Friday, November 14, 2014

Article Number: 9872


Cabin Fever or "How I Ruined One Man's Vacation"



(An X-Files erotica)



by qIra julIyan





QIRA@genie.geis.com (Author does not have access to .creative)





SLEAZE ALERT! This story contains explicit scenes of a sexual nature.





Part I





The snow was a white sheet over the windshield. The wipers thumped



and groaned, but visibility was still only a few yards in any direction.



Brette peered into the whiteness at the gray road ahead. Mostly she judged



her course by the blackness of towering redwoods to either side and,



having lived in these mountains for years, she knew which way the road



would go before it went. Nevertheless her speed was at a crawl and she



bent over the steering wheel with white knuckles. The crossroads was



ahead, and you never knew what sort of idiot would come blowing through



that intersection.



She sighed. It was another hour's drive home, and she might not



make it before this blizzard snowed her in for the winter. Looked like



she'd waited just a day too long to stock up in town. A dark shape came



from the right. Brette eased on the brake, careful not to break traction.



Sure enough, the other car blew its stop sign. Never saw her. Then it



skidded to a stop right in the middle of the intersection. She had to She



sighed. It was another hour's drive home, and she might not make it before



this blizzard snowed her in for the winter. Looked like she'd waited just



a day too long to stock up in town.



A dark shape came from the right. Brette eased on the brake,



careful not to break traction. Sure enough, the other car blew its stop



sign. Never saw her. Then it skidded to a stop right in the middle of the



intersection. She had to stomp harder on the brake. "Move!" If it moved



quick enough, she could just miss it. The car moved and she let up to go



through, but then had to stomp on the brake again and her back end broke



loose. Something large and dark was lying in the road ahead. The other car



roared and fishtailed around the bend as Brette skidded to a stop sideways



to the mound in the road.



She cursed, then backed up to straighten herself out. God forbid



she should lose her sense of direction and head off toward the valley



again. She might not realize her mistake in this whiteness until it was



too late to make it back up the mountain before the blizzard would make it



impossible. Headed the right way, she crept past the thing in the road.



But when it was close enough to see clearly, she gasped. It was a man.



Dressed in jeans and a black leather jacket, he was unconscious and



already half- covered in snow.



One look in the direction the other car had taken told her



nothing. But she guessed it wasn't coming back. She stopped her car and



got out. The still air was heavy with huge flakes that hit the ground with



a hissing noise all around. The man didn't move.



"Mister?" It would be good if he would wake up. Then she'd know



what to do. She could take him somewhere then. "Mister?"



He didn't respond. A horrible thought made her kneel and feel his



neck. Oh, good, there was a pulse. At least he wasn't dead. But he wasn't



in very good shape, either. A large knot stood over his left eye and the



entire left side of his mouth was swollen. Blood from his nose covered his



upper lip. She guessed he'd been robbed.



"Mister?" She shook him. Still no response.



She stood and looked around. Snow blew into her eyes and froze her ears.



Her hair became soaked and clung to her head. No way could she leave him.



The next car to come from either direction would run him over for sure.



Looking back down at him, she blew out her cheeks with a sigh. He was six



foot, easy. Not heavy, but unwieldy. She couldn't just haul him to the



side of the road, either. He'd freeze to death then.



"Come on, mister." She bent and pulled him by the jacket over to



the car. Hoping nobody would come along and smack into her car in the



middle of the road like this, she heaved his upper body to lean against



her car doorway.



"Stay there." If he slid, this wouldn't work. Around the car she



went and came back in through the passenger door. Kneeling on the driver's



seat, she grabbed the jacket shoulders and heaved.



"Oh, you're heavy!" One more good yank and his torso was onto the



driver's seat. The legs still dangled onto the ground, but the hard part



was past. She sat to catch her breath a moment, then backed out the



passenger door for the next pull. She began to shiver inside her jacket.



This time she slid him onto the passenger seat, his head dangling out the



door and his mouth wide open.



"Keep breathing, guy."



There was alcohol on his breath. A drunk mugging victim. It was a



simple thing to bring him back up to a sitting position and close the



passenger door so that he leaned against it. Then she went around to the



driver's door. His legs were long and thin. She bent him at the knees and



shoved his feet over the gearshift onto the floor. He now slumped against



the passenger door. Brette climbed in and closed her door. If she didn't



hurry she wouldn't make it home. Highway 4 would close for the winter.



What a pain in he ass it would then be to get back to her dog. Sometimes



she questioned the wisdom of moving this far out in the mountains by



herself. Sometimes, but not often.



One quick look over at her passenger, then her eyes returned to



the road as she yanked on his jacket collar before he could fall face



first into the dash board. He instead fell back against the seat, head



back and jaw dropped open.



"Don't swallow your tongue."



It was a long, tense drive home through the snow.





By the time she made it up the hill and down her private road to



the house night had fallen and the porch light was barely visible through



the blizzard. The driveway was iced and she slid to a stop to bump against



the log at the curve outside the garage. She loosened her grip on the



steering wheel and sat back for a moment, exhausted. Well, that was it for



the Cherokee this winter; it wasn't going anywhere in the kind of snow



that was coming. She was in for the duration, and her passenger was in



until the blizzard was over.



She blew out her cheeks in a sigh and looked over at him. Who



could he be? It would be good if she didn't have to shoot him. Neither the



shotgun nor the .45 was her favorite recourse, but she would shoot him if



she had to. How would he react to the news he was stuck for a while? No



matter who he was, he wasn't likely to be happy.



"Wake up, man." She shook him. "Get up. No way am I carrying you



into the house." She shook him again. He groaned. "Get up!" A good hard



pinch of the flesh at the base of his thumb roused him.



"Whuh..."



"Wake up. Get yourself into the house or freeze to death. I could



use some help with these boxes, too."



She left him in the passenger seat and went to the back of the



Cherokee. Wind picked up and blew snow inside as she lifted the door and



pulled a crate out. Her waffle-stompers slipped on the icy flagstones on



the way to her front door and she wobbled to keep balance. From the car



she heard a wavering, "Hey!" She kept going and went into the house.



Khan was ecstatic to see her, as if he knew how close he'd come to



spending some days by himself. The huge German Shepherd whined and danced



around, eager for her to put the box down so he could jump up.



"Hey, Khan, hey, baby." Brette held his front paws and let him kiss



her face. "Come on, we got company."



