Title: Mulder's Creek: 09. Three Strange Days
Author: Neoxphile
Author Email: neoxphile@aol.com
Rated: PG
Category C
Keywords: XF/Dawson's Creek crossover.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership to the characters, except those I've created, as they belong to Chris Carter and Kevin Williamson

Summary: A ski trip goes off course, and strange events make everyone wonder if they're alone in building they pick to shelter them from a blizzard.

Opening Scene-

Mulder is packing up his Christmas village while Scully watches.

"Do you think you could give me a hand with this?" he asks, sounding slightly annoyed.

"No...it's more fun to watch," Scully says, ignoring his glare. "Why didn't you do this a week ago?"

"I don't know...I didn't think of it."

Scully sighs to herself. "I bet you had other things on your mind."

"And what is that supposed to mean?" Mulder demands to know.

Scully shrugs. "I mean Fowley leaving."

"Sure, I've thought about it, why do you care?" Mulder asks, getting a bit defensive.

"I care because you're my best friend, and you haven't said a word about it. Even Reyes has, and we're only just beginning to become friends." Mulder raises his eyebrows when she says that. She pretends not to notice.

"Well, there hasn't be a lot to tell. It's not like we were friends, not like she and Reyes were, but it hurt a little that she didn't think enough of me to believe I was worth saying good-bye to. Besides that I haven't really thought too much about it."

"Really?" Scully asks, sounding surprised.

"Really, it's not as though I care as much about her as Doggett. Or you, for that matter. She was just someone I had a crush on."

Scully picks up a house and asks. "Where does this one go?"

Mulder tosses her the box. "Right here. Lazy..." he says, grinning.

Theme song -"Stranded" by Plumb

McPhee home, Wednesday afternoon-

Before she checks her new mail, she re-reads the message she sent to the person claiming to be Fowley:

While I'd like to believe that this really is Fowley, I think I need some proof to know that this isn't someone just pretending to be her. If this really is you, I'm sure you'll understand.

The message from the mysterious FLindley, had simply said "Reyes, it's me, Fowley. Talk to you soon." and since then Reyes has been struggling for days, trying to decide if she should believe that this person really is Fowley. So she finally decided the night before to ask for proof.

Her hands tremble a little bit when she opens her inbox and sees a new message from FLindley. Taking a deep breath she opens it and begins to read what it says:

Hey! I should of know you'd ask me to pass a little test, because, well...you've always been one of the most pragmatic people I've ever known. It's good that you're watching out for yourself, and me, I think, like this too. So here's a piece of proof I can offer. When you and I were talking to Kersh in his cruiser about the librarian, you told him that your being Doggett's girlfriend was good for his career. Since there was only the three of us there, it's not as though anyone else could have known it. If that's not good enough, Ms. Cautious, let me know and I'll think of something else =)

Like how I teased to about the school ghosts when we were alone right before Christmas break, for example. Let me know if you believe me yet,

Reyes sighs with relief- it has to be Fowley.

Thursday night, Leary home-

Mulder is helping clean up after dinner, by putting the dishes in the dishwasher; which he hates to do. When he's about to drop the last of the spoons into the silverware tray, he hears his dad call for him from the living-room. He slams the dishwasher door and mutters to himself about wishing that his parents would be so kind as to actually walk into the room when they wanted to talk to him.

"Yeah, Dad?" he asks, sitting on the couch.

"Guess what!"

Mulder thinks he'd rather not, but still asks "What?" His father looks happy, but the last time he looked this happy was Thanksgiving dinner, so Mulder doesn't feel any more at ease.

"I spoke to Mr. McPhee, so it's all arranged."

"What is?" Mulder asks, confused.

"See, I wanted you to ask...I've arranged a ski trip for this weekend. Mr. McPhee and his twins, as well as Scully and Doggett are going to be joining us. Does that sound good?" Mr. Leary asks with a smile.

"Of course! Thanks Dad!"

"Your Mom won't be joining us, though. She doesn't like to ski much anyway, and she said that the baby has been making her feel too sick most mornings to enjoy the vacation. She's going to visit your Aunt Gwen, so she says we shouldn't feel guilty."

"As long as she's happy..." Mulder says, thinking happily of a weekend without adult females around to keep people in line; his father has been the more permissive parent Mulder's whole life.

