Disclaimer: 10-13 is a front for Cancerman and Chris Carter is his right hand man. They won’t sue for fear of exposing the Consortium. All the characters are theirs but I used ‘em anyway.
Author’s Notes: PLEASE send comments to XScout@hotmail.com Flames and praise appreciated equally, at least I’ll know someone’s read it. Plus, you don’t have to have seen Ice but it helps.
“In here, I’ll be safer than you.” the man with infinitely sad eyes said.
The red headed woman in front of him bit her lip in apprehension, unsure of her decision. It was the only way to be sure though.
With that, Scully slid the huge metal door shut and Mulder heard the pin being placed in the lock. He sat down on the cold floor and waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. He couldn’t believe this was happening.
Things had certainly taken a turn for the worse. Only two of the four team members who came up here with them were still alive and now he was trapped in this ice cold prison, unable to make sure they stayed that way. He knew he hadn’t killed Murphy and that he wasn’t infected with that damn virus, a worm-like creature that had been frozen in ice several hundred kilometers beneath the surface. The members of the Arctic Ice Core Project, an attempt to discover evidence of the Earth’s climate during its youth deep in the ice, had accidentally unearthed it during a drilling trial.
A week ago all transmissions from the AICP team had stopped, so he and Scully had been sent to this site in Alaska to discover what had happened to them. The two agents had come up here with a team of three researchers and one pilot. Dr. DeSilva, a toxicologist, was a tall blonde woman whose quiet demeanor was born from spending hours immersed in her laboratory. She was very nervous, almost on the verge of a full blown anxiety attack, when she learned of the threat posed by the worm. Dr. Hodge, a medical doctor, was a suspicious man by nature, his beady eyes always searching for faults in others. He insisted Mulder and Scully, being from FBI, knew more than they let on about the parasite. He constantly argued with everyone and his temper became even shorter after the worm was discovered. Dr. Murphy, a professor of Geology from UCSD, was a lively little man whose passions were geology and football - namely the San Diego Chargers. He never tired of listening to his all time favorite plays on a portable tape player. He was the most friendly and also the most helpful of the three researchers. The pilot, simply know as Bear, was a typical rugged outdoorsman with long hair, a permanent five o’clock shadow, and clothes that practically screamed ‘mountain man’. He was outspoken and single-minded, all he wanted was to fly there and back - no more, no less. Things had gone wrong the instant they arrived.
Mulder had been attacked by a vicious dog and when Bear had come to help, he had been bitten by the animal, unknowingly becoming infected. Bear exhibited violent behavior after that and when he was being restrained, Scully noticed movement underneath his skin at the base of his neck. The pilot died after Hodge attempted to remove the worm. Then a storm had blown in and there was no way for anyone to fly up to them. Besides, there was no way to know if anyone else was infected, so they would all have to be quarantined to protect the populace. Scully used the time that the snowstorm offered to examine the bodies that had been strewn about the station, while the other researchers reviewed the notes of the AICP director.
After some testing and a lot of conjecture, they had come up with a good idea of what exactly the parasite did. A worm was found in each of the bodies, attached to the hypothalamus gland, the gland that secretes hormones and releases acetycoline. Acetycoline causes violent behavior and if the worm fed on the hormone, it could flood the host’s capacity to control the violent behavior.
The investigative team had all agreed to be on their guard and report to the others the instant anything unusual happened. After examining each other for any signs of infection, Mulder suggested they all get some sleep and everyone went to their separate rooms to try and get some much needed rest.
Mulder had slept fitfully until awoken in the middle of the night from one of his usual nightmares. He sat up from his latest night terror and was trying to remember the details of the dream when he heard a door close. He took his gun and cautiously left his room. When he came across Murphy’s room, he saw it was empty and the geologist’s beloved headphones were lying on the rumpled bed. He continued his search into the lab and it was there that he had noticed the blood dripping from the large freezer. When he opened it, Murphy’s dead body fell out on top of Mulder, creating a racket as the two men toppled to the floor. Mulder was disentangling himself from the geologist, whose throat had been cut, as the others came running in. They had assumed the worst when they saw him with the corpse. He insisted he was innocent but Hodge had demanded he be locked in the storeroom until help arrived. Scully had even drawn her gun on him, on *him*, and demanded he relinquish his own weapon.
He had refused at first, saying “For God’s sakes, it’s *me*.” But when she had replied, “You may not be who you are”, he had reluctantly put his gun down and allowed himself to be isolated to prevent any further contamination.
So here he was, stuck in a freezing storeroom with nothing but his thoughts to keep him company. He was given no blanket, so he wrapped his arms around himself and huddled in a corner, trying not to shiver. He couldn’t believe Scully had turned on him. Sure, they’d only worked together for a few months but he trusted her and he thought she trusted him. His anger grew with each moment as he dwelt on what he considered was a betrayal of that hard won trust. Then he remembered the anguished look on her face when she held her gun on him. She was afraid *for* him, not *of* him. The worm was eventually lethal to its host and so she was afraid that she might lose her partner and her friend. She had chosen the only acceptable solution and had gone along with Hodge’s decision.
