon.  Carolyn wasn’t a great rider, but she joined Patti on her horse, her displeasure evident, and Harry rode with Mulder.  The others were on their bikes, carrying backpacks.  They were slowed down considerably, and Mulder’s nightmare from the night of the storm pulled at him, but he managed to keep quiet.  These people needed him.




They traveled at a slower speed in deference to Brenda and the bikes, and Mulder managed to hold his tongue.  The nightmares seemed to have ended with the one at the hospital.  That scared him down to the bone, but he didn't speak of it.  Saying anything out loud was more than he could handle.  So much of his life he'd been alone, then Scully had come to him, been given to him.  Now he was constantly surrounded by people that needed him, wanted his help, his advice while he only wanted her.


The dreams were still there, but they seemed more like regular dreams now.  The problem was, it was as though the nightmares had brought her closer to him.  These new dreams still included her but weren’t terrifying, which in itself was terrifying.   


He spent a lot of silent hours on his horse wondering what that meant.  With Patti there to keep an eye on him, he no longer isolated himself, but he couldn’t talk about this.  Fear was always there, that what had happened to her during that torture had . . . How many times could he shove that thought away.  His Scully was strong, that was what he needed to remember.


They continued their trek eastward, moving slightly north now.  They had followed I90 across the mountains then I25 down into Wyoming.  They had picked up I80 then which had led them into Nebraska and I29 down into the tip of Kansas and on into Missouri.  Avoiding the larger cities was easier on the interstates, they all had bypasses and with the manpower their small caravan now had, there was no problem in moving the traffic tie ups aside.  The problem was there were a lot of cities to go around, and more coming up here in the mid-west.  They were headed for Kentucky and all too soon the Appalachian mountains. 


Skinner pulled out his collection of maps and began to study again.




Mulder pulled up and pointed.  “What the hell is that?”


Everyone turned to look over at a huge square building off in the distance.  It was Carl who answered.  “It’s one of the “Big Box” stores.  They sell everything in bulk, no frills.  We went to once when they had an open day, trying to get more customers.  You had to be a ‘member’.  We didn’t join; it was too far away to be practical for us.”


“Think there’d still be stuff there?”


“We ought to try.  No one or two groups our size could have made a dent and carried it away.  Sure wish I had the minivan working.”


“Me too,” Mulder admitted, but this place wasn’t his main reason.


They reached the place late that evening and forced their way inside.  “Whoa!” Mulder took a shallow breath and stepped back outside.  “They sold meat.”


“Yep, hadn’t thought about that,” Carl admitted.


“You’d think six-seven months later it would be okay.”


“We can’t sleep inside.  Let’s set up camp at the edge of the driveway.  That way the horses can graze and it’ll be better on their hoofs,” Hal advised and climbed back up on the wagon.


After they were settled, everyone but Carolyn, Harry, Patti and Brenda headed inside with kerchiefs around their noses and mouths.  Carl had assured them that Brenda was an excellent shot, and Patti wasn’t bad with a shotgun, so they had left them armed.


Each member of the party headed to a different section of the store to see what was still available.  Mulder and Skinner headed toward the food section, closer to the source of the stench, but necessary.  They could see where former visitors had taken meat, not realizing that the power wasn’t coming back on.  Ignoring the meats entirely, they headed for the dried goods.  They had to be careful, there was just so much the wagon could hold and now Brenda was riding.  Still they picked up several five pound bags of flour and sugar.  Beans and rice were added to their cart, along with a couple of large cans of Crisco.  The rest of their designated space went for spices, salt and pepper.


“Hey guys!” Pete called and they turned toward him.  “Look.” He pointed toward a cart-like thing attached to a bike.


“What is it?” Skinner asked.


“A rickshaw.  You can take the kids for a ride.”


“We only have Harry and he’s - “


“We can put supplies in them too.  I don’t know how sturdy they are for long distance travel, but we could try,” Pete looked over at Carl who nodded.


“You know that’s a good idea, even if they only hold up for a little while, we could put the short term supplies in them.  How many are there?”


“Three and one’s already assembled.  Know what I’m going to do this evening,” Pete grinned.


They caught up with the girls who had their own supplies.  Mulder looked over at the largest bag which seemed to be full of skeins of yarn.




“All kinds of sewing stuff, pins, needles, and all the yarn we could stuff in.  If Brenda sets her mind to it, she could knit you a three-piece suit.  These clothes aren’t going to last forever.  We picked up underwear for all of us and socks.”


Skinner looked over at Mulder and grinned.  “Makes me very glad we’ve got females along.”  Mulder laughed as they headed for the front of the store. 


