Of course it was snowing. Of course it was.
After a flat tire slowed them down, the planned two day trip into the woods had stretched into four days, and now it was snowing. The wind was whipping through the little cabin, causing the freezing air to chill the occupants inside.
Mulder paced back and forth as Scully watched him, annoyance and irritation pouring off him in waves. The one lone light they had in the room glowed brightly, casting his shadow across the walls. His anger and constant motion was ratcheting up her own anger until she could take it no more, stood up, and blocked his path.
“Just, sit down,” she said venomously, and he stared at her hard, before pushing past her and resuming his pacing. “Mulder …”
“Scully, stop. Just … stop,” he said, shaking his head, not looking at her, his hands moving to his hips.
“I told you that if we-”
“Spare me, Scully. I don’t need to hear this again. You’re like a broken record.”
“I’m like a broken record? Who the hell kept saying that coming up here would be a snap? Who said that we would be in and out before any major weather conditions caused a catastrophe? Not me — you. Despite the warnings from the sheriff and despite the fact that this time of year snow is not unheard of, you insisted that we press on. So don’t tell me that I’m the broken record, when that’s all you’ve been since I met you.” Her eyes flashed, and she was breathing hard when she finished speaking. He stared at her and then walked closer, towering over her smaller frame.
“If it bothers you so much, why don’t you leave? If my repeating things or my drive to pursue the truth is too much for you, why are you still here?”
“Oh, here it comes,” she shook her head and crossed her arms. “It’s always someone else’s fault, right? Fox Mulder could never be wrong, so it must be someone else. Am I to blame this time, despite my own warnings to you that it was looking like it might snow? I was ready to leave five hours ago, which would have put us past this storm and safely heading down this mountain. We have the car we found parked outside, but it’s likely buried by now. So instead of driving back into town we are stuck in a blizzard. On top of it all, our food supply is low and we don’t have much gas left to support the generator.”
As he stared at her, his eyes flashing with anger, the radio in the corner sputtered to life. Static filled the room, and they both turned to look at it, before Mulder hurried over and she quickly followed. Turning the knobs, he tried to tune in the signal. Finally, something came through, a woman’s voice, and Mulder grabbed the hand microphone.
“This is Special Agent Fox Mulder, who is on this frequency?” The voice faded, and he turned the knob again, the voice was once again clear.
“Agent Mulder, this is the National Park Service, what is your location? Over.”
He grabbed the map in front of him and they looked at it together. Both of them touched the spot where they were at the same time and he looked at it closer.
“Our location is Bison Pass, west of Falls Forest. We’re in a loggers cabin. Rations are low. Over,” he said, and Scully’s heart pounded, worrying about their food supply.
“Agent Mulder, we have your location. Sir, if hasn’t reached you yet, you are in for a hell of a storm. Should blow in and dump quite a lot of snow your way. Do you have supplies? Over.”
“Enough for two days, maximum. Generator is running low on gas and if the snow piles up, we won’t be able to get to it. We need an evacuation plan. Over.” The radio rang with static again, the wind blowing hard against the cabin, and then it sputtered off.
Mulder threw the handset down and covered his face with his hands. “Well, that was a fucking mess.” He stood up and started to pace once more.
“She knows our location and about the storm. They will send someone.”
“Before we freeze to death? It could fall for days. She didn’t say how long it was going to snow,” he stopped pacing and shook his head. The light flickered and they both looked at it, holding their breath as it dimmed and then glowed again brightly, allowing them to breathe.
“We should take stock of what supplies we have, in case the generator goes out, we’ll need candles and flashlights at least,” she said, staring at the light.
“Yeah,” he agreed, and she looked at him. He did not glance her way, but began to gather items and place them on the table.
Forty five minutes later, they had gathered everything at their disposal. Six long candles, two boxes of matches, three flashlights, and two packs of batteries. They had two cans each of soup, corn, peas, beef stew, refried, black, and kidney beans, a large bag of pasta, two bags of beef jerky, and three gallons of water.
They looked at the supplies and then at one another, as the wind blew louder. He reached out and touched her hand. “I’m sorry, I should have listened,” he said quietly.
“Yeah, you should’ve,” she said, as she pulled her hand away.
“No, Mulder,” she cut across him, pointing to the table. “This is all we have for who knows how long. It might only snow for a night, but the roads could be impassable for days. Days. How are we going to survive on that amount of food for days? And water, Mulder. We need water.” She began pacing and shaking her head. “If the generator stops and that small heater turns off …” She finally looked at him, but his eyes were on the supplies.
“I know, Scully. Food we could do without, but I’m worried about the heat,” looking up at her, he shook his head. “I’m sorry. I didn’t …”
“Listen,” she finished for him, her worry overtaking her anger. Sighing, she sat down at the table and put her face in her hands. Mulder sat beside her and clasped his hands together.
They were quiet for a while, each with their own thoughts and worries. Finally, he stood up and began to gather their sleeping bags and all the extra blankets in the room. He dropped everything down onto one cot, before unzipping each sleeping bag, and then rezipping then together.
