Chapter 1

It was, without a doubt, the ugliest house she had ever seen. If anything proved the desperation of the world at the moment, it was the fact that her daughter would even consider living in this tacky building. 'Maybe it looks decent during the day' Beth Clarke thought as she pulled into the driveway. She had waited so long for this. After months of exhausting travel and praying for her daughter, she was going to see her Mimi again. Standing at the dusty screen door, she knocked after failing to find a doorbell. She didn't know what she had expected, but it definitely hadn't been the nose of a gun.

"Who-Who's th-there?" came her daughter's terrified voice.

"Mimi?!" Beth cried.

The gun fell to the floor and Beth saw her daughter's shocked face.

"Mom?!"

They both ran into the other's arms and cried.

"I thought you were dead!" Mimi cried.

"No! I was visiting Marie in New York when it happened! You have no idea how grateful I am you took that extra time to audit that farm!" Her mother cried.

Mimi walked her in and showed her to a table where they sat. After both had registered the fact that they were in the same room, Beth told the story of how she had been shopping with friends in New York when the mushroom cloud appeared. With only hope that she hadn't flown back to DC yet, Beth hitchhiked to Jericho to learn the fate of her daughter. It was a long story, and Mimi listened quietly, tears in her eyes, only interrupting ever so often to reach out and touch her mother, making sure she was really there. By the time she had finished the story, the sun had been up for nearly an hour.

"…so after everything finally calmed down, she told me where you were. And then I came and you're here!" she squealed.

Mimi shook away the tears in her eyes and said, "I'm just so happy you're not gone,"

Beth smiled "And that's not the only good news," she said.

"What else?" Mimi asked.

"Well, there've been rumors that soon transportation will be up and running soon. So you can finally leave this God-forsaken place and come back to the big apple with me."

Surprisingly enough, instead of leaping for joy, Mimi shyly smiled before looking at her hands, "I-I don't think I could do that, Mom," she stuttered.

"What? Why not?" Beth asked, shocked.

Before Mimi could answer, footsteps were heard coming from the hallway, and a blond man walked in. He didn't seem to notice Beth, and he might as well not have, because after what he did, she felt as if she had been buried by a ton of bricks.

He walked down the hallway, stretched and yawned, he then walked over to Mimi, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, he pulled her close and kissed the top of her head, "Morning," he whispered before walking to the counter and opening a cupboard.

"Who in God's name are you?" Beth said through a mouth that was hanging wide open.

The man spun around, looking just as hocked as her, "I could ask you the same question, then add a 'What are doing here?'" he replied.

"I'm Mimi's mother. I came to find Mimi," Beth said, almost automatically.

"She was in New York when it happened, she's been trying to get here ever since," Mimi quickly explained.

"Thank you for the introduction," Beth said flatly. She turned back to Mimi, "So," she said through clenched teeth, "Who is he?"

"This is Stanley," Mimi said, "He's…" Mimi hesitated, "He's my-uh" More hesitation, "We l…" Mimi continued to search for words, every time she began a sentence, it seemed she suddenly lost what she was about to say. Her eyebrows would furrow and her lips trembled. It went on like that for several minutes. Mimi finally looked up, confidence in her eyes, "Stanley and I are-"

She didn't panic halfway through the sentence that time, she was just interrupted. The man, Stanley, jumped in front of her and grabbed Beth's hand to shake, "-Hi. I'm Mimi's fiancé," he said with a wide grin.

Beth's throat dropped to her stomach. Mimi looked like she was about to faint. The strange man just stood there, shaking her hand and grinning dumbly.