The sound of a gunshot outside stopped most of them in their tracks.  Mulder and Skinner were racing away, pulling their own guns as they ran.


It was a standoff for now.  Brenda had shot one of the men, the other three seemed to be in shock, but the closest one was recovering and bringing his gun up.  “Don’t do it,” Mulder said, the man already in his sights.  The other two men began to back away.


“She shot my bro!”


“Did you give her a reason?” Skinner drew his attention and the surly younger man looked even angrier.


The others poured out of the store then and their assailant spotted the other girls.  That seemed to enrage him and his gun came up, pointing at Mulder.  Mulder dived to the side as the man pulled the trigger.  Mulder fired his own shot from where he lay and the younger man flew backward.


The other two stood like statues, afraid to move.


Mulder leapt to his feet and hurried over to the prone body, taking the gun from his nerveless hands.  Then he felt for a pulse.  He looked up at Skinner and shook his head.


“Is everyone okay?” Mulder turned to look at his people.  “Patti!”  There was blood on her sleeve and he raced to her.


“It burns, but I think it’s just a scratch.”


“Let’s get off that shirt.”  He took hold of the neckline of her t-shirt and ripped it down the arm without thought.


“Mulder - “


He looked up into her face and realized what he’d done.  “Sorry.”  He started to step back but she took his hand.


“Is it bad?”


He met her eyes, then looked down at her arm.  She'd called it; just a scratch, thank goodness.  He closed his eyes in relief, then smiled at her.  “You were right.  Let’s get inside and clean it up.  Barely needs more than a band aid.”


She managed a smile then, pulling her t-shirt more closely around her.


“Uh, sorry about that.”


“I understand and, and I appreciate it.”


He grinned slightly and took her good arm to lead her toward the others.


“Is she okay?” Skinner asked quickly.


Mulder nodded.  “What about him?”


Skinner shook his head.  “Brenda’s going to be taking her turn at guard duty,” he said quietly to Mulder.  They looked over at her to find her shaking and crying in Carl’s arms.


The three of them approached her.  “Brenda?”  Skinner’s voice was soft, compassionate.


“I’ve never . . . I didn’t . . . “


“Brenda, you saved us, saved all of our lives.  Those men would have killed us; they would have caught us unaware.  They’d probably have killed Harry and, and taken you and all the women.  You understand what that would have meant?”


She looked up at him, her face wet with tears, but she nodded.


“Do you believe it?” he asked just as gently.


She looked down then and Carl hugged her.


Skinner straightened up then and motioned for Mulder and Patti to follow him.  “It’s going to take her a little while,” Skinner said.


Mulder nodded.  He remembered his first kill and he’d been trained.  “I need to take care of Patti’s arm.”


“Need any help?”


“No, it’s just a scratch.”


“When you’re through, we need to question the other two.  They look pretty subdued for now, but I need to relieve Hal and Pete.”


Mulder and Patti moved back into the building and found the first aid aisle.  He cleaned the wound and bandaged it.  “We’ll have to look for penicillin at the next pharmacy.  In the mean time, take these aspirin.  It’s going to feel like you’ve had a tetanus shot, sore.  Uh, you better go pick out a t-shirt to replace this one.”


“Thanks.”  She grinned but did as he advised.


He left her, returning outside to assist Skinner in the questioning.  The two remaining men were subdued and restrained now.  They both flinched when Mulder approached.


“What do we know?” Mulder asked Skinner.


“Not enough.  Gary and Joe here say they’re innocent.”


“Innocent?  I’m stunned, and you don’t believe them?”


“It’s hard, but somehow . . . “ Skinner said dryly.


“I swear!  I didn’t, we didn’t know Psycho or Playboy before things went crazy.  They were friends, well, gang members together, but Joe and I weren’t part of any gang.  We weren’t with them.  They found me when I was scavenging for food and a few days later we found Joe.”


“You stayed with them.”


“We’d have starved!  No one can make it completely alone, not now.”


“He’s right,” Joe finally spoke up.  “We didn’t have a lot of choice.  We’ve not seen anyone else.  They were crazy, but at least we ate.  It was the women that set them off.  We haven’t seen a woman in over a year.  When he saw one, just sitting there with all these horses - “




“We, we didn’t see the one, the one in the wagon, the one that shot Playboy.  We didn’t know she was there.”


“So if you had known these women could defend themselves you would have left them alone?” Mulder asked, his voice hard.


“No, I . . . that’s not - “


“What do you mean?”


“I’m sorry.  We shouldn’t have . . . but he would have cut us again.”


