Title: Natiruvaaq (Drifting snow)
                                             Author: truthwebothknow1 portia_ventura@hotmail.com
                                             Rated: Strong R for some bad words, strong imagery and occasional violence.
                                             Category: MT, Mulder Angst, Scully Angst. Case file X
                                             Summary: Lost in the woods. He tried to cut through the fog that left his mind
                                             in a painful vice. So many questions and images leeched through his brain but
                                             somehow it was like something brutal had invaded his mind and tidied them up,
                                             hiding them away so he couldn't locate the answers.
                                             Archive: Mulder's Refuge, then Gossamer, Ephemeral. If anyone else wants it,
                                             please ask.
                                             Feedback: After the contest votes are in. We all love feedback.
                                             Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, any other characters are mine, and The X-Files
                                             belong to Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen, and Fox Studios. Mo money made; no
                                             copyright infringement intended.
                                             Author's Note: Rising to Mulder's Refuge Challenge for September, Head's up
                                             September challenge. (Winner)Some place names are real but the town and national
                                             park names are made up. Some of the Inuit and Sioux folklore is accurate and
                                             some is a mixture from the character's deranged POV. No offence intended.
                                             Natiruvaaq *Inuit for drifting Snow.*
                                             I am the weaver of dreams.
                                             I am the dream keeper.
                                             I gently walk thru your sleep
                                             and place visions in your heart.
                                             I travel on soft night winds
                                             thru the land of Dream Spirits.
                                             I protect you while you sleep.
                                             I am the Guardian Spirit...
                                             the Guardian of your dreams...
                                             Inuit poem.
                                             He awoke to an icy embrace and an upside down view of white and brown expanse.
                                             Soft flakes like baby kisses fell against eyes that refused to focus, making him
                                             blink. A chill wind howled like a demon in his ears and stirred the drifting
                                             snow, blasting his hot cheeks with a million icy bites. He shivered right down
                                             to his marrow and gasped, suddenly overwhelmed, the freezing pillows of snow
                                             beneath his back trying to meld by osmosis with his skin.
                                             Little by little the pain announced its hold on him in just about every molecule
                                             of his body. Like the slow burn of the sun as it traverses the great divide of
                                             mountains; slowly, silently; there for the duration. Lighting him up not with
                                             warmth, but with agony.
                                             He did burn now. Every muscle and fiber ached with intensity that the silent
                                             crystalline tears of snow could not extinguish as they settled on fevered
                                             Agony had built a fortress in his head and refused him entry when he tried to
                                             gather his thoughts. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't permeate the
                                             relentless pain as he was catapulted back to semi awareness. The air smelled of
                                             snow and death, wild birds circled somewhere above the snow laden tree canopy
                                             calling out a plaintive cry of desperation. Then silence; just his galloping
                                             heartbeat echoing back off the trees.
                                             He blinked once, then twice but his sight stubbornly remained in a blurred
                                             reality, shafts of winter light stabbing his eyes with a wild dance of colors.
                                             He couldn't even think of his own name.
                                             Shaking fingers moved slowly across his face until they reached his hairline. It
                                             was then that he realized that he had a head, somehow the deep penetrating ache
                                             made him wonder dizzily why it was still attached to his shoulders. However he
                                             ended up here had involved pinballing off of something hard and unyielding. A
                                             tree, maybe a boulder, whatever he'd hit on the way down had shared his spilled
                                             blood when it split open his temple.
                                             What was that sickening smell? Gasoline? Smoke? Nothing wrong with his
                                             olfactory senses at least, they confirmed that pervasive smell of trouble,
                                             imminent danger lurking over the damp woodsy loam and sharp tang of snow.
                                             Danger! Danger Will Robinson!
                                             A mad little voice squeaked urgently in his head and a congested chuckle eased
                                             its way out of his chest.
                                             As he felt braver, he tried to obey the screaming lunatic inside his head and
                                             get up. Easier said than done as his arms and legs flailed helplessly in the
                                             frigid air, uncoordinated and divorced from the signals his brain sent out.
                                             The struggle left him breathless and panting, ribs on fire like someone's boot
                                             had used them like a xylophone.
                                             Something warm and sticky washed over his face promptly followed by a tribal
                                             dance starting up in his chest; he was in possession of a heart too, his
                                             rational side pushed through to inform him.
                                             He tried to cut through the fog that left his mind in a painful vice. So many
                                             questions and images leeched through his brain but somehow it was like something
                                             brutal had invaded his mind and tidied them up, hiding them away so he couldn't
                                             locate the answers.
