Title: Warmth Within The Ice
Author: Agent Manchester
Author's page: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/307397/
Summary: : It’s midwinter, several attacks have been reported in the Fairbanks, Alaska area and the claims are that a copy of the abominable snowman is behind them. Add our two favorite FBI Agents and you have an X-File!
Mt. McKinley, Denali National Park
Thursday 3:53 am
The chill of the night sky was really getting to her. For years now, she had worked out here at Vinchett, watching and waiting for that indisputable glimpse of what she chose to call 'the Yeti'. For years her search had gone unrewarded, no sign of the animal, not one in 14 years. Born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska Riannon Tirchett had been in search of the Yeti since the age of 23. In a period of 4 years, Riannon met many people who were also searching for the Yeti, but they had been on their way to the Himalayas, staying in Tibet as that was the only known place on earth where the Yeti had been seen. What made Riannon stay in Alaska, were the stories her grandmother had told as a child. Tales of a hairy monster coming out in the dead of night and attacking small colonies that had settled on the base of Mt. McKinley, only to once again disappear at the break of dawn.
The chilled wind swiveled around in her hair and whipped her face. She staggered down the mountainside clutching her cut arm. She had been camping on the lower summit of the mountain with four other people, all who were keen to discover the mystery of the icy cape. That was their mistake, they hadn't listened to her warning. "We cannot camp on the lower summit, it's either all the way up, the middle summit or stay down below. The terrors of night are far worse from those you'd ever have dreamed." Despite what she'd said, the four friends wanted to stay on the lower summit. That was to be their final choice in life.
Only an hour earlier, Riannon had been jolted from her sleep by the cries for help. Yells and screams that echoed in her mind as she still ran for her life. Riannon knew what was happening and she ran for two reasons, both of which would endanger her life if she stayed. She knew the screams were from a bump in the night, a bump only an animal could make, an animal the size of a Yeti. She ran, there was no way she could save them. Secondly, the yells and screams were so loud, that any moment; an avalanche was surely to begin. Her choice was made for her, she had to run. Riannon wasn't sure how she had managed to cut her arm, she only knew that it was deep, and that it was hurting her badly. If she didn't find her way soon, the cold would kill her, and only dawn held the hope of not being caught by the Yeti.
FBI Headquarters, Washington D.C
The office was ice cold, the heating wasn't working and neither was Special Agent Fox Mulder. He sat at his desk, wrapped in god knows how many layers of clothing and clutching a mug of coffee. The night before had been no warmer, the late night weather report informing him it had been the coldest winter in D.C for 23 years. "Typical," he thought, "of all the days I could have been healed by a Navaho, I chose the middle of summer, what I wouldn't give to be in the damn desert now." He rubbed his hands together. The office door opened and in walked his partner, Dana Scully. She wore a long overcoat and scarf, her red hair seemed redder than usual, but then usually she didn't have white specks on snow on it.
"Oh it's awful out there, colder than I can ever imagine," she cried, " and it doesn't seem any warmer in here, haven't they fixed the heating yet?"
"Nope. You think if they had I'd be sitting here freezing my ba..."
She cut him off, "I don't really want to know how the lower half of your body is taking this, I think I can work that out for myself." She sat down at her desk, "so, are there any calls of distress this morning, if so, ones in warmer climates get top priority."
"Ah wishful thinking Scully, but of all the places we could go, only one offering has been put our way and trust me, I'd bet you'd rather stay in D.C." He picked up a file and tossed it at her, it just managed to hit the desk before it fell into her lap. "Just what we weren't asking for, although, it is tempting," he added.
"Why does it seem tempting Mulder?" she asked as she opened the file. Her facial expression changed from a smile to a frown.
Mulder just laughed, it was one of those moments when he couldn't help it.
"The Abominable Snowman? What are you, crazy? It's freezing in Alaska," she moaned.
"But Scully, it's the Yeti, haven't you ever wondered if it's actually true? And you have to admit, Alaska is very pretty."
"Mulder, if I want to see the Yeti as you want to call it, I would go to Tibet not Fairbanks, Alaska. The chances of seeing the Yeti in Tibet are slim, just the thought of one in Alaska is downright anorexic."
"Look Scully it'll be a change, we've only been to Alaska once, and it wasn't to find a Yeti. If you ask me, I'd rather go Yeti hunting instead of worm hunting."
"We weren't hunting for worms Mulder, and wasn't one trip enough? Do you even know where we'll be staying? Where they expect us to sleep?"
"No, but I bet it's not on the lower summit, not unless you wanna become a Yeti dessert."
"They expect us to sleep in tents, they want us to camp out in the ice and snow. They expect us to find the Yeti Mulder, they think we know what to look for!"
"In tents? Like canvas, Girl Guide, Boy Scout tents?"
"You obviously didn't read the fine print."
"Aw come on Scully, it'll be fun. You, me, and a wild beast. If you're worried about the cold, I'll always keep you warm, I'll have my sleeping bag with me," he chuckled.
"Mulder, I am not sharing a tent with you, and I'll bring my own sleeping bag."
"I knew you'd agree, the plane leaves in 2 hours, don't forget your mittens."
The airport was crowded making it hard for Rickie Vincent to find the two FBI Agents. After what seemed like forever, she came across an arguing couple in long coats. "Excuse me," she said, "are you the FBI agents from D.C?"
The couple stopped and looked at her. "Yes we are, I take it you are Rickie Vincent?" the male asked, "you're here to pick us up, right?"
"Yes I am, how was your flight? It looks a little rough up there," she replied.
