Christmas, Mulder Style

Christmas, Mulder Style 1/3

By Mary Kleinsmith (BUC252@aol.com)

Categories/Keywords: MSR, Holiday, Christmas, Written for VS10’s Christmas challenge

Rating: PG

Summary: How did Mulder spend all those Christmases alone? He finally decides to share with Scully.

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: Scully, Mulder, and Maggie Scully – and all the Scully clan – belong to 10-13, Fox, and CC.

Author’s Notes: Okay, I know Christmas stories have been done forever, but have you ever noticed how most of them have Mulder sitting home alone on the holiday? Or not celebrating at all? Well, I had a different thought on how he might spend his day – and this is what came of it. Enjoy! Feedback: Please? Much appreciated!

Christmas, Mulder Style

By Mary Kleinsmith (BUC252@aol.com)

“I don’t get it, Mulder.” Dana Scully looked at her partner in frustration. “Every year I invite you to Christmas day at my mother’s house, and every year you turn me down. Even on the years when Bill can’t make it home, you manage to weasel out of it! I’d really love you to join my Mom and me this year – it’s going to be just the two of us.”

“Military duty is a bitch, isn’t it?” Mulder asked with a shrug.

“Yeah, especially this time of the year. We’d really like to have you there, Mulder. Please?”

“Scully, look. I’d love to join you, I really would. But I have plans. Obligations.”

Scully was puzzled. He had no family left, and she knew it as well as he did. “A TV dinner and a football marathon alone in your apartment are NOT obligations, Mulder.”

“Have I ever once told you that’s how I spend my day?” Mulder raised his brows, calling her on her statement.

“Well . . . . I mean . . . I just assumed . . .”

“You know what they say about assuming,” he winked.

“Very funny,” she chuckled, drawing closer to him. Normally, they wouldn’t show such signs of affection in the office, but she didn’t seem to care this time. “C’mon, Mulder. I want to share this with you. You’re the most important person in my life.”

“Bet you say that to all the guys,” he joked, then became serious. “Okay, how about a compromise. I’ll spend Christmas eve with you and your Mom – I’ll even take you to mass – and then all three of us will spend Christmas day meeting my obligations. Once that’s done, we’ll return to spend the rest of the holiday at Casa Scully.”

Scully looked at him with doubt in her eyes. “Why do I feel like I’m getting myself into something I won’t be able to get out of.”

“Because you are. That’s the deal, Scully. Take it, or leave it.”

He smiled, hoping she’d agree. “Look, every year, you make the assumption that my Christmas is spent alone in my apartment. This is your chance to finally see how I REALLY spend my holiday.”

It was apparent from the look on her face that the idea intrigued her. “I’d have to call Mom. . .”

“I’d expect nothing less. After all, this involves her, too.”

“Okay,” Scully agreed, picking up the receiver and dialing the phone. “But don’t make me regret this, Mulder. I have ways of wreaking my revenge.”

“Promises, promises,” Mulder chuckled as he sat down to his work.

Christmas was less than a week away, and he was really  looking forward to it this time.

**

The stores were nuts this close to Christmas, but Mulder knew that, by shopping at this time, he could get the really good deals. Yes, people shopped on Christmas eve, but not enough that the storekeepers weren’t worried that their stock wouldn’t be sold out by the holiday itself. The sales were great, and the more he could get for his dollar, the better.

He knew he wanted to get the best gifts possible for Scully and her Mom. He had ideas for Scully, but what did you get for a lovely woman like Maggie? He was hitting the stores again after work, which would give him an opportunity to find something. And to pick up Scully’s.

“So, what do you think your Mom would like for Christmas?” he asked her. Scully’s nose was buried in her computer screen, but she looked up sharply, as if taken by surprise.

“Mulder, she’s not expecting anything from you, I’m sure. All she wanted was your presence. That’s it.”

“Scully, I have no intention of spending the holiday with your mother and not having something to show my appreciation.”

“I understand that, but flowers would be more than enough, I’m sure.”

“You don’t think she’s gone long enough without a gift from a handsome man?” he asked her with a devilish grin.

“Not as long as you may think,” she smiled back at him. “She isn’t exactly a nun, you know.”

His face fell, but you didn’t have to be as familiar with him as Scully was to know he was faking it; that was his plan all along. “I think I’m jealous.”

“Nobody will ever take your place in her heart, Mulder. Mom loves all her strays.”

“Strays?” he asked

“Yeah.”

“Oh, how flattering. I love animals, Scully, but I’m not sure that I appreciate being compared to a smelly, mangy cat.” How nice to know what she thought of him.

It must have shown on his face. “I’m sorry, Mulder. It’s not at all like you’re thinking. See, Mom’s kitchen was always the place where the kids congregated. She made the best cookies, and mixed up the best lemonade. And even though the house was always full of our friends, she never hesitated to take in kids who had no place else to be. Everybody was welcome in the Scully household.”

“Somehow, I don’t get the feeling that your brother Bill inherited your Mom’s hospitality.”

“Actually, you’re the only one he seems to have a problem with.”

“I feel so privileged,” Mulder said with sarcasm. “At least we won’t have to suffer through each other this year.”

“Which brings us back to the origins of this discussion, Mulder. Where are we going?”

Mulder had turned off his computer and was retrieving his jacket.

“We’re going to the mall. I have a few parcels to pick up.”

“But it’s not even 4:30 yet. We can’t leave this early.”

