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Frostbite

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Son of a cocksucker it was cold outside. Like. Holy fuck. I’ve been to fucking Antarctica and this was somehow colder than that. Colder than a witch’s tit, Scully would say.

Maybe it was because I just left a warm home. And an even warmer embrace with the warmest person alive. And it was the warmest and most content I’d ever felt in recent memory, but now I was in the dark and the icy wind and the snow up to my knees.

And it was all my fault. Spooky messed it up again.

“Mulder! Get back in here before you get frostbite!”

As much as it pained me, I ignored her turned from surveying under the porch, not even thinking of turning back. I had on boots, a jacket, a scarf hastily tied around my neck.
It was Dagoo. And it was all my fault.

“Dagoo!” I yelled, voice hoarse. It felt like I’d been searching for hours, but it was less than 15 minutes.

I left the doggy door unlocked, which is what we usually do. Dagoo is a good dog, he’s smart, he hadn’t eaten any people unlike other dogs in our past. He usually just goes outside, does his business, and comes back in, especially at night.

“Mulder! I’m serious!! Get inside!”

Just because I couldn’t feel my fingers and toes and ears and nose and, well, anything really, didn’t mean I would turn around. Dagoo had went outside, as usual, but it had been too long, much too long, when we noticed he hadn’t come back in for dinner.

He always comes back.

Quickly putting two and two together, noticing the blizzard happening outside of our warm bubble of fire and hot chocolate, I practically ran outside at Scully’s alarmed look. I wasn’t going to be the cause of death to another one of her dogs, no chance in hell. Even if hell has frozen over and I was trudging through it.

“Mulder!”

This time, only a whisper, half carried away in the wind. I ignored it.

“Dagoo!” I shouted instead. “Dagoo, come here boy!” I could barely feel my tongue.

I shined the flashlight slowly back and forth around the brush I knew Dagoo loved to play in. There was always a mouse or squirrel or rabbit around for him to chase. The occasional snake. I’d dug out enough dog toys around there to know it was his favorite, this and the places under the porch, but I’d checked there, on my knees, freezing my body to its current state of unfeeling.

There! A tail! I’d know that tail anywhere. I vaulted toward him, shoving frozen branches and brush away until I could see his hindquarters. I almost fell in my haste to grab him. He must’ve been chasing something that was trying to find shelter before the storm and either got stuck or decided this was warmer than any other place.

“---der!!”

Cringing at my lack of gentle touch, I grabbed a rear leg and yanked him out, bringing him up with me and to my chest, dropping the flashlight in the snow and immediately losing it. The dark got darker, and Dagoo struggled against my tight hold, but I trudged toward the back door determined to get back as fast as I could.

My overwhelming relief was muffled by the absolute chill in my bones. Scully was, as usual, probably right. Frostbite. Hypothermia. At least we were shivering, Dagoo realizing that he was rescued but still cold. Shivering is good, Scully had told me once, years ago. It means your muscles know they need to warm up. It’s when they stop knowing they’re cold when it gets dangerous.

The porch. Steps almost insurmountable. Scully. I thrust Dagoo at her and she turned, running back inside, saying something about a shower and warm towels. It sounded wonderful. I made it inside, slamming the door against the wind and thankful beyond belief that nothing horrible happened, that a tiny dog that was part of our family didn’t freeze to death because of me.

Suddenly the feeling came back in my ears, nose, all the exposed parts of my skin and it hurt. I followed Scully to the bathroom, a paradise of steam and an alert dog and a caring Scully who immediately covered my frozen face in warm kisses, shucking my clothes, pushing me toward the warmth of the shower.