Yes, Fox, There Really Is a Santa

Title: Yes, Fox, there really is a Santa

Author: Vickie Moseley

Summary: Mulder’s disbelief is challenged

Rating: PG-13

Category: Mild humor

Written for Virtual Season 11’s Winter Special.

Archive: Two weeks exclusive on VS 11’s website.

After that, anywhere.

Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters, I just

play with them. And I don’t own Santa Claus, but I

do believe!

Comments and candy canes to:

vickiemoseley1978@yahoo.com

Thanks and Happy Holidays to all our VS artists,

authors and readers. You guys are keeping the joy

alive!

Yes, Fox, There Really Is a Santa

By Vickie Moseley

Upon reflection, Mulder had to admit his situation

was his own fault. Remembering last year’s fiasco of

a Christmas Eve spent snowed-in at a crowded airport,

Mulder had suggested he and Scully head out to San

Diego the weekend before Christmas. Once there,

Scully had offered to take Tara out shopping, with

just a few days left before Christmas. Naturally,

Mulder had assumed Bill would be around to keep an

eye on the almost six-year old Matthew. Just as

naturally, Bill had a more pressing engagement, which

included picking up Maggie at the airport, who had

flown out separately to take advantage of a cheaper

flight she found on the internet.

Mulder had offered to go along and help with the

luggage, but Bill had quickly snuffed out that idea.

Matty tended to run off in crowds and an airport was

the last place Bill wanted to take him.

“Mom’s flight shouldn’t be too delayed, they only got

7 inches of snow at Dulles,” Bill had assured Mulder

with an evil grin. “We’ll be home before you know

it.”

That had been an hour and a half earlier and already

Mulder was ready to call for back up.

“Hey, would you like me to read to you?” Mulder

asked, searching the room for any diversion.

Matty gave him a look, a definite Scully genetic

trait that seemed to question whether Mulder had the

ability to read anything of interest. Finally, the

boy hurried over to the bookshelf and picked a book

from the bottom shelf, which seemed crammed full of

very thin volumes.

“This one!” Matty declared as he deposited the book

in Mulder’s lap and climbed on the sofa next to the

agent.

Mulder looked at the cover. “The Night Before

Christmas,” he read aloud.

Matty nodded enthusiastically.

Mulder nodded back and opened the book. “T’was the

night before Christmas and all through the house not

a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,” he

continued, and had to bite back a grin as Matty

snuggled into his side, not entirely unlike the

little boy’s aunt had done just a few nights before,

but for much different reasons.

“We used to have mice,” Matty said solemnly. “Daddy

murdered ’em.”

Mulder coughed, well, choked was more like it. “I’m

sure he was just getting rid of mice, Matty. That

doesn’t qualify as ‘murder’.”

“Mommy said he murdered ’em. I’m glad. They ate

into my box of banana bread oatmeal. Little

bastards!”

Mulder choked again. “Now, I’m _sure_ your mom

doesn’t want you using that word,” he corrected

hastily.

Matty looked up at him like he was the silliest man

he’d ever seen. “Read!”

“Oh, yeah. Where was I?”

“Mice,” Matty reminded.

“Oh, right. . . . not a creature was stirring, not

even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney

with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be

there. The children were nestled all snug in their

beds, while visions of sugar plums – -”

“My Daddy says fairies aren’t made of sugar plums,”

Matty advised Mulder seriously.

“I’m sure he’s quite the expert on that subject,”

Mulder replied dryly. “Mind if I continue?”

Matty gave him a shrug and settled back into the

cushions.

” . . . danced in their heads. Whilst Mama in her

kerchief and I in my cap, had just settled our heads

for a long winter’s nap . . .”

Mulder made it through the rest of the poem by Dr.

Moore without further interruption.

“And then he exclaimed, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

“I like Santa Claus,” Matty said with a yawn.

“I’m sure you do,” Mulder said with a fond smile.

Matty picked up on the neutrality of the response

immediately. “Don’t you believe in Santa Claus, Mr.

Mulder?”