                                             A sudden teeth chattering shudder slid the ground out from under him, rolling
                                             him onto his front with his ass up in the air. Spitting out a cocktail of snow
                                             and pine needles, he almost threw up and his shaking fingers slid forward and
                                             connected with a tree. His eyes carefully sought the sky, blinking against the
                                             growing silent blizzard, resting on the tree he had landed against initially. It
                                             loomed over him like a sentinel of doom, its gnarled winter-bare arms
                                             outstretched like claws as if it wanted to reclaim him and crush him into the
                                             bark. Its thousand-year-old growth companions stood dense and foreboding around
                                             At least now he was on his front and not upside down. He had the feeling he
                                             often ended up in undignified positions, and this time was no exception. The
                                             show drift tickling the end of his nose looked like an inviting pillow.
                                             Somewhere to lay down and sleep. He so badly wanted to sleep. Shut out this
                                             wintry nightmare and rest.
                                             No you can't! Concussion, concussion! Her voice reached him through the sharp
                                             updraft of wind rustling through the branches. The azure of her eyes reached
                                             like warm fingers right into his heart, cracking the ice forming around it. His
                                             drooping eyelids sprung open. She called to his soul but her name wouldn't
                                             come.her lips, her body wrapped around his, her gentle touch and birdsong laugh
                                             as she stroked his back.but not her name.
                                             Scu..Scu. he choked back a sob but the whispers of truth were snatched away on a
                                             tide of bitter wind, the rise of bile surging upwards in his throat.
                                             Great fat tears slid into the snow with a frosty hiss, alongside the fascinating
                                             patterns his blood spatters made as they marred the purity of the drifts beneath
                                             his face. He probed one with a numb finger, the ruby stains sinking deep
                                             towards the forest floor. He was alone, fundamentally frighteningly alone. And
                                             the forest mocked his predicament.
                                             His present position afforded him a flicker of warmth from somewhere off to his
                                             left side. Then a sudden flash of noise and light that made his heart trip over.
                                             Something that danced a riot of orange and red across his defective vision, and
                                             sent him into a coughing fit. His body knew enough to panic without his brain's
                                             consent and shifted him violently away and into a new frightening dimension of
                                             hurt, but far enough away from the growing heat.
                                             Or was it?
                                             He craned his neck around, slowly, slowly; because slowly was probably the
                                             buzzword of the day. Something was burning fiercely now, the plumes of smoke
                                             and flame reaching higher to that elusive gap in the trees to choke out the
                                             light, popping and cracking as it fed on the hungry snow filled air that whipped
                                             it up and fanned it towards him.
                                             His fear of fire was a sleeper rudely awoken and threatening to overwhelm him as
                                             he realized his hair, his clothes were drenched in gasoline. He had to get
                                             further away or go up like a tinderbox. Haunted flashes of another fire raced
                                             through his mind. Smoke, screaming kids, a mask over his face and her worried
                                             eyes full of compassion and kindness.her eyes..
                                             So far from him now ..
                                             Move. Breathe. Move. Breathe. Move, move, move. Arm over arm, pulling his belly
                                             through the snow, ignoring the grating shift of ribs in his chest and the
                                             wheezing from lack of air, knees bent, drag, pull, repeat, right knee, left
                                             knee, on and on.. all of him on auto pilot, devoid of direction , ignoring the
                                             rising agony...
                                             'Just get away, got to...'
                                             He hit fresh air and rolled down an incline, tumbling over rocks and drifts, low
                                             branches tearing at his face and any exposed skin. He held his breath detached
                                             himself from reason and repercussion of pain. It seemed like eternity before
                                             his heart started beating again.and at the precise moment when a tree-shaking
                                             boom exploded mercifully long behind him, feeling a shower of earth and snow
                                             pelting him in the next. He lay still for a long time.
                                             The sun was in a different position when he woke again. It was brighter through
                                             the now trickling snow and hung low through the trees. A thick layer of snow
                                             covered every inch of him like a shroud and he half sneezed, half brushed if
                                             from his face. He was wet through and feverish, the rest of him like a human
                                             Popsicle. Somehow through his exodus from a fiery death, his body had scrambled
                                             one way and his knee had tried to go in the other direction. It hurt like the
                                             fucking devil and took his breath away when he tried in vain to move it.
                                             Something warm and sticky pooled around the inside of his jeans and for the
                                             first time he let forth a barrage of profanity. A compound fracture to add to
                                             all his other bodily woes was just what he needed. He shut his eyes to the
                                             worsening pain and just let his body calm down.
                                             A crinkling in his pocket caught his attention and his fingers closed over a
                                             packet of some kind. Sunflower seeds, his brain told him. When was the last time
                                             he'd eaten? And who the fuck ate sunflower seeds?
