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It had been determined by Skye's scavenging group that the best first place to check for medical supplies was the superstore area. As far as Dylan knew, he and his group had found most of the closer places. The only ones he was aware of that were closer were in areas that he considered questionable, either because he had seen evidence of other healthy people, but didn't know how friendly they were or because there had been evidence of the Sick or Infected in the area.

Skye sighed and ran her hand through her hair. I should put this up before we get there. She tried to ignore the stone sitting in the pit of her stomach. The last place she wanted to go was where she had almost died, they all had almost died except for Jesse.

She shot a look over to the boy. He's grown so much that soon he will hardly be a boy. Children are bound to grow up sooner in this new reality, not that Jesse hadn't already been in that situation.

What would his life had been like if Calvin would have won? If he had been taken away with those men? Skye hoped that he would've somehow stayed the way he was, but the odds of that were low. She shuddered as she thought of Jesse becoming a violent monster as they had been. She was grateful they were all still together, still a family.

"It'll be okay, Mom."

"Yep." She sent Jesse a weak smile.

"No one should be there. Gregory and his men were all taken to the detainment center."

"It's been a while since anyone's been to this store. We need to be careful, keep our eyes open."

Jesse laughed. "You sound like Dad."

"That list he gave us!" Skye laughed. "But he's right we need to watch for all that. The thing is it will take all five of us to do his job."

Jesse nodded. He knew that was the case. He was trying to learn from Dylan, but he had noticed there were a lot of things that Dylan did he wasn't even aware of doing. Jesse had to watch him carefully and ask a lot of questions. He was getting better, much better, but there was a long way to go.

"This is the best place," Skye said. "between the superstore and the medical place beside it, they should have everything we need. I just don't want to go there."

"I know." Jesse patted her shoulder. He wished she didn't have to go either. It was hard on her. She was already worried about Dylan, now she worried about what or who they would find at the store. "It'll be okay," he said again.

Skye nodded and bit the inside of her cheek. It was time to push away the emotions and focus on the job. It was how she managed her anxiety now. It was not a strategy that she would have recommended before, but now it was a way to survive. Shove emotions behind you, do what you need to do, deal with the emotional aftermath when you can.

Her hands tightened on the wheel until her knuckles whitened. She took several deep breaths in and out as she straightened in her seat. And her green eyes became hard as emeralds when she rounded the hill and saw the superstore sitting below them.

Now. Now we save Dylan.


The five of them stood at the same overlook that she, Dylan, Wade, and Jesse had stood months earlier. It looked quiet, just as quiet as it looked the last time. There were remnants of their battle left. Skye's shot-up blue Jeep, a couple of discarded weapons, blood stains. Skye shivered.

"Looks good," Reed said, "Let's head down."

"No," Skye said. "Let's give it a bit more time."

"It's fine. The wind's whistlin through the place like it's a ghost town." Reed and Spencer turned to head toward their car.

"No!" Skye said shortly. "We take our time. We have all day. Get back here."

Reed and Spencer exchanged a look as Kelsey and Jesse stifled laughter. There was no longer a question of who was in charge. When Skye hunkered down, they knew it would be a while.

Once the men came back and took a position, Skye explained, "Last time we thought we were alone too. They caught us as we came outside. I don't want any surprises today."

The men nodded after being reminded that Skye and Jesse had once been caught here. Skye's order, or request if that's the way they wanted to see it, was reasonable.

A couple of hours went by as the group went through every step on Dylan's list, much longer then Dylan would've taken, but then he seemed capable of accomplishing several at one time. They scouted through the entire area, looking for sign of anyone of any kind and used the binoculars to see as far into the stores as possible as well as further into the tree covered hills. Finally, Skye declared it safe, or as safe as it could be determined.

"We go in slow," she said. "Park as close to the doors as possible and look into the stores from there. If it looks safe, we go in. Medical store first, it's smaller." She looked at each of them in turn. "We are here for one thing. Medicine. First, for Dylan. Second, anything on Kelsey's list. We don't deviate from that. The only other thing I will allow is anything you see on the aisle as you walk to the pharmacy area. Does everyone understand?"

"Yes, Ma'am," came the reply from all four of her fellow scavengers. Her grandfather had been a leader of men. It was nice to know a few of his qualities had been passed on to her. He'd always said she had it in her, though she'd never seen it. It's one of the reasons why her grandfather gave her the diamond bangle she had shoved way up on her arm so it wouldn't make any noise against the other two.

"Skye, my little lady," he had said. "My blood runs through your veins, thick and red. You are fierce. You just can't see it yet. But you will one day. The hardships you endure today will harden you. That will be good if you direct it in the right way. Show those hard little troubles how to build a wall to protect yourself, but then invite all the ones you love to stand behind it with you."

Her grandfather had handed her a black velvet jewelry box. It wasn't the first time he'd given her expensive jewelry, but this would be the gift that became most precious to her. He had smoothed her dark hair as together they looked at the shimmering bracelet thick with the diamonds that encircled it, bright against the dark background on which it lay.

"As beautiful as you are and as tough. Remember that. You can cry and moan and mourn, but you remember that wall. It is what will keep you upright."

It is time to make Grandpa proud. It is time to remember the wall.


A/N: Question time. :) What are your thoughts on Skye taking the lead on this hunt? Yes, it's time she does so. Or No--Man are you kidding--she isn't ready yet!?

As always, THANKS for reading! :)

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