Mulder flinched, first, because Matty had followed

his father’s orders and put ‘Mr.’ in front of

Mulder’s name, and second because the little boy was

that perceptive. It was something he didn’t want to

get into with a child, particularly not a child who

obviously still believed.

“I’m sure there is plenty of evidence to support the

theory of a jolly old St. Nick,” Mulder said, and bit

his tongue when he realized he’d just parroted

Scully’s words from earlier in the week when they

were discussing a particularly outlandish case. He

hoped he didn’t sound as condescending as his partner

had when she’d said the words to him.

Matty frowned. “If you don’t believe, he can’t bring

you presents, Mr. Mulder,” he confided.

Mulder gave the boy a weak smile. “That’s OK, Matty.

I have everything I want.”

Tara and Scully arrived not much later and hot on

their heels were Bill and Maggie. The discussion was

forgotten, at least as far as Mulder was concerned.

Matty, however, couldn’t seem to put the idea out of

his head.

Later that night at their hotel, Scully cornered

Mulder about Matty’s suspicions.

“Mulder, why did you tell Matty you didn’t believe in

Santa Claus?” she demanded around a mouthful of

toothpaste.

“I didn’t say I didn’t believe, Scully. I just

didn’t fall into the trap most adults do and assume

that kids are naive enough to ignore a lie when they

hear it.”

“In other words, you really don’t believe in Santa

Claus,” she said, after a rinse and spit.

“To be perfectly honest, no, I don’t believe.” He

moved past her to take the spot at the sink and

attend to his own oral hygiene. “And Scully, c’mon,

you can’t tell me you actually believe in Santa

Claus,” he accused. “Matty’s not here, it’s just you

and me. ‘Fess up!”

“Sorry, Mulder. I’m a firm believer.”

He stared at her, unconvinced. He even crossed his

arms.

“Mulder after all the crap we’ve been through, the

very fact that we’ve lived to see another Christmas

is enough to make me believe in not only a higher

power, but all the higher powers you could rattle of

from that photographic memory of yours. But in this

particular case, I happen to have empirical proof of

the existence of St. Nicholas.”

“You’re referring to the Bishop of the early

Christian Church in Asia Minor, I’m assuming,” he

said dryly, still not uncrossing his arms.

“No, I’m referring to the ‘chubby and plump, right

jolly old elf’ who crawls down chimneys. Or, in my

case, comes through the front door.”

“There’s a story here,” Mulder said firmly, backing

up to sit down on his side of the bed and scooting up

to rest his back against the headboard. “Tell me a

bedtime story, Scully,” he said in a singsong voice.

She grinned and crawled up next to him on the bed,

taking his hand. “I must have been four because I

wasn’t in school yet.”

“Early memories are the most unreliable,” Mulder said

pointedly.

She shot him an icy look and continued, undeterred.

“Dad was at sea that year, and that left Mom with all

the Christmas preparations. There were the four of

us kids and she was still buying presents for her

nieces and nephews, not to mention Dad’s family. To

say that she had a full plate was an understatement.”

“I can imagine,” Mulder interjected with an

affectionate smile. Maggie Scully was one of his

favorite people and he didn’t care who knew it.

“That was the year I wanted a Barbie. But not the

blonde bombshell they were selling on television day

and night. I wanted the one with red hair.”

“Midge,” Mulder supplied. At Scully’s cocked head,

he grinned. “Midge had red hair. She was Barbie’s

best friend. She ran around with some doof, can’t

recall his name, but I always assumed she had a thing

for Ken.” It was Scully’s turn to cross her arms.

“Sam had the whole collection. Complete with ‘Dream

House’,” he concluded.

“Well, at the ripe age of four, I just called her

‘red haired Barbie’ and I wanted one with all my

might. But in all the excitement of Christmas, I had

neglected to include that item on my wish list when

Mom took us to sit on Santa’s lap at the Base

Christmas Party. So Mom had no idea that’s what I

wanted.”

“And this proves the existence of Santa Claus . . .

how?”

“Because I wrote Santa a letter and stuck it in the

bushes outside our bedroom window. When I looked in

the bushes a few days later, the letter was gone.

Not only that, but on Christmas morning, there under

the tree was my Midge doll and the very outfit I

wanted for her.”

