Title: Canadian Winter
Author: Dancing Star
Crossover: PSI Factor/ Sue Thomas
Pairing: Connor/ Lindsay, Sue/ Jack
Category: Humor, Mystery
Summaries: In a snowy night the team hunts for a mysterious animal in the depths of Canada.
Notes: What do we learn from this story? Correct: Never go into the woods by yourself. :-)
It was late afternoon in a cold January. The weather was poor this year and although spring was practically on the doorstep, the Canadian Nature was still buried under a thick layer of snow.
Connor fumbled a little clueless in the freezer of the refrigerator, which stood in the living room of the Mobile Lab. He was resting one arm on a crutch. While he was doing this, he wondered if perhaps it was even colder outside than in the freezer and he asked himself how far away they actually were from the Arctic Circle.
"What are you doing?", his colleague Lindsay asked, standing on the doorway. She didn´t come closer but was watching him skeptically.
"I'm looking for a solution."
"You won´t find this in the fridge," she promised while she guessed what solution he was looking for, "Sit down on the couch, I'll get you an ice pack."
Connor did what she said as he limped back to the couch with his crutch and sat down. There he waited until Lindsay came back with an ice pack and placed it a little rudely on his knee. His face twisted in pain. Lindsay didn´t apologize and at that moment Peter came in. He pulled a hat from his head, stuffed it into the pocket of his thick winter coat and watched Connors unhappy face. Peter had been traveling all day.
"What happened?", he asked.
"Connor was hit by a cyclist today." Lindsay, who was still sitting next to Connor, turned around to face him.
"From a cyclist?", Peter repeated incredulously, "How can this happen?" Peter saw how Connor rolled his eyes a little annoyed.
He didn´t know how many times he had told this story today: First, he told the police, then Lindsay, then the doctor in the emergency room, another doctor in the emergency room, a taxi driver, Anton, Sue and Jack, and now Peter: This morning Connor went to a bakery to get some breakfast. When he left the bakery and wanted to cross a street a cyclist, racing out of nowhere, didn´t see him. The cyclist collided with Connor and they both fell to the ground. Some people helped him to get up and because they had seen the accident, they stayed until the police came. The cyclist was clearly to blame for the accident because the traffic light was green and the cyclist was driving on the wrong side of the road. The police tried to reach Peter and Anton and because they both didn´t answer their phones, they finally called Lindsay. She was very surprised when she got out of the taxi and saw him sitting a little lethargic on the stairs to the bakery. Lindsay took Connor to the hospital, where his painful knee proved to be a contusion. They drove home again with the taxi and the taxi driver asked them all sorts of questions about Connor's knee so he told him the story. At the Mobile Lab, they met Anton, then Sue and Jack, who were all quite puzzled why Connor hobbled. So he told the story again. Connor gave Anton a sick note from the emergency room, said that he was sick for at least one week. Peter was the last who didn´t know the story until now. Connor wondered if there were more people he had to tell. If so, he could speak a message on his cell phone and then play it...
"You're sick for a week?," Peter asked, when he also saw the sick note and Connor nodded. "That's too bad," Peter said, "That means you can´t come skiing with us next week."
"I can see you from the edge of the runway," Connor calmed him, but inwardly he thanked that Peter reminded him he couldn´t join in the fun.
The door to the Mobile Lab was open again, as Sue, Anton and Jack came to them. Sues dog Levi barked and then sat in the basket, the team had sponsored him. Not every OSIR team was accompanied by a dog, even if Levi was Sue's hearing dog.
Jack carried six pizza boxes on his arm. "We thought at least we care about dinner if Lindsay must be Connors nurse," Sue smiled with a wink and gave them the pizza.
Connor glanced inside his box and when he realized he had gotten Hawaiian pizza, he exchanged with Lindsay, whose box included Mexican BBQ. Sue hoped they were happy with their food: after all the ride to the next town had lasted nearly two hours. She never needed an afternoon to get a meal for the whole team.
After dinner they were more bored than the snowy wasteland could ever allow. Fortunately they found the game console, which they had given Jack last year for Christmas. It was a very good investment, because even though they didn´t like to admit, the game console had already saved them many a boring evenings.
