Ice Station Takoma Park

by Martha

     Title:  Ice Station Takoma Park
     Author: Martha
     Rating:  PG  
     Classific: Gen, story
     Keywords:  Lone Gunmen

Spoilers: Join me in the pretense that "Jump the Shark" never happened. Anything up to this episode in the XF universe is fair game, along with all The Lone Gunmen episodes.

Disclaimer: The characters are the creative property of 1013 Productions, FOX Broadcasting, and News Corporation. They are being used in this story without their knowledge or permission.

Summary: A freak ice storm traps everyone at the Gunmen headquarters.

Jimmy slid open the overhead door on the loading dock and was immediately hit by a spray of icy rain caught in a sudden gust of cold wind. He quickly shoved the door closed, shook his head and arms of the excess moisture, then paused to glance out a window to figure out what was going on. "Hey, guys," he yelled into the back of the work area. "Has anyone checked outside lately? It's looking bad out there."

Yves appeared behind him, taking note of the rat-tat-tatting of the freezing rain on the metal door and shivering with the sudden drop in temperature for the short amount of time that the door had remained open. She had heard the reports earlier that a wintry mix of precipitation was expected later that evening and was surprised by its apparent early arrival. Checking her watch, she wove her way among the shelving back towards the main entrance and made preparations to leave.

Curious as to what Jimmy had been yelling about, Byers had turned on one of the televisions. He found a local station announcing the winter storm warning for their area along with a few reports of traffic tie-ups on the beltway. "Yves, you shouldn't leave. You'll never make it home."

She continued to place her reports in her briefcase. "I am a careful driver."

"Yves, careful or not, that expensive car of yours will find the bottom of the first ditch it comes across," Frohike warned. "You can't take that chance."

"I can't stay here. I have appointments to keep."

Langly turned on the monitors that scanned the alley where the vehicles were parked. "Damn, they all iced over in less than an hour. That storm moved in fast." He sprinted over to one of the computers and logged onto the local utility's site for an update. "Transformers are popping all over Fairfax and Montgomery Counties. It'll only be a matter of time before .. ."

As if on cue, various monitors and lights flickered and then faded, and the emergency lighting automatically switched on. Equipment not already hooked up to the uninterruptable power systems went dark. While the others remained frozen in the semidarkness, Frohike stumbled towards an unlit corner and opened an overhead cabinet, pulling out two flashlights. Handing one to Jimmy, he motioned for the other to follow. "You know the drill. Let's get to the generators."

The rest listened to the lone television as the newscasters detailed the power outages and warnings of downed electrical lines throughout the metropolitan area. The Doppler radar was making predictions of a weather pattern settling in over Maryland and Virginia for the next several hours, of a dangerous mix of freezing rain and wind-chill temperatures at or below zero.

"Sadly, I'm beginning to agree with the rest of you. This does not look good." Yves sighed, resigning herself to be cooped up with the misfits, charming though they might be. "Is it too much to ask if there is enough food in this place for all of us?"

"We've been stockpiling since 1998, getting ready for Y2K, and never broke the habit," Langly smirked. "We've got heaps."

Byers was more reassuring. "Don't worry. Everything is dated."

~~ a few hours later ~~

Kimmy was standing off to one side of the room, watching the others play cards at the dining table, providing a running commentary and chiding them all when one would make a misstep. "Why are you playing this ridiculous game?" he whined.

Langly coughed. "Because Byers can't play poker." He coughed again for the sarcastic emphasis.

Byers placed his dealt hand face down on the table. "It's not that I can't play, I just don't play it well with you guys."

"You can't bluff. That's your problem."

"You have a `tell'," Frohike tried to explain to him. "We know when you're lying."

Byers shook his head in denial. "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't do anything differently from one hand to the next."

"Oh, yes, you do, and since you insist on sitting in when we get a game going, I'm not revealing it." Frohike hid a smile behind his cards. "I enjoy taking your money."

Langly slouched down in his chair, growing impatient with the lull in the game. "Yves, are you ever going to answer my question?"