"Rough isn't how you'd describe it. I'm Dana Scully, this is my partner, Fox Mulder."
"Fox, like the animal?" Rickie asked.
"Um yeah, like the animal." He wanted to change the subject already. "So where are we heading? North, south, east or west?"
"South for about 3 hours, then we'll head west. We're heading to the town of Merwick. We'll stay there for the night, then head off to Vinchett tomorrow morning. My assistant is waiting for us in the car, he'll drive us there, let's go collect your bags."
"So how exactly did you get into Abominablology?" Mulder asked. They'd finally left the airport behind, but he was beginning to want to be back there, at least it was warm. Sure, the car heater was on, but it wasn't doing a good job. Rickie and her assistant Jeff, as far as Mulder could see, weren't feeling the cold at all.
"When I was young, I spent many nights listening to my grandmother's tales about how things used to be in Merwick. About how for many years, a large, ape like creature regularly visited the town. I guess things went from there. At 22 I finally got a degree in animal care, as the specific degree I wanted didn't exist. So, I met many people from there on in, who also shared my interest in finding the ape like creature. In five years I had my own, I guess you could say, group of followers and we started an organization for abominalologists. It was during that time that I met Riannon Tirchett, whose life weirdly reflected mine. We established our own base down by Mt. McKinley, and did our research from there. Unfortunately, many of our 'followers' decided that Alaska wasn't as mind boggling as Tibet, and many of them left, leaving only six of us. Riannon, Jeff, myself and three others," she concluded.
"Then how does that explain the group of four people that were attacked? If they were your crew, then that would mean you and Jeff were the only two left," Scully commented. She was cold, bitterly cold.
"Money for research became very scarce, so we began a little camping business. We'd take small groups up the mountain for a few days. There were minor rules, like no shouting and things like that. There is only one thing that we don't do, and that is spend the night on the lower summit, it's too dangerous," Jeff informed her.
"It's the one place that belongs to our Yeti," Rickie added.
"So you do have a yeti up there. But if you knew that staying on the summit was out of bounds, why on earth did you put up camp there?" Mulder demanded.
"These people, they were paying us a lot of money, an awful lot. We didn't want to disappoint them or say no to them. They were warned, but they thought it was all part of the tour, like a complementary ghost story. When Riannon woke up to the screams, she ran, she knew that there was nothing she could do to save them," Rickie whispered. She closed her eyes at the dreaded thought.
"Well you did warn them, but what I want to know is, why did you ask us to come up here?" Mulder quizzed.
"Agent Mulder," Jeff began, "I stayed in D.C about three years ago, I heard about you then. I heard about your willingness to believe in all things, I thought of asking you then, but at the time, I had no proof about our Yeti. So I let it go."
"Do you have proof now?" Scully asked.
"We have four dead bodies up on the summit, isn't that proof enough?" Rickie replied. A silence settled in the car. Scully nudged Mulder in the ribs, "is it me, or is the car really cold?" she whispered.
"You're right, it is cold. You wanna hug to keep you warm?"
She gave him a warning look.
"Look, I'll promise to be good," he said as he held his hands up in a no harm gesture.
"Well I guess I should trust you," she replied as she shuffled across the seat towards her partner. He held his arm up and then draped it over her shoulder, his body, despite the temperature, was rather warm. "Why are we here Mulder, it's so cold, I feel like I could freeze up right here."
"We're here to find a monster, and it'll make a change."
"Mmmmm, maybe," she replied.
"We've still got a good two hours ahead of us, if you want to sleep for a while, feel free to do so, don't worry about us," Rickie said, "it does get cold up here, and you two look very snugly back there." She looked across and grinned at Jeff.
"Just to be a pain, I've got another question," he began, "how long have you two been working together? Rickie, Riannon and I have been together for a while, is that the same with you guys?"
"We've been together for about five years," Scully answered, "it's been the longest five years of my life, come to think of it, they've been the weirdest too." She felt a weight on her shoulder. Looking up, she saw that Mulder had fallen asleep, and all she could do was smile. "Goodnight Mulder," she whispered as she kissed him gently on the cheek.
In the front seat, Rickie and Jeff exchanged glances. "These two are hopeless," Rickie commented.
"You got it in one," Jeff replied, "but you know the saying, 'in the snow all is revealed' and why do I get the feeling that it's gonna happen while these two are here."
Merwick Inn, Merwick, Alaska, Tuesday 10:07am
Snow had fallen overnight, overall five inches had fallen. When Mulder had woken up earlier on, dawn was just beginning to break. He remembered getting in the car at the airport and talking in the car, but after that, all he could remember was getting out of the car at the Inn. Scully wasn't to be seen, but according to Jeff, she had already gone to her room.
"Morning Agent Mulder," a voice said, "how did you sleep?"
He turned around. Rickie Vincent was entering the conference room. "Well, I'm not normally a healthy sleeper, so I guess I slept like I usually do."
"Well, you'll need to get as much sleep as you can, our McKinley can be tough when she wants to be. Now, this morning we're going to jump in a helicopter, we're going to fly over the lower summit, see what we can. Although because of the fog, we may not see much from the sky, but we will try," she informed him.
"We're taking a look from the sky, in a helicopter?" he asked.
"Yes, it's the easiest way to get a look without actually going up the mountain, we thought we'd save the close ups for tomorrow."
"Tomorrow, I thought we were going up today?"
"No, this afternoon we'll make our way to Vinchett, stay there, get as much sleep as possible, then head up McKinley tomorrow. When we start on the mountain, we have to keep to time, otherwise we may get stuck in places we don't want to be." She picked up a map, "now if you'll excuse me, I need to go and have a word with the pilot." She headed out the door, passing Scully.
