A/N – I originally posted this as my third fanfiction somewhere around 2000 after Communication and Illusions.

Title - "The Lost"
Author - Wintersong
E-Mail address - wintersong .ca
Rating - R (language)
Category - SA, MSR/UST
Spoilers - Detour, FTF
Keywords - none
Summary - Mulder and Scully are trapped in the
remote wilderness and the art of surviving was
not what they expected.

Disclaimer: They belong to CC and 1013.

Author's Notes: In deference to all of the
virtual pilots who have given their lives over
the years to isolate M&S in wilderness
circumstances, I have sacrificed a serial killer
this time.

I should warn everyone that my characters
rebelled on me and took over the story around
page 35. I haven't had control since. I
originally planned (and still plan) to write a
story called "Found" that explores the
reactions of the people around M&S to their
return from their survival situation. I
personally believe that many of the issues that
plague ordinary survivors just would not come
into play for these two and I wanted to show how
confused things would be for them because they
would not have the adjustment problems everyone
expected to see...but they might have others.

"The Lost" was meant to be a short prequel to
set up the physical situation and many of the
emotional issues will be explored further or
resolved in "Found". (If you have any burning
questions you would like to see answered in
"Found", please let me know. Pretty please? :o)

As you can see, my *short* prequel got out of
hand. As a result, some of my research has holes
in it. I have no idea how long a missing FBI
agent would have to be missing before the FBI
froze their paychecks and declared them dead. I
seem to remember hearing that unless you go to
court over it, it can take seven years. I'm
assuming that the military and the government has
exceptions for these circumstances otherwise the
family members would have a heck of a time
collecting pensions.

That's about it. I hope you enjoy the story.

-Wintersong

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

In Flander's Field

In Flander's Fields the poppies
blow Between the crosses, row by row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly,
Scarce heard amidst the guns below
We are dead Short days ago we lived, felt dawn,
saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved and now we lie in Flander's
Field
Take up our quarrel with foe
To you with failing hands we throw
The torch be yours to hold it high
lf ye break faith, with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flander's Field

-Colonel John McCrae

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

Samuel Walsh Corman was wonderfully dead.

Three bullet holes dead center mass had done the
trick beautifully.

Unfortunately, Scully thought, as she glared down
at the body and resisted giving it a spiteful
kick, she should have shot the bastard two days
earlier. Sometimes, being a law-abiding federal
officer really sucked.

"This really sucks, Scully."

Hearing her own thoughts echoed in disgruntled
male tones, she looked up to find her partner
glaring balefully at the corpse bleeding out on
the snow in front of them. From the expression
on his face, he had similar visions of Technicolor
brains splattering satisfactorily across a
warehouse floor.

"We should have shot the bastard when we
had the chance."

Yep. Blood and brains it was.

"Either that, or shot the morons who let him
escape."

"I'm thinking up a slightly more painful revenge
for them, Mulder."

Mulder's head snapped around at her acid tones,
then a deliciously malicious grin lit up his
face. "Oh baby. Can I watch?"

Scully bared her teeth ,"You can hold the
scalpels for me if you want to."

"I knew there were benefits to having a pathologist
for a partner."

Scully smiled dutifully at the comeback, then
soberly took in the disaster facing them.

Nothing but silent wilderness surrounded them in
all directions. A Currier and Ives layer of snow
dusted the landscape and big fluffy flakes
drifted down from a darkening afternoon sky.
Already, the rutted dirt track they had been
driving on was coated in a half inch layer of
snow and the increasing wind was busily erasing
all signs of their passage. But that was only
part of the problem.

Against a rocky embankment , Corman's 4-door
sedan lay in crumpled ruins, smashed into some
post-modern free-form sculpture of shattered
plastic and twisted metal. Neo-FBI, Scully mused,
with the dramatic lines of the X-Files and a hint
of pathos. She snorted indelicately. Mulder
looked curious and she gestured toward the car.

"Our lives as art,"

His eyebrows winged upward before he turned to
study the car for a long moment. Then he smirked,
"Works for me. But is it a case of seeing truth
in art, or seeing the art in the truth?"

She stared suspiciously at her partner, then
tossed her head disdainfully, "College boy."

Walking toward the car she could not see his
face, but she could hear his voice, "Navy brat."

Standing up close and personal to the mangled
mess that used to be the driver's side wheel
well and front quarter-panel,the only thought
that Scully could come up with, was that they
were well and truly fucked.

Not that they had had much choice about causing
the accident.

