Totally gratuitous, because there can never be too much hypothermia fic. Or Shawn-whumping. Do not expect the flimsy excuse for a "mystery" or other delusions of a "plot" to make any sense. They're just illusions of the cold.

--Speaking of illusions, I've only been to California once in my life, in the summer, and never went near the San Gabriel mountains, so while I've googled up pictures and place names, I've taken artistic liberties...many artistic liberties. If you are familiar with the area, I beg your indulgence. If necessary pretend this is an alternate universe where global warming has yet to kick in...and possibly a new ice age is starting. One that's changing the geography of California. Er. Yes. That makes sense!

Out Cold
X-parrot

One thing his mother said to him way back when, which had been true when he was eight and she was cutting his hands free from where they had been super-glued to his hair; and was just as true now: "Your life sure is a lot more interesting with Shawn as your best friend."

At eight, this had been awesome. In the decades since, Gus had started understanding why the Chinese believed "May you live in interesting times" was a curse.

"What do you mean, your motorcycle skidded out on ice?" Gus asked, incredulously, but he was already digging his keys out of his pocket as he headed for the apartment door, because Shawn could manage these things, being Shawn.

"It is wintertime, you know."

"We don't get ice in Santa Barbara!"

"Yeah, but they do up in the San Gabriel Mountains. And it's only three hours away, funny, huh? I blame El Niño, myself. It could be global warming, but El Niño's way more fun to say. El Niiiño."

"The San Gabriel..." Gus stopped, lowered the phone from his ear long enough to glare at it in lieu of Shawn himself. "Shawn, is this about the Mandelburg obelisks case?"

"Dude, I told you Ibersen's ski resort was significant! Those forgery expert agents said they'd need someplace big and out-of-the-way, so no one would notice the noise—can't get much more out-of-the-way than up here. I found the cabin, it's definitely the place. I got the vision all planned—I figure, buy a Sno-Cone, upend it on Lassie's desk to make the mountain, and use pencils for the obelisks—"

"Shawn," Gus interrupted, "what happened to your bike?"

"Well, it doesn't exactly have snow-tires. And I might've taken a corner around the mountain a little fast. I thought a car was coming—only the wind, turned out."

"Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, snow broke my fall. And the bike's fine, it's just in a ditch. I need another pair of hands to get it out."

"So call a tow truck. You've got Triple-A membership." Shawn always complained about getting the most boring birthday presents since argyle socks, but as long as he was going to keep riding his two-wheeled deathtrap, Gus was going to see he was covered. It saved him on gas, because he invariably was the first person Shawn called. Even if Shawn was out in Kentucky at the time. Or up in the San Gabriel Mountains.

"No can do," Shawn said. "Seeing as this is kind of a private access road."

"Private access—"

"Trespassers will be shot, etc. They didn't actually have the sign—I checked this time—but they got the firepower. There wasn't just rock-carving equipment in that cabin; they had enough arms to shoot the last reel of a John Woo movie. Uzis and everything."

"What? And you're there? If they see you—"

"They won't," Shawn assured him. "They never come down this road, it's the back way. The only tire tracks are days old. And it'll be dark by the time you get here, nothing to worry about. I'm only a mile or so inside the gate, you just have to drive over, haul up my bike, and we're out of here."

"If you're that close to the exit, why don't you just walk out?" Gus asked. "It'll be safer. Walk out, call for help, just leave the bike. We can find a way to pick it up when the police raid the place."

"Uh, that's sort of a no-go," Shawn said, after a pause short enough that a normal person probably wouldn't have noticed it; and long enough for Gus's stomach to add another squirt of acid to the Saving for an Ulcer pool.

He was so going to name that ulcer Shawny-boy, when he finally earned it. "What's wrong?"

"I might've sprained my ankle when the bike rolled."

"You might've..."

"Maybe only twisted. All I know is that I can't stand on it, not without screaming like a chick in a horror flick, right before the knife comes down. Since I'm trying not to draw attention to myself for once, that makes walking sub-optimal. And it's a long way to crawl, uphill."

Gus closed his eyes, opened them again, and headed to the bathroom for Ace bandages to add to the backpack, along with an extra sweater, a wool hat such as Shawn was bound to have forgotten, and a thermos of hot cocoa. "You said you were fine."

"I am, when I'm sitting down. Hey, I got plenty of ice to put on it."

"That's it, I'm calling Chief Vick," Gus said. "Forget the psychic diorama, I'll just tell them you had—an out-of-body experience, they can send in the troops and get you out of there—"

"Gus, even if they listen to your vision instead of mine—"

"—Fine, then you call her. Speed dial six—" like Shawn needed the reminder.

"—and even if she believes me, and doesn't realize it's kind of blowing my psychic rep if it's actually an in-of-body experience—it'll still take hours to get a warrant, in a different county like this. Probably until tomorrow. I don't want to be stuck here all night. It's cold,"and that was Shawn's usual whine, but there was a serious undertone to it, the chill of snowy mountains and dark night. All alone, and hurt; it was one thing to pretend to be a stranded hiker to garner a hapless ranger's sympathies; another to actually be stuck on a mountainside with criminals potentially gunning for you...

"Besides," Shawn added, "if I don't get back tonight I'll miss the midnight ALF marathon on channel 18, and I think I forgot to Tivo it. Could you check that on your way out, actually?"

Gus nearly hung up on him. But he was an idiot—had been idiotic enough to be best friends with Shawn this long; why stop now? So instead he sighed, zipped up the packed backpack, and asked, "Which exit do you take off I-15?"


to be continued...