It seemed that the harder she pressed, the more blood seeped out of the shoulder wound, drenching her hands. She growled in frustration, and used her knee to apply pressure to Tom's shoulder. He was lying on the ground his body sheltered by the long dead truck. Balanced over him, one knee applying pressure she reached into her backpack, fishing for the all-important syringe. She ignored the blood that covered her hands and was soaking though her cargo pants. Tom groaned in pain and tried to push her away; she took the moment to reassure him. If she could get him to calm down she could see to the damage to his shoulder.

All around her she could hear gunfire, those of the men who had been with them, and from the Mech that had attacked them. The night's darkness was broken at random intervals by the muzzle blasts from the automatic weapons around her. The acid smell of gunpowder burned her throat.

"Leave me, get back to the group, get to safety," Tom said, one arm flailing near her face, trying to push her away.

"I am not done with you yet sir, now hush, I am not going anywhere without you." Her voice assumed the no nonsense tone she had always used with difficult patients that were scared enough to do them selves harm.

The moonless night didn't offer much light, she silently cursed herself as she fished in her pack for a flashlight. The syringe barrel was in her mouth, and the vial of morphine was in her hip pocket. Suddenly there was more then enough light, fear froze her in place as the Mech focused it attention on the humans that were not fighting back. For one brief moment she though, this is it, then there was a loud noise…and then the world went dark.

A few days earlier

Sun streamed through leaves on a fine sunny day with just hint of winters bite. It was still warm enough for just a light jacket, but the nights had begun to get colder then were comfortable. Tom loved this weather, loved seeing the trees fill with color as the leaves changed and fell off. He loved the sunsets that only happened this time of year. He took a deep breath, and savored the clean crispness that was only possible because there were so few cars putting out pollution now. His back was to the school where he and so many others survivors had taken refuge. It was his home, and he would do whatever he had to do to protect it and the most precious thing in the world that was in it, his children.

As if the thought materialized them Tom smiled as he heard Hal and Ben arguing about the most ridiculous of topics-who was better at lacrosse. He spun and watched as his two eldest approaches him, each one held a stick, and Hal was throwing the ball in the air and catching it in his net.

"I don't know what you plan to prove, other then that you still have no hand eye coordination-" Hal teased.

"Ya Ya, lets just let actions speak louder then words." Ben came back with.

"I'm telling you, your just going to embarrass yourself." Hal continued.

Hal walked past Tom with barely a nod, while Ben gave him a shy smile. Tom just watched them, a smile tugging the corners of his lips, should he stay and watch? No he decided, they needed some time to be siblings for a while. He watched for a moment longer, and saw Hal mess up Ben's hair, before turning and heading inside.

His first stop was to check on Dr. Anne Glass where she always was in the classroom that served as their clinic. He was a little surprised to see so many people waiting for her attention. Several parents with children were waiting their turn in the hallway. Tom listened long enough to hear the tell tale signs of coughing and sniffling to know that they had entered flu season. He wondered how long their antibiotics would last…and decided to leave that in Dr. Glass's capable hands.

He detoured to the science lab to check on how Matt was getting along with whatever Uncle Scott had come up with for him. Tom couldn't thank the elder man enough for helping Matt feel like he was contributing. Matt had felt so left out when Hal and his father had been on missions, Tom made a mental note to see if Ben could help as well. It would keep him occupied, and help him feel important.

Tom stopped outside the door that was open just a crack and listened.

"See this part right here?" Uncle Scott asked.

"The part with a pointed bit?" Matt asked

A smile pulled at Tom's lips to hear the excitement in his son's voice.

"Very good. That part rite there is called the idle speed-adjusting corkscrew. Do you know what idle is?"

"When the car goes real slow?"

Uncle Scott chuckled, "That's part of it, it's kind of like the baseline for the engine, your going to need to know all this so you can help me fix up the truck and keep it running fine."

"Uncle Scott? It's not really running that great, shouldn't Dai look a it?"

Tom covered his mouth to keep from laughing. Uncle Scott hated working on the beat up truck that they needed to haul equipment, but that didn't mean that he didn't take pride in it when it ran.

