Archive: Two weeks at IMTP VS10. Others, please ask.
Summary: “Who brings a thermometer on a cross
country ski trip?”
* * *
Frost crept up the windows in crystalline patterns
that grew more elaborate every time she breathed
against the glass. Outside, the snow was already
knee-deep, with more on the way.
They were snowbound by choice. No phones. No
electricity. A pump next to the sink for water. A
bathroom that was an antique but, thankfully,
indoors. Kerosene lamps for light, and a fieldstone
fireplace that kept the immediate area warm but let
ice form on the sills. The scent of wood smoke and
pine was everywhere.
It was like waking up in a Christmas card.
Mulder had asked her what she wanted for Christmas,
and this was it. A rustic but comfortable hideaway,
as far from D.C. as they could manage in the three
days they had to work with. Nothing to do but be
together, relax and–
It was a very loud sneeze, and it made her jump.
Scully turned from the window in time to see the
down comforter get kicked to the foot of the four-
poster bed. “Mulder, you’re sweating.”
He shot her a look. “No kidding.”
She sat down on the edge of the bed and felt his
cheek with the backs of her fingers, then reached up
to his forehead, frowning at what she found.
“I really know how to make the season bright, don’t
“You do seem to be glowing.”
That got her his ‘Ha Ha’ look. When she picked up
the thermometer from the bedside table, he stuck out
his lower lip in a fetching pout.
“Who brings a thermometer on a ski trip?” he
grumbled, arms crossed over his chest.
“Not me. I found this one in the cabinet in the
bathroom.” At his horrified look, she added, “I
cleaned it in alcohol, Mulder. It’s fine.”
“Scully, I didn’t bring you up here to play doctor.
At least not this way.”
“I don’t think ‘the other way’ is an option at this
He opened his mouth to protest, and she stuck the
thermometer under his tongue. “I’m not complaining,
Mulder. You happen to be my favorite patient.”
“And the only one who can still hold up his end of
“Not for the next two minutes, you can’t.”
They stared at each until the time was up. He was
talking again as soon as she removed the glass tube.
“I had something a little more romantic in mind for
Scully held the thermometer up to the light and
squinted at the numbers. “Mulder, everything you do
He huffed at that, and the huff turned into a bout
of coughing that made his eyes water. Scully rubbed
his back until he settled back against the pillows.
“So, do I have a fever?”
“101. Not bad, but enough to make you feel like
crap. You’ve got the flu, Mulder. That’s why it hit
you so fast.”
They had started out early that morning on a planned
daylong trek through the woods. Scully’s prowess on
cross-country skis had clearly surprised him. Waking
up face first in the snow had probably surprised him
a lot more. They had just reached the top of the
first hill when Mulder swayed briefly and pitched
forward into a snowdrift before she could react.
“You should have told me you weren’t feeling well.”
He dropped his head back against the headboard with
an audible thud, then slid down to burrow under the
covers. “Just let me die in peace.”
Scully patted his back. “Don’t sulk. I’ll make us
some lunch.” A muffled groan floated up through the
covers. “Just something light. It will make you feel
He pulled the blanket back and peered up at her.
“Now *that* would be an x file.” And then he sneezed
“God bless you.”
“I doubt it.”
“Tempting providence from your sickbed is pretty
risky, don’t you think?”
“I love a challenge. Got any mirrors I can break?”
She stood up. “It’s not quite the same thing.” The
teasing tone she’d intended didn’t quite come off.
Mulder’s smirk vanished. “I was kidding.”
She looked down at him for a long moment. “Yeah, I
know.” She turned her back on his puzzled frown and
headed for the kitchen.
“I’ll make that soup,” she called over her shoulder
without turning around.
She lit the propane stove and pulled a battered
saucepan from the cupboard, going through the
motions of meal preparation. Her mind was elsewhere.
Why now? He’d been making jokes about religion for
as long as she’d known him. And this one had been
mild in comparison. Almost innocent. She had given
up trying to make him understand what her faith
meant to her. It was outside his experience– and
the only area where his relentless need to believe
failed them both. So why did this time feel so much
She swiped at unexpected tears. He could have been
dead this afternoon. For a terrifying instant, she’d
thought he was. What if he had been?
His voice was soft, but its proximity startled her.
The soup can flew out of her hands and its contents
splattered over the countertop and the wall. Mulder
grabbed her shoulders gently.
“It’s okay. It’s me. I didn’t mean to scare you.” He
pulled her close, tucking her head under his chin so
that his too-warm body was pressed against her from
head to foot.
“You shouldn’t be out of bed.” She tried to turn
around, but he tightened his hold just enough to
“Scully, what’s wrong?”
A few months ago, she would have put on a smile and
told him a comfortable lie. Things were different
now. She pulled away slightly, and this time he let
her turn to face him.
“We seem to have opposing blind spots, and I don’t
know what to do about that.”
He nodded as if that made perfect sense. “It was the
‘god bless you’, wasn’t it?”
She took a step back. “Do you do that on purpose?”
He almost smiled. “Do what? Know when I’ve stuck my
foot in my mouth? I do learn eventually.” He touched
her face, wiping gently at the drying tears.
That made her smile in spite of herself. He always
seemed to do that when she most wanted to smack him.
“It’s a tender subject.”
Mulder tipped her chin up and waited until she
raised her eyes to his. “I wish I could have your
faith, Scully. I know you don’t believe that.”
“Actually, I do.” She put her arms around his waist
and pulled him close. “I just wish there was
something I could do to help you get there.”
“You still don’t know, do you?” He placed his hands
on either side of her face, rubbing his thumbs
softly over her cheekbones. “You’re my religion.
You’re my faith. But if it meant I could spend
eternity with you, I think I could believe almost
anything.” He kissed her cheek softly. “I can
promise you that I’ll try.”
She turned into his touch and brushed her lips
against his warm skin, bathing her senses with him.
“I think I can live with that.”
* * *