"I think that Mr. McPhee is going to lend Skinner his SUV to drive you kids up, since he and I have to work on Saturday morning, and there's supposed to be a little storm, so we want you kids to be there before it."

"Ok, sure. I need to call Doggett," Mulder says, already mentally planning ways to torment Reyes and Scully during the trip.

Friday night, Potter home-

Scully sighs loudly for Bessie's benefit. She shoves clothes into a duffel bag then slams it on the bed. Bessie looks amused.

"I can't believe you're making me do this," she says to Bessie.

"I don't see what your problem is. Most people would be delighted to go away for the weekend. But you...you sulk."

"Most people don't hate snow," Scully complains. "You know I do. I have no interest whatsoever in skiing!"

"You'll live," Bessie says, patronizingly. "At least you'll have a good company."

"Oh yeah. Just me and Reyes against four boys. They're ok when we're not out-numbered, but when they have the advantage they're suddenly eight years old again, and determined to drive us insane."

"Four? How do you get four? Surely you're not including Mr. Leary or Mr. McPhee."

"I'm not. Jack's boyfriend, Ethan, is coming too."

"You and Reyes will just have to be crafty."


"You're going," Bessie says firmly.

"Have I ever told you how much you suck?"

"Yes. Frequently. It's never done you any good, though," Bessie says as she walks away.

"You're so insensitive..." Scully mutters to herself. She can't understand why Bessie won't believe her that the trip isn't going to be as much fun as she thinks, because every single time Scully has gone on a trip with Mulder and Doggett they've made her the butt of endless pranks. At least there won't be any poison ivy around this time, Scully thinks, trying to look on the bright side.

Saturday morning, McPhee home-

Reyes opens the door and pulls the dark-haired young man standing on the porch into the house, and gives him a hug.

"Ethan! It's so good to see you."

"It's good to see you too. Where's Skinner?"

"He's getting his skis. Said he'd be down in a second."

Neither of them notices Mr. McPhee until he startles them by saying, "Glad you could make it, Ethan."

"Thank you for inviting me, sir."

"You're welcome."

Skinner bounds down the stairs, but at the last second before he's in the others' sight he tries to appear nonchalant. "Hey," he says by way of a greeting.

"Hey yourself," Ethan says, smiling.

Scully is slumped in the back of the McPhees' Landrover with a frown on her face as she listens listlessly to Mr. McPhee's admonishments about having a safe trip.

"...and Skinner, if the roads do happen to get bad, you know how to shift into four wheel drive, right?"

"Yes Dad," Skinner replies patiently.

"Ok, good. Call me when you get there, ok?"


"I'll expect to hear from you in about three hours then," Mr. McPhee says, still looking worried. "Mitch and I should be joining you around seven tonight. Oh, the lodge knows that you kids will be checking in first, so don't worry about that."

"Thanks Dad, see you tonight," Skinner says, then waves and rolls up the driver's side window.

"Finally!" Doggett says, from where he is sitting with Reyes.

"He just worries, Doggett," Reyes says disapprovingly.

"You'll have to excuse him, he's just not used to parental concern," Mulder tells her. Reyes says something in reply, but he's too focused on trying to decide if tickling Scully would jolly her out of her bad mood, or make her slap him. He decides that inaction is the better course.

"Actually," Ethan says from the passenger seat, "I think your dad has loosened up a lot, Reyes. He seems less..."

"Uptight?" Skinner suggests.

"I would have used a less harsh term, but yes. He seems to have changed a lot since I last saw him."

"Dad's coming to terms with a few things," Skinner says.

"Are we there yet?" Scully asks plaintively, making everyone but her laugh.

Though the forecast didn't call for snow until the late afternoon, it begins snowing lightly less than a half-hour into the trip. Reyes, Doggett, and Mulder take it as a good omen for the ski trip, but Ethan and Skinner are more worried than optimistic. During the conversation Mulder occasionally looks over at Scully, willing her to wake up and join the conversation. He isn't surprised though, because there's always been something about car trips that makes her fall asleep when she's not the one driving. He shrugs to himself and hopes that the nap will put her in a better mood.

If she was actually sleeping instead of merely pretending too, he might have gotten his wish. Instead she's thinking of the last trip she had gone on with Mulder and Doggett. They'd been twelve years old that summer, and completely unaware of the news that would be waiting them when they returned home to Capeside. Mr. Leary and Sheriff Witter had been the chaperones for that particular trip, which none of them had thought was strange because the parents usually switched off on that duty. Since the two men were friends, they spent a lot of time fishing together, which left the three kids with a lot of unsupervised time alone together.