“Cut you?”


Gary reached for the hem of his t-shirt and Skinner’s gun came back up.  “No! I’m not armed, only Psycho and Playboy had weapons.  I was gonna show you my, my scars.”  


Skinner relaxed slightly.  “Go ahead.”


Gary lifted his shirt and exposed a multitude of scars, small cuts that were obviously torture.  “Joe and I, we didn’t always agree with . . . “ his voice trailed off. 


“What’s that?” Mulder moved closer to look at some sort of pattern in the scars.


“Psycho . . . he didn’t know how to do a tattoo and he wanted Joe and me to match the one that he and Playboy had.”


Skinner looked over at Mulder, disgusted with the two dead men.  “What did you do, before?”


“Me?  I uh, I sold insurance.”


Skinner turned away; if people weren’t traumatized or dead he’d want to grin.  He got control and looked over at Joe.


“I was in grad school, public health.”


Skinner looked over at Mulder who was barely managing to keep a straight face himself.  “Looks like both of your professions got wiped out quick.”  The two younger men nodded, still looking terrified.


“Can we trust you?” Mulder asked almost conversationally.


“Yes!  Just let us prove it.  We weren’t part of them, we were just . . . just along for the ride, well for the food anyway.”


“Any more of you, hiding?”


Both men shook their heads.  “That was part of the problem.  There weren’t enough of us to just settle somewhere.  Those two,” he glanced at the bodies, now covered and over to the side, “didn’t have any intention of working to get food, so we had to keep moving.”


“Any place particular in mind?”


Gary looked over at Joe and they shrugged.  “No.  We were headed east but I don’t think it was planned.  They wanted it to be close and easy.  Riding the bikes really hurt their pride.  I think they tried every car we passed.”


Skinner sighed and looked over at Mulder.  “We need to talk.”  They left the two, still bound and not resisting, and moved over to Hal.  He had gathered everyone together on the far side of the wagon, feeding them and letting them calm down.


Skinner took the food that Hal handed him and took a seat close to Brenda.  “You feeling any better?”


“Maybe a little,” she gave him a slight smile.


“Good.  Just give yourself some time.  Mulder and I need to talk to all of you.”


Everyone looked up.  It was Carl that spoke.  “We’re taking them with us, aren't we?”


“I don’t see how we can leave them.  They can’t look after themselves.”


“Are they going to try to kill us in our sleep?” Carolyn asked bitterly, causing Harry’s eyes to go wide.


Mulder, in exasperation, shook his head.  “I believe we can handle these two.”


“How? How can you guarantee that?” she demanded her voice getting louder and shriller.


“Well, for one thing they’re not armed and weren’t even when Psycho and Playboy attacked - ”


Psycho and Playboy? Their names were - “


“Yes, the two of them knew each other before.  Gary and Joe were picked up by them after things fell apart.  They were tortured but didn’t have anywhere to go.”


“You feel sorry for them,” Carolyn said sounding outraged.


“Yeah, I do.  If we hadn’t found you, it could have happened to you and . . . “ he glanced at Harry.


“Why do you believe them?  What did they say that makes you think - ”


“We saw their scars.  Look, we’re not going to let them have complete freedom; they’ll have to prove themselves, but personally I’d rather have them with us than behind us.  There were more bicycles in there.  They can pull the new rickshaws, that way we can keep them busy and contained.  You’ll just have to trust that Skinner and I will keep an eye on them.  Any other objections?”


There were none and they ate the rest of the meal in silence, trying not to think about what had happened.  The men dug two shallow graves and buried Psycho and Playboy, then Mulder and Skinner returned to Gary and Joe.  They had eaten, under guard from Hal and Patti and no longer looked in fear of their lives.  Mulder heard Joe again apologize to Patti for her wound.


“Okay, we’ve talked among ourselves and we’re willing to let you come with us.  You’ll be under guard until you can prove yourselves to us, but - “


“Thank you,” Gary interrupted.  “We’re not going to cause you any problems.  As far as I’m concerned you rescued us.  Those two,” he indicated the graves, “were getting more psychotic by the day.  Whatever you need to do to feel safe around us, it’s okay.”


Skinner nodded solemnly.  “That’s good.  We’ll be staying here a couple of days, rearranging supplies, getting some rest.  When we leave, you’ll both be on bikes and we’re assembling some kind of rickshaw thing that each of you will be pulling.  We’re going to be hitting the mountains soon, so we’ll need every hand.  We’ll see what you’re made of then.”


Both men nodded and seemed to heave a sigh of relief.



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