Peter suggested they might watch a good movie instead of car racing. Up here in the Canadian wilderness, the reception of cable television was zero, satellite TV wasn´t working because of the new austerity measures.
Peter said he had fortunately a DVD in his luggage and he went off to fetch it.
"Isn´t it the DVD we have given you past Christmas?", Lindsay asked when he returned.
"This is the episode of Star Trek: Voyager where Captain Janeway is assimilated by the Borg."
Lindsay remembered very well they had even watched the DVD with him and Peter had been horrified when the showdown in space began.
"We'd better play a game," Sue suggested. They had five different video games. Connor and Jack opted for a multiplayer game called "Donkey races" and after the first round Lindsay could see Jack's donkey on the screen was losing the game. Then she noticed that Connor's donkey jumped over a stone and got rid of its rider. Anton watched the gambling crowd skeptical, while he read a book.
"Before we left, I bought an electric broom", Lindsay told and Sue, who was sitting beside her on the couch, stroking her dog Levi, disagreed said: "This is called vacuum cleaner nowadays."
"No, it's really an electric broom."
"Did you use the broom for flying here?," Peter asked and Lindsay heard Connor laughing, though he was still engaged in his video game.
"That's enough," she said and a funny melody brought her attention back to the screen.
"Winning is a bit difficult if you fall from your donkey!", Jack called and his donkey crossed the finish line first. The words "Game over" appeared on Connors half of the screen and frustrated, he put down the game console. Lindsay sat down again beside him.
"How is your knee?", she asked.
"Right now it feels as if it would burn... Can I have another bag of ice, please?"
"Men," Lindsay rolled her eyes, "You always act as if your are a superhero but if you only have a slight cold or you cut on a sharp edge of a paper you´re almost dying ," while she said this, she searched in the freezer.
"I was struck down by a cyclist," Connor recalled.
"And then by a donkey," Jack added and Connor complained.
Lindsay came back and handed him a green plastic bag.
"What´s that?", Connor asked.
"We don´t have ice anymore. You have to take frozen peas", she thought it was funny when Connor took the bag and put it on his knee. Then she apologized to make a cup of tea and asked her colleagues if she should bring something from the kitchen. Sue would also like to have a cup of tea and Lindsay told her she wanted to bring her a cup. She searched in the kitchen after the tea bags, when she noticed a steady, thumping noise. Lindsay listened for a moment. The knock came from a wall in the next room. But there was nothing, except equipment. She even went into the next room to check this but when she entered the room the noise disappeared and she couldn´t see anything unremarkable: No loose objects. So the noise had come from outside.
"Did you hear that?", she called out to her colleagues.
"What?," Peter replied, while he threw a tennis ball for Levi through the living room and was immediately reprimanded by Connor the Mobile Lab wasn´t a playground.
"It was only a wild animal," Peter reassured her. After all, they were in the deepest Canada.
Lindsay decided not to listen to the sound and prepared her and Sues tea in the kitchen. For about a minute there was silence.
But then the knock returned. This time it sounded like help-seeking and knocking, it came directly from the wall that was behind the sterile equipped kitchenette. Lindsay came closer to the source of the noise and when she touched the cold wall of the Mobile Lab, she could even hear the whistle of the wind, which swept around the truck. The knocking was over and when she relaxed a little, the sound suddenly appeared at a different location in the Mobile Lab. She wondered who was playing a game with them here and decided she had to talk to Connor as soon as possible. She thought it was really randomly he now also hobbled in the small kitchen to get something to eat.
"I told you I could bring something for you," she reminded him.
"It was a spontaneous decision," Connor replied and winked.
"I heard it again," Lindsay told him, "The knocking noise. It´s moving: You can find the source, the noise disappears and reappears in a different place again... Don´t tell me this comes from a wild animal," Lindsay complained and followed him, while he was getting a sandwich and then walking back to the couch with his crutch. Because she was more mobile than he was with his crutch it wasn´t difficult to follow him. Connor had to listen to her.
"I think we should go outside and find out," Connor said.
"Exactly. We should...", Lindsay stopped because she was surprised he agreed with her, "Should we?" Persuading him was easier than she had thought. Because of the snowstorm that raged outside, she was really surprised that he agreed.