The fact of which Mulder and Doggett took shameless advantage of, and tried to come up with the most outrageous tricks that their young minds could conceive of to harass Scully. Though she acted appropriately annoyed, it wasn't that bad. She didn't like finding worms in her shoes in the morning, and their trick of rubbing poison ivy all over her soap-they smartly raided the first aid kit for rubber gloves to do it unscathed- did leave her with a painful rash, there was something she really liked about the trip. When she had time to think about it when she was a little older, she hit upon what it was; they treated her differently than Bessie did. It was as if on that trip she got to experience, at least for a little while, what it would be like to have had a brother.

Though she claimed to Bessie that she didn't want to go on this trip because of the teasing, it isn't the real reason. She's afraid that this trip will open up the barely healed scars that were gotten from mental wounds right after the trip. The day after Scully got home from that trip, she and Bessie learned devastating news: their mother had terminal cancer. For some inexplicable reason, thinking about the fun she'd had that week with Mulder and Doggett made her feel guilty.

She's abruptly lifted out of her sad trip down memory lane when she feels the SUV move sideways. "What was that?" she asks, opening her eyes.

"The wind. It's gotten wicked windy all of the sudden. I'm going to pull off the road in put this thing in four wheel drive," Skinner says, making a general announcement.

Scully peers out the window, and is surprised how bad the weather has gotten. Snow swirls wildly in the wind and a half-inch or so is piled up on the road. "Have you driven in weather like this before?" Scully asks Skinner, because she hasn't.

"Yup, don't worry, we'll get there safely. You were out for quite a while, so I bet you don't realize that we're over halfway there already," Skinner says as he puts the car back on the road.

"Oh," she says, returning her gaze to the window.

They pile back into the vehicle after stopping for lunch at a roadside diner. Though Reyes and Scully had insisted that the place looked like a dive, Mulder and Skinner protested that it had a certain charm about it. Their meal only served to prove that people who base their entire opinion of diners on what they've seen in movies don't spend a lot of time pondering the quality of food. Feeling fuller and distinctly more queasy, they head back out into the storm.

"Dad expects us to call in an hour, are we almost there, Skinner?" Reyes asks.

"I think so. Ethan, check the map, would you?"

"The map says that it's about 30 more miles, I think we'll make it there in plenty of time," Ethan says, as much to reassure himself as her.

"Besides," Skinner adds, "He must know by now that the storm has slowed us down a little."

"I hope you're right..." Reyes says doubtfully.

As they drive on they finally encounter plow trucks, though they try to avoid driving directly behind them. Doggett points at one.

"Look at that, proof that my Dad is wrong. He said that the plow trucks were hibernating this year because of the unseasonably warm weather. Looks like this sudden cold snap has woken them up!"

No one laughs, because it is just then that the snow picks up in earnest. Within a half an hour the snow is coming down so hard that they are driving in white out conditions. Skinner tries not to let his nervousness show, but he is frightened by how little he can see beyond the beams of the headlights. He's never imagined that snow could come down so fast that it's as difficult to see through as the cotton batten that his mother had used to stuff toy animals with when he was small.

Trying not to let his panic show, he asks Ethan. "Where do we go next?"

"The brochure from the lodge says that it's off of exit 27 on Pine Tree road."

Skinner relaxes a little once they're finally able to see the exit. They drive down the road, looking for street signs. As the miles pass they feel more desperation because they can't really see the signs well enough to read them. Since New England roads often stretch out for miles and miles this way no one feels out-right panic, but they are on the edge of it. Finally, once he spies something by the road side Ethan tells Skinner that he sees a sign that might be the right one. Skinner decides to risk being wrong, and drives up the steep dirt road.

Four miles up the road they come to a large well-lit building, and everyone sighs a breath of relief. They park in the lot in front of it, and begin to walk through the stinging snow towards their salvation. Before they are halfway up the walk they see one of the rarest of weather phenomena's- lightening during a snowstorm. For a moment they pause in awe of this, because it is unlikely they will ever see it a second time. The bolts of lightning are harder to see in the snow filled sky than they would be during a rain storm, but their electric brilliance does allow them to stand out more than anything else in the leaden skies. When they hear a bolt of it strike a nearby tree the trance is broken, and they pick up their pace.