She held his collar as they went back out to the car. The



passenger was now standing beside the Cherokee, staring around himself



like a lost child. He turned and stared, then turned again. Still dizzy,



he swayed and staggered some.



"Stay." Brette said to the dog, Khan stood, eyes intent on the



stranger. A low growl could be heard over the falling snow. She went to



the stranger and said, "Hold still. Let me hug you or he'll kill you."



"Huh?"



Without waiting for consent, she threw her arms around the man,



waited a second, then let him go. Khan relaxed, and she went to carry more



boxes.



"Where am I?" His voice was gentle and his tone reasonable. A



relief.



"You don't wanna know. Where do you think you are?"



"Last I remember I was in a bar in Lake Tahoe." His accent was



vaguely eastern but trained into neutrality. He touched a finger to the



bump on his forehead and squeezed his eyes shut. His tongue ran around his



lower teeth, feeling the inside of his lip under the swollen part.



She laughed, then put a hand over her mouth. "I'm sorry. It's not



really funny. But they sure took you a long way before they dumped you."



"Who?"



"Whoever mugged you." She turned to the car filled with boxes and



grabbed one. "You gonna help?" She headed back toward the house. The



stranger reached into the back of his jeans and pulled out an automatic



pistol. Brette skidded to a stop, her heart sunk into her shoes.



"Holy shit!"



But he only checked the clip then put the gun back in his pants



and began checking his pockets.



"My wallet. The wallet's gone." A small case came from an inner



pocket of his jacket. With an expert flick of a finger he opened it to



flash an ID with the large blue letters FBI on it.



"Don't panic. I'm not going to shoot you."



It took a minute for her to collect herself, then she said,



"Good." She went past him into the house with her box of provisions.



"Who are you?" He called after her,



"Bring the damned groceries in! It's cold out there! It's getting



cold in here, too!" The box went onto the kitchen floor and she went back



out for another.



He helped with the rest of the boxes, but slowly since his balance



was still unsure. The job done, she closed the door behind them.



"Whew! Made it just in time! Now, show me that ID again." She shook



snow from her hair and slipped one jacket sleeve off as the stranger



handed her the ID case.



"Where am I?" He stared around the room, trying to get bearings



that would never come.



"Bumfuk, Egypt. Halfway between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite." The ID



had his picture and said his name was Special Agent Fox Mulder. From the



photo she could see he would look a lot better once the swelling in his



face went down.



"Who are you?" He retrieved his identification and put it back in



his jacket.



"Name's Brette Hoffstetler." She shook a finger at him. "Call me by



my last name and I'll shoot you with a smile." She smiled and had to laugh



at the shocked look on his face. Then she shook her head and he relaxed.



His mouth curled into a wry smile. Her jacket went onto the nearest chair



and she set to work putting things away. "Hate to tell you this, but we're



stuck here for awhile. At least till the blizzard is past."



"How long might that be?"



She shrugged. "Dunno. Days, maybe weeks. I've seen this house



completely buried in snow.



Reality dawned on him, and his mouth dropped open. He went to the



window, but it was black outside. "There's no way out of here?"



"Not while it's snowing. Maybe when it stops, but then we'll have



to call for someone from Markleeville who will come by snowmobile. It's a



two-hour drive by car, a little more by snowmobile." The pained look on



his face told her he didn't relish the prospect of such a ride. But she



started putting things away. No reason to get bunged up over this. The



weather had cancelled all other options. "Relax, Fox..."



"Call me by my first name, I'll shoot you with a smile." A charge



of adrenalin hit her and she looked over at him, half-expecting to see his



gun out. But he only smiled at her with that curled lip. Oh. Humor. Maybe



he was making the best of an impossible situation. Then he stared out the



window as if in search of a hole in the storm.



"Okay, Agent Mulder, I need you to do me a favor." She opened a



kitchen drawer. "Put your gun in there for me, will you?"



He peered at her, then stepped toward her. "I won't shoot you.



Unless you've robbed a bank." Another wobbly attempt at humor.



"Please, Agent Mulder. This is where the guns go." Suddenly she



wasn't so sure of being able to disarm him. The firm set of his face told



her he was not inclined to surrender his weapon. He looked inside the



drawer and his eyes widened at her blued steel long-barrel .45 automatic.



"You got wheels for that cannon?"



"I shoot every week whether I need to or not. I'm pretty good, too.



Please stow the weapon."



Mulder eyed her, sizing her up. She looked him straight in the eye,



ready to grab her gun if he made a move toward it. For a long moment they



each did some serious thinking. She couldn't tolerate having him there



with a gun in his pants, and he probably knew his presence was making her



nervous.



He reached into his jeans for his 9mm pistol and placed it in the



drawer. "Don't leave them together too long; you're liable to open that



drawer one day and find little derringers all over the place."



Brette laughed, more relieved than amused. "Don't worry, my gun's



bigger than yours. She knows how to protect herself." She closed the



drawer. "Have a seat. As soon as I can clear a space I'll start dinner. If



you want to clean that blood off your face, the bathroom's down the hall,



first door on the left."



He touched the dried blood on his lip, looked at his finger, then



turned and shuffled off through the kitchen door and down the hall.



Brette started to quiver inside. What was she doing, for crying out loud?



Who was this guy, anyway? She dreaded the next few days. Now it was her



turn to look out the window in vain hope that the snow had let up. In the



meantime, though, she had food to stow. And a dog to feed. And a...a



Mulder to feed.





Dinner was hamburgers and french fries. No imagination tonight and



no energy. Cutting potatoes for french fries was enough work. Agent Mulder



didn't eat much; he looked a little green around the gills and was



probably hung over.



He'd cleaned up nice, though. Brown hair, hazel eyes and a lanky



athletic build, he was very easy on the eyes. The leather jacket was hung



over a chair now and he wore a black turtleneck sweater. He had the neck



for it, too, nice and long like the rest of him. He ate with adequate



manners and she began to relax a little. At least it didn't look like she



was stuck with a neanderthal.



Khan lay just inside the kitchen door, his head on his paws,



watching Mulder's every move. The silence was growing, so she killed it



before it could overwhelm.



"Well, as soon as the weather is past you can get on the phone and



have J. Edgar Hoover send a helicopter."



Again his lip curled. "If they could find the place. It's not like



the road will be visible."