“Sure we can. Besides, I need to stop and sign out a vehicle from the motor pool before they all go home.”

“What’s wrong with your car?” she asked curiously. He was torn between telling her what was going on and simply showing her, finally opting for the latter.

“Nothing. This just takes some . . . special equipment.” She was still looking at him oddly. “C’mon and I’ll show you.”

They wheedled their way through the desks and halls until they finally arrived at the counter. Mulder quickly filled out the form and was handed a set of keys and given the parking space where their transportation resided in the garage. He ignored the look on her face that said she didn’t recognize the space assignment.

It became impossible to ignore, however, as they approached the vehicle.

“Mulder . . . that’s a van.”

“I know, Scully.”

“But . . . It’s not even a mini-van – it’s a full size cargo van!”

“A good thing, too, since that’s what I put on the requisition.” At the continuing question in her face, his tone softened and grew serious. “Just trust me, okay? No questions – just go along with this. I promise, you won’t regret it.”

She silently climbed into the passenger side of the van. “Mulder, do you even have the right class of license to drive one of these?”

“You don’t have to have a special-class license anymore; they changed the law years ago.” His face brightened and he turned on the radio. “Let’s see if we can find any decent music, huh?”

“Mulder, why do I get the feeling that this . . . mood . . . of yours is forced?”

“I have no idea, Scully. Why do you have that feeling? It’s Christmas. Can’t I have a good time?”

“I believe you’re having a good time, Mulder. But it’s not like you to be this . . . to take things this lightly. Despite all the jokes and sarcasm, you’re the most serious person I know.” She looked at him with an intensity that drew him in, and he wondered if he should pull over before he crashed and killed them both.

“This is serious, Scully. I just wanted you to have fun at the same time.”

“Mulder,” she said, laying a hand on his as it sat on the steering wheel. “Sharing your holiday customs is all I could ask and all I want. You don’t have to fake giddiness for me.”

Message received, he nodded once and went back to concentrating on the road. Surprisingly enough, she didn’t ask him again where they were going or inquire further on their excursion. This time, his smile was genuine as he pulled around the block near the mall and backed up to an unmarked overhead door.

“What is this?” she asked finally.

“You’ve never seen the delivery entrances to the mall?” Mulder said, surprised. Beside the overhead door was a man door, on which he knocked soundly until it finally opened. The middle-aged man’s face lit with recognition.

“Mr. Mulder! So nice to see you again, Merry Christmas!”

“The same to you, Dennis. How’re you?”

“I’m doing well, thanks.”

“And the wife and kids?”

“Jeanine is great. The kids have had the flu, but it’s on its last legs. You can never keep a teenager down for long anyway,” he laughed. “And who do I have the pleasure of welcoming to my loading dock?” he asked, turning to Scully.

“Dennis, this is my partner, Dana Scully. Scully, this is Dennis, the best dock manager this side of the Mississippi.”

“Nice to meet you,” they said simultaneously before Dennis turned to Mulder.

“Partner?” he asked wickedly.

“At the Bureau, remember?” Mulder said, rolling his eyes.

“If you say so,” the dock man said with a grin and a wink. Keeping this a secret was becoming difficult.

“Anyway, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover tonight, tomorrow being Christmas eve and all. Think you can load me up while we do a little shopping?”

“Absolutely, Mr. Mulder. We’ll have you ready to go before you can say Jack Robinson.” Mulder began to lead Scully away, but Dennis drew his attention once more. “Oh, and Mulder. . .they’ve got some really good prices at Reed’s Jewelers.” There was that wink again before a meaningful glance at Scully.

“Thanks for the advice, but I think I’d better pick out my gifts myself. Be back in awhile.”

Coincidentally enough, Reeds was the next store after the one they entered, which Scully could finally see was KB Toys. She surprised him by not asking any more questions, and before he knew it, they were absorbed in looking into showcases.

“How about a necklace, Scully? Think your Mom would like that?”

“Sure, or a nice pin. There are so many beautiful ones here. Or we could always go to the department store and you could pick her out a nice sweater.”

“Your Mom deserves better than a sweater, Scully. So much better. After we’re done with Christmas day, I want something really great to give her.”

“Any of these things would be wonderful, Mulder,” she told him warmly, taking his hand as he continued to peer into the showcase. Suddenly, his eyes widened.

“Hey, how about that one!” he pointed out. The jeweler stood before him. “Can you have this ready by tomorrow?”

“Absolutely, Sir. Just let me get the order pad and we’ll get all the specifics.”

Their stop at the jewelry store was completed in short order, and they moved on to some of the other stores. In the center court stood a huge Christmas tree decorated in nothing but lights and three scraggly angels cut out of construction paper. They looked so lonesome, hanging there, and Mulder stopped to look.

“Three names left,” Scully said, reading the tags. “Would you mind very much if we went back to the toy store? I’d hate to think of these three kids not having anything under the tree on Christmas morning.”

In typical fashion, the mall had put up a tree full of names of kids who, without the generosity of the mall’s patrons, wouldn’t be getting Christmas gifts this year because they were either orphans, homeless, or their parents simply couldn’t afford luxuries beyond food and drink.

“We can’t let that happen,” Mulder said, beaming with pride at her thoughtfulness. “We can stop off at JC Penney’s and pick them up some warm clothes, too, okay?”

“I can’t think of a better way to spend Christmas eve day eve,” she laughed, lifting the tags from the tree.