"Mulder, there's a helicopter in the vacant lot next door."
"I know, that's our mode of transport for this morning," he replied.
"Our mode of transport?"
"Yeah, we're taking a flight over the lower summit to check out where the attack took place, then this afternoon we're heading out to Vinchett. I'm telling you Scully, I can feel a yeti in my blood."
"Yeah well make sure that yeti lets you sleep tonight, because I'm not climbing that mountain with you dozing on my shoulder."
"Dozing on your shoulder? What are you going on about?"
"Last night on the way here, you fell asleep, turns out you thought I was a good pillow," she replied, "but I have to admit, I did keep warm."
"I bet you did," a voice from behind them said, "it's common for couples to keep warm with each other."
Both Mulder and Scully spun around. In the door stood a tall woman, her left arm was bandaged up to her shoulder.
"Let me introduce myself, I'm Rickie's co-founder, Riannon Tirchett." She extended her hand out to the agents, who both shook it in return.
"Ah, we're not a couple, we're agents Scully and Mulder from the FBI," Scully informed her.
"Oh you're the feds. I'm awfully sorry, we often get married couples staying up here, I really am sorry about that, goodness me," she gabbled.
"No problem," Mulder reassured her, "It's okay, people often make that assumption about us. What happened to your arm?"
"You weren't told?" Riannon asked.
"No, should we have been?" Scully answered.
"Yes I thought you would have been told. I was the only one up on that summit that survived, out of all of them; I'm the lucky one. They woke me up, I ran."
"You were staying up on the summit with them, you ran from the yeti?" he quizzed.
"Yes, I gave them a warning, but they didn't listen. On my way down, it was freezing cold, I must have scraped my arm on a tree or something because when I finally got here, it had stopped bleeding but I'm telling you, it was bloody killing me."
"How long were you out there running?" Scully asked
"I don't know, I reckon I heard the screams about 2am, I just ran, I was scared. It was well after dawn before I was back at base, nobody was there, they were in town. As well as I think I know the mountain, that knowledge was certainly challenged."
Vinchett Base Mt. McKinley, Alaska
As the four-wheel drive pulled to a halt, each of its passengers heard the growl. It echoed around the dark like thunder in the sky. In the distance, a wolf howled. Back at the base, the passengers exited their vehicle, collected their luggage and hurried into the hut. The building was rectangular in shape and divided into three rooms. A kitchen/living area, a work and equipment room, and finally a bedroom with three sets of bunks. To one side of the bedroom was a closed off area, this being a makeshift bathroom and toilet.
"Sorry about it not being the five star resort of your dreams, but it does its job, we're normally only here about a week at a time," Rickie said. The four of them placed down their bags and looked around. All in all, there were three females and a male, this was what made Mulder feel uncomfortable.
"Ah I'm sharing a room with you ladies, aren't I?" he asked.
"Yep, all four of us, we're sharing a room, just make sure you don't snore," Riannon laughed, "but seriously, sharing isn't that bad, and it's only for one night, tomorrow night, it's tents."
"Which brings us to our first problem," Rickie began, "we have two tents, and each holds two people. We need to work out sleeping arrangements. We are hoping that you two won't mind sharing a tent, we figure that if Agent Mulder had to share with one of us, he'd prefer to share with someone he knows."
Mulder and Scully exchanged glances. "Ah okay, that should be fine," Scully replied, "we are mature adults we can handle this." In her mind, images raced through her head. Sharing a small space with Mulder, now that would be an interesting experience.
Rickie and Riannon turned and headed back out the door, "there's still a few more things to get out of the car, why don't you two take a look around. Oh and we'll sort the heating out in a minute, so hang on okay," Riannon said over her shoulder. The door closed behind them.
"Hey, I guess it's lucky you brought your own sleeping bag," Mulder mused.
"Maybe it's just unlucky for you," Scully grinned as she picked up her backpack and went down to the bedroom. Mulder just stood there and shook his head.
All he could hear was the quiet breathing of his fellow sleepers. From the living area came the hum of the generator that was keeping the heater going. The small hours of the morning were busy in D.C, but here it was dead quiet, he could hear every breath, every movement. He didn't dare sit up, knowing his luck; he'd hit his head on the bunk above.
"Your regular home away from home," he mused to himself. He wasn't expecting an answer, but when he got one, he almost jumped out of his skin.
"You're quite right," came the voice.
At a guess, he assumed it was Rickie. "How long have you been awake?" he asked her.
"Sleep is almost impossible in this hut, it's got me beat how Riannon sleeps so well." A silence settled. After a while, she spoke again. "Did you hear it before?"
Nothing but silence, no noise, nothing, only the generator.
"The yeti," she replied, "if you keep listening, he'll call again." Above the howl of the sudden wind, came a low grow follower by a loud thump. "See, he's out there, he knows we're here. Anyway, try getting some sleep, we have to get up in three hours."
That was the last thing she said, leaving Mulder alone with his thoughts of the yeti and of Scully.
"Well we seem to have everything that we'll need for the two nights," Riannon began, "we just have to make sure that the loads aren't too heavy for you." She picked up one of the packs and motioned for Mulder to turn around. With not much fiddling, he had the pack on his back and was walking around with it. "That's not too heavy?" she asked.
"Nope, it's just fine," he replied. He then removed the pack from his back.
"Okay now we need to see if the others are fine," Riannon said, "Mulder you help Scully with hers, I'll help Rickie."