                                             He lifted one to his mouth experimentally and bit down on the shell, cracking
                                             it. His tongue lifted the salty kernel out and chewed, then he spat the shell
                                             away. It wasn't much but the salt might sustain him a little. For liquid
                                             refreshment, his cup runneth over; he could always swallow some snow. 'Just
                                             make sure none of it is yellow', a disturbed chuckle somewhere inside his brain
                                             pointed out. He grinned to himself then, but his cold chapped face made that
                                             hurt and he quickly stopped, stuffing a palmful of soft flakes in his mouth
                                             instead and sucking on them. He thought he might leave a trail with shells for
                                             whomever, if anyone might be searching for him, but figured that the way it was
                                             snowing again would soon disappear any of the tiny shells.
                                             He had to get out of here. The sun set in the west and that's the way he would
                                             go. He had no idea what was that way but there was a vague notion that it felt
                                             right. Maybe he'd get lucky and find a hunters cabin or bivouac. He'd be
                                             handicapped by his ribs and broken leg of course, not to mention his head felt
                                             like it had entered an expanding warp bubble and he couldn't focus well, but
                                             those were the least of his worries. He had to keep on the move or freeze to
                                             death. He reckoned he had a few hours of daylight left if that, but it was rough
                                             estimate with the gray mist and heavier snow flurries descending down through
                                             the trees.
                                             Animals, predators. That was another consideration that came to mind. He was a
                                             sitting duck for anything lurking about with claws that fancied a convenient
                                             snack. The last thing he wanted was to shuffle off his mortal coil as a
                                             grizzly's 'Happy meal' and have his demise immortalized as a case file on the
                                             Animal planet channel. As to where he was, he was completely clueless, or indeed
                                             how he even got here. And what the fuck had exploded? He hoped it would all
                                             come back to him, sooner rather than later, anything that might give him some
                                             clues as to who he was or how he could get out of here.
                                             A sudden noise behind had him reaching towards his jeans belt.
                                             'I carry a gun,' he realized with a sudden slither of clarity. 'But where is
                                             it?' Something large was lumbering on the incline above him, crunching through
                                             the undergrowth and sniffing the ground. He dared not breathe, not for a second
                                             and kept stock still, his heart bouncing painfully against his cracked ribs. As
                                             quickly as it came the sound receded into the distance and he left out his
                                             breath in a wordless gasp that at least this time he wouldn't be the toy prize.
                                             Despite his best efforts to remain awake and alert, his eyelids won their battle
                                             to close. He drifted off to the soft padding of snow against his parka and the
                                             erratic thumping of his heart.
                                             He never heard the distant chopping of the helicopter blades in the distance as
                                             they pushed their way through the early evening storm like a silver angel of
                                             Something startled him awake and he suddenly found himself on all fours. He
                                             coughed and tested forward momentum. He cursed himself for sleeping and felt a
                                             sudden chill at the realization that he'd woken up at all under the precarious
                                             circumstances. The final slithers of a nightmare clung to his senses and he
                                             wondered if the vivid feeling that something had touched his face in the night
                                             was part of that, or was real. He'd never know if the snow had been disturbed
                                             around him, a fresh layer inches thick had covered up all but his startled
                                             thrashing as he woke up. He did a quick check that none of his limbs had been
                                             gnawed off while he'd been unconscious; being so cold he could barely feel
                                             He scratched at his face absently as he lurched forward in the snow, his fingers
                                             splayed in the frozen drifts in front of him. They were almost blue but he was
                                             oddly divorced from feeling cold. A nagging voice told him that he must be
                                             suffering from hypothermia or frostbite by now.hurried along by shock and blood
                                             loss. He only had a few seeds left to keep his blood sugar up, but the rest of
                                             his injuries would soon shut him down and that would be a moot point anyway.
                                             Slowly he worked his way through chest high drifts, feeling the bite of cold
                                             through his thin shirt, his parka was torn open, offering him very little
                                             sanctuary of saving body heat. The raging wind was drying the moisture on his
                                             skin in a chill caress all the way through him. Sometimes his vision doubled and
                                             wigged out altogether as he pushed further and further through the forest, his
                                             useless leg limp and throbbing, pointing at an oddly sickening angle and
                                             dragging a bloody furrow behind him. A dinner call to every hungry predator
                                             around, he mused bitterly.
                                             His belly and arms did most of the work when he couldn't manage to stand and
                                             before long he gave up trying. He stuck to crawling, or dragging his body along.