Both agents had woken from their drugged and
handcuffed sleep to Corman's insane ranting.
He may have started out as an organized serial
killer, but he had been deteriorating rapidly.
It was one of the reasons they had finally caught
the bastard. He had himself so worked up that he
had actually slashed at Scully with a knife
when she sat up in the backseat. Mulder's
instinctive move to block his arm had sent Corman
over the edge. Oblivious to the fact that he was
speeding up a rutted dirt track slippery with mud
and newly falling slow, Corman had attacked.
While Mulder had tried to fend him off from the
front passenger seat, Scully had launched her
upper body over the driver's seat from her place
in the back and desperately grabbed the wheel.

Thank god for kidnappers who handcuff the hands
to the front.

Corman been thrown back against her when they
rounded one particularly tight corner and she
had lost her grip. Luckily he had long since
taken his foot off the gas or the crash would
have killed them all.

When Corman staggered out of the car, Mulder had
tumbled out after him. Corman had gotten his legs
tangled in the falling agent's body and had
tripped over him. Screaming in rage the serial
killer had raised the knife, intending to plunge
it straight into Mulder...and Scully had blown
three holes into him with his own damn gun. The
crash had knocked the glove box open and the gun
had fallen onto the floor.

In his dementia, Corman had never even noticed.

Now, after unlocking their handcuffs with the
keys Corman had stuffed into his pocket , Scully
had to wonder just what they had done to piss
Fate off this week. This car was not taking
them anywhere, ever again. Which, considering
what was about to come down on them, was a very
bad thing.

"Hey Scully? Do you think they were joking about
the fact that once it starts snowing in
Minnesota, it doesn't stop until Spring?"

"Nope."

"'S'what I thought."

They had no idea where they were. They had no way
of calling for help. They were standing in the
path of a blizzard. Unless their phones were in
the trunk of the car, Scully estimated that it
would be another two days at least before anyone
missed them. As far as the Minnesota field office
was concerned, Mulder and Scully flew back to DC
(this morning?) and were safely out of harm's
way. Even if the field office called Washington
to notify them of Corman's escape, Mulder had
already told Skinner that they were taking a
short side trip to do some background
investigation on another case Mulder had for the
area. Skinner was not expecting them back until
Monday.

Corman had gotten to them before Mulder had had
time to rebook their flight, but until someone
found their rental car or actually noticed
the empty seats, no one was going to be looking
for them.

They had a meeting with Skinner on Tuesday. Today
was probably Friday. Five days. Assuming Skinner
started looking as soon as they missed the
meeting, it could be Wednesday before any serious
investigation got underway. How serious
that investigation might be was another matter.

They had this reputation for wandering off...

Five days.

At least.

Scully scuffed the road surface under the thin
layer of snow and was frowning thoughtfully when
Mulder finally got the trunk open. Her head
snapped around at his vitriolic curse. Oh shit.
No jackets, no winter boots, no laptop, no jump
kit. Nothing. Their weapons and spare clips were
stuffed under a ratty blue duffel, but the only
other item in the trunk was an oversized
toolbox. No cell phones. The contents of the
toolbox were predictable and ordinary.

The items in the duffel, while also predictable,
were something else again.

"Damn it!" Mulder turned away abruptly, staring
at the horizon before giving in and kicking the
back fender several times in frustrated anger.
It probably did not help. Scully just stared down
at his sneakers in horror.

The weather had been deceptively warm the
last few days and the agents had both dressed
casually. They had anticipated an eight hour car
ride with a motel at the end of the journey and
Mulder was only wearing blue jeans and a black
turtleneck. Scully herself wasn't any luckier
with black Capri pants and cream-colored Aran
sweater. Her boots at least had reflective
insoles and so far she wasn't feeling the cold,
but the boots were designed for the city where
pedestrians made frequent trips indoors to warm
up. She was under no illusions about what would
happen once the temperature started dropping.

"Did you happen to notice the weather reports
Scully?"

He already knew that she had.

"A fucking Arctic front coming down from Canada.
The first major snowfall of the season. They're
expecting 18 - 36 inches with high winds.
And we're stuck right smack dab in the
middle of it. Fuck!"

Swearing from Mulder was always a bad sign.

"Mulder, we'll need to start building a shelter -
Is there anything useful in the ki...duffel."

Mulder spun, his eyes locking on hers as he
caught her slip. The knowledge of what the
contents of that duffel meant to them was easily
visible in her eyes and she did not try to hide
it. That blue bag was more than just a murder
kit. It was proof positive of how deeply screwed
they really were.

They both knew the MO too damn well.