"Then we'll call Larry to come get you in his snowmobile."



"What fun."



Brette shrugged. "Hey, pardon my lack of sympathy, but I was just



trying to save your life. I'm not the one who drank myself into oblivion.



Nor am I the one who beat you up and stole your money."



He sat back. "Sorry. It's just that this isn't the vacation I'd



imagined."



"I'm sure you'd rather be in Tahoe, skiing and picking up snow



bunnies, but shit happens. Not every vacation is a romp in paradise." She



stood to take her plate to the kitchen, but Mulder jumped up to take it



from her.





*************









"Here, let me." He took the dishes into the kitchen and proceeded



to load them into the dishwasher. "You've got a well-equipped house for



being so far out in the sticks."



"It's people I avoid. I'm not a technology-hating religious nut."



She leaned on the doorway and watched him find his way around. "Sponge is



behind the faucet." He grabbed it and she continued, "The generator and



its backup provide me with power, and the diesel tank buried outside holds



enough to just about get me through the winter. Same with the natural gas



tank. Sometimes I have to go rustic, but not every year and not for long."



She watched him load the dishwasher, only providing the occasional comment



as to the best way to position the dishes.



Dishes done, Brette blew off her usual evening session at the



computer to sit in front of the television. Reception wasn't great with



the storm, but concentration just wasn't good enough tonight to make



progress on the new novel. Agent Mulder sat in the recliner, quiet as a



mouse and pretending to be interested in the sitcom. Good. She wasn't in



the mood for twenty questions tonight.



The sitcom was boring, so she went channel surfing and discovered



an old B horror flick being bounced around the world via satellite. Great.



She'd seen it before, but these were always good for fresh laughs no



matter how many times you saw them. Mulder adjusted his seat and now



seemed truly interested in the television. Finally he eased into a



reclining position and folded his hands over his belly. A horror fan.



Brette smiled. At least they weren't going to fight over the remote all



week. The movie was over at about midnight, and Brette zapped the TV off.



Agent Mulder was asleep in the recliner. She debated waking him



and sending him to the spare room, but decided she was through shoving him



around for the day. A quilt from the closet tucked around him would keep



him warm, and she could get him situated in the morning. Khan followed her



to her room where she stripped and slid between the flannel sheets. With a



sigh the dog settled into his spot by the door and she reached over to



kill the light.





Agent Mulder was up before Brette in the morning. She shuffled



into the living room in slippers and terry cloth robe and found him



staring out the window at the still-falling snow. It seemed several feet



deep by now and it drifted in the stiff wind. The quilt was folded neatly



on the seat of the recliner.



"Hungry?"



He turned and nodded, then went back to his staring. But then he



turned back to her and said, "Thanks, Brette. I mean, for helping me



yesterday. And for letting me stay."



"You're entirely welcome." She shrugged. "I mean, I couldn't let



you die."



Again with the curled lip. He didn't answer, and she was puzzled



how he found irony in her words. Oh, well, breakfast would be a good idea,



she figured. At breakfast Mulder ate well. In fact, he packed away the



eggs, bacon and toast like he hadn't eaten in a month. The swelling in his



lip was down as well, leaving only a vague blue mark. Except for that, he



now looked like his photo. Fox. Good name; Brette found herself staring.



Again he did the dishes, and she knew she would be spoiled soon if he



kept it up.



"Those clothes must be getting pretty uncomfortable by now," she said



from the doorway as he closed the dishwasher.



Mulder pulled his sweater away from his body and shrugged. "Yeah,



well..." he made a face.



"I'm sorry I don't have old clothing left over from an ex husband



for you. But I think I can dig something up to wear while I wash your



jeans. Come on."



He followed her to the bedroom and leaned against the door frame



to watch her pick through her closet and drawers. She pulled out three



oversized flannel shirts she used for lounging and her "fat" jeans which



were now too big for her and would most likely fit him fine once the cuff



was unrolled.



"Can't help you in the underwear department, though. You'll



just have to rough it."



He grimaced. All at once the thought of him without briefs made



her sigh. She had to get him out of her bedroom. In a rush she herded him



toward the door.



"Okay, you know where the bathroom is. Towels are in the closet



behind the door and don't worry if the water takes a long time to warm up;



the water coming in from the well is incredibly cold and it's a long way



from the water heater. I just bought a new toothbrush, so you use it and



I'll make do with the old one. There's a comb in the far right drawer you



can use for the duration, too."



He gave a tight smile that made his eyes crinkle, and nodded. Then



he went to take a shower. Brette sat on the foot of her bed and stared



through the door at the bathroom. What was happening to her? Just talking



to him about his clothes made her sweaty! As she stared she visualized him



undressing in her bathroom, and her heart raced. Had it been that long



since she'd smelled testosterone? Get a grip, Brette!



In the spare room across the hall she flipped on the light and



groaned at the mess. The tiny twin bed had no headboard and was piled with



manuscripts and three dusty bearskin robes. A small boudoir lamp stood on



a card table and an old end table with two drawers was in the corner. The



bed would need sheets, and she wasn't sure she had the small ones any



more. After making the bed up with queen size sheets tucked way under, she



took the fur robes out to the garage to vacuum them. One of those, over



the quilt, would make a bed covering plenty warm for Mulder.



Passing back down the hall with her arms full of bear skins, she



heard the water in the bathroom stop. Mulder's bare, wet feet squeaked on



the tub surface as he stepped out. Brette paused. What if she knocked and



maybe got him to open the door? An intriguing thought, but she made



herself move on. She went to her office and turned on the computer. Maybe



if she buried herself in work she could avoid making a fool out of



herself.



Khan followed her in and plopped down on the braided rug behind



her chair. The novel was only halfway through the first draft. Her



deadline was in March, but that was not long for a project of this size.



So many characters and so many subplots made it unwieldy. She would be



months just sorting out and checking the threads against each other for



inconsistencies.



Mulder came into the room looking fresh, combed, and as fine as any



man Brette had ever seen. The jeans were a shade roomy around the waist, but



the length was okay. The faded green plaid shirt was perfect, and she



realized his eyes were green rather than hazel. Now he looked like a man who



belonged in the mountains.



He stared at the walls of bookshelves around him, his jaw dropped



open. "Nice library." He nodded as if to affirm his own words.



"Thank you."