                                             It was easier to rest if he needed to, being closer to the ground. A deep
                                             shudder threw him forward again but his left knee hit a concealed rock and he
                                             saw bright sparks dance before his eyes. It was then that the howl of a dying
                                             animal rent the freezing mist that clung to the trees.
                                             Much later he would realize that it had torn from his own raw throat and that
                                             another pair of eyes tracked his arduous journey.
                                             His head was bleeding again when he came to next time and there was something
                                             else; the ice-cold bite and click of metal against the pulse point under his
                                             "Don't fuckin move FBI!"
                                             A hefty boot impacting his side threatened the integrity of his ribs again,
                                             making him gasp and he flinched at the sound of the gun being cocked. A Sig, his
                                             inner voice wailed despairingly. Probably his own.
                                             Fear swept away the remaining curtains of confusion, the pain in his skull
                                             reached a new high point but several starling moments of clarity followed.
                                             Can you die now?
                                             He almost smiled at an old ghost from Deadhorse, so long ago.
                                             What was he doing out here again? -----Oh yes-a perp. Child killer of Tailspin,
                                             North Dakota. A one-horse shithole in a small valley surrounded on all sides by
                                             pine forest and mountains. Great. Nothing like having it all come back to him at
                                             the business end of his own weapon and a flood of adrenalin.
                                             So he was an FBI agent; still couldn't recall his damn name but the rest was
                                             astonishingly clear. In some half assed moment of dutiful madness he had hopped
                                             aboard a snow mobile and took off into the boondocks at breakneck speed in
                                             pursuit of one Cleetus Ray Proudfoot, leaving his partner in a hail of frozen
                                             mist. The fact that he'd never driven one before seemed so insubstantial at the
                                             time, and was lost in the desire to catch the slippery son of a bitch before he
                                             murdered he last victim, still missing.
                                             He realized that this hadn't been one of brighter ideas, both the snow mobile or
                                             the lack of armed backup. Sent by the VCU while kicking their heels for a
                                             suitable X file case, they had flown to the inhospitable North Dakota hinterland
                                             where they quickly made headway on the gruesome results of the killer. The
                                             profile had taken him only days to complete but the subsequent gun battle in the
                                             town's hotel where the perp was holed up had left 2 agents badly wounded and
                                             several local cops dead.
                                             A joint screw up by the local cops and foot dragging by local Native American
                                             council, on which whose sacred land the killer had gone to ground. It was said
                                             he was part Inuit; originally from Western Canada and skilled in evasion and
                                             tracking. He could survive all winter in the dense valleys and mountains of the
                                             Eaglespur National Forest. This might be their only window of opportunity to
                                             catch him. He'd hardly slept since he'd read the file.
                                             The child cases always tore at his soul. In his mind's eye he saw only the
                                             broken bodies of the tortured children, twisted unnaturally and daubed in their
                                             own blood with some kind of deranged shamanic symbolism, for reasons best know
                                             to the killer. He was making a point from some mutated sense of his faith and
                                             escalating. He'd killed 12 children so far and two days ago had dragged away
                                             another. He was like a spirit that vanished in the dark of night, no one saw or
                                             heard him and he left barely a trace. Some locals had finally spotted him
                                             covered in blood on trails in the woods on the edge of town and that's when
                                             they'd had a breakthrough.
                                             He'd take them to a place he held sacred; even though he was a transplanted
                                             native and it was there he killed them, taking a body part from each child to
                                             send back to the earth in some ritualistic perversion. Later dumping them back
                                             near the local mayor's many business interests in Turnpike, indicating his anger
                                             at the growing town and sway from the old values of his spiritualism, and what
                                             he saw as a defiling of the forest itself when plans had been announced for a
                                             new dam to service the local towns. The last victim had been the Mayor's
                                             youngest daughter. He was also the Sheriff.
                                             Although he hated to think it, that last kidnapping had been the straw that
                                             broke the camel's back and forced the hand of the Local native Sioux councils of
                                             Knife River and Bismarck to grant Federal access.
                                             The delay for permission had been interminable. Mulder hadn't waited, and gone
                                             off ahead to run him to ground. By now the task force would have been mustered
                                             but that wasn't going to do him any good, or Melody Swenson, Proudfoot's last
                                             " Get up FBI." A kick to his bad leg made him double over, head first in the
                                             snow. " Storms getting worse and I have some unfinished business." The Inuit
                                             hissed and then spat something out in his own language. Something hit the side
                                             of Mulder's head and he flinched at the pain. When he looked down he was staring
                                             at his own FBI wallet and ID.
                                             Special Agent, Fox William Mulder. So that was his name.