Doggett has a smile on his face as he pushes the heavy oak door open, but it fades as he looks inside and sees that there is no one at the reception desk. "I guess the staff is somewhere else in the building," he says, and the others nod in agreement, not really listening as they stamp their feet to get the snow out of their boots. "Hello?" he calls, and listens to his voice echo throughout the interior.

"I think we should go and look for the receptionist so we can check into our rooms," Reyes suggests. They decide to check both directions at once. Turning lights on as they go they find no one on the ground floor, so they gamely go up the stairs and search there too. Both groups meet back down stairs a few minutes later.

"We didn't find anyone," Reyes says.

"Neither did we," Mulder replies.

"That's odd. You wouldn't think that they'd go off during the middle of the afternoon. Suppose they went outside to get something?" Ethan muses aloud.

Scully half listens to them, but is more interested in a plaque she notices by the desk. "What's the name of this lodge?" she asks.

"The Lincoln," Skinner says, irritably. "Why? I must have mentioned that three or four times already."

"How come that sign says 'Fairchild' then?" she asks, pointing to the plaque. "There's no one here because this isn't the right lodge."

"Skinner!" Reyes exclaims.

Before an argument can really start, Doggett decides to intervene. "We have to look at this rationally. There's no way we can go back out into the storm because, if it isn't obvious to everyone else right now, we're in the middle of a blizzard. The wind has been picking up even as we've been in the building. If we go out there again we're going to get lost or worse."

"What could be worse than getting lost?" Skinner asks.

"We're in the middle of old growth forest. Old growth trees tend to fall during heavy winds, and being crushed by a huge tree sounds worse than being lost to me. We're going to have to stay here, at least for the night. There's power, at least for now, and there's a cord of wood stacked by that fire place over there so even if we do lose power we're not going to freeze to death. No one is here so it's not as though anyone is going to bother us for trespassing, and no one would be heartless enough to send us back out into the storm again today, anyway."

"If there's no one here, why are there lights on in the lobby?" Ethan asks.

"They probably didn't want potential looters to think the place is abandoned," Scully says.

Reyes sighs deeply, "I guess we should take a look around and see if there's any food, too."

They walk down the hall in the direction someone thinks they remember seeing the kitchen.

The kitchen is approximately the same size as the one in the Ice House, so that comforts both Scully and Skinner for some reason. They are also the only ones who know what to look for when it comes to checking the cabinets for food.

"There is a ton of canned goods, so we won't stave," Skinner tells them, peering into a pantry.

Doggett reaches for one of the cans and says, "Ravioli! My favorite! But why hasn't anyone looked in the fridge or freezer?"

Scully gives him a look he can't read, so he's not sure if she's making fun of him or not. "Since we don't have any idea how long it's been since there were other people here, it's probably not in our best interest to look in them. Even if the food hasn't evolved into a new life-form yet, the smell could make us wish that we were back out in the storm."

Doggett gives a good-natured grin as he thinks about what she's just said. "This," he announces, "Is why I'm glad that we have at least one scientifically inclined person among us. Had it been up to me, the fridge would be open by now, and we'd all be throwing up in the snow. Thank you for saving us, Scully."

She rolls her eyes, and then notices that Reyes has a phone in her hand. "Any luck?"

"No," Reyes says unhappily. "There's no dial tone. Mulder, do you have your cell phone?"

Mulder hands it over, and shoots Scully a look that suggests that the necessity of having one is something they've long argued about. Before he can say anything to the effect that he's right, Reyes hands it back to him. "No service," she says.

"I guess there's no tower here, then," Mulder says.

"Or it blew down," Doggett says cheerfully. "Let's have some ravioli!"

Reyes isn't distracted by this tactic. "Dad's going to be awfully worried," she says to Skinner.

"I know. He might even be mad too, but when he finds out we're safe that's all that's going to matter to him...I hope." Skinner can resist adding, which coaxes a reluctant smile from his sister.

"Food now?" Doggett asks.

"I vote for a fire now, and food later," Mulder says.

"But I'm hungry!" Doggett insists.

"You're always hungry. We only ate two hours ago, anyway."