The department store was closer, so they started out there. As it turned out, the tags were for a seven-year-old girl named Andrea, a five-year-old boy named Colin, and a three-year-old girl named, of all things, Margaret. They came upon the boys’ section first, and found a pair of jeans, a shirt, a jacket, scarf and gloves in just the right size according to the information on his tag. While they were choosing between a red and green shirt, Mulder couldn’t help but wonder how Scully would deal with this. Anything involving little girls seemed to remind her of Emily, and that was a sore spot that he didn’t want her to have to revisit. But it had been her choice to take the names, so maybe he was worrying needlessly.

Still, it couldn’t hurt to offer.

“Would you like me to go and find some clothes for the girls while you check these out?” he asked her.

“No, Mulder. If you really don’t mind, I’d like for us to pick them out together.”

“Are you sure?” he asked doubtfully.

“I’m sure.” She drew closer, laying her hand on his cheek. “I know you worry about me. And I won’t admit that it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of her. But I can’t pretend that every female child in the world under the age of 12 doesn’t exist. These kids need good presents for Christmas.” She smiled and her eyes gleamed. “Not that your choices wouldn’t be just perfect, but I think I’d better . . .”

“Make sure I don’t screw it up?”

“Well, I wouldn’t have put it quite that way.”

“But it fits, right?”

“Yeah.” He couldn’t argue with her. What did HE know about buying clothes for a little girl?

But, luckily, Scully knew all the ins and outs, and got each girl clothing that was both useful and something they’d probably like.

The gift-wrapping line wasn’t nearly as bad as they expected, and in short order, they had bags full of wrapped presents. That done, they headed for KB Toys, both to pick out toys for the three “tree” kids and to reclaim their vehicle and head home.

The toys came first, and their arms were quickly filled with Barbie and Pokemon and Playschool’s finest. KB didn’t have a gift wrapping department, but a small table in the mall nearby held some teenagers wrapping gifts for charity, so Scully gladly forked over the extra money to have everything wrapped up.

All the tree gifts were dropped off at one of the many stations, this one located right near the gift wrappers and toy store. At least they made it easy on you, Mulder thought.

“I don’t know about you,” Scully said as they made their way to the loading dock, “but I’m bushed. It’s been a long day.”

“Yeah,” Mulder agreed. “But we have one more stop to make. Don’t worry, this isn’t anything you have to help with if you don’t want to. You can nap if you want.”

“No way, Mulder. In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say.” They turned the corner and found Dennis, standing beside the van with the cargo doors still open. “Oh, my God. . .” Scully’s mouth was hanging open.

The back of the truck was filled from top to bottom, back to front, with boxes, but Scully was the only one surprised by this.

“Mulder, what’s in all these boxes?”

“Scully, what store are we at?” he asked, and she looked confused at the non-sequitur.

“KB Toys.”

“So what do you suppose is in the boxes? Hickory Farms cheese?”

“Okay, so that wasn’t one of my smarter questions,” she laughed. “It should have been, ‘Mulder, where are we going with all these toys?'”

“Get in and you’ll see,” was all he said, and as a testament to her trust in him, she did so without further explanation. He jumped behind the wheel and they drove for another fifteen or twenty minutes before pulling into a large driveway that led to what looked like a school. The sign, however, explained.

“Greater Tri-State Metropolitan Children’s Home.”

To be continued in Part 2

Christmas, Mulder Style 2/3

By Mary Kleinsmith (BUC252@aol.com)

Mulder could see that Scully finally understood what was happening.

She motioned to the button beside the delivery doors. “Should I ring the door bell while you start to unload? I’m sure somebody will answer who can help.”

“No, don’t!” Scully jumped at the shout. Quieter this time, he added, “just help me with these.”

They went to work, piling the boxes in neat stacks in front of the door.

“Mulder are you sure that blocking an exit is such a good idea? What if there’s an emergency and they need to get out before they find this veritable fortress.” She motioned to the wall of boxes, the last of which he was putting into place.

“It’s near midnight, in case you hadn’t noticed. Nobody is going to be up. “C’mon, get into the truck.”

Fortunately, she obeyed without argument this time, and they were already turning off the road before he saw any activity in his peripheral vision. He’d gotten away again.

They rode in silence for several minutes before Scully had apparently waited long enough and started her inquisition. “Mulder, did you buy all those toys, or did the store donate them?”

“Does it matter?” he responded, knowing full well he wasn’t going to get away with it.

“I think I have a right to know. We’re not just business partners anymore, remember?”

“Ever so clearly,” he responded with a sigh. “No, the store did not donate them. Although they did give me a special discount.”

“And every year you buy a truck full of toys for kids who otherwise wouldn’t get any?” Since he was driving, he couldn’t see the love in her face, but he could hear it in her voice.

“It’s no big deal. I mean, who else do I have to buy presents for? You, your Mom, and the Gunmen. And Skinner if I’m not on the outs with him around the holidays. May as well put the money to good use, right?”

“And they don’t know you do this? The children’s home, I mean.”

“No, and I don’t want them to know. So before you get any ideas in that beautiful head of yours . . .”

“I promise. They won’t know who their Secret Santa is.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.

“So, think Santa’s little elf could spend the night at Santa’s place?” he grinned as he pulled onto her street.

“As nice as that sounds, Santa, this elf has some things she needs to take care of at her apartment. I don’t want to have to worry about everything there over the holiday.”