                                             "For a Fox you're not a very good Scout.." Demented laughter bounced off the
                                             surrounding peaks as he watched his injured hunter struggle against the pain in
                                             his leg.
                                             "F.found you didn't I? And you are not a very good native. You know karma is a
                                             bitch." Mulder finished on a cough. "Where's the girl. ..She still alive? She
                                             better be. They are going to hunt you down like a dog, You do know that don't
                                             you? Give yourself up and release the girl. Do one decent thing in your whole
                                             fucking life." Mulder coughed at the end of his angry tirade. He was sick and
                                             hurt and just about out of patience for following his psychologist training.
                                             Another chuckle, this time by his ear. The Inuit killer's breath smelled of
                                             incense and bad teeth. The gun pushed further into the throbbing flesh of his
                                             neck. Squinting, Mulder could see he also had a sawn off shotgun tied to his
                                             belt. A stained red lumberjack shirt and jeans was all he wore. Steel capped
                                             high boots, which found their way into his ribs again when he didn't move.
                                             Mulder coughed up blood; horror creasing his face as he watched it spatter all
                                             over the snow and his hands.
                                             " I found you Foxy boy. Who the hell do think shot out your tank. I had your
                                             number. Seen you skimming along like fuckin Luke Sky- Walker on his Speedo. All
                                             official like. This place is haunted you know, by my ancestors and my fellow
                                             Native American's ancestors. All one tribe in the dreamtime. The winds hold
                                             their soul and very soon you will meet them. Folk round here will learn not to
                                             fuck with us."
                                             "You wait till they get a load of what you have done to their sacred ground. Do
                                             you think that somewhere in your twisted fucking mind that they will be
                                             benevolent after you killed all these kids on their burial plains? I've been in
                                             your head, this isn't about the dying forest or contractors cutting down ancient
                                             forest, or some other dip shit reason that in your mind sanctions your lust for
                                             cutting up little girls. I." Cleetus laughed again and his boot sank into
                                             Mulder's mouth, spraying blood all over both of them. "I .guess you don't care
                                             for the truth Tonto," he spat out bits of twig and blood, and tried to catch his
                                             failing breath.
                                             Although winded and silenced momentarily, the agent lifted two bloodshot eyes
                                             to meet the evil in the other man's face. Whatever personal mission he had been
                                             on, the guy's sense of reasoning was on another planet. Some beef he had with
                                             growing expansionism and destruction of Indian lands had tipped his mind over
                                             the edge of sanity, blurring reason and decency. This wasn't about some
                                             altruistic concern for sacred burial places. This was about his own twisted
                                             demons and evil radiated from his every pore.
                                             "She's gone, you stupid sanctimonious cop...slit her up good and I'll do the
                                             same to you before I let the spirits have you."
                                             "You deranged bastard...no!" Cleetus's tooth empty mouth curled into a grin of
                                             realization that the other man heart had dropped to his boots in defeat.
                                             Suddenly seizing him by the hair, he dragged him along a rough track deeper into
                                             the precipitous haunted mansions of the forest.
                                             Mulder mourned silently for another lost child. There was fresh blood and blond
                                             hairs coating the burley native's hunting knife and it clung like a thick red
                                             indictment to his jeans.
                                             His other thoughts turned to Scully, her memory thankfully and clear but
                                             bittersweet, the love they had only begun to explore. Her lips, her touch and
                                             the soft whisper of her voice in the night, calming his fears and soothing his
                                             night terrors. How pissed she would be to find his snow logged decimated body.
                                             'I love you Scully.you will never know how sorry I am for this ultimate ditch.'
                                             His body was shutting down. He couldn't feel his feet anymore and the chances
                                             that a rib had pierced through a lung had quadrupled with his captor's last
                                             vicious assault, and the way he kept spewing up blood. His hair was being yanked
                                             out by the roots as he was dragged without care through the dense undergrowth,
                                             hitting logs and rocks. There was a mist around them that seemed unnatural,
                                             swirling, frigid, howling like the cry of a hawk or at times, an almost
                                             subliminal murmur that sounded like Wakanpi., wakampi,..over and over in his
                                             brain as he was being dragged off to his certain death. Cleetus kept mumbling
                                             on as only the truly insane can about sun dances and chanting loudly to
                                             something he called Natiruvaaq. A sick plea or soliloquy he hoped would appease
                                             the ancient ones.
                                             Mulder realized from his research into Sioux burial grounds and folklore when
                                             preparing his profile that the Sun Dance was one of the most important
                                             ceremonies. Sun Dancers pierced the flesh on their breasts or backs with wooden
                                             skewers. The ends of these skewers were attached, with leather thongs, to the
                                             top of the Sun Dance Pole. Sun dancers would blow on special eagle-bone whistles
                                             and pull the thongs until the skewers tore loose.