"We should make two teams: Peter leads the first team, the second is mine," Connor said and Lindsay watched a little sulkily how he hobbled on his crutch to a chair to put on his snow boots.
"You're not going to come with us, right?", she asked cautiously and Connor nodded. "But you can´t," her voice was clearly worried, "If we..."
"It´s because of my injury, right?", Connor wasn´t stupid and knew immediately what she wanted to say.
"I'm just saying it can be quite dangerous for you," Lindsay sat down next to him, "Besides, you don´t have this crutch forever but only for one week."
"She's right," Jack mingled, who brought a thick jacket from his locker, "Why don´t you coordinate the teams? I'm sure we'll get along, if you give us instructions via radio."
Connor took a moment to make a decision. Finally he nodded. "All right."
They met five minutes later for a short briefing in the conference room.
"We are all connected to each other via radio," Connor said and handed them headsets, "Sue and Jack will go with Anton. The second team consists of Peter and Lindsay."
Sue noted the split was quite unfair because they had her dog Levi and Connor decided not to respond.
"You will report to me at least report every five minutes and tell me your exact position," Connor gave each team a detailed map of the area. The paper was yellow and when Peter asked how old the maps were, Connor replied that the Ranger had at least told the maps were fine.
Then he pushed flashlights across the conference table and small cameras that could record what they saw. Connor didn´t know what they thought they could find in the forest, but he hoped it was really just a harmless animal that scarred them.
They were on their way out the door after they had put on their thick winter jackets and put on their beanies. The technical equipment was attached to their clothing.
Lindsay left the Mobile Lab and went down the narrow stairs, while Connor was left at the front door. The steps were slippery and she certainly didn´t want him to fall down with his crutch. After the bicycle- accident today wasn´t Connors day.
"Be careful, you hear? Don´t do anything I wouldn´t do as well," she said goodbye to him.
"You know, the Mobile Lab isn´t just a death trap," he rolled his eyes.
"I know it's pretty hard for you to let us go..."
"Well, sometimes it feels like no one needs me."
"That's not true. I need you and you know."
He thanked her for this admission of affection. "Take care of yourselves, okay?"
"Yes." She nodded and pressed a kiss on his cheek. Then she ran down the last step of the stairs and hurried to Peter, Anton, Sue and Jack, who were waiting with Levi on the edge of the woods.
Lindsay didn´t believe it could be even colder tonight, because her breath formed clouds in the air. Her smartphone wasn´t working up here in the lonely wilderness of Canada, so she didn´t need to try to find out the current outside temperature on the internet.
Except for the glow of their flashlights, it was pitch dark and the forest looked pretty scary.
After crossing a forest road near Bluewater Mountain they separated in two teams: While Peter and Lindsay wanted to go to the mountain, Jack, Sue and Anton set off in the opposite direction.
The snow crunched under Lindsays feet and it was getting cold when she suddenly stopped.
"Wait a second," she grabbed Peter's arm so he couldn´t run away.
Peter listened and this time he heard it, too: It was a steady, almost melodic beat.
"Do you still think it´s caused by an animal?," she wanted to know and Peter shook his head. "Someone plays a pretty bad trick on us," he said and Peter wanted to know who was so mean.
Before they continued walking, they shared with Connor and the other team, that they would go to the northwest and follow the noise.
"What, if there is a wild boar?", Sue wanted to know after a while and she said the question directly into her headset as she walked next to Anton and Jack through the dark forest. Jack's flashlight flickered across some bare tree trunks.
"Then I hope you can run fast," Jack replied, "They can be quite uncomfortable if someone bothers them." He believed, however, wild boars were currently hibernating. But he didn´t know exactly.
So far, Jacks team had gone in the opposite direction, but when Lindsay told them via radio she had heard the knocking noise in the forest, they were also on the way to the northwest.
"We should have brought a gun," Peter complained via radio and because Sue couldn´t hear his comment, Jack explained to her what he had just said.
"We can´t just shoot an animal," she protested.
"We then have to tell the Forest Service, I know," Peter reported back by radio.
"We are far too kind to kill animals," now Jack replied and after Sue had seen what he had said, she nodded in agreement.
"Did you have any pets?", Sue asked and took Levi´s leash, "You don´t have a heart for animals."