“Okay,” he said, disappointed, as he pulled the van to a stop in front of her building. “I’ll see you at work tomorrow. I’ll be a little late – I need to return the van. At lunch, I’ll run over and pick up your Mom’s gift, too.”

“Pack a bag, okay? We’ll head over there right from work.”

“Think your Mom will approve of our sleeping in the same bed under her roof?”

“I have no idea, but maybe we shouldn’t, just to keep the peace.”

“Meaning you haven’t had the nerve yet to tell her we’ve been sleeping together?”

“Let’s just say it hasn’t come up in casual conversation, okay?” she said from outside the van door. She leaned back into the window.

“Goodnight, Mulder.”

“Goodnight,” he responded, pulling away after he saw her enter the building and the door lock behind her.

**

She only got four or so hours of sleep, but there was an errand she just had to run, and she couldn’t resist. She’d set her alarm for 4:30 am, and rose and dressed almost on auto-pilot so that she was sitting outside the children’s home by six. She had no idea what time people started to rouse at such an establishment, but wanted to be there to watch when they found Mulder’s offerings. Not that she could explain the need she felt to observe this – she just did.

Finally, around 6:30, a head poked out the door. It was a man, not a child, but his face shone with joy as he beheld the boxes.

One at a time, he brought them into the building, and by the time it took him to return, she deduced that he was putting them away, too, not just moving them in out of the weather. She could see his lips pursed in a whistle as he accomplished his task, until finally, he moved the last one.

She’d thought, with all her investigative experience, that she’d been out of sight . . . was certain that the man hadn’t seen her. But she’d been wrong, because, as the doors closed the final time, a knock came on the passenger window of her car.

Unthreatening, a different man, older and wise-looking, entreated her to open her window, which she did.

“Excuse me, ma’am. I may be way out of line here, but do we have you to thank for the Christmas gifts? I know they were meant to be anonymous, but we’d really like to know.”

“I’m sorry, no, I’m not your Santa. I do know who he is, though. He’s a very close friend of mine.”

“Will you tell us who he is?” he asked again, gently. “We owe him so much.”

“I’m afraid I’m sworn to secrecy,” Scully told him. “I’m sorry. You’re right – he does deserve recognition.”

“Well, if you won’t tell us who he is, would you come in for a few minutes? There are some things I’d like to give you to pass on to him.”

“Of course,” Scully agreed, getting out of the car and following the kindly old man into the building.

**

“Dana! Fox!” Maggie’s smiling face greeted them at the door, and Mulder found himself relaxing in her warm presence. A few moments later, that presence evolved into an embrace. “Merry Christmas!”

“Merry Christmas, Mom,” Scully responded, getting a hug of her own.

“Let me take your coats, and go on into the living room,” Maggie offered. “I’ll get us something to drink. Eggnog or Christmas punch, Fox?”

“Punch, please, Mrs. Scully. Thank you.”

“Maggie, please. Okay, punch it is, and I know what Dana wants.” The partners exchanged a grin as Maggie let them.

“I was always a nut for eggnog,” she tells him. “When I was a child, Mom and Dad had to forcibly stop me after two glasses or I’d drink so much that I’d be sick on it.”

“You have no idea how much whining we had to endure,” Maggie said, returning to the room with three glasses on a tray. “Dinner will be ready in about half an hour. I hope you’re both hungry.”

“Are you kidding?” Mulder joked. “We skipped lunch today in preparation for this.”

“He’s serious,” Dana assured her. “He’s been looking forward to your cooking ever since he agreed to come over.”

“And I’m so very glad you did, Fox. It never feels completely like Christmas until you’re with those you love.”

“But what about your sons?” he asked. “Won’t it feel incomplete without them?”

“Being a military wife has taught me to celebrate long distance. We’ll talk on the speaker phone tonight, and for the first time,” she smiled, “I’ll have all my kids with me for Christmas.” The meaning of her words weren’t lost on either of them, and Mulder blushed at the love in her words.

“I’m sorry,” he said, realizing. “For all the years I turned you down. I just realized that that may have hurt you, and if it did, I apologize. It was never about you.” Trying to lighten the mood, he added, “what can I say? I’m screwed up.”

“Fox, you’ve been hurt. From what Dana said, your family life has been . . . well, let’s just say I can’t blame you for not knowing how to accept our kind of love.”

“Dana’s helped me sort of get out of my own way on that kind of thing,” Mulder uncharacteristically blushed.

“And I’m so happy about that,” Maggie responded. “Oh, Dana. I forgot to mention to you that they’ve moved midnight mass to ten o’clock this year. Is that going to be okay? We could find a midnight mass to attend at another parish if your heart’s set on it.”

“It’s not the time that’s important as much as the service itself, Mom. That’ll be fine.”

“Fox, you can stay here if you want, or you’re welcome to join us. We’d be very happy for you to come.”

“I’m afraid I’m not much for organized religion. And I haven’t been to a mass in decades.”

“You wouldn’t have to participate if it makes you uncomfortable.” She smiled gently. “It would be nice to have you sitting beside me this year – in Bill’s place.”

“How can I resist an offer like that?” Mulder responded.

“Are you sure?” Scully asked him.

“I’m not converting, Scully. It’s just a simple Christmas eve mass.”

The phone’s ringing effectively ended the conversation, and Scully and Maggie talked for awhile on speakerphone with Bill, Tara, and Matthew. They exchanged meaningful glances when the young boy told them some of the things he’d asked Santa for, knowing that most of them had been included in the packages they’d sent.

