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Avalanche by Linda 61  l.vanmaanen@chello.nl

 PG: MT MA SA

Disclaimer: Not mine CC and Fox hold the birth certificate.

Written for the April Mulder's Refuge challenge ACTS OF GOD
Archive. whereever you like. let me know please. New writer and Dutch.

Avalanche
Special agent Dana Scully was concentrating on her report when suddenly the
door burst open and her partner agent Fox Mulder stormed in. She looked up,
annoyed for being disturbed like this. Mulder looked at her with a huge
grin, not noticing the irritation on her face.

"Scully, pack your bag and don't forget your mittens and a thick coat."
Mulder jumped around her like a young exuberant puppy. "Can you ski?"

Scully was totally surprised, she didn't expect this question, but she also
had to smile about his enthusiasm.

"Mulder sit down, you're making me nervous, jeez. What are you talking
about, will you please explain? I thought Skinner called you in to talk
about a case?" She laughed about his puppy-ish behavior; it wasn't often you
see Fox Mulder this excited.

"What if I tell you we're going to ...... ASPEN!"

"Aspen? As in Colorado?" Scully was thinking it over. Actually it didn't
sound too bad to her. "I can't ski by the way, is that important?"

Mulder shrugged. "No not really, I can't either, it was just a question. You
know. Aspen, winter sport, skiing." The cheesy grin was still on his face.

Scully looked at him, still waiting for an explanation, but Mulder had
already grabbed his coat and the files he was working on and ran out of the
door yelling:  "I'll pick you up at 5pm! I'll explain later!"

Scully stared at the door, shaking her head, wondering what just happened.

Twenty minutes later she locked the basement office door, a bit pissed
because Mulder had left her hanging like that. She didn't even know how long
they were going to Aspen for. Scully sighed. At least it was never dull with
Mulder around. Better pack some warm clothes then.

A few minutes after five they were on their way to the airport. Mulder still
had the grin on his face and Scully was getting more irritated by the
minute.

"Mulder, would it be possible to tell me what we're going to do in Aspen? I
have no idea why we're going there, or if this is a case or not."

"Actually, Scully, this is a case. A missing children's case. This morning
Skinner called me to inform me about it. In Aspen resort several children
are missing. Five to be exact. Three are inhabitants; two were on vacation
with their parents. One of those two children happens to be a child
belonging to a good friend of Skinner's. That's why he asked us to help.
The rumor goes; a "strange creature" in the mountains took them.  But I
guess some crusty mountain hermit guy living there did it though.  The
"good" thing is. None of the children showed up dead yet. So there's still
hope. I have the feeling it will all be all right.  And Scully? They rented
us a cabin. A nice, cozy, wooden cabin with a huge open fire. How about
that?"

Scully rolled her eyes. Now she better understood a part of his excitement.
And Skinner arranged that? Talk about an X-file.

"I hope that cabin isn't too high up in the mountains Mulder. I would like
to be in touch with the rest of the world if possible." Scully tried to
sound a bit pissed, but deep in her heart she kind of liked the idea. A
cabin, just for the two of them. Her cheeks reddened at the though of how
cozy and intimate that sounded.

"Not at all Scully. It's not too far from the town; it's possible to go
there easily if you want. They have some great shops with all the tourism.
Skinner wanted to book a hotel for us, but its high snow season; all the
hotels are full. This cabin was the only one available."

Ok, that was fast. An X-file solved within five minutes.

XXXXXX

Later that evening Mulder unlocked the door to their log cabin. Inside it
was already warm and the owner had kept a few lights on, making it possible
for them to find their way around without falling over chairs and tables.
And it looked great. Actually, it looked fantastic. Only...

Scully looked around the cabin.

"Uhm, Mulder. We have a problem here."

"What's that Scully?" Mulder still tried to get their bags inside. His hands
almost frozen from the cold outside. He gave the last one; his own, a hefty
kick instead. Clouds of white frozen swirls huffed from his mouth as he
tried to get warm after his exertion.

"There's only one bedroom."

There. That lascivious grin again. Mulder walked into the bedroom looking at
the huge comfortable bed that mostly filled it. Scully stood next to it,
staring at him with an expression Mulder translated as:  'it's mine, you
find another one!'

A bit disappointed he turned around looking back into the living room. Well,
at least there's a couch. Looks comfortable....

"I'll take the couch Scully. I'm used to it anyway. "

Scully grabbed his sleeve. "Don't be ridiculous. We're grown ups for crying
out loud. You sleep here too. The bed is big enough for the two of us."