In awe, he stepped closer to the ceiling-to-floor shelves and read



off titles. "'Misery', 'For Whom the Bell Tolls', 'Lord of the Rings',



'Harper Dictionary of Modern Thought', 'The Story of O'," his eyebrows



went up at that, "'Burden of Proof', 'Peter the Great', 'Gray's Anatomy',



'Dirty Words--Psychoanalytic Insights'?" He turned to peer at her and it



felt like he could see into her. "Dirty words?"



All she could do was shrug and turn to her work. "Yeah. It's about



why people have strong reactions to certain words."



"Ah. How many books do you have?" He leaned back to take in the



vista of volumes.



"Almost a thousand, I think. I'm not sure."



He reached for a book. "Do you mind?" She shook her head and he pulled



out Machiavelli's "The Prince."



"Good choice," she mumbled.



"I know; I've read it twice."



"Probably required reading at the FBI Academy." She sat back in her



desk chair. "But why read it again? There's got to be something there you



haven't read yet. You're on vacation; live a little."



For a moment he chewed on the corner of his mouth, then put that book



back and reached for another. "The Shining" by Stephen King.



"You like horror but you haven't read 'The Shining?'"



"Yeah, well, I'm a non-fiction kinda guy." He sat in the easy chair



under the reading lamp and opened the book. Leg crossed, ankle-at-knee, he



settled in and was silent.



Khan stared at him for a moment, then went back to sleep. Brette



went to work with only half a brain. The other half was gnawing on the



puzzle of why he hadn't asked her what she did for a living.



The storm raged outside, letting in very little sunlight. Brette



worked at the computer and Mulder stayed under his pool of yellow light



with the book on his knee. The silence, though no more quiet than before



Mulder's arrival, grew throughout the day. Neither of them spoke except at



lunch when Brette said,



"You hungry?"



Mulder nodded. They ate sandwiches then went back to their



silence. It wasn't until evening when Brette shut down the computer that



Mulder spoke again.



"What do you do for a living?" He used the flap of the book jacket



to mark his spot, halfway into the novel.



She turned in her chair. "You haven't spoken all day because I was



working?"



He nodded. "You a writer?"



She nodded.



"A horror writer?"



Again she nodded. "How did you know?"



"You make your living with a computer, a modem and a fax machine,



as evidenced by the fact that you can live in a place which is snowed in



four months out of every year. The application you have been using all day



is for word processing, not spreadsheets. You don't refer to research



ever, so it must be fiction you're writing. Your library, though eclectic,



also contains a preponderance of fiction which in turn is heavy on King,



Barker and Rice. Ergo, I conclude that you are a writer of horror." He



grinned, "And I'll bet you've got some erotica stashed on a floppy disk



somewhere." His smile crinkled his eyes and he nodded to affirm his words.



Brette laughed and felt her ears warm. "You're absolutely right."



She wasn't one to put on pretenses, but she had to swallow hard to keep



herself from lying about the stories she had on a floppy disk at the back



of her file.



Over dinner she asked him about his job. "You chase bank robbers?"



He shook his head, and suddenly his attention was riveted on his



food. "Listen, is my being here going to make you short on provisions?"



She shook her head, totally unconcerned. "Nope. You couldn't hope



to make me short. Food is the one thing I always overstock; I always start



the winter with enough to get me through to the following winter. Worst



case scenario, we'll run out of soda and have to drink water. I'm also



used to spending several months a year using powdered milk and eggs, and



even fresh eggs will keep till almost February. Sort of."



He relaxed and continued eating.



"So if you don't chase bank robbers, what do you chase,



kidnappers?"



Again he shook his head. "I chase UFO's."



She laughed. "No, seriously."



He eyed her and his smile was tight again. "Seriously. I



investigate sightings. Anything weird, they send in old Spooky Mulder."



His voice held a note of bitterness that Brette took as dissatisfaction



with his assignment.



"So you're the guy who gathers up the evidence and packs it away in



a file so the government can deny?" A short bark of a laugh from him



surprised her. He sat back in his chair, his head tilted to one side.



"Nope, I'm the guy who digs for the truth so the government can clobber



me, take the evidence and THEY stick it away in a file."



"You're a believer, then?"



"Absolutely." He leaned forward. "You write about the paranormal;



do you believe in it?"



"Some. My jury's still out on UFO's, though."



Mulder fell silent and his attention returned to his dinner. Brette's



heart sank and she knew she'd said the wrong thing.



The evening was spent



in front of the television again. Tonight she nuked a bag of popcorn and



settled into the couch with the bowl.



"Want some?"



Mulder came to sit by



her and stuffed some white kernels into his mouth. The film tonight was



"Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Brette smiled. "Right up your



alley."



Another tight smile appeared. "The scene where they take the



little kid away kind of annoys me." He gave her a pained look. "Can we



find something else?"



She obliged and zapped to another channel. It was "Mad Max--Beyond



ThunderDome." "Oboy, Mel Gibson, she said."



"Oboy, Tina Turner." He glanced sideways at her and grinned.



Brette didn't notice much of the movie. Sitting next to Mulder,



her concentration was on the warmth of him. He smelled like clean skin



rather than deodorant or cologne. As the temperature in the room dropped a



few degrees with nighttime, she gravitated to the heat at her side and



soon found herself leaning much too close. She caught herself and sat back



up.



Without a word Mulder took the empty popcorn bowl from her lap and



set it on the coffee table. Then he reached for the afghan draped across



the arm of the sofa and spread it over both their legs.



"Get warm," he said as he leaned back with his arm along the



backrest of the sofa.



Brette took the advice and pulled her feet up under herself as she



settled in under his arm for the rest of the evening. Her pulse raced,



weak with confusion, but she soaked up the pleasure of his presence as



well as his body heat. Half of her wished the snow would stop so he could



leave her alone, and the other half wished they could stay just like that



forever.





*******************









The movie over, it was time for sleep. "I've made up the bed in



here for you," she said as she opened the door to the spare room. "It's a



little musty in there, but the sheets are fresh."



"Sure thing. Thanks." He went inside. "Goodnight."



"Goodnight."



In her bedroom, she had a sudden idea and dug through her drawers



for her old black sweatpants. She took them to the spare room and knocked



on the door. It opened immediately. He stood there with his shirt off and



his jeans unbuttoned but still zipped. His lean body, side-lit, showed



every muscle in relief. She found herself staring at the spot just above



his zipper on the chance of seeing some short, curly hairs. He buttoned



up.