“What are you doing?” Scully asked, although she knew the answer to the question. They would need to conserve body heat. Sleeping close together was the best idea, but the thought made her feel uncomfortable.
“It’s going to get very cold in here, Scully,” he said apologetically. “We’re going to need to stay warm.” She nodded, and he smiled slightly.
He moved the cots together, laid the large sleeping bag across them, and added the extra blankets on top. Scully picked up her backpack along with Mulder’s, looking through them and finding their gloves and extra clothes, especially socks. Laying them on the table, she set the backpacks back down onto the floor.
“You need to layer up,” she said, as Mulder walked up beside her. She handed him the long underwear from his pack and the socks. “Put them on over your other socks.” He nodded and headed to the bathroom.
While he was in the bathroom, she quickly undressed and added the layers under her own clothes, shivering in the chilly room with the loss of her warm clothes. Putting them back on, she added her extra pair of socks and picked up her gloves, as well as Mulder’s.
He came out of the bathroom and she handed him his gloves. He nodded as he took them, sighing as he did. She stood up, heading to the cots, unzipped the sleeping bag, and slid inside. She zipped it up again and shivered in the cold flannel, as she put on her gloves.
“Keep the light on?” he asked.
“Probably a good idea,” she said, turning onto her side. He stepped over to the cots and got in beside her. She felt him shiver and she knew they needed to be closer. “Mulder, move closer, back to front.”
He did as asked and then put his arms around her. The blankets were heavy, helping to take off the chill, but still she shivered. Mulder pulled her closer and sighed close to her ear.
“I am sorry, Scully. I wouldn’t choose to be way out here with a storm raging outside,” he whispered, his proximity causing her to shiver, but not solely from cold. He put his leg over hers, and she jumped. “Sorry.” He said again.
“No, we need to be as close as possible, it just startled me,” she said, shifting against him.
“I thought the best thing to fight off the cold, was to lay naked with someone else, preferably already inside a sleeping bag,” he deadpanned, and she sighed.
“Not always. And keep dreaming,” she shivered again, and he laughed quietly. The wind howled as they lay close together trying to keep warm and worrying about what was to come.
“Kidney beans?” he asked, and she made a face. “Well it’s that or black ones. So, dealers choice.” She pointed to the black ones, and he opened the can, not bothering with plates, they shared the can between them, plus some beef jerky.
The snow fell the entire night, to the top of the door. They had no tools to dig their way out and no chance of making it once they did. Staying in the cabin and waiting for rescuing was the only option. The generator stopped running mid morning and the room had steadily gotten colder throughout the day.
They had eaten the refried beans and some beef jerky for breakfast, skipped lunch, and now they were eating before they went to bed. The candles afforded light, but once they blew them out, they would be plunged into darkness.
“I will never complain about cold Chinese food again. Or cold anything for that matter,” he said, making a face as he ate a mouthful of black beans. She shook her head and closed her eyes, swallowing down a bite of beef jerky. “At least we have food, I shouldn’t complain.”
Opening her eyes, she looked at him and sighed. He gave her a half smile and she shook her head again. “You know, the snow will act as an insulator in a way, but it’s still going to be really cold until they find us. Let me see your hands.” She took off her gloves as he set the beans down and removed his own gloves, letting her check his fingers. They were warm and pink, no frostbite … yet. Squeezing his hands, she let them go and they put their gloves back on.
“You want more of this?” he asked, and she shook her head. He finished the can and set it down. “I’d suggest a game of cards, but I’m not sure we could hold them while wearing these gloves. Maybe strip poker?” She gave him a look and he smiled.
“They’ll be here soon, right?” she asked softly, and his smile faltered before he rubbed her arm and stood up, picking up the flashlights and turning one on and blowing out the candles.
“I really hope so, Scully,” he said in the near darkness. They both got in bed, turning the flashlight off and clinging to one another for warmth, the blankets pulled tight around them.
“When I was ten, my father and I went camping,” he said quietly, his limbs wrapped around her like an octopus. “It was spring and unseasonably warm during the day, but very cold at night. I thought it wasn’t possible to feel colder than I did those nights, but this … this is by far, the coldest I’ve ever been.”
She shivered against him, and he pulled her closer. His lips touched her ear and he breathed softly. “I’m so sorry, Scully. I know I’ve said it before, but I truly am.” She gripped his hand and nodded her head.
“Let me see your feet,” she said to him the next night, when she noticed he was grimacing as he paced slowly around the room. He looked at her and she raised her eyebrows. Sighing, he walked over to her and sat at the table. She knelt down, taking off her gloves, untied his shoe and took off his socks, causing him to wince. “Oh, Mulder.”
His toes were red and cold to the touch. He winced again as she tenderly felt at the beginning stages of frostbite. “Why didn’t you say anything?” she asked and looked up at him. He met her eyes and shook his head. “Is it both feet?” He nodded and she sighed as she stood up. Going to her pack she took out some lotion and walked back to him. Sitting on the floor, she put his foot in her lap and warmed the lotion in her hands before softly rubbing his toes, causing him to hiss.
