The accident occurred shortly after that. The lab was discovered, Ferris Boyle ordered the experiment shut down, and when Fries tried to protest, he was knocked into a table full of chemicals which reacted with his body.
At first the cold hurt, with a burning, unendurable pain. And then the numbness took over, so that he felt nothing. Nothing but relief when he realized that Nora was still safe and alive in the cryogenics tube. But neither of them were safe at Gothcorp anymore.
It was only once he returned to his apartment to collect what few possessions he valued before moving to a different location, a warehouse somewhere, where he could be with Nora, that he realized the true effect the chemicals had had on him. The room where the accident occurred had been frozen solid, and the night was a cold one, with temperatures well below freezing. When he entered the warmth of his apartment, he felt a burning kind of agony, and his heart began to seize up. Sweat poured off him as he hurried to open every window in the place, but it was only when he emerged onto the balcony that he began to feel steady again. The snow blew around him as he stood in the darkness, realizing that he was not the slightest bit cold. And realizing that returning inside was more than he could bear.
He sat down slowly, burying his face in his hands and trying to think. He heard a miaow and looked up as Gretchen emerged from inside, and came over to rub against him. She instantly jumped back, hissing in pain at his touch. His worst fears were confirmed in that instant.
Gretchen miaowed in confusion, but dared not approach him again. "Go," he whispered. "You can no longer be near me. No…living thing can be near me anymore."
The realization overwhelmed him, and he felt tears come to his eyes, but they froze before he could shed them. "If it must be…so be it," he murmured. "I will let every living thing feel my pain. I will let every living thing know what it is to feel the icy hand of vengeance, for myself, and for Nora. And I will save her. I will do whatever I must to save her. Even if it is too late for us, it will not be too late for her. She is the one spot of warmth in my otherwise frozen heart."
Gretchen just stared at him. "I said go!" he shouted.
The cat miaowed again but did not obey him. He seized it and it began hissing as the iciness of his touch began to burn it. Fries held the cat until it stopped struggling, until it gazed up at him with glassy eyes, frozen solid just like everything he had ever loved. "I must be alone," he whispered, dropping the cat to the ground where it shattered. "Now and forever."
Freeze only removed one thing from his apartment – the snowglobe Nora had given him. Then he transported them both to a warehouse which was not heated, providing the icy temperatures he needed to survive. He worked quickly, stealing the remaining materials he had left at Gothcorp to build himself a suit capable of encasing his body in a constantly freezing temperature, and equipping himself with a gun that would shoot ice in order to freeze his targets. He had nothing left but the cold and the ice now. And he needed money to continue his experiments to help Nora. So he got that money by any methods necessary. These methods were never legal, and it was only a matter of time before he encountered Batman, as Freeze was seeking revenge on Ferris Boyle for turning him into the monster that he was. It was the first of many encounters, which usually ended where Freeze was now – Arkham Asylum.
Freeze opened his eyes, still clutching the snowglobe tightly. Those were all the memories he had left now. Much time had passed since the accident, but nothing had changed for Nora. She remained encased in the cryogenics tube, alive and asleep, waiting for her cure.
As for Freeze, the more time passed, the colder his world grew. And the cold killed everything. The ice wrapped him in total numbness, and even his heart, which beat only for Nora, began to grow colder. It was why he was desperate to remember her. It was why he always kept the snowglobe with him, and constantly carved ice sculptures of her face, of her dancing, of the two of them dancing together. It was his last hope, his desperate struggle against the cold which threatened to consume everything, which threatened to destroy even his memories of warmth. And that was Freeze's deepest fear, second only to losing Nora – forgetting Nora. Forgetting what it felt like to be loved by her. Forgetting what love felt like at all. Becoming frozen solid, both inside and out. Losing the last vestiges of his humanity to the ice. He could feel it threatening to creep over his heart every day, and every day he had to fight back against it. He had to keep reminding himself of things like warmth and love. The ice seemed to consume them all. He didn't know how much longer he could fight the cold. It always seemed to win.
He could only fight for Nora. He could not fight for anyone else. He was cold and distant toward the rest of humanity because he had to be. Because if he started caring for anyone but her, he would lose the battle. He did not have the strength to fight a war on more than one front, not when the enemy was so pressing and so constant. And he had never much cared for humanity. Cold, cruel, and heartless, the entire race. All except Nora. She was the only thing worth fighting the cold for. One beautiful, delicate, frail flower in a world of ice. One living creature among the walking dead.
"I will find a cure, my love," he whispered. "I will save you. One day, I swear it."
He curled up again, holding the snowglobe next to his heart. "But there is no cure now," he murmured. "And until there is, Nora must sleep. And wait. I wish you only pleasant dreams, my love. For me, there is no waking from the nightmare of my reality."
He looked out the window before shutting his eyes to sleep. It was snowing again. It was always snowing. Spring was a distant memory. And memories did not last long in the frost.