Mulder picked up another of the packs and Scully turned around so he could adjust it to her back. When it was on properly, he let go, but the weight was too much for Scully and she fell backwards with the weight of the pack. She hit Mulder, sending him and herself crashing to the floor. "Ouch my gut," he cried. Both Rickie and Riannon came rushing over to help them up.
"I guess the pack is a little heavy for you," Rickie laughed.
"Yeah just a little," Scully replied, blushing, "You all right Mulder?"
He nodded, "just a little bump," but as he tried to stand, he winced.
Riannon lifted up the lower half of his shirt revealing a large red mark. "Something in the pack must have hit you hared than you thought, 'cause sure as hell Scully didn't make that mark." She left the room and returned holding an ice patch, "here put this on it," she said.
"No, really, it's fine."
"Mulder, just put it on there," Scully ordered.
The helicopter flight the previous day had proven useful, as from the air, they had a clear view of the area where the attack took place. No bodies could be seen, but they had an overall idea of the lower summit site. To get to the summit in the quickest way possible, they had to head west to the ridge and then north up the lower side of the summit. Mulder stomach ached badly, but he made an effort not to complain, because the cold alone was enough to complain about. He wore three layers of clothing, a hooded jacket and a beanie. On his back was the pack, step after step, it became heavier.
They'd been walking since dawn, which had been about three hours earlier and would continue walking until they reached the lower summit. On strict orders, they had to be off the lower summit by 1 that afternoon, or else they'd run out of time to set up camp up on the middle summit. From the lower to the middle summit, it took five hours walking, and if they were to delay their departure, they would get to the next summit but their time to make camp would be cut very short.
The four of them were spaced out. Up front was Riannon, then Rickie and behind Mulder was Scully, she was struggling to keep going. He could see she was cold, and he could see this was taking its toll on her. He stopped and waited for her to catch up. "How you doing?" he asked.
"Ah, okay...just a little tired, that's all," she replied. They kept walking, their feet sinking into the snow, and still the snow fell lightly from above. "What...what are we doing here Mulder? It's so cold...is a yeti really that important to you? Just being here puts us in danger," she cried.
"Scully. I know it's cold and I know were lining ourselves up for danger. but these people, they believe so much that they have a yeti. It's a familiar feeling to me, I know what it's like to believe so badly."
"Sometimes when you end up believing so badly, you end up looking too hard...you end up seeing things that aren't really there." He gave her no reply. "How's your gut feeling?"
"Well what's to be expected after having god knows what rammed into it."
"Sorry about that."
"Forget it Scully, it wasn't your fault." Up ahead, Rickie and Riannon had stopped. When Scully and Mulder caught up, Rickie was first to speak.
"We're about 20 minutes from the summit. When we get up there, we have to be quiet; any loud yells from here on up can cause an avalanche to begin. Remember, be ready to go at 1 o'clock, otherwise, you'll be sleeping in the snow."
"Okay now we all know what we're looking for, we all split up and look for the bodies or any sign of what may have taken them. Once the bodies are accounted for we can check 'em and leave them, they'll already be frozen, the ice will preserve them. After the bodies, we hunt around and see if any thing else needs our attention, by then, it should be time to move on. The rest we can do tomorrow," Scully added.
A wind had begun to blow; it became stronger by the minute. The cold was getting worse; the temperature was definitely dropping, it was going to be a tough night on them all. The search of the lower summit revealed two things. Firstly, only three of the bodies were found, the oldest male was still missing, most likely he was eaten. Secondly, fresh footprints were recovered and she had noticed that Agent Scully was having a hard time trying to accept that there was a large animal out there. Rickie had found some fur which she bagged and put in her pack, saving it for further examination, and as for Agent Mulder, he hadn't said very much at all, his mind seemed elsewhere. She hadn't found anything that could help with the investigation, but inside her, Riannon knew that she didn't need proof to understand what was out in the snow, what had its warmth within the ice. For humans, the ice was cold, but for her yeti, she knew the ice was as warm as any fire could ever be. She felt bad for Jeff, he had stayed back at Merwick to keep track of the media and above all, help people deal with the possibility of a wild animal on the loose.
The mountain loomed before her, and up to her left she could see the snow flattening out, they were almost on the middle summit, they had made it with an hour and a half of daylight left. Just enough time to set up camp, have a meal, and prepare to keep warm throughout the night. She turned around to the others. "The middle summit is just up ahead, we've got plenty of time to set up camp," she called.
In the mist surrounding the trees to their left, stood the figure of a man like creature. Its eyes locked on the four strangers, but with a second glance, it realized that one of those humans was familiar. It knew her, she loved it, she cared for it, and it protected her in return.
Middle Summit Camp, Mt. McKinley, Alaska
The daylight had faded just less than four hours earlier, leaving the summit desolate and black. The team had recruited to their tents, Rickie and Riannon in one, Scully and Mulder in the other. The tents themselves were not large, but there was room to sit, but not stand. Their bedding consisted of blankets, small pillow and a snowbag, which was an extra thick sleeping bag. Dinner had been simple but for filling. The main thing was that it was warm and it warmed each of them up. For the rest of the night, they had to rely on body heat to keep warm, it wasn't a choice, there was no choice to make. It's either snuggle or freeze, which Mulder had no problem with, in fact he enjoyed being so close to Scully.
Scully had felt that the afternoon hike up to the middle summit had been easier than the one to the lower summit, but she figured that seeing so much snow tended to have that effect on her mind. The coldness in D.C was worth complaining about, but this, this was ridiculous, and she was here out of choice. If it hadn't of been for the case, she would have stayed at home.