“I’m sorry,” she said, going slower and more carefully. “Why didn’t you say anything?” She asked again and he exhaled with a gasp.
“I thought it would be okay. It’s not so bad … oh, Scully,” he hissed again, and closed his eyes. “Maybe it is worse than I thought. I should have told you.”
“Hmmm,” she said, massaging his foot until it felt a bit warmer. Putting both pairs of socks back on and then his shoe, she left the laces loose, and then moved on to the next foot and did the same thing. His gasps of pain tugged at her heart, but she continued because it had to be done.
Both shoes back on, she wiped her hands, put her gloves back on, and stood up. She touched his face as he looked up at her. “Anywhere else hurting? Your ears? Cheeks?” Feeling them, he made no sounds or movements to suggest they were hurting, though they did appear a little red. She would keep her eye on them. Moving down, she held his hands and took off his gloves, examining his fingers. “They look okay.”
“Well, at least there’s that ray of sunshine,” he said sarcastically, and she stared at him.
“It’s not a joke, Mulder.”
“I know, Scully. I just … once the sense of humor goes, it’s time to pack it in, am I right?” he smiled and squeezed her fingers before putting his gloves back on. She stepped back and looked down, her own toes beginning to feel cold, but she would see how it was tomorrow before she raised any concern.
“We should get you under the covers. Let’s lay a blanket at the end of the bed, doubled up to keep our … your feet warm tonight.” He nodded and they headed to bed.
In the dark and quiet of the room, he sighed, his arms holding her tightly. She leaned back into him, feeling he had something to say. He sighed again, and she waited.
“I almost drown once, when I was eleven. This boy at the lake was bigger than me, and he was playing rougher than I was used to. He held me under the water, and I panicked, flailing around and kicking at him. I could hear him laughing above the water, and I seriously thought I was going to die, Scully,” he gave a shaky sigh. “I remember the feel of the water going into my lungs. I scratched him, hard enough to draw blood, and he let me go. I pulled myself up, coughing and retching, vomiting out the water I had swallowed. He was shouting about his cut I’d given him, and I was fighting for my life. I could hear my mother calling me, and she came running down just before he grabbed me again. She helped me out of the water and held me as I continued to throw up, telling that boy to get the hell away from me.”
Scully had tears in her eyes as she lay there, her own memories of near drowning experiences rising to the surface. She knew that feeling and how terrifying it was. Holding on to his hands, she waited for him to finish.
“I didn’t tell you about my toes, Scully, because cold toes are not as bad as nearly dying,” he whispered, and she turned over, finding his eyes and feeling his face in the black darkness.
“We aren’t going to die here, Mulder,” she said forcefully. “They know where we are, and they’ll be here soon. I know it.” He nodded against her hand, and she held his face in her hands. “We aren’t going to die here.” She repeated and he nodded again, pulling her close. She wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head in his neck, hoping the words she said were not empty ones.
There was a pounding noise in her head and she moaned, seeking out the warmth she lost in the night.
“Five minutes,” she heard Mulder grumble and she moaned again.
“Agent Mulder! Are you in there?! Agent Mulder!” More pounding and Scully slowly opened her eyes. Sunlight was streaming through the tops of the windows, the only light visible from the snow piled high, and she blinked her eyes against it. “Agent Mulder!!”
“Mulder!” she said, pulling away and sitting up, frantically trying to get out of the bed. “Mulder, they’re here! Wake up.” She got out of the bed and fell as she did, her toes like pins and needles.
“Scully?” he slurred. “You okay?”
She got up, hobbling to the door. “We’re here!! Please, help!” she called out, seeing many booted feet through the window. A face appeared as someone lay down in the snow.
“We’ll have you out soon ma’am,” he said and stood up again.
“Thank God,” she whispered, shaking her head. Limping to the bed, she looked at Mulder, who had finally sat up, his eyes wild. “We aren’t going to die here.” He smiled, and she sat next to him, reaching for his gloved hand.
“Gin!” Mulder yelled, slamming down his cards, and she rolled her eyes.
“We’re playing Go Fish, remember?” she laughed, and he made a face as he picked up his cards. “So, you got any 2’s?” She asked snidely, and he huffed as he gave them to her.
“Still think we should be playing strip poker,” he said, waggling his eyebrows. She threw a pretzel at him, and he laughed as he picked it up and popped it in his mouth.
They were in a hospital, both being treated for the beginning stages of frostbite. Nothing serious enough to warrant alarm, but enough to have kept them there for the past three days. Tomorrow they would be leaving and they were both feeling a bit punchy.
Mulder grabbed the deck of cards and begin to shuffle them.“When we get home, we should go out and celebrate being alive. How about a Mexican restaurant? We could get tacos … and a side of black beans.” Looking up at her, he grinned, before ducking as she threw a handful of pretzels at him. “Beef jerky then?”
The nurses outside the room must have wondered what was so funny, as they both laughed loudly, and Mulder shouted, just before a dozen more pretzels hit the glass doors.