"Need something?"



As if from a trance, she jerked back to reality. "Here, the



elastic's gone from the ankles on these. They'll be good to sleep in."



He smiled and reached for them. "Thanks." For a moment he looked



like he wanted to say something else, but changed his mind. Instead he



said,



"Goodnight."



"See you in the morning."



His smile brightened, and Brette went to take her shower with her



stomach full of butterflies.





The snow stopped sometime during the night. Brette went out to the



living room and through the window saw nothing but everywhere. The snow



was right at the sill, which put it at four feet deep. A motion caught the



corner of her eye, and she turned to see Mulder throwing a stick for Khan.



The huge bear of a dog leapt through the fresh snow, then couldn't find



the stick. He dove for it, but came up empty. Mulder laughed so hard he



doubled over.



"Find the stick, Khan. Get it, boy!"



Khan dove again, but came up empty. Then he whined and dug and



danced around the spot. Brette watched for a few moments longer, then went



to make breakfast. When Mulder and Khan came in both of them shook snow



all over. Man and dog panted with cold and exertion, and Mulder deposited



his jacket on a chair. He stepped into the kitchen, his cheeks rosy from



cold and his face lit up with fun.



"Khan begged me to take him out to the potty," he said. "That dog is



gorgeous! I've never seen such a big long-haired Shepherd!"



"European stock. Came with papers and X-rays; no hip dysplasia. How



many eggs this morning?" She reached into the refrigerator, then said,



"Oh, why don't you call Larry at the Amoco station in Markleeville and



arrange transportation out of here. Phone's over there; the number's



9920."



"Four digits?"



"Everybody's got the same prefix around here."



"Ah." He picked up the phone and reached for the dial, but stopped.



"Damn." He pushed the hook a couple of times, listened, then



repeated, "Damn. Phone's out."



Brette took the receiver and heard silence as well. She went into



the other room and tried, but the line was definitely down. "Rats. Looks



like it's going to be a while before we can call Larry."



"How long?" Mulder was looking out the window again.



"Dunno." She went back to the chore of preparing breakfast.



"What do you mean, you don't know?" Mulder's voice was tightening



by the second.



"I mean, it could be days or it could be weeks. But no more than a



month."



The muscles stood out on Mudler's jaw. "Don't you have some way to



communicate with people in an emergency? A radio, or something?"



"Yeah, but it's broken. It quit last winter and I just never got



around to getting it fixed. Should have, I guess. I just never thought it



was that big a deal." Mulder's mouth was a straight line. "Don't worry,



Mulder, they'll get the lines back up and we'll call Larry. If they don't,



Larry will be up here to check on me eventually."



"How far is it to the nearest house?"



She peered at him. "I wouldn't recommend trying to walk out. It's



only five miles as the crow flies, but you're no crow. By road, if you



could find the road, it's fifteen miles. At a straight shot over the ridge



it's twelve, what with going up and down hill. Which you wouldn't make,



anyway, unless you were a goat." With a smile and a shrug she said,



"Relax." She hoped it wasn't too obvious how relieved she was he wasn't



leaving. Mulder was silent and sat on a kitchen chair. Khan came and laid



his head on Mulder's lap to be petted, which he did automatically. Khan



sighed, and Mulder did also.





All that day Mulder sat in a funk. After lunch he took the book he



was reading into his room and shut the door. Brette buried herself in her



work at the computer and pretended she didn't care what he did. Once an



hour or so he came out to the kitchen and picked up the phone. Then he



went back to his room.



Dinner was quiet. Mulder ate slowly, his mind elsewhere. Brette



could almost hear the gears cranking in his head, he was thinking so hard.



But gradually he must have worked out whatever it was, for when the meal



was finished he said, "You're a good cook." She blinked. That was



certainly out of left field. "Thank you." He took the plates into the



kitchen, loaded the dishwasher, then spent the rest of the evening in the



recliner. Brette braved the cold outside to get wood for a fire. The room



needed some cheer. The rest of the night Mulder paid almost no attention



to the television, but instead stared into the fire.





The next morning he emerged from his room in a better mood. His



first attempt at checking the phone brought only a wry smile and a shrug.



Outside with Khan that morning, Brette watched him stare around at the



mountains.



"You'd never make it," she said.



He turned to peer at her. "It's not that." His voice was soft,



almost dreamy. "I was just marvelling at the beauty. The sky is so blue up



here; I've never seen it this color before. And the mountains are so white



it makes me dizzy to look at them. If I let myself go I can imagine why



you'd want to live here in the winter."



She nodded. "Not to mention that up here you can build snowmen all



day long and never reach bare ground."



A genuine smile touched his lips. "A snowman?" As if the idea



appealed to him.



"Sure." Brette knelt in the snow where she stood and began packing



snow into a ball.



Mulder squatted to help, then paused to pull a pair of gloves from



a jacket pocket and put them on. "Man, I haven't built a snowman since I



was a kid. My sis..." His voice failed him for a moment and he paused in



his work, but then came back and went on as if he hadn't stopped. "My



sister and I used to build them together. I taught her how." He packed the



snow hard.



"Younger sister?"



He nodded.



"Are you close to your family? I mean, I know you're not married."



He peered at her with narrowed eyes and she explained, "A married man,



even an unhappily married man vacationing alone, would have called his



wife the instant he realized he was going to be stuck here for more than a



day. Especially if he had kids. I'll lay odds you're not even a divorcee



with kids."



"Ah."



"So, you must be close to your parents and sister."



He shook his head. "My sister was...she's no longer with us. And



my parents, well, the loss of my sister tore us all up." He began to



smooth the sides of the large ball they'd formed, slowly as if lost in a



past where his sister still lived.



"I'm sorry to hear that."



He shrugged and smoothed some more. "We need a middle now." Brette



began another ball and he helped her roll it until it was big enough to



place on top of the base. Then a smaller ball went on top of that.



"Got a carrot and some charcoal?"



"Yeah. Be right back." She spun and hurried toward the house, but



had taken only three steps when a snowball smacked her in the back. A



shriek and a laugh burst from her and she turned to catch him collecting



another ball, his lower lip between his teeth. She bent for ammunition and



began flinging snow as fast as she could pack it. One after another, the



snowballs flew back and forth.