Before Doggett opens his mouth again, Scully reaches into one of the cabinets, picks up a can, looks at the bottom for the date, than tosses it to him. "Have some fruit to tide you over."

"Can peaches! My second favorite!" Doggett says, pulling the top off. He happily sticks a fork in the can and trails behind everyone else back to the lobby. He's so intent on savoring the sweet goodness of his snack that he almost walks into Ethan because he doesn't notice that everyone has stopped abruptly. No one is saying anything, so he looks over Ethan's shoulder to see what it is that has them speechless. A fire roars merrily in the fireplace.

Sticking the fork back into the can he says, "That wasn't there 20 minutes ago. I know it's obvious, but some situations call for the stating of it. We're not alone here." No one contradicts him.

4pm, McPhee home-

Mr. McPhee and Mr. Leary look at each other in a grim silence. While they both know that one of them is going to have to call Bessie, sheriff Doggett, and Ethan's parents, neither of them is eager to do so.

At last Mr. Leary speaks. "I called the lodge again about five minutes ago, and they still haven't checked in."

"The state police said they haven't seen anything yet, though, so perhaps they're ok."

"You know, it could be that they're just lost. The snow was pretty heavy for a while there, so maybe they just took the wrong exit. For all we know they're at a hotel somewhere, safe and warm."

"If they were, wouldn't they have called by now?" Mr. McPhee asks. He doesn't really expect the other man to answer, and he's sure that his thoughts mirror his own- they called and left a message at the lodge at noon, to let the kids know that they weren't going to be able to join them until the next day. The receptionist at the lodge agreed to give them the message to call home as soon as they got there. But now, four hours later, the lodge still hasn't seen them come in.

Sighing deeply, Mr. McPhee picks up the phone again, this time dialing the Potter's number. "Hello, Bessie? This is Reyes and Skinner's father. I'm afraid I have some worrisome news..."

At The Lodge-

After the shock of the spontaneous fire wore off they went and looked in all the rooms again, trying to find the person who had started it. Again their search was unsuccessful, which leads them to be even more worried than they have been so far. They sit around the sinister fire, and try to puzzle out what is going on.

"I think the answer is obvious," Mulder insists. "We're dealing with the paranormal. Since the ghost has thoughtfully provided us with a fire, I think it's a friendly entity."

Reyes is inclined to agree with Mulder, but Scully objects. "There are no such things as ghosts."

"You don't know that for sure, Scully," Mulder says.

"Isn't the high school haunted?" Reyes asks, then is confused when Doggett, Scully and Mulder laugh.

"No, it isn't," Doggett says when he catches his breath.

"But Fowley says it is," Reyes says.

"What Fowley, and you, don't know is that the only spooks in that school around Christmas time are Byers, Frohike, and Langly, who have been paid to provide evidence of haunting," Doggett says.

"Hey, did you know that they're calling themselves 'the lone gunmen' now?" Mulder asks.

"That doesn't even make sense. There are three of them," Scully says.

"I know, that's what I told Frohike, and he got all huffy about it."

"I think Scully is right," Skinner interrupts. "The likelihood of the fire being the result of a ghost's prank rather than that of a potentially dangerous person hiding in this lodge is low. We need to be prepared for the possibility of someone else, whose motives aren't friendly, to be in this building with us."

"What do you suggest we do?" Ethan asks.

Before Skinner thinks of anything, Reyes says, "I think we should stick to the original sleeping arrangements we were going to have at the right lodge. While there are a lot of rooms, it's probably better that we double up as intended. There are two beds in every room I looked in, and....well, safety in numbers and all that. The rooms have locking doors, too, so no one will be able to get in while we're sleeping."

"Reyes is right. Besides, that will be less rooms to have to clean up in the morning, so we don't leave a mess for whomever it is that owns this place."

"Are the rest of you ok with that?" Reyes asks, waiting until they all nod. "Ok then. Doggett and Mulder in one room, Ethan and Skinner in a second, and Scully and I in the third. Now we just need to find three rooms together that we like." The lights flicker as they troop upstairs, and the wind continues to howl outside.


Despite several more searches, no one has been found in the lodge. Eventually Skinner and Ethan yawn and say goodnight. Not too long after Reyes and Doggett also decide they're tried and say they'll go up to their rooms too. Reyes asks Scully to come up soon because she doesn't want to be alone too long. Scully barely acknowledges that because she and Mulder are still in the middle of a heated debate about the plausibility of a ghost being in the lodge.