Connor thought it was his duty to contradict her. "My family had a hamster when I was a kid," Connor finally told and Jack translated for Sue, "One day he ran away. At least I thought that until I discovered hamster droppings under the couch. So I told my mother the hamster still had to be in the house. My mother found him: He was sitting in the trash can and ate a cookie. The little guy looked pretty wrecked."
Lindsay laughed. "Then what happened?", she asked.
"The hamster didn´t live long and one morning he was sleeping in his cage. My mother made the pencil- test and in the end she put him into the trash can again. I did everything to save the hamster until he finally died a natural death."
Sue and Lindsay laughed when he had finished his story.
"Where are you now?", Connor wanted to know.
"We couldn´t find the origin of the noise," Lindsay disappoint him when she walked beside Peter. They were now on the road for half an hour.
She turned her eyes upward to the heaven, where the constellation of Orion glared. She wasn´t particularly interested in stars and she only knew this because, apart from the large and small scales, Orion was easily indistinguishable from the other constellations. A group of trees was now blocking her view, but there was something else: a large, round object with many glittering lights on the bottom.
Lindsay and Peter stopped.
"Connor?," Lindsay asked into her headset, "Do you she what I see?" She tried to align the small camera.
Connor at the Mobile Lab threw a glance at the screen, which should show him the video from Lindsay's camera. He only saw a flicker. "I'm sorry, I can´t see anything," he apologized to her and at that moment he realized the radio connection to Peter and Lindsay was canceled. So he decided to get in touch with Anton, Jack and Sue.
"Where are you? Do you have visual contact with Peter and Lindsay?", Connor wanted to know.
"Negative", Jack replied, "We last saw them when they went to Bluewater Mountain."
Connor at the Mobile Lab rolled in his office chair to a map as well as his injury allowed. Bluewater Mountain was unspectacular. He wondered why the two had gone there.
"Attention, Connor. We are going up a hill from where we have visual contact with Bluewater Mountain", Jack said, gasping noises coming through the line.
While he waited, Connor was blinded by a light which came definitely from outside. In his office chair, he rolled over to the window to look out. He didn´t expect someone would visit them at this late time. What he saw made his limbs weak and a short feeling of fear spread through his stomach. The coffee cup, which he held in his hand, had to be placed on the window sill, otherwise the piece of porcelain possibly landed on the floor.
"My...", he said but didn´t make it to stop looking at the gleaming lights that moved between the trees.
"Connor? Connor, what's wrong?", Jack asked in his headset and when he didn´t get response, he assumed something was wrong with their communication technology, so he shook the microphone. "Connor, what's wrong?", he repeated, but no one responded. Jack also heard only a noise.
"I can´t hear him, too," Anton shook his head and they even took Sue's headset because they believed something was wrong with their headsets, but a monotonous noise also hummed through Sues headphones.
"What do we do now?", Sue wanted to know. They had stopped and their feet in the cold snow gradually turned into iced lumps.
"We should go back to the Mobile Lab", Jack suggested, but Anton shook his head: "I think we should first look for Peter and Lindsay. The two might have got lost."
"Connor is doing well. He´s sitting in the warm Mobile Lab and is safe."
"But without the wireless connection we might also get lost," Sue complained.
"We take a vote," Jack agreed, "Who wants we first return to the Mobile Lab and take care of working technology?" When he had spoken this sentence, he raised one hand and Sue also did.
"My vote counts twice, I have to vote for Levi. We have the majority."
Anton rolled his eyes a little annoyed and followed them reluctantly when they went back to the truck, where Connor was waiting for them.
It took about thirty minutes, until they had gone all the way through the thick snow and finally arrived at the Mobile Lab. They ran a little faster when they saw the front door was open. "Connor?", Jack called after him and ran to the truck.
Sue stopped horrified when she saw the footprints in the snow that suddenly disappeared at one point. She didn´t know if that was because the wind and the snow could be responsible.
Jack jumped up the stairs directly into the laboratory and inside he searched for Connor. "He's not here!", with these words, he jumped down the stairs again shortly afterwards. It was still freezing cold and their breathing formed clouds in the air. The cold ache in Jacks lungs.