Mulder gave as good as he got, and stood his ground as Brette



advanced on his position with each throw, giggling and shrieking. His long



arms deflected a lot of snow, but she nailed his face a couple of times



and made him spit ice. When she got close enough, she took a double



handful and went to shove it in his face. He snagged her wrists and made



her stop.



Everything stopped. He stared at her, his cheeks ruddy in the



cold, his face a wide smile as his chest heaved for air. God, he was



beautiful! His eyes glittered in the light reflected from the snow all



around. His smile faded and he leaned foward. Then stopped. She stood like



a deer in headlights. He touched his lips to hers. When she didn't turn



away he kissed harder. Then he let go of her wrists and held her face. Her



fists held his jacket as his tongue urged her mouth open and slipped in. A



groan rumbled in his throat. Snow on his face melted and ran down her



chin.



The kiss broke and he kissed her cheek before smoothing her



eyebrow and leaning back to look into her face. It was plain he thought



he'd made a mistake. It probably had been a mistake.



He said, "We need the carrot and charcoal."



"Yeah." She sucked saliva from her lower lip, tasting him again.



Slowly she turned to fetch the snowman's face while he continued



smoothing. By the time she got back Mulder seemed normal again. They



finished the snowman off with a black top hat, dubbed him "Frosty" in a



fit of originality, and repaired to the house for warmth. Mulder hovered



in the kitchen while she prepared lunch.



"You've never been married, either, have you?" His hands were



stuffed into his back pockets and the jeans hung low on his hips.



"How could you tell?"



"Mantle pictures. I see parents, one sister and one brother..."



"And you're sure that's my brother?" He smiled and shrugged. "He's



a clone of your father. Either he's your brother or you've got one hell of



an oedipal thing going."



"Ah."



His jaw stuck out. "And you're not gay..."



"What makes you say that?" She turned to challenge.



For a moment he seemed unsure and backpedaled. "Bi?"



"Naw." She shrugged and went back to her work. "Straight. Straight



and fed up. I'm a control freak and knew I couldn't be married without



giving up too much. That's why I moved up here where people would stop



setting me up with blind dates."



He nodded and moved closer to where she stood at the bread board.



So tall, he towered over her and blocked out the ceiling light. "But you



like to give up control once in a while."



She didn't look up. "Sometimes." It was hard to concentrate on



slicing the bread not her fingers.



"You're a brave woman to have taken me in like this. You saved my



life." His voice was a low murmur.



"I did."



"I admire you for it." He smoothed the hair around her ear then



touched the lobe ever so lightly. The last shred of her better judgement



crumbled. With a sigh, she reached up and pulled on his collar so he would



bend to kiss her. The knife clattered to the board and her arm went around



his neck as he held her to him. His tongue went into her mouth and his



hips pressed against her. He was huge inside his jeans.



"Let's go into the bedroom," he murmured into her ear.



She backed away and drew him along by the hand down the hall to



her bedroom. Khan followed, and scratched at the door when it was shut in



his face. "Lie down, Khan." There was a moment's silence, a loud snuffling



noise as the dog sniffed at the edge of the door, then he flopped down by



the door with a heavy sigh.



Mulder slipped a hand around to the back of her neck, shoved her



hair aside, and kissed her behind the ear. Then his lips touched her



throat and she tilted her head back as far as she could for him. When he



kissed her mouth she opened wide for his tongue.



Her fingers pulled at his shirt buttons which almost fell from the



old flannel holes. Opening the shirt, her thumbs brushed his nipples which



she stroked in tiny circles. He shuddered and gave a low chuckle.



Goosebumps rose on his smooth skin.



His hands found her jeans and opened them. She sat on the bed and



her fingers flew at the laces in her boots. They clunked to the floor and



she knelt to get Mulder's. With a gentle shove she threw him slightly off



balance like a horse to make him lift his foot for the removal. He got the



message and lifted his other foot himself when she reached for it. She



stroked his bare foot, amazed at the size.



Still kneeling, she opened his pants and hauled them down toward



her. No shorts today. His penis stood tall like the rest of him. Brette



ran a finger along the bottom hear the head, and it jumped. Such smooth



skin! It amazed her how men could be so soft and so hard all at once.



Mulder stepped out of his pants and drew her up by the arms. One



hand shoved her jeans to her knees and she kicked them the rest of the way



off. Then he eased her backward onto the bed and lowered himself next to



her. He leaned his face toward hers and his tongue played with hers,



sparring and stroking. Her tongue ventured into his mouth and he sucked on



it, then his mouth pressed hard to hers as a groan rumbled in his chest.



Through the flannel of her shirt he tweaked her nipple, then



grunted and slipped his hand in from the bottom. She reached for the



buttons and flipped them all open. His eyes half-closed, he bent to suck



her breast. Hard. A wave of ecstasy arched her back. He slipped a hand



under her waist and pressed her hips against his. The hardest part of him,



covered with the softest skin, strained against her. A sheen of sweat



covered him. The scent made her press her face to his chest and breathe



deeply. Her tongue came out to taste it and her lips were tickled by



sparse, straight hairs.



He peeled her shirt from her and she was free, open to him. She



rolled toward him, hooked a leg over his hip, and urged him inside. One



hand on her backside, he slid in with ease though the passage had not been



opened in a long time. She gasped at the strange feeling of being filled,



so rare to not be alone even within her own body. Her heel pressed his



behind and pulled him into her. His hand pressed her against him, then



fingertips brushed lightly between her cheeks. It tickled. His finger



brushed a place unused to attention and sent shivers down her legs.



She looked up at his face which had gone soft, his eyelids



drooping and his wet lips parted for breath. He moved inside her and his



eyes closed completely. His lips barely brushed her face and his tongue



touched her eyebrow. Their hips moved in opposition, slowly, their flesh



in perfect contact like parts of one body. As Mulder moved faster and his



breaths came heavier, he rolled on top and set himself between her legs.



Brette pressed her thighs apart with her palms and he wriggled his



hips to shove farther in. There was a slight pain of bottoming out and



pressure against the inside of her navel. She moaned and clutched at him.



He buried his face in her neck and shoved harder. Faster. Wetness flowed



over his hips and each thrust made a smacking sound. Sweat covered them



both. His hair became plastered to his forehead. His eyes squeezed shut.



He made a moaning sound with each breath. It was as if he were trying to



shove his entire body into her and as if she were trying to open wide



enough for him to succeed.