The only way to make it through the cold, or so she was told, was to snuggle and keep warm with body heat. This is what bothered her. Being with Mulder each and every day was hard enough, but to have to share a tent with him as well was too much to bear. It would be too tempting for her, and she could tell from the grin on Mulder's face that he was enjoying this as much as her, she couldn't ever remember being this close to him before. That much she was sure of.
"You warm enough Scully? You wanna get closer?"
"Ah...no Mulder, it's not so bad now that I'm out of the wind, I'm fine," she replied smiling. His body lay inches from hers, the heat was amazing. She reached across and lifted his clothing over his stomach, "how's your gut going? Still hurting?" She looked at it; it's color a mixture of yellow and purple.
He gently grabbed her hand and laid it flat over the bruise, "much better," he answered. He saw in her eyes, the slightest twinkle of joy. As she moved her hand away, he stopped her and put it back where it was. "They say that the power of human touch is as greater healer as medicine itself. Wait, and you'll feel the heat we can create." She looked at him. Was he crazy? But as crazy as she thought he had gone, in the palm of her hand, the heat began. After a minute, it felt as if her hand was on fire. She stared at him in disbelief. She had no idea what to say to him, so she said nothing.
"Scully, can you feel it?"
"Human touch is more than any ice pack could ever do. I just..." He stopped and looked into her eyes, he saw that she wanted to stay like this, but he also saw that this wasn't the time, not here, not now. "Scully I just think we should sleep, keep our energy up for tomorrow."
She nodded, "okay goodnight," she said as she kissed him on the forehead. Lying down, she curled up against him and drifted in to sleep.
His mind wandered in the tent; there was no way he'd end up sleeping tonight. In the darkness of the now dimmed tent, he felt his bruise; it was warm to his touch. Scully lightly snored and he laughed softly, he knew that he's never found anyone quite like her, never.
Middle summit, Mt. McKinley, Alaska, Thursday 8:16am
Looking upwards she saw the sun emerging over the peaks of McKinley, and in between the haze she saw the blue sky. She has slept all through the night and had awoken at 6am. Now, two hours later Rickie and Riannon joined her.
"Morning Agent Scully, did you sleep well?" Rickie asked.
"Yes, I didn't wake up at all, and I didn't feel the cold one bit," Scully replied. The three of them were already rugged up for the day ahead, which was going to be spent searching the area between middle and lower summit. What they were looking for she had no idea, but she figured they'd know when they found it. "So when do we leave here?" she asked.
"As soon as your partner is up and ready. We'll have some breakfast, secure camp, and then make our way back down, again keeping in mind the time we need to get back to camp," Rickie replied.
"We're going to get some wood for a fire, we'll just be over there," Riannon added, pointing towards the tree line.
"Well then, I better go wake up Mulder." Scully turned and headed for the tent. Inside lay Mulder, sound asleep. He looked so peaceful, she wished she didn't have to wake him. "Mulder, hey Mulder wake up," she whispered, "we need to get going soon." No attempt of a reply was given. She gently began to shake his shoulder. Before she knew it, Mulder had shot up and pinned her down on the floor of the tent. She screamed out of fright.
"Didn't you know it's not a good thing to wake a guy up so early in the morning," Mulder teased.
Scully was breathing deeply, "Jesus Mulder, you scared the hell outta me, and it's not early, it's almost eight thirty in the morning," she replied.
He smiled at her. Already she was dressed in her snow gear, and already he had scared her out of her wits. "Sorry Scully, just thought I'd start your day off the funniest way I could."
She closed her eyes, shaking her head. "Mulder.," she began. She looked at him, his hair was all over the place, but his body was warm over hers. She burst out laughing. He laughed with her.
The door of the tent flew open and Riannon appeared in its wake, "I heard a scream are you guys all right?" It wasn't until she had spoken that she realized the position the two agents were in. "Oh, dear me, I do hope I wasn't interrupting anything," she said blushing.
"No not at all," Mulder replied as he got off of Scully.
"Mulder here just scared the hell out of me," Scully added, "sorry to cause any alarm."
Mt. McKinley, Alaska
Scully had opted to go with Rickie Vincent to the lower summit, leaving Mulder to be with Riannon.
"So you and Mulder have been working together for 5 and a bit years," Rickie echoed.
"Yeah, it's kind of amazing, when I first met him, I thought, 'oh yeah, another nutter, he'll been gone within a year', and of course I was wrong. It's been a very long time."
"I'll say. Gosh, you've seen an awful lot of things; doesn't that ever spook you? I mean. half the things you've seen would have scared the hell out of me, and yet, you don't seem the least bit afraid."
"The thing that really scares me," Scully began, "is Mulder's willingness to believe. It's not a bad thing, it just gets him into trouble sometimes, that's all." They walked on, still with over two and a half-hours to go before they were back at camp.
"Do you think we have an abominable snowman up here?."
Scully smiled, "to be completely honest with you, I don't think anything, not on cases like this. Taking into consideration the damage done to the bodies and the amount of body parts missing, yes I do agree, something big has done this to them, but I don't think an abominable snowman did this."
"Hard to say, it could be anything from a wolf to a bear, a bear being more probable. I was at first thinking a hoax, but seeing the area and snow, I doubt that theory is any good now."
"You think someone would kill people just to make the hoax seem real?."
"Yes I do, I've seen it in many places, many different scenarios."
"Oh, so...ah you don't believe we have a yeti?."
Scully was careful with her words. "I can't say I don't believe, because that would be lying, not only to you but to myself as well. I do believe that the yeti does exist, in Tibet, not here."
"Hey, you're back!" Riannon called. She was barely heard over the howl of the wind, it was blowing strong and fast. "We were wondering where you had gotten to."