"Where did he go?", Sue looked around searchingly, while Levi tugged at his leash and barked loudly. Anton wondered if Connor perhaps had driven away in a car, but the two civilian vehicles in which they came, were still snowed in at some distance next to the Mobile Lab.
"I don´t know. He hasn´t left a note, "Jack replied, "But the Mobile Lab looks as if he had left in a hurry. He didn´t take his jacket and he hadn´t turned off the electronic devices," Connor was gone, without turning off the coffee machine and the Lab wasn´t even locked.
"This is a nightmare!" Sue's voice sounded desperate. Peter and Lindsay had gone lost somewhere in the woods and Connor had vanished, too.
Jack took a moment to sort his thoughts. Connor had announced him to be the leader of this little group and he now had to decide what was a priority. Should he first look for Connor, who was may severely injured and out without winter clothing? Or should he first try to find Peter and Lindsay, to whom they hadn´t been talking for half an hour? Making a decision wasn´t easy. Every one of them deserved his help.
Levi began barking loudly and angrily and when he pulled on his leash, Sue turned around. She wanted to see why her dog was so upset. Levi barked louder, he finally tore himself away from her and ran with his leash to the edge of the forest. "Levi!", Sue called after him, but he didn´t obey. She saw that his tail was wagging happily and she let out a relieved breath when she saw Peter and Lindsay coming out of the woods.
"Where have you been?", Sue wanted to know, "Why did we lose the wireless connection to you?"
"You won´t believe this", Lindsay began and looked at Sue's face which almost challenged to tell anyway, "We have seen a spaceship over our heads and I suspect this is responsible for the collapse of the radio link. It was a flying saucer and had many colored lights on its underside that sparkled like diamonds. First, I didn´t notice the link was broken." She now also saw that the door to the Mobile Lab was still open.
"Where's Connor?", Lindsay asked. Jack shook his head and rubbed his cold hands together.
"We don´t know," he admitted, "When we have reached the Mobile Lab, the door was wide open and Connor wasn´t there."
"We have seen footprints in the snow," Sue added, "Definitely from Connor. But suddenly the tracks stopped."
"That doesn´t sound very good," Lindsay said, "Is there anything else I should know."
Sue thought for a second, if she should tell her. But it was better to play with their hands in order to put a real time frame as to when they had to find Connor. "He didn´t take his jacket."
"Sounds like he would have fled," Peter said. But from what? He let the beam of his flashlight scurry across the exterior wall of the Mobile Lab and it accidentally brushed against some treetops.
"The trees are broken," he held the light cone at the trees that were right next to the lab, "As far as I can remember the trees were fine this morning."
He wondered what Connor had seen so he had to leave the Mobile Lab quickly and he didn´t even found time to put on a warm jacket.
"We have to look for him," Jack thought that was obvious. They wouldn´t leave a member of their team out here. But they had to hurry, because the cold and the falling snow from the sky were getting worse.
"This dammed map doesn´t help us a bit!", Lindsay crumpled the yellowed piece of paper in her hand when she realized they had reached a forest road which wasn´t written at the map.
"You have to stay calm," Sue said to her, "If we lose our nerves now, we can´t help Connor a bit."
Lindsay nodded. Inwardly, she thought Sue had absolutely no idea what it was like when her best friend suddenly disappeared without a trace. Her heart sank together painfully, when she thought about she probably would never see Connor again. She had told him, he shouldn´t do anything stupid. Why did he then run away?
"Why aren´t we looking for him in teams?", Lindsay asked.
"Because I have the responsibility, as long as Connor isn´t there," Jack replied, "Our technique doesn´t work and therefore I´m not in the mood for looking after another missing team member. And as you've probably noticed: our maps are outdated. The probability we get lost is too huge."
He raised his voice and Lindsay tried to swallow the tears of rage in her eyes.
"Okay," she wanted to try to accept his decision.
While the two discussed, Anton, Jack and Sue had gone a little further. Levi suddenly began to pull on his leash and Sue tried not to slip on the slick snow.
"Here is someone!," Peter cried, when they came closer to the bunch of snow that looked surprising similar to a human body. They hurried and ran faster, until the rest of the team arrived at the pile of snow which lay in the middle of a clearing. Peter shone his flashlight into the trees: They were also broken. Just as the trees next to the Mobile Lab. He wondered what the hell was going on here.