Going with his better judgment, Mulder kept quiet throughout the phone call, and nobody let on that he was even in the room. No need to start an argument with Bill if it wasn’t necessary, and he could come up with no good reason for revealing this information. They all talked for nearly half an hour before saying goodbye. Since dinner was ready to come out of the oven, Bill and his family understood, and made a promise to talk again on New Years.

Maggie set a scrumptious spread, and while Mulder was fully capable of throwing together a meal if he needed to, he found a warmth in partaking in such a meal. Glazed ham – the kind made from scratch, not pre-cooked – wild rice, pineapple, and cheese rigatoni made for an extraordinary feast.

“Maggie, this is incredible,” Mulder said as he took one of the three chairs around the table.

“I’m glad you like it,” she said, blushing a bit. “Because I fully intend to send a good deal of it home with you.”

“But . . .”

“No buts. I can’t possibly eat this many leftovers, and you could use something that’s not full of chemicals and preservatives. Or are you just trying to refuse my cooking?” A raised eyebrow reminded him where his partner got the expression.

“Never. I may be crazy, but I’m not insane.”

Both women laughed at him and hey settled into the meal amid stories of Dana’s past mis-spent Christmases. Maggie was shocked to learn about the year they’d spent Christmas Eve in a haunted house, and actually managed to get Dana to talk a bit about the year they’d found Emily. Talking about it actually seemed to make Dana feel better, and she spoke openly about the child’s mannerisms and how much she reminded her of Melissa.

They also talked about those who had been lost, and who had gone on before. Not just Melissa and Emily, but Scully’s father, Teena and Bill Mulder, and even Samantha. Surprisingly, Maggie had never heard the entire story of her disappearance, and the facts of what finally was revealed to have happened to her. The idea of a government agency – albeit a secret one – taking such actions against their own citizens seemed stunning to her. It was difficult to talk about her diary, and the years of torture she suffered while they were separated, but he also found it comforting to have a sympathetic ear beyond Scully’s. By dessert, he was surprised to find himself feeling happier than he had in ages – except, of course, when he was alone with his beautiful partner.

After the food was eaten, Maggie put all the leftovers into containers while Mulder and Scully washed and dried the dishes. They were putting the last of the silverware into the drawer when the phone rang again, and Maggie’s face brightened.

“That’ll be Charlie!” Dana exclaimed, grabbing the phone. There was silence for a moment. “Charlie, I’m going to put you on the speaker, hold on.”

She pressed the button and hung up the receiver. “You still there, little brother?”

“Yep, we’re all here.”

A chorus of hello’s rang out, but Mulder could discern four distinct voices, one female, three male. Then Charlie’s voice came again.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t be there, Mom, but you know how the military is.”

“Yes, I understand. It’s okay – and I have Dana and Fox to share my holiday, so I’m not alone.”

“Well, well, well!” Charlie exclaimed. “The infamous Fox Mulder! It’s nice to talk to you again, even if it can’t be in person.”

“Same here,” Mulder responded. “Merry Christmas.”

They all talked for quite some time – almost an hour – as Mulder and Charlie exchanged some sports talk and the kids told all the things they hoped would be under the tree for them the following morning.

“Fox is taking us out for a surprise tomorrow,” Maggie told her family as Dana smiled. She still had no idea what her partner had in store, but the idea of having an insight into his idea of Christmas was as much enjoyable as it was intriguing. Leave it to Mulder to make a mystery on Christmas.

“Oooh, Mulder,” Charlie chuckled. “Dana loves surprises – didn’t she ever tell you?”

“Well, maybe that’s why she . . .” he thought twice, then said, “why she’s stayed working with me for all these years.” Even though Maggie knew they were more than friends, he wasn’t sure it was the right time to reveal this to her little brother.

“Maybe,” Charlie responded. “Anyway, we’d better let you all get back to your evening. I’ll talk to you before the New Year, Mom.”

“Thanks, baby. Merry Christmas to everybody. We love you.”

“We love you, too,” they all said simultaneously. “Merry Christmas!”

There was silence for a few moments after the call was disconnected, the missing family members still a strong presence in the room. It was still a good hour before they planned to leave for church.

“Well, kids,” Maggie began. “Would you like to open presents now, or wait until after mass?”

“To be honest,” Scully admitted, “by the time mass is over, I’m probably going to be dead to the world. How about if we do it now?”

“Sounds good to me,” Maggie admitted. “Let me just go get your gifts.”

“Ours are in our bags,” Mulder said, getting up to retrieve the large bag by the door. He and Scully had agreed to not only bring Maggie’s gifts, but to also bring theirs for each other, to make it a real family Christmas.

They felt richer than Midas as they sat, Mulder and Scully on the sofa and Maggie on the couch in the livingroom, surrounded by wrapped parcels. There were not only gifts from each other, but those sent across country from Charlie and Bill’s families. Those were the gifts they decided to open first.

Mulder didn’t mind that there weren’t any in this bunch for him. It had been far too long since he’d had Christmas gifts to feel left out – he was just enjoying the glee in Scully and Maggie’s faces as they opened theirs. The gifts were thoughtful and showed just how well the members of this family knew each other. He felt a pang of loss as he realized that this never was the case with his own family, even when they were still alive. It was nice to see.

It took him off guard when Maggie handed a small, wrapped package to him. “This is for you, Fox. I found it among Melissa’s things after we lost her, with a note to give it to you the Christmas of 2002.”