<Grin.>

 xxxxxxxxxx

The next day they spent hours collecting all the information they needed.
They found out the children all went missing within hours of each other. In
broad daylight. After talking to some of the parents they came to the
conclusion they all "knew" the same person. Most guests have been to Aspen
several times already and they had all met Charly before. An older guy, who
lived in a cabin in the mountains, but not too far up, so it was possible
for him to come down every day.  He helped around sometimes in town,
portering luggage into hotels. He made a little money with that in tips,
most people were in a good vacation mood, so they really didn't mind.  Not
that the hotel owners liked it, but he did it anyway.

The sheriff showed them the way to Charly's cabin; it still was possible to
go there. The weather was beautiful and the view spectacular. Mountains and
forest all around, gloriously sugar coated in pristine white snow.

"Maybe we should take that ski course Scully. Now that we're here? It must
be a great feeling to glide down those inviting slopes."

"First things first Mulder. If we still have time, I'll think about it."
Scully looked at all the people, some with long skis propped on their
shoulders, heading for the ski lifts. Shaking her head she could only think
that Mulder on skis was like planning an accident ahead. She'd better check
the supplies in her medical kit were up to par...just to be on the safe
side.

They took the 4-wheel drive they rented and drove up the road to the cabin.
They got out of their car, carefully, not knowing what they would find. Guns
aloft in readiness. They didn't see a car or any other kind of
transportation, but smoke rose out of the chimney; someone was home, or
about to come home.

"I don't think there's anyone here Scully, I don't see or hear anybody. If
he was home, he would have heard us by now. Lets look around."

Together they tromped through the snow surrounding the cabin. There was a
pile of wood, large enough to last through the winter. Mulder eyed it with
amazement. All the pieces were the same size; this guy had done this before.
He wasn't sure if he was happy with that though. The old guy obviously knew
how to handle an axe, on the other hand, why wouldn't he? He'd lived here
almost his whole adult life from what the locals told them. He glanced over
at Scully who was trying to take a peek through the window.

"Hey Mulder, come and look at this."

"What's up Scully? Can you see something?"

"Look, aren't those toys? Why would he have toys around?"

Scully was more than surprised. They were searching for little kids that had
disappeared, their prime suspect being a grizzly old mountain guy and they
found toys in his cabin? If he had killed them, why would he need toys? This
might be a good sign, or not? But they didn't see any kids or the old man.

Mulder wanted to go inside but the door was closed. It was probably too
heavy just to break it open, but as stubborn as he was he tried anyway. The
heavyset door didn't even squeak. Mumbling that he would get that door open
even if it was the last thing he did, he tried again and again, using his
foot now in his frustration.

In the mean time, Scully walked back to the car. Knowing something odd was
definitely going on, she warned the sheriff to send more people to back them
up . Suddenly she spotted something. Another cabin! Small and between the
trees, but without a doubt another cabin.  She could hear Mulder curse and
yell at that door to open up and decided she would take a look by herself.
Maybe the old man was holed away up there, maybe that's where he had stashed
the kids. She was making her way up the road to the second cabin, when
suddenly she heard an eerie noise. Not recognizing the sounds she spun
around. Then fear grabbed her heart: avalanche, it's an avalanche! It came
careening down the pass at a terrifying speed and headed for the cabin where
Mulder had just managed to open the door with a triumphant. "Yes!!"

"MULDER!!!! AVALANCHE!!!!"

She wanted to run back to him, but she would never have made it in time. She
saw the door swing open again and Mulder came running out. But he was too
late. She saw him turn around once in shock before he disappeared under the
first onslaught of snow. Scully sank to her knees in despair, crying for her
friend, right at that very moment she also got hit by another wave behind
the first.

xxxxxxxxxxxx

After a few yells and curses from Mulder, the door suddenly broke open and
he almost fell inside with the momentum. He looked around and took in the
room, confirming what they had already seen. Toys. Lots of toys. Mulder
shook his head. This is too weird. Suddenly he heard a noise and at the same
time he heard Scully scream. What was that? Avalanche? Did she say ....

Realizing he had to get the hell away from there, he ran out. His heart was
pounding in his chest. Too late, he was too late. He felt a cold wind touch
him first, chilling his bones and then suddenly it was all white. Snow was
everywhere around him. Over and under him, his hair, mouth eyes full of it.
He couldn't see, or breathe. Fear hit him like a train. Scully, where's
Scully? And then nothing.... His last thoughts before he lost consciousness
were about his friend.