"Scully, you know that we've seen things before, so why can't you just admit that there's a world beyond our comprehension? Can't you just accept things without definitive proof? "

"If it was that easy, I'd believe everything that anyone ever told me. Would it be better if I had believed you when you told me that the Chinese food place was serving cat?"

"Well, it would have been more entertaining, anyway," Mulder says grinning.

"This isn't funny, Mulder. That you'd propose blind acceptance to anything is quite disturbing."

"Could you lighten up just a bit?"

"No, I don't think I can. I'm going to put out the fire, then go to bed."

"Ok then. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you. Good-night."

"'night," Scully says, looking up from the fireplace.

Doggett knocks on the door of Reyes and Scully's room. Reyes opens the door and yawns. "What are you doing here?" she asks.

"Coming to get you."

"Me? What do you mean? You and Mulder are supposed to share a room."

"We're supposed to, but we're not going to."


"But nothing. You are scared, and I don't think you'll feel safe even with Scully in the room. You girls need someone to protect you."

"Am I supposed to think you're my knight in shining armor, or sexist? " Reyes asks, sticking out her tongue.

"I'd prefer the former, but that's up to you. Come on, get your stuff."

"They're not going to like this..." Reyes says, but grabs her bag.

"They'll get over it," Doggett says, pulling her down the hallway.

Since Mulder makes a detour through the kitchen in order to get some of the canned peaches, he doesn't come upstairs in time to see Doggett coax Reyes into their room.

He tries the door then knocks when he realizes that it's locked.

Doggett opens the door, looking sleepy. "Mulder, there's been a change of plans."

"What are you talking about?" Mulder asks, surprised that Doggett is blocking his way into the room.

"Reyes is scared of ghosts, so she's going to sleep here. And you're going to sleep in Scully's room. Good-night," Doggett says, shutting the door in Mulder's face.

"Doggett," Mulder whispers loudly at the locked door. Sighing deeply, he goes looking for Scully.

He unintentionally startles her as he walks up behind her and says "How's putting out the fire going?"

"Not bad. I think it's safe to leave now," she says, standing up.

"You're not going to like this...we have a problem."

"What problem?"

"It seems that Doggett and Reyes have decided that our sleeping arrangements needed adjustment."

"Oh no."

"Since Doggett locked me out of the room, there are two options the way I see it. The first option is that I take a fourth room, and you stay in the room that you and Reyes were supposed to share. The second is that we share a room." Mulder looks at her expectantly, figuring that she'll choose the first option.

The look on her face suggests that neither option strike her as being ideal. "Um...since we don't know who is wandering around this place...and there are two beds in the room..."

Mulder holds out his hand and says "In that case, miss, I suggest we go up to our room," which gets a reluctant smile out of her.

Ethan shakes himself out of a troubled sleep, and notices a figure standing in the darkness. Before he convinces himself that one of his odd dreams has come to life, he realizes that it's Skinner standing at the door.

"What are you doing?" Ethan asks.

"Did you hear that?" Skinner asks quietly.


"I heard someone walking down the hallway just now. I've been trying to decide if I should open the door."

Ethan sits up and asks, "What's to stop you? It's probably just one of the others getting up to use the bathroom."

Skinner looks at the door, and it seems to Ethan that he's about to object. Instead he shakes his head and climbs back into his bed. "I hope you're right." Is all he says.

Mulder looks over at the other bed and nearly strains his eyes trying to make out Scully's form in the darkness. Eventually he's able to tell that she's lying curled up on her side, but he can't tell if she's awake or sleeping.

"Scully." He whispers into the gloom, hoping not to wake her if she is in fact sleeping.

She rolls over and asks drowsily, "What is it, Mulder?"

He is a little surprised that she's awake. "I'm lonely," he tells her.

"How can you be lonely?" she asks. "I'm not twelve feet away from you."

"This bed is too big," he complains. "I feel like I'm lost in it."

"What am I supposed to do about that?" she asks grumpily. "Oh..."


She doesn't say anything for a long moment. "Do you swear, on your honor, to be a gentleman?"

"Of course," he says quickly.

"I'm probably going to regret this..." she mumbles to herself, but climbs onto the unoccupied side of Mulder's Queen sized bed.