                                             At the Sun Dance, holy men would seek visions and perform self-laceration.
                                             Self-laceration and other similar practices were regarded as a type of offering
                                             of one's flesh and blood to the Wakan Tanka.or Great spirit..and he thought with
                                             some alarm that he was doomed for something similar that transposed into Inuit
                                             styled torture. The last remake of that weird film starring Richard Harris, 'A
                                             man called Horse' ..or Mulder in this care. Natiruvaaq he'd recognized had some
                                             kind of connection to snow, of which the Inuit had at least 31 permutations of
                                             words for. Was this how those kids died?
                                             'I'm sorry Scully' he swallowed convulsively as his head lolled against a thick
                                             branch, threatening to plummet him back into unconsciousness. He was haunted by
                                             all the visions of her abductions, her brushes with death at the hands of Duane
                                             Barry, Donnie Pfaster , Gerry Schnauz, Tooms and the shadowy men of the
                                             consortium. They were always on the edge of something, never allowed to grab
                                             those illusive strands of happiness that sometimes dangled in front of them.
                                             His eidetic mind played it all back to him, his own near death experiences;
                                             Deadhorse, Tunguska, Arecibo, the vile tobacco beetles devouring his lungs and
                                             the indignity of accelerated ageing on a Norwegian ghost ship, all these images
                                             swirled round him in the roiling mist almost like it was a living thing
                                             surrounding them both and he prayed that Scully would go on and stay safe in his
                                             absence.but more than ever, he wished to see her face again, place his lips one
                                             last time against her soft smile. He could almost hear her voice carried to his
                                             ears on the wind and his heart cried again for her absence.
                                             Whacking a particular rough piece of ground tore his shirt open and a sharp
                                             stick dug a gauge in his now exposed chest. He shrieked for his mad nemesis to
                                             stop and tried to catch his breath. There was a cave up ahead and some kind of
                                             pyre. Not Fire, his galloping heart begged him. Oh god.
                                             He was too out of it to see what happened next but the whirlwind seemed to gain
                                             form in front of them, barring the entrance to the cave, Mulder gasped at the
                                             eye that glared out of the freezing wall of mist almost like it was a living
                                             entity. It suddenly shot forward and barreled into them both, knocking Cleetus
                                             off center until he lost his footing down a small bank. Mulder hear him scream
                                             out to his gods as he hurtled out of sight, the entity of snow and wind
                                             screaming after him, splitting in two and breaking away under some weird mitosis
                                             to hurtle after him. The cries resonated down the valley and he was distantly
                                             aware of flapping winds, violently swaying pines and a strong voice calling. He
                                             opened his eyes amidst all the turmoil until they rested on something that made
                                             his heart jump with joy.
                                             'The gun', Mulder's mind yelled at his broken body, as he suddenly spied his
                                             weapon protruding from the snowy outcrop where Cleetus had vanished. Summoning
                                             all his remaining strength he fought his way through the funnel of freezing
                                             blizzard that howled like a tornado around his head, and gratefully closed numb
                                             fingers over the barrel. Another deep breath had him seizing it despite barely
                                             feeling it and holding it up haphazardly in his dizziness in case Cleetus came
                                             back. Expecting the murderous lunatic to suddenly reappear from the canyon at
                                             any second. The sound like a great flapping bird and approaching horses hooves
                                             on frozen ground grew louder and he coughed at the fresh fear that engulfed him,
                                             his head fell back to the packed frozen earth and his body seemed to collapse in
                                             on itself as adrenalin started to flee, slipping finally into unconsciousness
                                             just as he heard her voice one last time.
                                             " Mulder? C'mon G-man, It's me. Come on, open those gorgeous eyes..Jesus.. Give
                                             me some oxygen here. He's hypothermic and in shock. God there's blood all over
                                             him. Where's that IV? Mulder? Can you hear me. ...Jesus what's that... ? "
                                             Scully pointed a way through the trees as the whirlwind of icy flakes receded
                                             and then vanished on a chuckle of wind. Mulder was in her arms now and her
                                             colleagues were working on him. Several paramedics, fought to stabilize his
                                             breathing and Scully's attention was soon back on her injured partner and the
                                             split second notion that she'd just seen the ghost of a buffalo vanish into the
                                             trees was forgotten for the moment.
                                             "I'm right here Mulder, just squeeze my hand. It's okay...you're going to be ok.