It was quiet. Very quiet. Just her harsh breathing as Scully pulled her legs
out of the snow; amazed she wasn't hurt at all. A bit bruised maybe, but
nothing serious. Mulder! She could see the roof of the cabin, but the rest
was covered in snow. She knew it was a risk to go and search for him
herself, but if there was a chance Mulder was still alive, she had to find
him as fast as possible. With a lot of effort and the strength of a lioness,
Scully fought her way back down through waist deep snow, still searching and
listening, tear in her eyes and a feeling of dread deep inside.

"MULDER!!" Her plaintive cries echoing off the frigid mountains bouncing
back, mocking her distress.

Nothing.

Scully started to panic. How could she find him in this blinding white
landscape of deep snow, it was almost impossible. She needed sniffer dogs
and more people and ...... and..... She started to cry. This was hopeless.
But then, suddenly, there.. a hand, it's a hand! She jumped up and as fast
as she could she ran to the hand sticking out of the snow.

"I'm here Mulder, I'm here, I found you." Scully grabbed his hand, it was
ice cold. She shook it and rubbed at it, alternately blowing on it to give
him some warmth, then the she begun scooping the snow furious around it with
her bare hands.

As fast as she could she started to dig his arm out. She used a sharp angled
broken branch to cut through the snow, but it was as hard packed as
concrete. Still, never giving up on her task, she slowly managed to get his
whole arm out and right behind it she could see his face. Because he had his
arm in front of his face, there was a little air pocket and that gave him
the necessary air he needed to survive, but not for long. Scully touched his
face and at that moment she saw his eyes flutter. He was gasping for air.
The weight of the snow was pressing on his chest and made it almost
impossible for him to breath. She had to get him out! NOW! The more she
tried, the more difficult it became and Mulder was turning a nasty shade of
blue!

"Don't give up on me, Mulder. Don't you dare give up on me! Come on, we have
that cute cabin all to ourselves remember? Breathe partner. Come on.."

"Sc....Scullllleeeee." It was all he could barely whisper, and then he went
quiet.

"NO, Mulder, please! Oh god!"

Scully hysterically started to dig again, but she knew it would take too
long. Just at the point she thought she would collapse, someone knelt down
next to her and started to shovel the snow away from Mulder's lifeless body.
Her ears still ringing from the deafening rumbling anger of the avalanche.

"Who.. who are you?" Scully stammered.

"I live here miss, I'm Charly, and I will save your friend."

Scully gaped at the friendly rough face looking at her for a second, but the
man kept digging for Mulder. This is the man they were looking for? This
friendly-faced man couldn't be the kidnapper, could it?

"Where are the children?" Scully asked the stranger as they both worked.

"Up there, playing", the man said with a little vague smile, pointing at the
cabin between the trees. "It wasn't safe down here, so I brought them to the
other cabin."

All confused, Scully helped the man and within ten minutes they finally got
Mulder's chest free so he could breath much better. He took a huge gasp but
remained unconscious.

Right then they heard someone yell. "Agent Scully!! Agent Mulder!! Are you
up there?"

"Here, we are here, we need help. Hurry!"

Much to her relief Scully saw the sheriff and several other men coming up
and with their help they pulled Mulder free from all the snow caked on his
body. Scully could clearly see his leg was broken and she wasn't surprised
to hear one of the rescue workers say his wrist was broken too. It was
swollen to twice it's normal size. Unfortunately the moment they wanted to
lift him to put him on a gurney, Mulder decided to wake up. Loudly.

"AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!" His anguished scream could be heard in the next valley.

"Mulder, I'm here, it's ok. Please lay still. You have a broken leg and
wrist. They have to get you out. They will get you on the really good stuff
soon. I promise. " She took his good hand and held it, kissing it with hot
breath to warm him. With her other hand she touched his face, his beautiful,
but oh so cold face. His lips were bluish; Scully knew he still had problems
getting air into his crushed lungs. No wonder after being buried under a
huge mountain of snow.

"Scullllleeeee, no..Sculleeeee." He was in severe pain, which was very clear
to Scully and half delirious with shock as the rescue guys worked to
stabilize him.  He tried to pull his hand out of hers and gasped for every
little bit of air he could drag in. But when he tried to move his other arm,
his broken wrist gave him such pain he screamed again. Scully almost
panicked at that point. She felt horrible for all the agony he had to
endure. Thankfully he was pulled back in the dark abyss after that, giving
the rescue workers the opportunity to finish getting him prepped and lifted
onto the gurney. Again he was on his way to the hospital.

At that moment Scully couldn't handle it anymore and collapsed. The sheriff
was just in time to grab her so she wouldn't hit the snow too hard.