“What?!” Mulder said in surprise.

“Open it!” Scully exclaimed excitedly. “What would Missy leave for you? You hardly knew her.”

“True. She did get me through one of the worst times in my life,” he said, exchanging a look with Scully that told how terrified he’d been that he was losing her.

He took it tentatively, and the women watched as he carefully tore the wrapping from the box. Opening it, he found a glistening ornament, gold embedded with colored crystals. The design was a scale engraved “Libra” on which was balanced two fish marked “Pisces.” He held it up and they watched it reflect in the light.

“It’s beautiful.”

“There’s a note,” Scully said, finding a sheet of paper folded into the lid of the box. She unfolded it and read aloud. “Dear Fox,” she smiled a bit, reading ahead silently.

“Well?” Mulder asked, interrupting her daydreaming.

“Oh, yeah. ‘Dear Fox. I plan to give this to you eight years from the time I’m writing it, but in case I’m unable, I’ve included this note. I hope by now that you and Dana have come to realize that your souls are drawn to one another and you’re destined to be together. I gave you eight years to figure it out – but I wanted to be sure. You are Libra and Dana is Pisces – please accept this symbol of how they will always belong together, as you and she will always belong together. Merry Christmas.'”

Maggie chuckled as the other two just shook their heads in amazement.

They’d been so sure they were fooling everybody else, just as assuredly as they’d been fooling themselves. “At least we got out of our own ways before she had to tell us,” Scully said. Standing, she took the ornament from Mulder’s hand and carefully hung it on the tree. “Merry Christmas, Missy,” she whispered.

Finally, they got to their gifts to each other. Maggie’s eyes lit up at the peach-colored sweater set that Dana had picked out for her, and Scully laughed when she opened her gift to find that her mother had chosen the same sweater set in a royal blue for her daughter.

Maggie handed over a large box to a blushing Mulder. “This is from Dana and me,” Maggie said.

“Thank you,” he said, taking it from her. It was beautifully wrapped – almost too beautiful to disturb – but the women urged him and he finally opened it.

“Oh, my . . .” he said, taking in the contents. He’d never expected her to be so extravagant. “Maggie, Scully, you shouldn’t have . . .”

“There are ten years of missed Christmases in that gift, on my part alone, I’ll have you know,” Maggie smiled at him. “Just don’t ask me to help set it up. I know nothing of such things.”

Mulder looked with astonishment at the gift – a new DVD player and several DVD’s, the first of which was Plan 9 from Outer Space. He laughed – obviously, she’d been talking to her daughter. “Thank you, Maggie. You too, Scully. It’s wonderful.” Suddenly, he was glad he’d chosen the gifts he had for them. “Now, it’s your turns.”

To be Concluded in Part 3

Christmas, Mulder Style 3/3

By Mary Kleinsmith (BUC252@aol.com)

First, he gave a box to Scully, which she unwrapped to reveal a gold heart pendant of red garnets. “Oh, Mulder, it’s beautiful!” she exclaimed as she hugged him soundly. He kissed her and then she sat down so he could bestow his last gift.

He handed a small box to her. The paper was gold metallic, the bow matching. He didn’t care that he hadn’t wrapped it himself, and knew she wouldn’t hold it against him.

Her eyes grew wide when she saw the “Reeds” box, knowing that they sold only the beset in jewelry. Nothing costume would come from there. “Oh, Fox, what have you done?”

Inside was a gold pin that said, “Mom,” a large stone representing Maggie’s birth month underlined with a row of colored gemstones. He wondered if he’d have to explain, but she recognized what it was right away. “Oh, Fox! How did you ever get all the . . .”

“I am an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, remember?”

“It’s beautiful,” Maggie said. “Bill’s birthstone, then Tara’s, Charlie’s and his wife’s, Melissa’s, Dana’s, and . . .” Her jaw dropped in awe as she realized.

At her silence, Mulder prayed he hadn’t been too presumptuous.

Instead of the anger he feared, he instead ended up with Maggie’s arms wrapped about him. He realized that he felt moisture on his neck where her face was nestled. Now he was scared.

“Maggie . . . I’m sorry. Please don’t cry.”

“Are you kidding?” she asked, withdrawing from him and wiping her eyes, but her voice was strong. “This is the nicest thing anybody has ever done for me. In my eyes, you’ve been a part of this family, Fox Mulder, since the day you came to tell me that Dana had been kidnapped, and all those following months when you kept me sane. The best gift I could get was this – your acceptance of your place in our family.”

“I’m going to wear this to mass!” Maggie proclaimed, removing it from the box and affixing it to her dress. “Now I’ll have all my kids with me at all times.”

“And speaking of which,” Scully said, joining the two others. “Before you steal away my man, I think we’d better get going if we want to get a pew.” They all laughed, exchanging kisses before retrieving their coats.

The mass was lovely, and Mulder found himself glad that he’d come. The choir was particularly touching as they sang classics like O Holy Night and Silent Night. They left the service with a warmth within that couldn’t be reduced by the cold outside. The drive back to Maggie’s house was cozy, and quiet, the silent night just as peaceful as the song described that first Christmas eve.

Returning to the house, it glowed from the windows with light from the tree. Mulder and Scully retrieved their overnight cases, which had been left inside the front door.

“I’m ready for bed,” Scully yawned. “It’s been a long day.”

“It sure has,” Mulder agreed. “And tomorrow will be a busy day,” he

grinned.