Corman had blitzed his victims, incapacitating
them with a handheld canister of knockout gas.
Then he drove them to extremely remote, seldom
used cabins, summer cottages and hunting shacks
he located weeks or months before through careful
observation and eavesdropping. He never took the
owner of the cabin - never left obvious clues and
it was often months or even years before the
owner of the cabin ever knew that it had been
used. There were never any connections between
the cabins and Corman -so there was no way for
them to begin to guess where he had been taking
them.

And nowhere for Skinner to begin a search
pattern.

"When does deer season start Mulder?"

His lips twisted as he shrugged ignorance.

"We might get lucky and get some week-end
warriors out practicing for the end of the world,
but..."

Yeah.

But.

Well...fine.

So they were on their own. Nothing new about
that. This was just going to take a different
type of effort than normal. She firmed her jaw
and tilted her chin stubbornly.

"You will do anything to get out of those monthly
expense report meetings won't you Mulder?"

She flashed a determinedly bright smile, then
turned away from her startled partner and stared
hard into the surrounding woods. Picking several
likely looking clumps of evergreens, she marched
in that direction. The snow was only a couple of
inches deep. That wasn't enough to make the base
of a tree a practical shelter. She decided a
debris hut was their best - and warmest - option.
The falling snow had tapered off to a few
sporadic flakes but it was an illusion. A
lull between weather fronts.

The snow was coming.

"I need pine boughs Mulder. Lots and lots of pine
boughs. "

Mulder, who had been watching her tramp around
with wary fascination, opened his mouth as if to
speak, changed his mind, and went pine bough
hunting. Scully went location scouting. All of
the fallen trees located close to the crash site
were too low to the ground or too rotten. Then
she stumbled over the perfect ridgepole. A larger
tree had brought down a tangle of younger ones in
its final death throes and she managed to drag
one free.

Snapping off the top, she was left with a
ten foot length of solid tree with most of its
branches sheared off. Dragging it back to a
sheltered spot, she jammed the butt end into the
natural notch on the top of an old tree stump
that had broken off about three feet from the
ground Then she used the side of her boot to
scrape away all the snow and wet debris for three
feet on either side of the ridgepole.

Collecting armfuls of heavy sticks she laid
each stick against the ridgepole, forming a
tent-like skeleton that went from a height of
three feet at the tree stump, to nothing at the
other end. Mulder had returned several times to
drop loads of tree boughs and she swiftly started
laying them over the walls of the structure,
interlacing the tiny branches to keep them from
blowing away.

As much as possible she tried to lay the boughs
bottom to top - as if laying roofing shingles.
Armfuls of dry dead leaves and pine needles
scraped from below the tent-like boughs of the
larger evergreens around them were dumped over
the roof until this second layer was almost two
feet thick. She would have preferred to add
another foot, but the wind was starting to pick
up and they were losing the daylight. More pine
bough shingles were laid to hold the light debris
in place. She didn't bother trying to add a layer
of snow. The storm would take care of that by
morning.

Both agents were tired, sore and soaking wet by
the time the structure was complete. It was
getting difficult to see and both sets of hands
were scratched, bloody and painfully cold.
A handful of the stronger trees in a cluster of
young maple trees were growing together at the
base. Scully doubted that it would be possible to
tell it was more than a single tree after another
decade or two. In the process, several tall
skinny maples in the center of the clump had been
choked out. The wood was dead and gray, striped
of bark by the elements, resembling standing
driftwood. She was able to pull out several
extremely dry lengths of seasoned maple that
snapped easily into burnable lengths. A hasty
search of Corman's body had revealed a book of
matches and she quickly got a cheerful fire
burning about twenty feet from the shelter.

The brightness of the fire instantly made the
rest of the forest seem that much darker, but the
agents gratefully took advantage of the chance to
stand close and warm their hands. Mulder saw her
trying to massage a cramp from her left hand and
instantly grabbed her wrist and set to work with
his thumbs. He grinned as she groaned in comic
relief and cocked a curious eyebrow.

"You've been holding out on me, Agent Scully."

"Ummm?" she opened one eye as the warmth from his
hands worked out the cramps in hers and just
enjoyed the heat and smoke from the fire as it
wreathed around them.

"Why do I have a feeling you've been reading
something other than the American Medical Journal
and the Law Enforcement Bulletin lately?"

She smiled," You keep dragging me into
the woods, Mulder. I had to do something in self-
defense."

He chuckled, then dropped her hands, "So what's
next?"

Scully sighed. "Not much we can do until
tomorrow. We're just about out of daylight."