"Certainly." She fanned her cards out, glimpsed at them one more time, and then peered over them. "No, Langly, I do not have any threes. Go fish."

~~ a few hours after that ~~

"Well, it finally stopped sleeting." Kimmy looked around the corner from the kitchen towards the others. "I say that we send Jimmy to the roof and double-dog dare him to lick one of the antennas."

"Nah, he's seen that movie too many times." Langly continued with the preparation of a peanut butter sandwich.

"Doesn't mean the big lug still won't do it." Kimmy gleefully rubbed his hands together and left the room to entice Jimmy outside.

Frohike entered the kitchen, puzzled by the sudden disappearance of the two up the staircase. "Where are they going?"

"Kimmy's gonna dare Jimmy to go on the roof and tongue kiss an antenna." Langly finished licking the peanut butter off of the knife.

Byers had followed Frohike into the room and was now concerned. "Doesn't he know that Jimmy has seen A Christmas Story about a dozen times?"

"He thinks that Jimmy will still fall for it."

The three Gunmen nodded silently in response and remained in the kitchen. Langly munched on his sandwich, Byers leaned up against one of the counters, and Frohike, arms crossed, stood his ground in the middle of the floor. They waited for the inevitable chaos.

It was not long before they heard the stomping of feet on the roof entrance and the muffled yelling.

Byers sighed and pushed himself away from the counter. "I'll go and get some blankets."

"I'll get the portable heater from my room." Frohike turned to Langly and motioned towards the stove. "Why don't you start the kettle now? By the time it gets boiling, maybe Jimmy'll let Kimmy in from off the roof."

~~ later that evening ~~

Byers was the first to broach the most obvious question of the evening. "I suppose we should start discussing sleeping arrangements."

Yves immediately pointed a finger in Kimmy's face as a warning. "If you value your life and your dental work, you will keep that mouth shut."

Though tempted, Kimmy wisely kept silent.

"Byers will be the gentleman and offer you his bed," Frohike volunteered, "as long he sleeps somewhere else, right? His room usually stays the cleanest. The rest of us will double up and make do."

Jimmy had something else in mind. "We could just have a big slumber party in front of the TV. You know, pull out all the blankets and sleeping bags." He was disappointed when no one showed any interest in his idea. "Come on, guys, pillow fights. I'm game. How about it?"

Yves gazed up at one of the outside monitors, weighing the risks associated with lying in an icy ditch against the dormitory antics sure to come. "At the risk of inviting the most untoward of comments, I must point out that I have no bedclothes in which to change."

Byers again came to the rescue. "Will flannel pajamas do?"

Kimmy waited until the two were out of earshot before turning to Langly. "You should sell them on eBay later. You could make a fortune."

~~ a little bit later ~~

Yves licked her lips, cupping the wide mug in the palms of her hands. She took another short sip of the hot drink, swirling the liquid in her mouth with her tongue to capture the flavor. "Frohike, this is absolutely delicious. Where did you find the recipe?"

"It's something that I've developed over time." Frohike, plumped with pride, was elated for the compliment from Yves; women, he thought to himself, had a deeper base appreciation for chocolate than men. He was pleased with the evolution of this particular recipe after having sampled something quite similar in Miami half a lifetime ago. "Powdered cocoa, bits of semi-sweet chocolate squares, a pinch of sugar, some nutmeg, and the secret ingredient - sweetened condensed milk." He reached for a heavy glass bottle from a nearby cabinet and asked in a sing-song voice, "Care for a little amaretto with your cocoa?"

"Why, Melvin, you naughty boy. You've been holding out on me." Yves lifted her mug. "I simply must have a taste of it."

Kimmy waited until Frohike had walked back into the kitchen before whispering to no one in particular, "I'll bet it's been a while since he's heard that from a woman."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that." Yves took a slow slip from her mug and pointedly avoided the stares of the others.

Jimmy loudly rapped his knuckles on the table to get Frohike's attention in the kitchen. "Don't we have any marshmallows? I asked for marshmallows."