"Thank you," Mulder says before rolling onto his side. "My security Scully..." he says yawning, making her giggle to herself.

Reyes blinks a few times and tries to identify the scraping sound that has just waken her from a sound sleep. A quick glance at the clock shows her that it's nearly six am. The scraping sound cuts off abruptly, but not before she realizes that it's coming from outside the door. She shakes Doggett awake and makes him open the door with her.

As soon as the door is opened they see that someone has dragged all their ski stuff up from the lobby and piled it in the hallway. "Another prank from our friend," Doggett notes sardonically.

"This isn't funny." Reyes snaps.

"I didn't say it was." Doggett reminds her. "Let's get everyone up for breakfast."

A knock on the door wakes Scully up, and she untangles herself from Mulder's arms. Mulder doesn't stir even as she abandons the bed. She looks down at him, and can't quite remember when it was that he had snuggled closer to her. She remembers, though, that he was whimpering, as if in the throughs of a nightmare, at the time. She hadn't been able to wake him to ask what his dream was about, and hadn't had the heart to push him away.

Down in the kitchen they ate pancakes made from a mix, and discussed the events of the night before. No one claims responsibility for the moving of the ski equipment, nor does anyone own up to have been walking outside Skinner and Ethan's door in the middle of the night.

"I don't want to alarm anyone, but when I first got down here, I opened the door. We got about three feet of snow yesterday, and there's no way to get the SUV out."

"So what are we going to do?" Skinner asks.

"When I was poking through a closet during one of our 'searches' yesterday, I found a bunch of cross-country skis. I figure that a couple of us could use them to get down to the end of the driveway, and maybe out to the highway to leave flags for anyone who might be looking for us," Doggett says. "I'm a good skier, who else will come?"

"I will," Ethan says.

"Then let's go," Doggett says, grabbing his coat.

Once they're outside they find that the situation isn't as grave as they worried it might be, because they find that the dirt road has actually been plowed, leaving just the extended driveway to block their escape.

"So," Ethan asks. "Any idea how we can most quickly clear a path for the SUV?"

"Since the driveway is a good half a mile long, I think we're going to need to leave the idea of doing anything quickly out of the equation."

"I guess you're right. Let's tie these up and go give people the good-bad news," Ethan says, sounding disappointed.

Not long after Ethan and Doggett return, they find where the lodge stores its cache of snow shovels. Working three at a time, they spend most of the day shoveling a path through the snow. The other three wait inside until it's their hour to shovel, which keeps them from staying out in the cold too long, and lets them rest for a while near the fireplace. Though they work until right before it gets dark, they only get halfway down the long winding driveway. Somewhat dejected, they go back inside once the sun starts to set.

"I can't believe we got so little done!" Skinner exclaims as they wait in the kitchen for the cocoa to be ready to drink. "We worked all day and only have that much to show for it."

"We cleared out a quarter of a mile of snow, that's a hell of a lot of snow if you really think about it. I don't think we could have expected to do more given how short the day is this time of the year." Scully points out.

"You don't suppose we could pile into the Landrover and then sort of let gravity bring us down to the road?" Skinner suggests hopefully.

"We'd get bogged down in the snow before we got through six feet of it. The snow is too deep to try something like that," Mulder says.

"How would you know?" Skinner challenges him.

"Care to explain it to him, Doggett?" Mulder asks.

"Ok, sure. You know how we got all that snow last March? Anyway, Dad asked Mulder and I to clear the driveway. Our driveway is hilly like this one, so we had the brilliant idea that if we cleared just part of it, we could do what you just suggested. It worked great- for about four feet. We spent over an hour digging the snow out from under the car so we could even move it once we cleared the rest of the driveway. I don't recommend it."

"So we're stuck here at least another day," Skinner says.

"Sorry," Mulder says, sounding it, but wondering why he's so impatient to leave.

"I think we ought to get to bed early," Reyes suggests. "That way we can get started as soon as it gets light."

"Whatever," Skinner says, looking unhappy.

They all go to bed at ten, and are slightly less scared than they were the night before because nothing strange has happened all day.

In their room Reyes leans on an elbow and looks towards Doggett as he undresses. He throws his shirt on a chair and asks her, "Are you enjoying the show?"

"You know it," Reyes says, grinning. "I'm worried about Skinner though."