Studiously avoiding thoughts about what the
plastic tarp they found in the duffel had
probably been used for, the agents had placed it
on the ground inside the shelter. They piled in
leaves and pine needles until they had a ground
layer about a foot and a half thick. Carpet
ripped from the trunk of the car was laid on top.
Two garbage bags -one of several found in the
blue duffel, were stuffed with more loose debris
and would be used to block the entrance once they
were inside.

All in all, it was a damn fine shelter if she did
say so herself.

She dropped another couple of logs on the fire
and helped Mulder drag over a log large enough to
use as a bench. Then, they pulled off boots and
sneakers and carefully propped up socked feet
near the fire as they waited for them to dry and
for the snow in the now emptied toolbox placed
next to the fire to melt. A plastic bag currently
resting in the toolbox held melting drinking
water.

Mulder had made a disgusted face as she pressed
the second bag of water on him, but did not
protest. Orange urine was nothing to sneeze at.
He knew as well as she did that dehydration could
kill. People had dehydrated in cold weather to
the point where their blood thickened and they
did not bleed when cut. The side effects from the
side effects were more than enough to keep him
gulping as much water as she wanted him to drink.

Even if it did mean he would be getting up in the
middle of blizzard to pee.

Water was not going to be an issue, but food sure
was. There had been nothing, absolutely nothing,
in the car. Mulder had stripped Corman's body
before his sphincter muscles relaxed and rendered
his jeans extremely unpleasant. The dead killer's
sneakers were too small for him and much too
large for Scully but he had dropped them into the
car along with the flannel shirt and jeans Corman
had been wearing. Mentioning to Scully about
washing the blood out before using them for fear
of attracting animals to the shelter, he had been
a bit taken aback by the suddenly thoughtful
expression on her face.

Her next action, however, had shocked the hell
out of him.

Rifling through the blue duffel she had located
a large hunting knife with a wicked edge. She
also grabbed up a crushed paper coffee cup that
had pretty much been designated future tinder
and made her way back to Corman's exposed corpse.
Corman had gone down in the middle of the road,
and a thin layer of snow had already begun to
melt and freeze on his body.

Without warning, Scully reached out with the
knife and sliced him open from stem to stern.

"Uh Scully? I think we know what killed him. We
really don't need an autopsy."

She had shot him a look of amused irritation - or
was that irritated amusement? Then she severed
the abdominal artery and blood started to flow
sluggishly into the body cavity. Dumping in
the warm water she had carried in the paper cup
she used the knife to stir the gory mixture.
Mulder had watched, nauseated, and his brain had
started flipping through references to MacBeth's
witches and the casting of the runes with the
entrails of a goat. Not to mention every single
case he had ever dealt with that had anything to
do with human cannibalism. He swallowed sharply
and considered the fact that a photographic
memory could be a real bitch sometimes.

He was unaccountably relieved when all she did
was start scooping out cups of watered down blood
and started walking toward the small field and
trees across the road from their shelter. She
left a bloody trail behind her. She did this
several more times until Corman lay at the center
point of a large half-circle of bloody spokes all
leading into the woods. From the air, it was
probably a highly visible target, but it would be
covered by snow by morning. On the upside, he had
figured out what she was doing. She was trying to
get the food to come to them.

"Scully? What if we get a bear? I'm not
sure we have enough ammo to kill a bear."

"We get a bear, Mulder, I'll make sure we have
enough ammo."

Watching her standing there, her face distant,
her hands and exposed wrists streaked with blood
with an eviscerated corpse splayed out at her
feet like some obscene sacrifice, he had
believed every word she said. Watching her now,
the drama of the moment receded into memory, the
firelight turning her skin a burnished gold, he
still believed her. Her capability for ruthless
determination exceeded his own. He had always
known that. As hot as his passions burned, their
very nature could work against him when directed
inward. Hers was a cold rage, as terrifying as it
was effective for the simple fact that it
remained undiluted. It hid beneath proper suits
and government haircuts, emerging only in flashes
after she had been pushed to some unforeseen
breaking point.

Every lost piece of evidence, every covert action
that violated her sense of justice and honor,
every time he came a hair's breath distance from
death, the edge on that rage was honed just a
little bit finer. Their enemies had absolutely no
idea what they were creating. He was not sure
Scully herself knew. She looked in the mirror and
saw the youth her lost naivete and injured
innocence had leached from her face. He saw
tempered strength and commitment.

She saw loss...he saw truth.

If his passions were a weapon then her hand,
guided by cold logic and ruthless fury , would
strike the final blow.

And nothing...not a serial killer, not a blizzard
and not even themselves - was going to stop her.

He was looking forward to it.