Lindsay almost fell down and she saw it was actually a man. "Connor," she cried formally when she dug him out of the snow and then turned him around. She had to push Levi aside, who already sniffed Connor´s face. Peter and Anton were relieved and equally shocked. They mumbled something about a car.
His eyes were closed and his skin was pale. One hand was still holding the crutch, but Lindsay didn´t move his limbs. She was afraid she might break a bone if he was already frozen to death... No, she didn´t like to think this.
Instead of moving him, she hugged him. Sue came to her and spread a blanket over him, she brought with her. Levi sat down on Connor's legs to warm him. Sue tried to stay calm. Comfortingly she grabbed Lindsay's arm and squeezed it tightly.
Then they had to wait until Anton, Jack and Peter had dug the civilian vehicles out of the snow and come to them, so they could finally take Connor to the hospital.
Connors eyelids were heavy and burned like fire, when he opened it and was able to see his friends through a grey veil. He opened his mouth to say something, but the incoming air caused a cough. In addition, a broad tube stuck in his throat, which disabled him swallowing. He heard how Lindsay called for a nurse while she still held his hand and his breathing tube was removed shortly thereafter. Connor took a moment to calm down.
"Where am I?", he asked, when he could speak again and Lindsay handed him a cup of water.
"We are at the hospital. You were half-frozen, when we found you. How are you?"
Connor was currently trying to convince himself: He moved his fingers and toes and grabbed his nose and his ears. He probably expected he could have got serious frostbites in the cold, which necessitated amputation. Relieved, he stated he was still completed.
"What did you think when you left the Lab without a winter jacket in the freezing cold?", Lindsay wanted to know.
"Sorry, I didn´t want to worry you... I had to hurry", when Connor said this Peter and Jack got chairs and sat beside his bed.
"What happened?", Peter asked, "We found you almost two miles away from the Mobile Lab."
Connor was surprised to hear that. "I remember I had radio contact with Lindsay and was blinded by a light. I looked out the window and saw a large round disk with many colorful lights on the bottom hovering over the trees. The lights sparkled as if they were dancing to a tune ", while Connor spoke, he looked eagerly into the faces of his friends and he saw in Lindsay's eyes she had seen exactly the same flying object.
"When the lights were brighter, I got up and hobbled out of the laboratory. On the way out, I slipped on the stairs and fell down the last step... I got up and I walked to the bright, shining light which was right about me", he paused and it seemed he would have to think about the next scene before he was shaking his head, "That's all I can remember. I have no idea how I could get so far away from the Mobile Lab."
Peter had an idea, but he didn´t say. Maybe they would talk about this at another time.
For a while no one said a word. "That doesn´t matter," Anton finally said, "The important thing is we´re all doing well."
"Yes," Connor nodded, "I rather suspect there have been several spaceships." He couldn´t imagine that one and the same spacecraft could simultaneously hover over Peter and Lindsay and the Mobile Lab, which was parked a half-hour- walk away. "Can you remember something?", Connor looked at Peter and Lindsay.
"Nothing spectacular," Peter truthfully answered, "We have seen some bright lights over our heads and we immediately returned to the Mobile Lab." Peter had to admit he had forgotten the noise in the woods. And no matter what it was, he didn´t want to stay a second longer to find out.
"Do you really think this was an alien spacecraft?", Sue wanted to know uncertain.
"I'm sure it wasn´t a plane or helicopter," Peter told her. He understood her doubts: She belonged to the part of the team which hadn´t seen the lights.
A nurse pushed a rattling cart with Connors breakfast into the room. It was oatmeal and a bagel with cream cheese. In the faces of his friends, he saw they didn´t envy him for this food.
"I´m sure you are very tired," Sue began, patting Levi, "We should go and let you sleep." Peter and Anton nodded and headed for the door.
"Get well," said Lindsay, before she gave Connor a farewell kiss on the cheek, took her jacket and then went to her friends, who were waiting for her at the door.
"We´ll come back tomorrow," Jack promised him, "Until then, I hope you look a little bit better."
Connor nodded and grinned because of Jack's comment. When his friends were gone, he closed his eyes and tried to sleep.
The horrible memories returned.
Step by Step.