~~ in the wee small hours of the morning ~~

"What are they watching?"

Kimmy attempted to explain to Langly, employing a really bad imitation of Humphrey Bogart. "Of all the movies on all the channels on all the satellite systems in the world, they have to pick Casablanca."

"They just don't understand, do they?" Frohike sniffled and passed the box of Kleenex to Yves.

She gently pulled a tissue from the box and dabbed the corners of her eyes. "Uncultured heathens, the lot of them."

Jimmy, sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of them, accepted the box from Yves' outstretched hand. "I don't get it. Why is Rick letting Ilsa get on that plane?"

"It's for the greater good, Jimmy. They both have work to do that will keep them apart." She patted him on the shoulder in sympathy. "It's a sacrifice, but it's a necessary sacrifice."

"They love each other enough to let the other one go. They never thought they'd see each other again, but they did." Frohike sighed and blew his nose. "They'll find each other when the war's over, that's what I always hoped."

Jimmy was still inconsolable. "Rick should've stayed with her. Ilsa's much prettier than Captain Renault."

~~ mid-morning ~~

Kimmy bounded noisily down the stairs and into the kitchen. "Well, it's official. You are now out of hot water."

Jimmy eyed him up and down, trying to discern any telltale waterlogged signs. "How long were you in there?"

"Hey, don't look at me. Blame the beauty parlor twins over there." Kimmy pointed over at Yves, her damp hair wrapped up in a towel, standing behind a seated Langly. "They took the time to wash their hair."

Yves was about to make a comment that there could not have been enough hot water to wash off the grime she felt after spending so many continuous hours in the warehouse but then remembered that she was still at the mercy of their hospitality. She continued in her attempt to comb out Langly's towel-dried hair.

"Hey, Kimmy, when the water heats up again, you should take another pass . . ." Langly yelped, unable to finish his sentence. "Ouch, Yves, those are the tangles I've been trying to get through."

Yves swatted Langly's shoulder to scold him. "I've told you numerous times to put a good shampoo and conditioner on your shopping list. Just soap will simply not do if you are going to insist upon keeping your hair this length."

Kimmy nearly doubled over in laughter during this last exchange. "Are you going to give Langly manicuring tips later on as well?" he taunted.

Kimmy was rewarded with a damp towel thrown in his face.

~~ later that afternoon ~~

Jimmy stomped his boots on the towel laid out near the front door. "Okay, the steps are cleared." He quickly walked over to Yves and helped her finish putting on her coat. "It's a bit slushy out there so you need to be careful, but I've cleared a path to the cars."

Yves tied the belt of her jacket. "Thank you, Jimmy. As quickly as that storm moved in, some milder temperatures are now pushing it away. At least it won't refreeze before we have a chance to get home."

"Hold on a minute, Yves," Frohike called out from the kitchen. He appeared a moment later carrying a Tupperware container. "Here's some of the leftover curry. I noticed that you had three bowls last night."

"It was delicious." She balanced the container in one hand and picked up her briefcase with the other. "You know, I'd heard mention of your culinary talents, but I wasn't expecting something quite so exotic on short notice. You really outdid yourself during our little ice storm."

Frohike walked with her to hold open the door. "When I start feeling cooped up in this place, I start cooking. It relaxes me."

"It's a wonder the other two are still relatively trim. I feel like I've gained five pounds since yesterday."

"You could stand to gain five more," Frohike absent-mindedly added. Three seconds later, it dawned on him that he had said that out loud and tried to cover it up. "Not that you're not quite . . . oh, never mind." He steeled himself against the door for the expected backlash.

Yves was in a forgiving mood, seeing as how she was finally able to leave the warehouse. "Thank you, Melvin. I think."

Kimmy followed her out the door but turned before climbing the stairs. "Don't I get a lovely parting gift as well?" With the slam of the heavy metal door still ringing in his ears, he started up the steps. "They just don't make hosts as gracious as they used to."


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