“Still not going to tell us where we’re going?” Scully asked.

“Nope. You promised to spend a typical Christmas day with me – you’re not trying to get out of it, are you?”

“Not on your life,” Scully answered, sounding offended, but still smiling.

“Me neither,” Maggie nodded. “Just tell me one thing – what do I put on in the morning.”

“Something comfortable, but it doesn’t have to be too terribly warm. The room we’ll be in can get a little bit heated.”

“Well, that’s cryptic,” Scully chuckled as they climbed the stairs.

Mulder’s eyes met Maggie’s for just a moment before he went into a separate room from her daughter, and he wasn’t sure if it was approval or disappointment he saw in them.

**

Mulder couldn’t sleep. They didn’t need to leave the house until eight or nine o’clock, yet he found himself staring at the ceiling by dawn. He knew, intellectually, that sharing this part of himself wasn’t a mistake, and yet he’d learned the hard way about revealing too much of himself and getting stung by it. The fear, after all these years, was ingrained in him. He knew that he wouldn’t alienate Scully, but he feared disappointing Maggie, and that surprised him.

He’d never worried about that kind of thing until he’d committed himself to Scully. She’d taught him to care. He guessed, in many ways, that was good.

So he lay there, thinking, for hours. About Scully, about their future, about his past, for yes, he believed he couldn’t look to the future without looking to the past as well. It was a circle. Until finally, he heard stirrings from the room next door and knew it was safe to rise and dress.

They gathered in the kitchen for coffee and pastries. It felt right to be in this environment, despite how very different it was from his every day life. Once mugs were washed and put away, the ladies donned coats as they walked to the car, seemingly excited to be off on their adventure.

Mulder climbed behind the wheel and headed into the city, making their way to the innermost recesses of Washington. And if opulence and wealth reigned in the more popular areas of the city, they soon realized that there were just as many areas where poverty abounded.

At last, he pulled into a parking space in front of a clean but badly run-down building. The mission.

Getting out of the car, Scully stared in wonder. “This is how you spend your Christmas days, Mulder?”

“Somebody has to do it,” he said. “I never saw any reason why it shouldn’t be me. Food needs to be cooked and served – and if it’s not, these people don’t get to eat today.”

They walked into the room and were greeted by several fellow worked, all who had become familiar with Mulder over the years. They could hear commotion in an adjoining room, and Scully peeked out a door to see an already-established line of people.

“When will they start serving?” she asked as she followed Mulder and Maggie into the kitchen.

“It all depends on when we get it set up and ready. I’m lucky – I didn’t draw kitchen duty this year or I’d have had to have been here hours ago to put the turkeys in the oven. I’m serving today, which means I’m going to need help getting the tables put up.

He finally forced himself to look the two women in the face for the first time since their arrival. Scully’s held approval, which he knew it would, but his relief was almost palpable when he saw not just acceptance in Maggie’s, but pride as well. “Do you mind spending your Christmas this way?”

“Fox, I love my family. They are just about everything to me. But we’ve been selfish, and you’ve opened my eyes to that. We’ve enjoyed our Christmases in a warm house with a kitchen full of food. The least I can do to make up for it is spend this Christmas here, with you. Thank you, Fox.”

“That goes for me, too, Mulder. You’ve made this a wonderful Christmas.” Scully hugged him tightly. “And now, we’d better get to work.”

By noon, the serving tables were set up and the first of the huge bowls full of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and vegetables were being brought out. Maggie and Scully each tied on an apron, grabbed a serving spoon, and took places behind the table with Mulder and a few others. People, old and young, single and entire families, filed by and received plates of food.

It never ceased to amaze him, and he never felt anything like he felt when he stood here and watched people, especially dirty and sad-looking children, eagerly shoving the food into their mouths, and knowing that it would probably be next year before they ever had another meal like this again. Scully kept looking at him with that look in her eyes, but she was wrong. He was no hero – he just couldn’t resist having this feeling.

After a few hours, the line lightened a bit, and Mulder told Scully and Maggie to take a break, go get themselves a plate, and have their dinner. The time had gone so fast, they looked as surprised as he had when he’d looked up to see the time.

“Aren’t you going to eat?” Scully asked him with concern.

“There aren’t enough servers for all three of us to go at once. When you’re done, I’ll have something, I promise.” Nodding, Scully and Maggie did as they were told. Every once in awhile, Mulder would look over at them and see their heads together in conspiratorial whispers. They were planning something, but he didn’t have time to worry what it was.

He traded places with them once they were finished, and found himself sitting at a table alone, eating turkey and dressing. It didn’t feel foreign to him, and didn’t even feel sad as it had in years before, because he had somebody waiting for him nearby. It made all the difference in the world.

From her place behind the serving tables, Scully was having a hard time paying attention to what she was doing. Her attention kept straying to Mulder, watching him as he ate. She’d always known he was smart, and handsome, and many other things. Now she also knew that his generosity was beyond anything she’d ever expected.

A group of small children, tummies full but still dirty, played near the serving tables. She went over to talk to them.

“Hi, kids!”

“Hi, lady,” a few of them said simultaneously.

“My name is Dana.” Each of them introduced themselves, and she tried to remember as many as she could. Finally she bent down closer, whispering to them. “Do you know that man sitting over there?” She pointed to Mulder.

“Sure,” one child, who seemed to be the leader, said. “That’s Mr. Mulder. He comes here every year.”