"It was a bit tough coming up, the wind is blowing a beauty down along the ridge," Rickie replied.
"So did you find anything?" Mulder asked.
Both Scully and Rickie laughed, "yeah we found something...we found some warmth within the ice," Rickie replied. She pulled her pack off her back and handed Riannon a small bag. She then handed it to Mulder with a grin on her face as he took it.
"What is it? What's warmth within the ice?" he asked.
"Just open it and have a look," Rickie said.
Placing the bag in one hand, he used he used his other hand to open it. "It's real soft, what could it possibly...." He stopped and looked at his hand, "oh shit!" he cried.
"Yeah, shit being the operative word," Rickie laughed, the others laughing with her.
Mulder scowled at the three of them.
Later that night, well after dark, Mulder and Scully lay in their tent. The laugh that took place that afternoon was at Mulder's expense, but now that it had all passed; he too could laugh about it. He lay on his back, and for a while they had rested in silence. It was at that point Scully had turned off their lamp. And it was then that she began to talk.
"Mulder, I've been thinking about stuff lately, it's been niggling at me for a while," She began, "I know that this is gonna sound stupid, but what exactly is out there left for us to find?"
"My sister, Scully, I haven't found her."
"Besides her Mulder, there is hardly anything left."
"There is one thing that remains unsolved," he said, searching for her hand in the dark. When he found it, he held it tight.
"What's that?" she replied hoarsely.
"Us." The word clouded the air inside the tent; it went over and over in her mind. For years now, they'd worked together, saving each other, caring for each other, now he wanted that care to be more. Mulder hoisted himself up on his elbows and looked at her silhouette in the darkness. He could just see her eyes; he could hear every breath. He found himself over run by emotion, by the desire to be held, to be touched, to be loved and to be needed.
"Mulder...I..." She couldn't answer him, in all her hearts joy, she couldn't answer him. Inside her, loneliness ached from the need to be desired, she loved him, she could no longer deny it. In an instant his face was next to hers, his body almost on top of her. She lifted her arms and hugged him, and as she did so, his mouth found hers, their lips colliding. Within seconds they were full on kissing, hands exploring the out layers of clothing, trying to find a way in, and suddenly she stopped. "Mulder, we can't. Not here, it's too risky...it' s not the right place."
His hand glided along her cheekbone, "why is that?"
"Because we are not alone, we have two other people only meters from us. Not only that, we could freeze if we don't stay warm, without the proper bedding and clothing on us, it may be the last thing we ever do," she replied. He wasn't making this easy for her, he kept kissing her neck, nibbling her ears, and that only made things worse.
"We could stay warm, we could make our own warmth within the ice," he paused but received no reply. "So you think this isn't the right time? Are you not ready, are you scared?" he whispered.
"I've never been so scared in my life, but it's a different fear Mulder, it's a fear of getting my heart hurt, it's happened before, I don't want it to happen again."
"You think I'd hurt you?" he asked.
Sadly she smiled, but she knew he couldn't see it, " you couldn't hurt me Mulder even if you tried, but like I said, it's my heart that's hurt, not me." She felt his hand glide over her cheek, she knew that he wanted more, but her respected her words, he wouldn't make her do anything she didn't want to.
He lowered his head in sadness. Silently, he kissed her on the chin and lay down in his bed, feeling an ache inside of him, "good night Scully," he said.
"Mulder don't be like that, we should talk about..." She was cut off by a loud roar that echoed up the ridge and across the summit. "What the heck was that?" she cried.
From the other tent came the urgent voice of Riannon Tirchett. "Don't move...don't make a sound, he's mad, someone or something is down on his summit, he's not happy."
Scully didn't like the way she had said his summit; it made her quiver all over. Since when did the summit belong to him? How did she know it was a him? She could feel herself begin to shake.
Mulder's hand found hers, "it's okay, don't be scared," he soothed her. From outside the tent came a growl, an inhuman growl, and from the other tent came screams of horror. "Scully we've got to run, we've got to get out of here, we can't stay," he cried. In the dark he fumbled for his outer layer of clothing.
"Mulder, that's suicide, it'll kill us," she replied.
"Scully, you have your gun, don't be afraid to use it."
She did as he said, and put on more clothing and grabbed her gun. "Mulder, how are we going to get away without it seeing us?"
"We'll just poke our head out and have a look, then we'll have to run." He moved to the front of the tent and slowly unzipped the zip. He silently poked his head out of the tent, and as he did so, the chill of the night air entered and turned any warmth they had into cold. "I can't see it, it's bloody awful out here, I can only see about 3 meters in front of me," he whispered, "but I think it's safe to come out."
"It just doesn't go away Mulder, it'll still be hanging around, it's not that stupid. What are we going to do about Riannon and Rickie, we can't just leave them."
"Judging but the amount of screaming we heard, I don't think they are alive."
The thought had hit Scully hard, he was right; they couldn't be alive, not after what they had heard. She moved to the door of the tent and joined Mulder. He got out first and turned around to help her out. The snow was falling fast and heavy, the wind blew strong and the cold stung their faces. Again they heard the growl, this on too close for comfort, for as they went around the back of the tent, they came face on with the beast. The seconds that passed between them seemed like forever, but in those seconds, Scully saw what only her nightmares could ever produce. It stood at least 7 foot tall, it was covered from head to toe in fur, think fur, and on the end of each long finger, poked a nail that would slice a tree in half. Its body was huge and made Scully feel only inches tall.
Mulder grabbed her hand, "RUN! SCULLY RUN!"
