Summary: Entry into the January Challenge
THE LODGE: STORM
Walter turned off the CB radio and grimaced. Well, considering the time of year, it was to be expected. Not liked, but at least Terry had given them ample warning so they could get ready.
He pulled on his outdoor clothes and went out to give Alex the news.
"I think we should bring the dogs in. Terry wasn't sure how long this storm is going to last, but he told us to be ready for at least three, four days of it."
Alex found it funny that Walter was always worried about dogs that had been bred to endure sub-zero temperatures, whose pelts were so thick that all they needed was some shelter and they would be more than warm enough.
Still, he rounded up the seven dogs and pups, settled them in the mud room using some of the straw that he used to insulate their kennels. It would serve to keep the dogs off the cement floor of the mud room, absorb any little "accidents" that should happen during their stay indoors. Madonna and Boy would, of course, be spending more time with them in the kitchen, in their usual corner.
Walter went around making sure all the cabin doors were secure, that the rope-guides to the wood pile were tightly knotted. They had already stacked more than the normal amount along the porch and in the mud room, as a precaution. Alex joined him for a final inspection and then, as the snow began falling, they both went in, patted the excited puppies who had rarely been allowed indoors, calming them, settling them down. The older dogs had claimed whatever straw had appealed to them and curled up, knowing that the storm was well begun.
Inside, Walter and Alex double-checked the upstairs. That all the windows were truly shut and shuttered, that all water had been turned off. Alex made sure the fire in their room had died down enough for him to close the damper, the flue. He gathered all the clothes he thought they would both need and piled them in one of the laundry baskets.
By now they felt like old hands at this. Between the two of them, they rearranged the kitchen, dragged down one of the double-sized mattresses, pulled in two of the long couches from the lobby. Using some rope to tie the legs together, they made a foundation for the mattress. Walter made the bed up in the corner while Alex went and got some of the heavy blankets, a couple of the duvets from the linen room. After the first winter, they had arranged for some removable doors to be made to block off the bottom of the stairs leading up. They would be concentrating the heat in the kitchen and in the small bathroom just off it.
The pantry was filled so food was not a problem. Since the fridge, the freezer worked off propane, the food they did have would not go bad. Walter did make sure the radio was working. He arranged with the Postmistress in LA to call in at a certain time every day, just in case. Encazou, she called it.
Alex remembered to bring down the book Walter read every night before going to bed. Added a few others from their bedroom bookcase. He even brought down the CD player that they fuelled with the batteries Mulder had left behind when he'd been up at the start of that winter.
By the time the mid-day sky had blackened, their preparations were complete and they settled in to wait out the storm.
Walter set himself up at the table with some of the endless paper work associated with running a business. Alex puttered around, putting together the ingredients for a chocolate cake as their summer cook, Marie, had taught him to make.
They ate supper, cleaned up and spent the evening playing their usual game of chess. Alex let the dogs out for a quick turn on the porch, had no trouble getting them back in out of the stinging storm.
That night, Walter got ready for bed first. The bathroom downstairs barely had room for the toilet, a small sink, the shower stall. One person using it was a squeeze: two, an impossibility.
He was waiting for Alex in their makeshift bed when Alex came out, hair still damp, wearing their usual nightwear for the time of year, heavy fleece sweats and thick wool socks. Alex checked the wood stove one last time, turned off the kerosene lamp. He crawled over the armrests and made his way over to the raised covers. Walter dropped them over him.
"What was that grin about?" Alex snuggled close to Walter's heat.
Alex looked over his shoulder at his smiling partner. "The one you flashed me before I turned off the light. The one you're fighting off even as I speak."
"Oh. *That* one." Walter's smile grew into the grin Alex was accusing him of.
"I was just thinking."
Alex rolled over a bit so that he could watch Walter's face. "Should I ask about what?"
Walter propped himself up on an elbow, the easier to see the face looking up at him. "I was just thinking how we both are probably wearing as much clothing to go to bed here as we wore to work in, before."
"I'm not wearing my leather jacket." Alex made himself comfortable. For two men who barely spoke ten sentences to each other throughout the day, their nightly ritual made up for it. "Do you want me to go upstairs and put it on?"
Walter grinned evilly. "But then I would have to insist that you take off all the other clothes you have on and wear just that. Might be a bit cold, considering."
Alex made a little shrug. "Then I would have to insist that you take all your clothes off, too. I'm sure I could think of something to do to keep us warm."
"I'm sure you could." Walter slowly lowered his head to the mouth coming up to meet his. "Still," he said when they'd both caught their breaths, "wouldn't do to catch cold. I'm sure we can find a way without getting too cold."
Alex gave the soft laugh that always found its way to Walter's groin. "I'm sure we can. We do seem to have lots of experience with this."
"Can never have too much," whispered Walter.
Encazou = slang for "en cas d'ou": means "in case of" or, colloquially, "just in case".