The universe distilled to only them, then went spinning away in



delirium as wave after wave of orgasm shook her. It felt like eternity. A



timeless space where nothing existed except herself and the man inside



her. Then he slowed and a deep rumble in his chest said he was there. He



shuddered, then sighed. His lips found hers, puffy and dark and tender



almost to the point of pain. His scent changed from salt to cut grass, a



musky odor she breathed in as deeply as she could. Rolled onto his side,



he kept his arms around her and she huddled within the shelter of his arms



and legs.



The chilled air in the room was suddenly uncomfortable and he



pulled the corner of the quilt over them both. Some rest would be good



right now. Brette had almost dropped off to sleep when Mulder's voice came



low and so soft within his chest she almost couldn't hear. "This is a



mistake."



"Why? You'll be leaving soon enough." She could barely form the



words, she was so relaxed.



Mulder fell silent.





*****************









Brette didn't realize she'd fallen asleep until she awoke alone. A



pillow she didn't remember getting was under her head and the quilt had



been drawn up on both sides to wrap her as in a cocoon. The slightly



bruised feeling inside her was a delicious reminder of why she was in bed.



The sun was almost gone and the room was all in deep grays.



In robe and slippers she went out to find Mulder in the kitchen.



Her heart leapt at sight of him. It was not a comfortable feeling and she



fought it. She could barely stand to look at him, he affected her so. He'd



pulled his jeans on but his shirt was still open. Touseled hair and



sleep-narrowed eyes told her he'd not been up long. A pot of water was



beginning to boil on the stove and a box of spaghetti sat to the side on



the counter.



"Hi." He was cheerful but looked lost in the kitchen. "I thought



spaghetti was something I couldn't ruin, but now the sauce eludes me."



"Wasn't I in the middle of making sandwiches when...?"



"My guess is Khan got hungry. All I found when I came out here was



the uncut part of the bread and a plastic wrapper on the floor."



Brette blinked at Khan, who lay in the far doorway with eyes



rolled at her so the whites showed. Guilty as charged. She sighed and



stepped over to take the frying pan from the wall. "In the cabinet, get



some stewed tomatoes."



The pan went on the stove with a clatter of metal and she turned



off the water. The sauce would need to simmer longer than the pasta would



need to boil. Mulder reached for the tomatoes over her head. She stayed



his hand from closing the cabinet and grabbed a can of mushrooms and the



olive oil.



"There's an Italian sausage in the refrigerator, and get an onion



from in back while you're at it."



The sausage and onion made it to the cutting board, and Mulder



stood close while she sliced. She looked up at him and he kissed her, soft



as if he were unsure of her reaction. She bit her lip. Mulder was right;



this was an error. The brakes had to be put on it right now.



"Khan's going to get fat if we end up in bed every time I try to



fix us a meal."



He chewed on the inside of his lower lip, then nodded and stepped



back. Good. They made it through dinner, then sat at the table in silence.



Now that Brette was able to look straight at him without



embarrassment, she noticed how little he looked like an FBI agent. Not the



square-jawed, crew-cut man in a trench coat, but rather a sweet-faced guy



with a chipmunk smile and the most sensual lower lip she'd ever seen. Just



then she wanted to take it between her teeth. His gaze questioned her, and



she had no answers for those questions. She figured he wanted her to



invite him to move from the spare room to hers. Many men would have not



waited for an invitation; it would have been expected. But she kept her



mouth shut. For him to spend his nights in her bed would be a mistake.



Just like he'd said.





More snow fell. For three days no sunlight came through the



windows and the wind raged outside. With darkness came silence as the snow



covered the windows on all sides except along the front porch. Brette



worked on her novel, though concentration was down because of the bad



weather. Mulder read books and listened to snowy TV. "The Shining" was



history. He'd made short work of Wambaugh's "The Secrets of Harry Bright"



and was plowing through "Of Human Bondage." At night he slept in the spare



room, and Brette figured the mistake they'd made would be their last. And



the blizzard continued.



On the third night of continuous whistling wind in the chimney and



deep cold that not even the furnace could conquer, Mulder brought the



bearskin from his bed to sit by the fire for warmth. The blaze roared and



the pile of wood he'd brought from outside stood ready on the hearth.



"You going to sleep out here tonight?" Brette huddled under the afghan



on the couch.



He shook his head. "It's warmer down here than in the recliner."



Did she detect a hint that he also didn't feel comfortable on the couch



with her?



He hadn't sat next to her, or even touched her, since the



afternoon they'd slept together.



She watched him read by the light of the fire, leaning against the



floor pillow, his legs curled and his bare feet on the hearth for warmth.



The lamp on the table next to her made a glare, so she turned it off. He



looked over at her.



"Can you still see okay?"



He nodded and went back to his book.



Was sex with him really that much of a mistake? Did she really



have to stay so far away from him? Watching him, she saw how beautiful his



eyes were. Reflected light from the fire made them dance. She went to the



spare room for the other two bear robes and brought them to the living



room. Mulder looked up, his expression blank.



"The couch is cold, too," she said.



With a smile he nodded and moved aside so she could lay the robes



on top of the first one to make a large, soft area to sit. She took off



her boots and sat cross-legged inside the curve of his body as he resumed



his original position. He returned to his book. The fire was relaxing.



Chronic cold had seeped into her joints, and now the warmth eased the



ache. She closed her eyes against the heat and felt it creep into her skin



and toast her nose. His voice was soft.



"You look like a mermaid swimming, the way your hair floats in the



heat. The little strands, I mean." She looked at him and saw a fire in his



eyes. His bottom lip was between his teeth. She looked away.



Her eyes closed against the heat, she felt his fingers in her hair



at the back of her head. They kneaded the muscles at the base of her skull



and made her sigh. He sat up and kissed her cheek, his lips almost cool



against her hot face. She turned her head to kiss him back, a soft, almost



marital kiss. He unbuttoned his shirt and shrugged it from his shoulders.



When she didn't protest, he also unzipped his pants and wriggled from



them. Then he helped her remove her clothes so they were naked on the



bearskins and in each other's arms. She began to shiver.



"Cold?"



She nodded. He slipped one of the skins from under and they lay



beneath it. The coarse fur tickled her bare skin. Mulder held her close



until the shivering stopped. He kissed her forehead, letting his lips



linger on her skin.