"Charly... the children... I think he has the children......." It was all
she could manage to say before she closed her eyes and joined Mulder in his
restless state of unconsciousness.

 XXXXXXXXX

"Wake up, sleepy head."

Mulder was sure he heard someone telling him to wake up, but his eyes didn't
want to open. They felt sore and gritty. He felt a deep pain strobing
through his leg and arm and he definitely had a sore throat. Oh no,
ventilator? He tried to swallow, it wasn't there anymore, that was obvious,
but he was sure he recognized the feeling of its legacy. He could feel a
small gentle hand sifting through his hair in a soothing, almost hypnotic
manner and he heard a very familiar wonderful voice telling him to open his
eyes. He sighed exhaustedly.

It took him a few minutes but at last he managed to get them open and he
looked right into her face. Scully's smiling but tired face. The best way to
wake up, even in a hospital and especially when you're in pain.

"Hi", not much more came out. His throat felt like sand paper, his lips dry,
cracked and bruised. Suddenly he felt a straw at his lips and he took a few
careful sips. The water easing his raw throat.

"Not too much, don't choke on it. Easy does it, partner. "

That voice again. He let it melt over him.

"Scully, are you okay?" Mulder could hardly stay awake, his eyes were
half-closed, but he could see her face was bruised.

"I'm fine Mulder, only bruises, it's you who's in the cast you know and
without even skiing. Great job." She could smile now, she knew he had to
stay for a while, but he was going to be okay.

Mulder looked up at the ceiling, thinking about what had happened. He
remembered snow, lots and lots of snow. A terrifying crushing feeling
cutting off his air and the snapping of bones. And cold. Freezing cold.

"We survived an avalanche?" Mulder wasn't sure if it was real, it felt more
like a nightmare.

"Yes we did, Mulder, we were very very lucky we came out alive.  And I have
a surprise for you."

Mulder's eyes were drooping, but hearing Scully say surprise he opened his
eyes again. Then it hit him. His eyes widened.

"The children, Scully what about those children?" His body attempted upright
only to be pushed back down by the gentle hand on his chest.

" Hey, calm down now. That's the surprise Mulder, they are back. Alive, all
five of them. No harm done, nothing. Your feelings were right all the time."

Now Mulder was confused. They found the children? Thank God , but where. how
? He stared at Scully with asking eyes. He had to know before he fell asleep
again.

"Charly had them Mulder. The old guy. The old man always liked kids, in a
good way that is. Now that he's older, his brain is failing him a bit and he
decided to bring home some of his little friends. He bought them toys and
food. Actually he took very good care of them. They found them in the cabin
between the trees, playing with the toys. He didn't harm them at all."

Mulder thought about what she said for a moment. He shook his head a little.

"He's still a kidnapper Scully, they can't just let him away with a slapped
wrist."  Ow, he thought nursing his own wrist that was making its own
unhappy presence felt.

"I think everybody realized he didn't harm them, or was going to harm them,
but they did take him to a nursing-home where he can stay for now. Early
Alzheimer's. Very sad really but he will, get all the care he needs at the
home."

"Great... Scul...ly, tell me la..ter." His eyes closed and Mulder was back
in a deep sleep that would eventually return him back to health.

xxxxxxxxx

Two days later.

"Ready Mulder?"

"All set."

"I'm sorry for all of this Scully. I mean, here we are in Aspen, we did see
a lot of snow and the hospital, but hardly anything of the town and I loved
that cabin."

"Well then Mulder, I have yet another surprise for you."

"You have?" He thought maybe a present and was waiting for her to give it to
him, but he didn't see any package.

"Yup, I talked to Skinner and he told us we could stay in the cabin if we
wanted to, at least for the time you can't fly. So I guess... a week?"

Mulder felt his jaw drop as he watched the grin spread on her face. A week,
a whole week. Together with Scully in a cabin. And he had the best excuse to
sleep in that bed. He could kiss Skinner.... no wait, that's too much. He
knew who he'd much rather kiss and planned to do that before the week was
up. A lot. Plus If Scully was up for a little Mulder comforting, this could
be quite enjoyable. For once he'd make her happy and be the complete invalid
while she pampered him. Yes he could handle any amount of those caring
touches as she bathed him or helped him into his Pjs. Scully's sly grin told
him she was thinking along the same lines. Just now and then she liked to
keep her doctoring hand in with a live patient. He leered again. Eager for
the week of bliss to begin.

"Shut up, Mulder."

"I didn't say one word."

"Just shut up." Scully turned around, so he couldn't see the smile plastered
her face. A week, a whole week.

Mulder just grinned.

The end.