He left at that point, not waiting to hear Uncle Scott's response and headed to classroom that was serving as their command headquarters. He wasn't on duty for a few more hours, but since his sons were all occupied he might as well be kept up on what was going on. He was surprised to hear raised voices and slipped into the back of the classroom.

Weaver caught Tom's eye, but kept his focus on the three new people in front of him, Dai and Anthony behind him. Tom eyed the newcomers, two women and man. The pile of weapons on the desk behind Weaver must have been what the new arrivals had on them.

"We didn't mean to scare everyone, really, just give us our weapons back, and we will be on our way." The shorter of the girls was speaking, she had dirty blond hair, but Tom couldn't really see her features from where he was. She wasn't thin, but not overly curvy either, her clothing looked to big for her like she had recently lost weight, Tom would put her age in the low thirties.

"No Samantha, we have a better chance here then if we stay on our own." The other girl said, she had brown hair, almost copper in color, and was tall, for a girl, Tom would put her at about 5'10, but she was to thin, like she hadn't been eating well. No one had been eating well for a few months he guessed. Of the three Tom would guess she was the youngest, maybe just shy of 30.

"There are too many people here, the aliens are sure to be able to spot this many, we are safer alone and far away from here." Samantha said.

Weaver looked between the two girls and raised his eyes to the man, "do you care to weigh in on this?"

The man looked at Samantha a long moment then glanced at the other girl, "Sam you know she's right, lets just keep moving." He had brown hair, and a well-muscled body, but like the elder girl his cloths hung loose as if he had lost weight recently. He looked to be about 35.

"No, I can't believe you two!" Sam crossed her arm. "You can go, I am staying."

The man took a step towards her and grabbed her arm tight enough to burse, "That's not an option, we are not splitting up."

Tom walked forward and silently placed his hand on the mans shoulder, "And I think you need to let her go." Tom and the other man had a staring contest for a moment before the other looked away. The man dropped his arm, and took a step back from Tom, who dropped his. Tom kept his eyes on the man long enough for him to look up at him again and away before he turned his attention to Sam, "are you ok?"

"Peachy, just stuck with this stubborn ass for the past six months." Sam said angrily, then almost as an afterthought she added, "thanks."

"Don't mention it," Tom said he looked as Weaver and asked with a slight shake of his head, what's going on?

Weaver cleared his throat, "Dai and Anthony came across these three in working '67 pick up truck. They escorted them here to debrief them, find out if they have seen any skitters or signs of others. They were here a total of about three seconds before this one-" and he pointed to Samantha, " decided she wanted nothing to do with us."

"We shouldn't be here it isn't safe." Samantha said, sticking her chin up as if to challenge them to deny it.

Tom watched the way that Samantha and the other man stood close together, and were holding hands. Then returned his attention to Weaver.

"And that's about when you came in." Weaver crossed his arms, and leaned back against the desk behind him. "We are just trying to sort things out."

Nodding Tom glanced at the other girl, Sam. "Why do you want to stay here?"

She was rubbing her arm where the man had grabbed her, "I need a change, I love you-" she faced the other two in her group, "you know that Derek, Samantha. But I need a change, we have been running for so long, never getting a full nights rest, couldn't we stay even for a day or two?" She looked to Weaver and Tom at the end.

"How do you all know each other," Weaver asked, thought he didn't seem all that interested.

Sam answered before the other two could, "Derek is my brother, and Samantha is his girlfriend. We have been traveling together since the first wave of the invasion."

"How did you get so many weapons? This is a pretty impressive collection, though no automatics." Tom asked trying to keep his voice light.

Derek eyed the guns on the table behind Weaver and licked his lips, "most of them I owned before the invasion. Dear hunting and just collecting them. The rest we picked up after, we stayed to smaller towns, and were able to hit gun stores that others either didn't know about, or didn't bother with because they were so far off the main roads."

Nodding Tom had to admire the simple efficiency of that thought, they had been mainly in larger cities, because more survivors were present, they hadn't really looked into the smaller towns they passed, other then for distribution centers for food and other supplies.