"Thank you Ms. Nonsequitur. Unless there's some sort of horrific connection in your mind between me undressing and your brother. Since you don't strike me as the least bit redneck... "

Reyes laughs. "No, it was just what I was thinking about. I'm worried that things aren't going so well between him and Ethan."

"Because of his mood?" Doggett asks.

"That, and how quiet Ethan has been..."

"I guess you'll have to let them work it out. I know that siblings sometimes try to help, but it usually just makes thinks worse. One way or the other, Skinner will be ok. Eventually."

"You're probably right," Reyes says. "Aren't you going to fold your shirt?" she asks, ducking as he throws it at her.

10pm, Leary home-

Mitch doesn't realize that he's dosed off until he hears the phone ring. By the time he realizes that he's on the couch, where he must have been watching TV, the phone is already in his hand.


"Mitch, this is Joseph McPhee. I just talked to the lodge again, and they confessed that there were some brochures that went out with a typo in them- they gave the wrong exit number off the highway. They tracked down the mistake and let the state police know what exit was given in error. We'll get a call as soon as they know anything."

"Thanks for letting me know," he says, hanging up the phone and hoping desperately that the call from the police is good news when they call.

4am, The Lodge-

Mulder nearly jumps when Scully shakes him awake.

"What? What?" he asks.

She doesn't say anything, but instead points to the window. A stooped figure is standing there, barely illuminated by the dim moonlight. At first Mulder thinks it might be a ghost indeed, but as he swings his feet over the side of the bed to investigate, the figure spooks, and runs to the door. It flees out of the room, slamming the door behind it. Mulder opens the door, intending to track the intruder down, but whoever it was is already gone.

"Did you track down the ghost?" Scully asks shakily.

"While I appreciate the attempt to humor me, but you're right about it being a non-ghost. A ghost wouldn't have needed to open the door."

"So what do we do now?"

"I think we need to wake everyone up and stay together so we're safe," he says.

"Solidarity in the face of weirdness?"

"Something like that."

The six of them sit in silence, waiting for the sun to come up. Finally, as the sky starts to lighten, they grimly put on their winter gear and prepare to continue shoveling. Right after Scully and Mulder woke everyone, they decided that they'd work twice as hard to get the driveway cleared as quickly as possible. They'd already trudged outside once and threw their stuff in the Landrover, and would have preferred to stay in it as well had it not been so cold out.

Just as they're walking to the door they hear the unmistakable sound of feet coming from the hallway. They all whip around in time to see a figure running towards them. The man is elderly, and has a long white beard. The thing they notice most is the mad gleam in his eye. He waves his arms and shouts "Get out of my house! Get out! I own this place, you get out!"

Though his threats didn't scare them overly much, the presumably loaded double-barreled shotgun that he's brandishing does. They do as he demands and race out into the snow. To their horror he seems likely to follow them, so they jump into the SUV and drive it as far as they can. They hope that they can use the shovels to defend themselves if necessary, happy that they thought to put some in the SUV the day before after finishing the last session of shoveling.

As they round the corner and out of sight of the lodge, they see a welcomed sight- a state cruiser and a plow truck are headed towards them. They run through the snow to hail the cruiser and hysterically tell the officer about the crazy man with the gun while the plow truck makes a path for the other vehicles.

The officer insists that they drive back up with him to the lodge to point out where they last saw the man. They describe again what they saw, but fall silent as the lodge comes back into view. Twenty minutes have wrought inexplicable changes in the building. The formerly sound building no longer is. The siding is now weathered and many of the shingles are missing. A huge portion of the roof has fallen into the second floor.

As they stare at the lodge in awe, the officer remarks that it doesn't seem as if the man is still around. "I can't believe you poor kids stayed in this place for going on three days. I'm glad you made it through ok, because you couldn't have paid me to stay there."

Doggett recovers first and asks, "Why not?"

"Oh," says the officer. "You know how old run down places like this get the reputation for being haunted. I guess the squatter you ran into knew that too and was hoping to scare you with it. "

"I guess," Doggett says, staring at the lodge again.

Produced by CC, KW and Neoxphile

< Voice Over>
This episode of Mulder's Creek featured music from:

The Cure ("Fear of Ghosts")
3rd Eye Blind ("Good For You")
School of Fish ('Three Strange Days")

Stay tuned for scenes from the next Mulder's Creek

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