**Thank you to Corinne Tate for helping me with some basic grammar stuff with this chapter.

She sat in the darkness for two, maybe three hours, just long enough for her eyes to start closing, despite all of her best intentions. It was MacReady's voice ringing out in the darkness that startled her back awake.

"So, you gotta name?" He sounded calm but inside he felt jumpy and could feel his nerves dancing beneath his skin. Idly, he debated asking her if she had any good booze nearby. He needed a drink badly.

"Kate Lloyd. You're at the Russian base—Vostok #12."

MacReady remembered Vostok #12 was a good two hour flight from #31. Garry had told him on the flight to Antarctica that while the American and Norwegian camps were interested in scientific discoveries, the Russians were at their base only to try and keep tabs on what everyone else did, via various forms of espionage.

Whether or not that was true, or if Garry had been smoking some of Palmers' stash MacReady really didn't know or care, but he found it interesting that the Russians had been kosher with Kate destroying the samples. Wouldn't they want the Thing as a weapon? The thought worried him but he played it cool; he couldn't afford to make waves until he was mobile.

"So, what do we do now?"

"We wait until we can get out of here and head out to McMurdo." She smiled at him reassuringly. "We should be out of here in a day or two."

"Can I ask you something?"

"Sure."

"How's Childs?"

"Your friend? He didn't make it, I'm sorry."

"I don't remember much after we shared that bottle." He knew that he and Childs hadn't had much of a chance out in the cold. The alcohol would've only made things worse, but at that point, he had been past caring.

"To be honest, I'd already made my peace with it. I was ready to die." Way to brighten the conversation MacReady, he thought to himself. Fortunately Kate didn't seem the least bit nonplussed about his confession.

"MacReady?"

"Yeah?"

"Do you mind if I pull a cot next to you and try to get some sleep?" She knew it was forward of her and very school-girlish, but she knew she needed sleep. The only way she was going to get it, was if she stayed as close to MacReady as possible.

He ran his hands through his hair and sighed before making a slapping motion on the side of his cot. "Yeah, sure."

It didn't take Kate long to slide the other cot into the room next to his. She was careful not to bang it into MacReady's, but he still stifled a sound in his throat when she lay down.

"You elbowed me."

"Sorry."

Unasked, he started into his story, as if he were reliving it. "You would have thought this big guy was crazy. He was trying to shoot a dog, and screaming in Norwegian. Garry shot him." It's what ended up being the precipitous event at #31. He felt like sharing, as much to get it off his chest as to run through it out loud so everything could start to make some sort of sense.

Kate's face froze in surprise, her mouth forming an o. "Lars? He didn't speak English. Lars is who this Garry person of yours killed." She had taken a short detour back to the Norwegian camp before heading toward the Russians, hoping to find Lars. But she gave up after calling him several times. Still she had held a small hope that maybe he'd made it to one of the other camps and was safe. Now that hope was gone.

"Kate, I take it you checked me out when you found me."

In the darkness Kate shrugged. "No, not at first."

"Really? I thought you called yourself a scientist."

"Paleontologist."

"Whatever."

"You were close to death when I found you. You were delirious and in and out of consciousness from the cold."

"If you were wrong, I could have killed you. That was a hell of a chance on your part."

"It was a chance worth taking." She found her reaction at the remains of the U.S. base odd. Her rational side could easily handle seeing an already dead body, but having to care for a man who was in as bad a shape as MacReady had been during the chopper ride back to the Russian camp, had been almost too much for her to handle.

That had scared her in a way that fighting the thing hadn't. She could only thank god, the Russian's med chopper actually had a Bair Hugger on board to warm him.

"I was so desperate to save you that I jumped into the Bair Hugger with you on the way back. After you were stable enough, I washed you and got you into those clothes you have on."

His right eyebrow lurched up in a smirk. "Really?"

"Don't worry, I didn't see anything important." As soon as she said it she felt like the world's biggest idiot. Great going Kate, insult your only ally here, she thought to herself.

Either MacReady didn't notice her attempt at a bad joke or he simply didn't care. Either way, his face registered no discernible emotion. Absentmindedly he touched his face and looked up at her.

"My beard. I never sleep walked as a kid so I doubt shaved myself."

Kate let out a weak smile. "I did it. It's silly, but when I get sick, shaving my legs makes me feel better, so I figured it wouldn't hurt you."

"Thanks, I think. Just tell me, you didn't shave my legs too." MacReady laughed at the thought of that. His old army buddies would have never let him live that down.

Kate couldn't help but laugh along with him in the dark. Laughing was better than any of the pills she had been shoving down her throat in hopes of dulling her feelings.

"I'm glad one of us still has a sense of humor."

"Hell, it wasn't that funny!" He poked her in the side teasingly, and motioned to her to turn off the lamp. "Get some sleep."