"What did you do before the attack?" Weaver asked.

Again Sam took the lead, "Samantha was a elementary school teacher, Derek ran the overhaul shop at the airport in our home town, and I worked at the hospital as a nurse in the ER."

Tom made a face, "ER? Why there? Why not a floor nurses? Or anywhere else that would see less blood and guts."

Sam smiled, and Tom noticed the slight dimples "I like the ER, never the same thing two nights in a row."

Tom made an involuntary shudder, which made Weaver smile. "A nurse? What no ambition to be a Dr.?" Weaver asked without any tact.

Sam glared at him, but didn't answer.

"Mechanic eh?" Weaver continued looking at Derek, "We could definitely use your help, if you're willing to stay for a few days."

Derek looked at Samantha who shook her head, "Just for a few days? See how it goes?"

"We could use someone who is good with the little ones too, we have a fair number of children here, we try to keep teaching them what they would be learning normally, but having a actual teacher would be a boon."

Samantha seemed to perk up at the idea of being useful. Weaver raised an eyebrow at Tom after his statement, Tom ignored him.

"Dai why don't you show them where they can store there things and if he's willing, where Derek can take a look at our motorcycles," Weaver said without taking his eyes off the group.

Dai stepped away from the wall and opened the door at the front of the classroom.

Derek made to follow then pointed behind Weaver to their guns.

"Take them, just be careful, there are a lot of little ones around." Weaver waved them away. Tom and Weaver were silent until they others left the room. "'Having an actual teacher would be a boon?' what the hell do you call being a university professor?"

Tom laughed, "Its what she needed to hear to want to stay."

"Back to that point, why do you want them to stay? The shorter one seems like a bit of a bitch, the tall one clearly has no ambition, a nurse? What we need is another Dr."

"We could use the mechanic." Tom pointed out, not thinking it was worth it to argue that nurses did serve an important function.

Weaver nodded, "we could."

"Did they have any news we don't know? More survivor groups maybe? Skitter sightings?" Tom asked, he turned to Anthony who had remained silent in the room so far.

"They didn't mention anything while we were with them." Anthony said shaking his head.

Too bad Tom thought they hadn't had any news from the other groups since Dr. Harris had been left with them nearly two weeks ago.

"They are here now, we may as well make the best of it," Weaver said in a dismissive way.

Tom and Anthony exchanged a look, both of them knowing that was as close as Weaver would come to saying 'welcome' to the new comers.

On his way out on patrol Tom stopped by Dr. Glass's clinic again, hoping to have a few words with her. The line to get in was smaller but still present. He nodded to those in line and walked into the science room that was serving as the clinic. Lourdes gave him a quick smile from where she stood with a small boy and his father; the boy had a thermometer in his mouth and a runny nose. Tom smiled back and continued on to the next curtained area and was surprised to see Sam standing behind a little girl with a stethoscope to her back while the little girl tried to take deep breaths without coughing. If Sam saw him, she didn't respond.

Dr. Glass was behind the third curtain, without a patient, drying her hands after a recent wash. She smiled brightly at him and signaled for him to follow her quietly. Dr. Glass led Tom to the classroom next door and closed the door most of the way behind them. "Hey, how are things?" Dr. Glass asked with a bright smile.

Tom smiled back, "they are good, I see you know we have a nurse with us now."

"Yes, she's great, a life safe. Literally. She had a few crates full of antibiotics, medical narcotics, and other supplies." Dr. Glass said with feeling.

"She had what?" Tom asked in disbelief.

Dr. Glass nodded, "She said she had been stocking up every chance they got, every town they were in she would go to as many clinics as she could find and cleared them out of anything she thought would come in handy. And she had great timing, with this cold going around I was really worried about how low our antibiotic levels were going to get."

Tom was still dumfounded, "how did she find you?"

"She said she followed the chorus of coughs." Dr. Glass laughed a little. "She got her RN right out of high school, and has 7 years experience, 5 of them in the ER."

"Well that's, that's great." Tom said. "I'm glad you will be getting extra help."

Dr. Glass crossed her arm, "with this cold going around I am going to need all the help I can get."