                                             He's gone he can't hurt you anymore." Her hand were all over him, soft fingers
                                             gentling making an inventory of his latest raft of bodily misfortune, while she
                                             murmured soft reassurances and whatever comfort she could give him.
                                             He opened one battered eye, barely able to stay focused on her face. He almost
                                             cried when he saw her beautiful face. ".....The girl...Sculleeh.."
                                             Bismarck District Hospital. ND.
                                             The following day. 2.19 PM.
                                             " A snow globe Scully? You shouldn't have. " She grinned as she leaned over and
                                             kissed him, mindful of his cracked and bruised lips. They both smiled as her
                                             fingers brushed his when he shook the little trinket and watched the swirling
                                             snow settle on the tiny bear at the bottom of the scene encased within. He'd
                                             woken again after several hours of emergency surgery after being rushed to the
                                             ER the night before. All things considered, he hurt like hell but was fairly
                                             comfortable. And a 100% improved now that Scully was perched on the end of his
                                             bed, ready to sooth his many hurts.
                                             " My very own Snowman is on the mend. How are you feeling Mulder?" He adored the
                                             way her fingers ruffled through his hair, even if his head felt like it had been
                                             used for target practice. A Mulder kilowatt smile beamed out of the raft of
                                             bruises that currently decorated his face.
                                             " Well apart from multiple broken bones, waking up this morning on a respirator
                                             and the gazillion pine needle holes in my ass, not to mention the loss of my
                                             retainer on that snowmobile, pretty stoked. How is the girl?"
                                             "Umm..You must let me check out your gluteus maximus once your ribs are felling
                                             better." She rubbed his good arm and then looked serious for a moment. " Melody
                                             is fine.or soon will be. Mainly just shaken up, hungry scared and dehydrated. A
                                             long haul of counseling and the support of her family hopefully will help her
                                             put the ordeal behind her. Might take a lot longer. Teenagers are resilient. We
                                             can but hope. She lost a lot of people she knew. You saved her life Mulder.
                                             Her whole family send you their thanks and said they will be up to see how you
                                             are in a day or so. Our friend Cleetus, who by the way we found wrapped around a
                                             tree with no bone left intact, at the bottom of a ravine, was so busy stalking
                                             you through the woods that he delayed killing her. If you hadn't have ditched me
                                             when you did and gone off like Luke Skywalker on his Speedo..what?"
                                             Mulder's face was pulled into a sour cringe. His ribs and legs were killing him
                                             and he did need a fresh infusion of pain meds but that wasn't what made him
                                             grimace. " You're the second person in 24 hours to describe me that way. I don't
                                             think I will ever watch Star Wars again. Or go for a nice trek in the woods."
                                             "Or ditch me? Thanks for that too. Don't think I've forgotten the punishment for
                                             that I promised you. We talked about this before remember? Several times in
                                             fact." At her classic raised eyebrow he let out a defensive chuckle, his eyes
                                             shifting color as his eidetic memory served him well once more. He gave her a
                                             sudden provocative look, as much as his chapped snow burned features would
                                             " Or ditch you Agent Scully. I promise, Indian guide's honor," he held his
                                             bandaged left hand awkwardly over his heart. The irony of that statement not
                                             lost on him. " And I will hold to you that punishment if it includes a 5 star
                                             room with ensuite and satin sheets, chilled champagne and you naked in my arms.
                                             Just as soon as I blow this pop stand. How did ya find me anyhow?" His eyes
                                             twinkled in the low light of the room as he beckoned her closer.
                                             "I think you owe Frohike free cheeseburgers for the next month. The last time
                                             you had a sleepover at the gunmen's, they had the foresight to put GPS in your
                                             watch and your cell phone. Early Christmas gift to me for all those times you
                                             get an attack of Mulder wanderlust. The Hendrickson case where you were lost at
                                             sea in a kayak comes to mind. Don't think I could go through another one like
                                             this though. You are lucky we found you at all. Your watch came was found
                                             somewhere on the trail near the wreck of the speeder. The strap was broken and
                                             it fell off. We just followed the blood trail after that."
                                             "As much as I ought to kick their asses for tampering with my Rolex, yeah,
                                             you're right. I guess I really do owe them something. Hopefully my enforced
                                             lodgings here will give me time to think up something exceptional." He sighed
                                             at feeling comfortable and dry again and in the presence of the woman he loved,
                                             his fingers going up to explore the gash near his hairline that had been neatly
                                             stitched. Luckily for him, despite that abuse his head had suffered recently on
                                             this last fun hike, he'd managed to get away with just a hairline fracture. He
                                             wouldn't be heading any basketballs for a while and desk duty was a given for
                                             the next few months. Still he could spend those months making it up to Scully
                                             and giving her a good time for once. What was a little plaster caste between
                                             Her fingers closed over his and she gave him a long-suffering roll of her eyes.