A strange sense of calm replaced the anger as he thought about Scully. She would find a way to clear him. She was the only true constant in his life and he could always count on her being there for him. He knew that somehow in the past few months he had come to care about his partner more than he ever thought was possible. He would do anything for her. Anything.
Hours passed and then finally there was movement on the other side of the door. It slowly opened and Scully looked at him with wary concern. He leapt to his feet. “Just you?”
“Yes.” She shut the door and after a second, hurriedly turned on the light.
Mulder squinted at the sudden brightness and glared at her. “It’s one of them.”
“No one’s been killed since you’ve been in here.” She said it almost like an apology.
“So.” was his clipped answer.
She chewed on her lip for a moment and decided to get to the point. “We found a way to kill it. Two worms in one host will kill each other.”
“You give me one worm, you’ll infect me.” His voice dripped hostility and indignation.
“If that’s true then why wouldn’t you let us inspect you?” she replied, all to aware of his proximity to her.
He stepped closer and leaned down. “I would have, but you pulled a gun on me. Now, I don’t trust them but I *want* to trust you.” he hissed.
She whispered back, looking him in the eyes, “Okay, but they’re not here.”
He stared back at her, his eyes piercing her soul. Then he abruptly turned around and bared his back to her. It was an unspoken admission of his faith in her and she was touched at the gesture. She reached up and pressed her hand against the base of his neck. Nothing. He wasn’t infected! He turned back and they looked at each other in a quiet communication of relief. She swiveled around and started to leave but his hand on her shoulder stopped her. She tried to look at him but he gently pushed her head forward. She shivered involuntarily as his cold hands massaged her neck. When he was satisfied that she too was uninfected, he took her by the shoulders and hugged her to him.
She was surprised at his sudden show of emotion and was caught up in the moment. She enjoyed these rare times when he opened up to her and often wished they were more common. She cared about him more than she would like to admit, even to herself. Being in his arms made her feel safe and protected, nothing could hurt them as long as they were together. Sure, she had only known him for a few months but it seemed like an eternity. They just seemed to ‘fit’ - like an old married couple. Mr. and Mrs. Spooky. She looked up into his hazel eyes and smiled, letting him know that she understood his need for comfort and that she also felt the need. He gave her a small grin in return and reluctantly let go, following her to the door.
Scully slid the door open and stepped out to face Hodge and DeSilva, who were looking expectantly at her. “I just examined him, he’s uninfected.”
Mulder came up behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder. They would be okay, they were together. “So is she.”
“Which means it must be one of you.” Scully glared at them accusingly.
Hodge sighed in resignation and passed a hand over his face. “All right, let’s go over to the main building. I’d like to check him myself, and then he can examine both of us.” He held out an arm in aquisience, “ Lead the way.”
Scully pulled down the cotton blouse DeSilva was wearing and pressed the skin around the other woman’s neck. “She’s clean.” The blonde shuddered in relief and glanced briefly at the others, giving a short nervous laugh. Scully motioned to Hodge who was leaning against the opposite wall. “Your turn.”
“Sure.” Hodge took a step closer to her, then stopped. Suddenly he rushed forward and shoved Mulder, who was hovering protectively next to his partner, through the nearest doorway and slammed the door shut, locking it. Then he pulled out one of the guns that an AICP member had used on himself and pointed it directly at Scully. “Don’t you come near me!” He was laughing hysterically and his eyes were bulging from their sockets.
DeSilva was slowly sneaking up behind him, trying to get close enough to hit him with a broken chair leg. He swiveled around and punched her in the face, sending her through the air to land on the other side of the room, unconscious. He immediately circled around again to face Scully, who hadn’t had enough time to react. “Your turn,” he sneered, his finger tightening on the trigger.
Mulder couldn’t see but he could hear all that was going on. “No! Scully!” He pounded on the door, putting all his weight against it, attempting to open it. He heard its hinges creak loudly and withdrew a few paces then charged for the door. He rammed it again and again with every ounce of strength he had until his shoulder was on fire and his breath was coming in labored gasps. The massive door crashed open so unexpectedly that he fell forward from his momentum.
DeSilva was still sprawled out on the floor and Scully was cornered by Hodge, who was about to fire a gun. Mulder said nothing, Mulder thought nothing, Mulder acted. He sprung up off the floor and raced for Scully, he would never make it to Hodge before the man fired, and leapt in front of her as the gun went off, the sound cutting through the cacophonous howling of the storm raging outside. The bullet smashed into him, engulfing him in a nova-bright haze of pain. The force of the bullet hurled him into Scully and they tumbled to the floor. Mulder struggled to his feet and lunged at Hodge, taking the man completely by surprise. The two men wrestled for the gun and Mulder grabbed Hodge’s wrist, squeezing until he dropped the weapon. Scully scooped it up in an instant but refrained from shooting the offender. He was not the enemy, the worm was.