So warm and comfortable, huddled with him in front of the fire!



Skin on skin, enveloped in fur, his long arms around her, she pressed her



face against his chest and heard his heart beat.



A gentle finger toyed with her pubic hair. It stroked and twirled,



then probed between wet lips. Tentative, as if scoping out the territory.



Brette rolled to her back and moved her leg to the side. The finger went



deeper and her blood rushed to meet it. Her eyes squeezed shut and her



mouth dropped open in waves of pleasure as Mulder's finger moved back and



forth and took an occasional dip inside her. Her hips moved to take him



in. Mulder scooted down a few inches and lifted her near leg over his hip,



thrusting his top leg between her legs and his other leg beneath so they



were dovetailed. Holding her tight by the waist, he slid into her. With a



small moan she pulled his leg up tight between hers so that his knee was



against her chest. Holding her thigh, his face pressed against her



shoulder, he surrounded her as well as penetrated. Only his hips moved in



steady undulation. He held her earlobe between his teeth.



For an eternity it seemed he held her there, never varying his



movement but giving a steady stroke, long and wet. His thigh pressed



against her belly, hard between her legs. The sensation built and made her



weak. Soon she was having tiny spasms that left her even more at his



mercy. Finally he lifted his thigh, shifted, and began shoving himself



harder. The finger resumed its probing and sent her spinning. Her head



rolled from side to side as the tension grew. It was hard to breathe. Then



she lifted her arm around his neck and he sucked a breast hard into his



mouth. Her fingers twined in his hair. Orgasm shook her and she let out a



long cry. Mulder held her tight around the waist now and in a few quick



strokes came himself. Sweaty and panting, he stayed inside, his hips



pressed tight to her bottom. She gave his penis a squeeze and he smiled.



"How do you do that?"



She smiled and blew a strand of hair from her face. "I dunno. It's



like making a fist; I just do it." Sleepy now, she rolled to face him and



settled into his arms. The fire flickered at her back and the cold room



was behind Mulder. He lay on his back and they snuggled into the furs



together in the semidarkness. Her heart sank as she rememberd he would



leave on the first snowmobile out of there.





The snow stopped falling not long after, leaving drifts that



reached the lower eaves. Mulder tunneled off the front porch and snowshoed



around the house to make sure the generator vents were clear. A small



trickle of water kept the pipes from freezing, and heat from the



generators kept the diesel lines from gelling.



Mulder now slept in Brette's bed. The cold nights were a little



less chilly for it, and the days a little less quiet. He told her stories



about his job, his woman partner who used to think he was a nutcase but



was coming around, and had a fantastic yarn about his sister and a



possible UFO encounter. Apparently he believed his sister had been taken



by aliens. He believed so strongly, in fact, that he made Brette wonder if



she was being closed-minded by not believing herself. She began to press



him for details of his weirder cases and the days passed with tales of



murdering mutants and real-life ghosts. Some days they forgot to check if



the phone was back on.



Late one morning Khan leapt from his spot by the kitchen to bark



at the front door. Mulder was reading, Barker's "The Thief of Always" this



time, and Brette lay between his legs on the couch, his chest her pillow,



with Rice's "Exit to Eden."



"Whassup, Khan?" It took a second for the significance of barking to



register, then Brette jumped up to look. "Mulder, I think Larry's here."



He came to see just as the sound of the engine became audible. It



stopped, and some moments later Larry slid down the slope of snow to the



front porch. Encased in wool, nylon and ice, he slipped and slammed into



the wall. Brette went to help him up and let him in. Larry from the Amoco



station in Markleeville was pushing sixty, but was still athletic enough



for the long ride on a snowmobile. He laughed as he removed his ski mask



and shook snow all over. "Just checking on you, Brette, but I can see you



most likely don't want to be disturbed." He grinned at Mulder.



"Congratulations, fella, you're the first to breach this place."



Mulder responded with the wry smile Brette had forgotten he even owned.



"Larry, come in and warm up by the fire. I was just about to fix us



some lunch. Chicken sandwich okay with you?" Larry nodded, and she



continued. "Fact is, Lar, I'm glad you came. Agen...Mr. Mulder here got



stuck when the snow hit and needs a ride back to town. Can you take him on



the snowmobile?"



Larry shrugged and thrust his hands toward the fire. "Sure."



Brette couldn't look at Mulder. His departure was inevitable and



it didn't matter how either of them felt about it. Lunch went entirely too



fast. Nerves shook Brette and coordination went out the window. She cut



herself fixing the sandwiches. All through the meal if she looked at



Mulder a heartsickness overwhelmed her and she had to look away. She



couldn't guess what he was feeling.



Then it was time for him to leave or risk not making it back to



town before dark. Mulder collected his jacket and they headed for the



door.



"Wait a minute!" Brette went into the kitchen and Mulder followed



as Larry waited. She pulled open the gun drawer. Mulder took his pistol



and put it back in his pants.



"You'll let me know if you find any derringers, won't you?" His



smile said he was kidding, but his eyes said there was a deeper meaning to



the request.



She nodded, though because of surgery there would be no



"derringers" in her life, ever. He stepped close and leaned down to kiss



her. She trembled with longing that he should stay, but said nothing other



than, "If I see any little green men I'll know who to send them to."



"Gray. Little gray men."



"Gray." A smile struggled to her face and he kissed her once more.



She savored the taste of him and knew there was almost no chance of ever



seeing him again. As she watched him go out the door with Larry a deep



pain filled her. Alone, she stood in the middle of her kitchen until the



sound of the snowmobile engine had faded to nothing.





Suddenly things were back to "normal," but Brette no longer knew



what that was. Her days were spent at the keyboard, struggling to create



another world to inhabit, but her mind kept wandering back to the one



she'd shared with Fox Mulder. Khan was no help. He only stared at her as



if in accusation. Another snowman acquired life and a day was spent on an



archeological dig for Frosty's top hat. The white vista, so beautiful to



her for so many years, now meant nothing more than a barrier between



herself and Mulder. A physical barrier along with all the barriers of



distance, occupation and life goals. Finally, at her keyboard she closed



the current chapter file. With a sigh and a shiver, she opened a new one.



A special world for her to live in just a little while longer. She typed,



"The snow was a white sheet over the windshield. The wipers thumped



and groaned, but visibility was still only a few yards..."


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