                                             "Don't touch it, stop picking at it, its all sewn up ands neat as a button so
                                             none of that brilliant mind of yours will fall out."
                                             "But it itches."
                                             "Well stop it or I'll have to but some of those mittens like newborns wear to
                                             stop them scratching their faces with their nails."
                                             "Well hold off on the mittens, just get me some more seeds. besides," he waggled
                                             his eyes at her, "I have the best pacifier of all."
                                             Scully gave him her best smile, one that said she was glad he was alive but he
                                             was going to pay for that last ditch.
                                             Even sick and battered he managed to look sexy, damn him. And he had forgone the
                                             usual hospital gown in deference to running a slight fever. Resting comfortably
                                             against a stack of white pillows he managed to look devastating as her eyes
                                             drifted over exposed parts of him and the quiet beauty of his eyes. She
                                             literally believed he could bounce back from anything, hard to believe he'd been
                                             circling the drain just a few hours.a life time ago as it seemed, when he'd been
                                             life-flighted here. In shock, tachycardic and loosing so much blood, concussed
                                             and posturing in the way a brain injury usually presents, not to mention half
                                             frozen from exposure. She never thought he'd come through the surgery.
                                             " When you feel better.. Sounds good. That leg may take some time to heal."
                                             Scully flushed and was quiet for a moment, playing with edge of his bed sheets,
                                             listening to his heart beating strong and even on the monitor above him. Mulder
                                             suddenly realized the same thing she did. They had nearly lost each other
                                             again. All joking aside, he knew it was the last time he could hare off into the
                                             wide blue yonder without her by his side to watch his back. He took her hand
                                             and raised it to his lips, kissing each of her fingers gently. He watched her
                                             eyes fall sadly on his bruises, his casted broken leg and the thick webbing
                                             supporting his devastated ribcage and felt every sorrow she felt at what she had
                                             gone through while he was lost on the mountain. "You know I love you Mulder. I
                                             couldn't bear to loose you now, not in the face of all we have yet to explore
                                             with each other."
                                             " I love you too, more than you could ever know or I can express and I'm sorry
                                             Scully. For taking off like an impatient jackass. I thought I was doing the
                                             right thing. All I.all I could think about while I was trapped out there
                                             freezing and bleeding to death was you. You kept me whole, sane through all that
                                             agony. I didn't even know who I was after crashing the snowmobile. I sensed you
                                             with me though, even though I couldn't remember much. I was scared the head
                                             injury would rob me of everything I'd known, even my own name. But most of all I
                                             knew you were out there somewhere. And I would move hell and high water to find
                                             you again. What he did to me. I know I saved the girl but look what I put you
                                             through. Again.." His eyes lowered to an interesting spot in his lap then, and
                                             she knew what he was going to say next as surely as she could see into his
                                             gentle heart. "You will probably take out your gun and shoot me for this but I
                                             want to go back out there Scully. Before we go back to DC. I.I saw
                                             "An X file Mulder? " She let her eyes close and her forehead touched his
                                             slightly fevered one, her hand smoothing over his two day old stubble, stroking
                                             under his jaw with careful fingers.
                                             "Something.I'm not sure what it was, manifested. .It saved my worthless ass. A
                                             spirit maybe.I saw something."
                                             She put a soft finger lightly to his lips to silence him and he let himself
                                             fall into the spell of her loving blue gaze, the love they had just begun to
                                             share reflected back in his hazel ones.
                                             " You might need an Squaw Guide..I saw something too..."
                                             The end.
                                             Yes, I have danced with the wind...
                                             the wind and I frolic
                                             in fields of sunshine and tall grass.
                                             We make dandelion spirits fly to the heavens
                                             and watch as they gently returned to earth.
                                             my wind and I are strong.
                                             We danced headlong to unknown white places,
                                             throwing caution aside.
                                             These are the summers of seeking.
                                             The wind and I dance a rebel's dance.
                                             Soon the wind will softened
                                             And I will dance to another song.
                                             This dance brings a lover's kiss to my lips,
                                             A gentle caress to my cheeks.
                                             As we dance, I learn to love and be loved.
                                             The wind whispers to me
                                             And holds me close in its gentle arms.
                                             The wind is a soft warm breeze and sings to me.
                                             While we wait to dance our final dance...
                                             Yes, I dance with the Wind...
                                             Inuit poem.