Before Mulder could gather himself, his opponent struck out with a fist. Mulder staggered back and fell, but fought the dizziness and scrambled to his feet to begin circling. He would not make the same mistake again, his foe might be the puppet of a worm but he could move with deadly speed. The next time the man swung, Mulder ducked and was able to come back with an uppercut, catching Hodge square on the chin. The blow seemed to cause the recipient no discomfort, a regrettable side affect of being the mindless pawn of the parasite. Hodge lunged at Mulder and pulled him down; the two grappled hand to hand then until Mulder managed to slip free. A kick to the chest, a slam to the neck, and the possessed man was finally down.
Mulder stumbled towards Scully until a hand around his ankle pulled him back. Hodge lay, grinning, reeling Mulder in with an inexorable grip. Mulder grabbed for the nearest counter and came away with a syringe, in the back of his mind he recognized it as containing the tranquilizer used on the dog. In an instant Hodge was on his feet and crushing Mulder, chest to back, in a huge bear hug. The pressure increased until Mulder was lifted off the ground, unable to breath. He summoned up all his energy and twisted around, plunging the needle into Hodge’s neck. He dropped him to the floor and he jumped away as the other man twitched and shivered, the sedative taking effect. He grabbed the beaker containing the last living parasite and poured its contents on the side of Hodge’s head. The worm slithered into the delirious man’s ear and he began to tremble violently. Hodge fainted dead away when he stopped shaking and Mulder stood over him, trying to catch his breath, the adrenaline rush disappearing fast.
DeSilva stirred and moaned softly as she sat up, rubbing the back of her head. “What happened?” she asked, bewildered. She looked at Hodge’s inert body then glanced up to Mulder who was swaying unsteadily. All of a sudden he collapsed onto the ground.
Scully rushed over and knelt by his side, unsure what was wrong. Everything had happened so fast that she was too dazed to fully comprehend the situation. Then she became aware of the blood that spattered wall and floor and glistened on glass laboratory equipment. When she noticed that there was also blood smeared across her shirt she realized what had occurred. Mulder had thrown himself in front of her to save her and the bullet had taken him in the chest. His blood gushed fresh with each beat of his heart. That meant at least that his heart was still beating.
“Scully...” Mulder fought his way up through a scarlet light, until he forced enough of it away to see beyond it.
“Lie still, Mulder, help is on the way,” she lied. She had no way of knowing if the storm had let up enough to allow an aircraft up to this godforsaken wilderness.
She tried to stop the bleeding by pressing on the wound, but Mulder cried out and fumbled for her wrist. “Don’t,” he said. “Please...” He felt the blood bubbling up into his lungs.
The wound was too deep, too bad, to quell by direct pressure. Scully ceased the futile effort that only caused him pain. She lifted him up and cradled him in her lap. Mulder felt himself gently supported and the sensation of drowning eased perceptibly. “You okay?” he asked through a pale pink froth forming on his lips. His breathing was irregular, and when he tried to draw breath, pain racked him.
“I’m fine, Mulder, please be quiet,” she pleaded. Mulder was slipping down into shock and there was no more time to lose.
He had never been so aware of his own pulse, throbbing like a thunderstorm through his body. “Scully...I...”
“I was going to tell you...” He gargled through the liquid welling up in his throat.
“You’ll still be able to. Now hush up, what kind of talk is this?” She examined the injury closer. She couldn’t tell if his heart was damaged but he was bleeding so badly that oxygen starvation was the biggest danger. She knew he was dying, and with all her medical knowledge there was not a God damn thing she could do.
“Dana...” Mulder whispered. “I need to tell you before...” he was interrupted by a coughing fit that left blood streaming from his mouth. “Having you as a partner has been... more than I could ever... hope for. You’re the only one... I trust. With my life, with my work, with all that I am.”
She stared at him in shocked silence. “Mulder, I...” She bit her lip, uncertain of how to reply. He looked anxiously up at her, waiting for an answer. “I never knew, I mean I wished you... well, I thought -” She stopped, frustrated with herself for not being able to express her feelings. “Mulder, you mean more to me than I could ever describe. As a partner and as a friend. I wanted to be closer to you, but I wasn’t sure if you felt the same.” She closed her eyes for a moment and opened them when she sensed Mulder shaking. She looked at him in alarm until she realized that he was laughing.