She ran for her life, she had no idea where she was going, but she didn't care, she just wanted to get as far away from that, that beast as she could. Moments later came two gunshots, and only then did Scully realize that she'd lost Mulder. "MULDER!" she called. In a frantic movement of her head, she looked left and right, but nothing that was in her sight registered with her memory; she was lost, hopelessly lost. Somewhere out there roamed a monster only evil could create, it had the upper hand, it knew the snow, Scully didn't. Then and only then did she realize what Rickie had meant; now, only dawn would save her.
Mt. McKinley, Alaska
The sun was beginning to rise over the peaks. Fox Mulder lay in the snow, his face purple, his body numb. The night had dragged on, the cold was unbearable. He remembered hearing the gunshots, he knew he had to find Scully, she couldn't tackle the beast alone. He remembered hearing his name called out, and he remembered running blindly in the snow. The final thing he recalled was falling face first into the snow, and there he had remained, he was too weak to move.
For what seemed like hours he lay there, until the first rays of light appeared, he'd made it through the night, only just. He had no idea where he was, and he had no intention of getting up, his legs wouldn't register with the command to get up. From the white void came a voice, a voice of rescue.
"I see someone," it said, "over here, over here! He's still alive!"
Subconsciously he felt himself being lifted, many voices filled his head, and then he was flat on his back. He tried to open his eyes, and just before he passed out he managed to mumble three words "Middle...camp...yeti," then he was out to it.
"Right we need to get him to a hospital fast, get him admitted at once, Matt, get Rob up here with the chopper, we've gotta start searching, they may be out there injured, and they'll be cold."
Anchorage General Hospital, Alaska, Friday 5pm
Mulder had drifted in and out of consciousness during his transportation to the hospital. In his admittance, he again awoke and saw many people around him, the faces meant nothing, and nothing registered, his mind was a muddle.
Back at Mt. McKinley, almost everyone in town has somehow helped with the search of the missing three woman, all had known it was 'their yeti' and that was what drew the media to Merwick. All the major newspapers, and magazines from across America had sent someone up to get the scoop of the year. Even as Mulder slept in the hospital, the first newspaper cover was being published, the headlines going something like "FBI Vs Yeti: four missing in Mt. McKinley area" and "FBI and two others missing" and even one major newspaper in L.A read: "FBI Mission: Yeti?"
Although everyone had put in their best to help, the day had been long and the daylight hours dwindled, and still there was no sign of the other three campers, time was running out.
The door to Mulder's room opened and Jeff walked in. He had gotten word that Mulder had regained consciousness, and had immediately left for Anchorage. The look on his face told Mulder that he had no good news, in fact, no news at all. He came and sat down next to the bed. "How you going?"
Mulder shook his head, "could be b-better," he stammered.
"Well the doctors said you'd be here for a few days, they said your body had a tough night, and I'm not to pressure you in any way, so I'll do most of the talking. I thought you needed to be filled in on everything, I thought you'd like a familiar face to do it."
"Well, the townsfolk of Merwick have been at it all day. Search and rescue, police departments from Anchorage, Fairbanks and Valdez have been doing all they can. We found the camp; your stuff was everywhere, whatever happened up there happened quick, because in one of the tents we found the remains of Riannon Tirchett. A kilometer north of there we found Rickie, she had been gashed at the throat, by what, well, by what I won't say, because at camp, we found the so called Yeti or what we think to be the yeti. There was some fur and stuff but we found no corpse. Someone had shot it, who, we don't know, but we're gonna find that out. They're losing daylight, soon they'll be stopping the search," he informed Mulder. Several details that were less important Jeff left out, but he knew Mulder would ask one question, one he wasn't looking forward to answering, and it was exactly what Mulder asked next.
Jeff swallowed the lump that lay in his throat. "We don't know, we honestly don't know. No one found her body; there are no signs of her anywhere. We've searched almost all of the mountain, the only area left is the west side, which is made mostly of jagged rocks and cliffs, if she went around there, well, there's no telling what could have happened to her." His words echoed in the room, a painful reminder that the snow, the cold, wouldn't help her at all.
"So you're just going to give up?"
"We're going to keep looking until dark, but after that we stop. We'll start again tomorrow, but the chances are getting slim as each second goes by, I want to promise you that we'll find her, but I can't," he concluded.
Mulder brought his hands up to his face, " I wanna be alone," was all he said. Jeff rose from his seat and nodded a reply, then left the room. In the silence of the room, Mulder looked at his hands and felt his face. Frostbite. It was everywhere. If this were what he had gotten from one night in the snow, then how on earth would Scully survive? His mind wandered back to the previous night in the tent. "You could never hurt me Mulder, even if you tried." He lowered his head in shame, he could never hurt her, but other things could.
41 hours later, Sunday, 10am
The doors flew open and in rushed Jeff. "I need to see Fox Mulder, where is he?"
"I'm sorry sir, the doctor is in with him, you'll have to wait a moment," a nurse replied.
"This can't wait! It damn urgent, he has to hear it from me, I know he'll want to."
"I'm sorry, but you'll have to wait."
"NO! God damn it," he cried, banging his fist on the bench, "It can't." With that he was off to Mulder's room. He pushed open the door. "Agent Mulder, they've..." He stopped. Mulder was lying on his stomach; the doctor was sticking a needle in his rear end. "Oh, ah, I'll wait outside," he replied embarrassed.
A minute or so later the doctor emerged from the room and Jeff went in. "Sorry about that," he said.
"It's okay, I figured it had to be urgent for you to barge in like that, what's up?" Mulder asked.