Another child spoke up. “I heard somebody say once that he’s a spy! That would be so cool!”

Scully laughed. “Well, he does work for the government, but right now, want to know a secret?”

“Sure!” chorused the five and six year olds.

“Well, Mr. Mulder hasn’t had a hug in a long, long time.”

“Don’t his mommy and daddy hug him?” one precocious child asked.

“His mommy and daddy died. He sure would appreciate a hug, I think.”

“You’re his girlfriend, aren’t you? Why don’t you hug him more often?” asked a very mature child of perhaps seven.

“I do, but it’s just not the same as a hug from a child. What do you say? It would make him really happy, I’m sure.”

The kids nodded to each other, and suddenly Mulder was being swarmed over. They were on his lap and his back, sitting in the chair next to him, on the table, and standing, but all the little arms were wrapped around him. He was laughing.

“Thanks for coming to see us!”

“Merry Christmas, Mr. Mulder.”

“Are you done eating yet?”

“Wanna come and play with us?”

“Your girlfriend is pretty.”

All the voices were hard to discern, but to Mulder, the hugs were like heaven. “Thanks, everybody! Did you all eat your dinners?”

“Every bite!” said a little brown-haired girl.

“Good,” he smiled. “Stay here a second, and I’ll be right back.” He went out to the car, returning with some boxes.

“Okay, line up!” They did as he ordered, and each child received a bright red and white candy cane. They all thanked him, hugged him again, and scampered off to places unknown.

Returning to his duties at the serving table, Scully looked at him warmly. “Mulder, you are amazing.”

“So are you. You put up with me.”

“Well,” Maggie said with a wide grin. “I think you’re both pretty amazing, but I’m admittedly partial.”

They continued to work until late afternoon when the food supply and lines were exhausted, as were the workers, but it was a good exhausted.

“I’m going to sleep like a rock tonight,” Maggie said as they got into the car. “But it’s the best kind of tiredness I’ve felt in a long time. Thank you, Fox.”

“Well, you wanted to see how I spend my Christmases . . .”

“I will never again consider your holiday mis-spent,” Scully added and kissed him on the cheek.

They drove Maggie back to her place, reclaiming their gifts and the leftovers from the previous night before wishing her a goodnight and leaving her to some peace and quiet. Once alone in the car, Scully looked at him warmly again. “How about we go back to your place?”

“You’re sure?”

“Absolutely. I don’t think I’m ready to leave you just yet.”

“I don’t have much of a tree, y’know.”

“Yes, I know. And it doesn’t matter. Just so long as you’re there. Besides, I have one more gift for you.”

“Another one? Scully, you’ve already given me so much.”

“I didn’t want you to open this until we were alone.”

“Ooooh, Scully. I’m intrigued,” Mulder said lasciviously.

“It’s not that kind of gift, Mulder,” Scully smiled. “Although I won’t rule anything out for later on.”

Both of them carried their overnight bags into the apartment when they arrived at Hegel place, but while Scully went and sat on the couch, Mulder went to the refrigerator instead.

“I was hoping we’d come back here,” he said, joining her on the couch with a bottle of champagne and two glasses. He opened it, and poured.

“You know, Mulder. I didn’t think, before yesterday, that I could love you any more than I already do, but I do.”

“Thanks. I know I couldn’t love you any more. Now how about my present?” His eyes lit up like a child’s.

“Okay, but first, I want to explain. Yesterday while you were returning the van, I went back to the children’s home.”

“Scully, those gifts were supposed to be anonymous!”

“I know, and I promise, I didn’t betray your secret. I wanted to see . . . Well, I’m sure you understand. I talked to the man in charge, and he asked me to give this to you – so I guess it’s really more his gift to you than mine.”

She gave him a package wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper. When he opened it, there were several large envelopes bound together with a piece of yarn. On closer inspection, each envelope had a year on it.

He looked at her, perplexed.

“Each year, the director of the home told me, the kids made drawings for the person who brought them the toys. They gave them to him and asked that he’d make sure the donor got their messages, but he’d never been able to fulfill that promise. Until now.”

Opening the first envelope, he took out sixty or seventy sheets of paper with crayoned drawings, mostly of the kids playing with their new toys. Almost all of them said, “thank you,” on them somewhere, and one even said, “our own Santa,” on it. Mulder read every one, and when he looked up at her, his eyes were moist.

“Thank you, Scully.”

“No, thank you, Mulder. You reminded me that Christmas is about giving – not just to those we love, but to everybody.”

They hugged, and she nuzzled closer into him, nearly dozing off instantaneously when he roused her. “Oh, but there’s one more gift to open.”

“What?” she said, surprised.

“Your Mom gave me this box as we were leaving the house tonight and told me we were to open it when we were alone.” He got up and retrieved the brightly-wrapped shirt-size box from his own overnight bag.

“What do you think it is?” Scully asked as he rejoined her on the couch.

“I have no idea, but I don’t know why we can’t find out.”

Together they tore off the paper and then carefully lifted the lid.

Scully blushed, as a laugh forced itself from Mulder.

For in the box, nestled among the tissue paper, was a red, see-through negligee.

“I guess we didn’t have to worry about the separate rooms after all,” Mulder chuckled.

“No, I guess not. And now, if you’ll excuse me,” she said, snagging the box’s contents, “I’m going to go put on OUR Christmas present.”

They may not have peace on earth, but they had happiness, and they had love. And what more could two people want?

The End

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