“Talk about getting... our signals crossed.” he wheezed between laughs that were abruptly cut off as blood choked him. He swallowed hard several times and gazed up at her, his eyes filled with love and pain. He became solemn and reached up to caress her face with a warm hand. She turned into his touch and held his hand there with hers. She leaned down and their lips met. The intimate embrace only lasted for a second but it was long enough to reveal emotions that had been held back for too long. Then without warning, Mulder began to writhe and groan in agony, his hand crushing hers as he tried to fight the pain.
“Mulder! Stay with me, come on,” Scully pleaded. “You can’t leave me, not now.”
He smiled softly at her in empathy then grimaced as the pain overcame him. He groaned again and squeezed his eyes shut, willing himself to keep breathing. Blood poured from wound and mouth as he twisted in pain. His eyes glazed over and he felt as though he was falling. Pain swept through him one final time and then his hand slipped from where Scully had been holding it to her heart, to lay beside his chest, which ceased to move.
“Mulder? Oh my God!” Scully was shaking her head in denial. Her emotions threatened to overwhelm her but her medical instinct took over instead. She felt for a pulse and, finding none, she began to do CPR. As she breathed into his mouth, she could taste his blood and she strove to shut out the images and emotions that flashed through her mind. She continued to breathe for him, frantically trying to resuscitate him, until she was gasping for air herself. Anger at her inability to revive him overcame her and she began to rant as she did compressions on his chest with her bloody hands. “No! You can’t die, I won’t let you. Damn it!” Each word was punctuated by a push.
DeSilva, who had been sitting frozen in the corner, hurried over to the grief-stricken woman and grabbed her flailing arms. “Agent Scully, listen!” Her voice cutting through Scully’s raving. She became so still that DeSilva shook her a little, afraid that Scully was in shock. She looked at the toxicologist with tear filled eyes and began to sob uncontrollably in relief.
She could hear the grumble of a helicopter engine.
They dashed to the door of the compound and watched, their mouths agape, as the chopper landed and a man exited. He jogged over to them and introduced himself as Gary Wilson, the radio operator at Nome Airport. He had intercepted an emergency transmission from an Agent Mulder yesterday and had disembarked the second the storm had abated sufficiently.
He then helped DeSilva carry Hodge’s inanimate form to the helicopter and Scully knelt next to Mulder’s body, resuming CPR. “Come back to me, Mulder.” she murmured as she stroked his face. She heard footsteps behind her and took a moment to look. “Oh good, you’re here. Help me with him.” She picked up Mulder by the arms and looked expectantly at Wilson.
“As soon as you’ve boarded I have been ordered to burn this place down. The unidentified virus must be contained and that means that all who died from the disease must be destroyed along with it.” He explained.
“He’s not infected, and he’s not dead! He was shot and is in dire need of immediate medical attention. I’ve been performing CPR and...”
“Doesn’t matter, he doesn’t look like he’s going to make it. We’ve got to leave him.” the man interrupted.
He grabbed her by the wrist and began pulling her out of the building. “No! Let me go! Mulder!” She struggled in vain, slowly being dragged outside. As they passed through the open door, she swore she could see Mulder’s eyes open. “He’s alive! Damn it, let me go back!” Wilson ignored her and shoved her into the helicopter, pushing her back against the seat. Scully watched in horror as flames began to flicker within the building. Another man came running out and jumped into the chopper beside her. “All right, let’s go!” he shouted over the roar of the engine to the pilot.
They began to lift off when DeSilva’s hand shot out, pointing towards the burning compound. “Look! Someone’s moving in there!”
Scully strained her eyes to see that there was indeed a shadow, silhouetted by flames, moving within the building. “Set this thing down as close as possible!” she demanded of the pilot. He recognized the tone of her voice as someone not to be argued with and obeyed, circling around to land no more than fifteen feet away from the entrance. She climbed out of the helicopter and started towards the building when a shape emerged from the doorway. Her heart leapt into her throat when she recognized the familiar face.
He stumbled forward, coughing repeatedly from the smoke and his wound. Scully stared in disbelief as he staggered in her direction. She was jarred into movement when he almost fell and she ran to him, stopping just in front of him and looked at him in incredulity. Then, as of one mind, they embraced. Their lips brushed briefly and she pulled away from him, wary of his injury. She touched his face, not trusting her eyes, and satisfied that he was real, she kissed him again with more certainty. She pressed herself against him and he held her as tightly as he was able, unwilling to let go.
He started to list to the side, but she held him up. Wilson appeared next to them and he shot her an apologetic look as he draped one of Mulder’s arms over his shoulders. Together they made their way back to the chopper. Scully boarded first and Wilson helped her partner climb in. He settled himself against her side, for both physical and mental comfort.
Mulder kissed her lightly once again then closed his eyes to rest as the helicopter rose, a gentle smile on his face. Their love was stronger than death, a bond that had made him come back for her. Because he would do anything for her. Anything.