"They've found her, they found Scully."
"Where? Is she alive? I gotta go see her," Mulder cried as he got off his bed.
"There's no need to go anywhere, she's coming here," Jeff replied.
"I don't understand, how is she still alive, where was she?" Mulder demanded.
"Two hours ago she was admitted to Fairbanks Hospital, she was in a fairly good condition considering the circumstances. A Becca Fitzy took her there. According to Miss Fitzy, she found Scully in her barn. Miss Fitzy's property is on the northern boundary of Denali National Park and she has no car, no phone and no radio or television, which explains about her not knowing about the missing campers. She took Scully into her house and tried to keep her warm. She said that Scully woke an hour later mumbling something about a fox, but Becca took no notice, she thought the woman was delirious. We figured that Scully was trying to tell Miss Fitzy about you, but her mind was not functioning properly. Anyway Miss Fizty's son turned up earlier this morning and they rushed her into Fairbanks where they held her in intensive care for an hour. They notified us and the connection was made and we realized it was Scully. We've arranged for her to be transferred to here and it is happening as we speak. She should arrive in about forty minutes. She's gonna be all right, Mr. Mulder, she gonna be fine."
Mulder breathed a sigh of relief, "you don't know how happy I am, how can I ever thank you?"
"There's no need to Mulder, because Scully has already done that."
"We couldn't work out who shot the 'yeti' but Miss Fitzy has solved that for us. Apparently, she's been living in that house for thirty years, and in those thirty years, she has been studying the yeti. She has research that we at Vinchett could only ever dream of. She was out there that night, she was going to your camp to tell you that you shouldn't be there. Becca says that once every two weeks, the yeti likes to stay on the middle summit, something to do with the atmosphere or whatever. She just happened to have her gun, and so she decided to save you all, or so she thought. She told me she feels bad about shooting that 'magnificent creature' and she says she'll help out in any way possible. Becca tells me that for years she wanted to be with us at Vinchett, but she and Rickie never did get along, which I knew nothing about. And since Rickie or Riannon are no longer alive, I asked Miss Fitzy to join the others and me at Vinchett. She said she'd gladly accept."
"But that leaves something amiss. If she came to camp, and knew we were there, wouldn't she have known that we need help other than hers? When she found Scully, why didn't she report it?"
"Like I said, she has no means of communication, she didn't know we were looking for them, she just gathered that you'd all made it back safely. When she found Scully, she did her best to keep her alive, and it was just a stroke of luck that her son turned up when he did."
"So let me get this straight. She shoots the yeti, goes home. Then hours later she finds Scully. She looks after Scully then admits her to hospital this morning. How come the Yeti didn't attack her? If she knew we were in danger, she must have known it would put her in danger as well by coming up there to rescue us. What is she, crazy?"
"You disappoint me Agent Mulder. With your open mind and years of being called crazy, you subject her to exactly the same comments as you receive. I thought you would have known better. And just for the record, while her nominations for craziest person are being arisen, she thinks she can communicate with the Yeti. She tells me, it likes her."
Mulder closed his eyes, he knew Jeff was right, he hated to be called crazy, and yet he was calling someone else that very word. "I'm sorry, I know it was mean of me to call her that, it's just that these past few days have given me hell, I'm just uptight." He looked back up at Jeff, who was almost out the door, "can you say thank-you to Miss Fitzy for me, tell her I'm forever in her debt."
In seconds the door clicked behind the departing visitor.
Anchorage General Hospital, Alaska
The hospital waiting room had become full of media representatives who wanted to see and speak to the two survivors of the McKinley tragedy. Security was called and they were all told to leave the hospital immediately. A few journalists remained, but they were not going to even get a glimpse of the FBI agents, they were just wasting their time.
In the intensive care unit lay Scully, fully conscious and wide-awake. Through the door came Mulder. His face no longer red, just a light shade of pink, the only evidence of frostbite. He walked over to his partner and looked down at her. She sat up and hugged him; he held her tight and shed some silent tears. When he stood back up, Scully saw his tears.
"Mulder you're crying," she said, her voice beginning to quiver.
"Scully I thought I'd never see you again," he whispered.
Her face saddened, "I thought I'd never see you again either." He sat down on the bed with her and they cried together. "When I was in the snow, I couldn't find you, and then I heard the gunshots. Mulder I was so scared for you. I just ran like a coward, I didn't even go back for you," she sobbed.
"It doesn't matter Scully, what matters is that we're here together and we're going to be fine. The doctors say we can go home in two days, we can get as far away from here as we want to." He lightly touched her face, it was red and sore, he knew her frostbite would be worse than his. "And I thought I was freezing my balls off in D.C, but now, it's going to feel like summer compared to this."
Scully laughed. "What happened to Becca, I need to thank her," she added.
"She's going to move to Vinchett, her and Jeff are going to continue their work on the yeti."
"But Mulder, that's crazy."
"Not for her Scully, all she wanted was to be accepted for what she really is."
Scully thought for a moment, to be accepted. That was something that she missed, being accepted. She was a long way from home, from the security of her every day routine. She just wanted to go back to Washington, be back in the office, because now she didn't care about heaters. All she wanted was to be back where she knew everything around her. She grabbed Mulder's hand and squeezed it. "I can't believe we almost lost each other," she whispered. Mulder nodded. "I know this isn't a good time to bring this up, but we're lucky, because if we had made our own warmth within the ice, I doubt we'd be around to remember the experience," he chuckled.
"Mulder, do you ever think about anything else?" she replied as she planted a kiss on his forehead. When she drew back, she saw Mulder smiling.
"With you around, never."
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