Mulder smiled and shook his head, then pulled her

into a hug. “Boy, with that kind of evidence, you

should write a book,” he chuckled.

“You still doubt he exists?”

“Scully, let me tell you a little story, though not

nearly as sweet as yours. When I was five, I wanted

to believe. But my next-door neighbor, Jimmy

Galbrath, was a year older and far wiser than I. One

Christmas Eve, we set up a recon mission, to detect

if there really was a Santa Claus. I had a bird’s

eye view of his rooftop from my bedroom window just

as he could see mine from his. We each stayed up all

night, until our parents called us down to open

presents and ‘see what St. Nick’ brought us. I can

tell you this; there were no reindeer, no sleigh, no

jolly old man in a red suit. But I still got my

Flexible Flyer wooden sled I’d been begging for since

Labor Day. From that day on, I understood that Santa

was the magic parents want their children to have,

and so they give it to them.”

She looked at him and shook her head. “This is

obviously a question of faith,” she concluded, arms

crossed.

“And we rarely agree on that topic,” he noted.

She sighed and then leaned over and gave him a kiss.

“That’s all right, Mulder. Santa has a way of making

believers out of everyone.”

He didn’t have time to ponder that thought because

she was already busy removing his shirt and his mind

was quick to switch gears.

Two days later

December 23

Three women sat at the kitchen table, all with

worried expressions.

“I’ve even looked online, Dana. It is not to be

found!” Tara exclaimed woefully.

“How about that big shopping mall downtown?” Maggie

suggested. “Don’t they have a ‘Legoland’ store?”

“They do, Mom. We’ve been there,” Scully said with a

frown. “Apparently, the one Lego set that Matty

wants is the one that’s completely sold out.”

“The manufacturer,” Maggie offered. “Surely they can

tell you the names of other dealers.”

“Tried them. They were caught totally unawares.

That new cartoon of dinosaurs just really ratcheted

up the interest. It wasn’t even in their quarterly

reports as a potential big seller. They admitted to

me on the phone that they were caught with their

pants down on this one. It’s a total sellout.”

“Just like those stupid Cabbage Patch dolls,” Maggie

muttered, shaking her head. “Or that crazy Midge

doll,” she added, more to herself than to anyone

else.

At that moment, Mulder breezed in, carrying a load of

groceries. “They were out of the stick cinnamon in

the jars, Tara. I had to buy two little bags.”

Tara hopped up from the table and searched through

the plastic sacks he’d just placed on the counter.

“The fact you found any is a miracle, Mulder!

Thanks, these will do fine. But I didn’t give you

enough money.”

He gave her a disgusted look and shook her head.

“Tara, you’re feeding us, don’t sweat it. It wasn’t

that much.” He looked around to his partner and her

mother. “Did I miss something. Everyone OK? Nobody

got sick, did they?”

Maggie looked up, startled, and then smiled broadly

at him. “No, Fox, nothing so dire. We just can’t

seem to find the one toy Matty really wants for

Christmas.”

Mulder nodded in understanding. “No chance of a

substitution?”

“You’ve talked to him, Mulder. What do you think?”

Scully asked. “We can’t find the Lego Dinosaur set.”

“He’s mentioned it about a hundred times in the last

few days,” Mulder agreed. “No way will that one get

by with a substitute. You can’t find it anywhere?

How about the net?”

Scully raised an eyebrow and he immediately

recognized his mistake at underestimating their

search. “Sorry, I should have known better,” he

apologized.

“He’ll just have to be disappointed this year,” Tara

said sadly.

“Oh, sweetie, he’s getting so many other nice

things,” Maggie tried to reassure her. “I’m sure by

the time he’s got all his presents opened and around

him, he’ll never miss that set.”

Tara looked unconvinced, but gave Maggie a weak smile

and a nod. “Well, I better get dinner started.”

“I’ll give you a hand,” Scully offered, but Mulder

grabbed her arm.

“I was hoping we could get out this afternoon, see

the sights,” he said. He gave his partner a look

that said ‘just go along with me’ and reluctantly,

she did.

“Oh, all right. Uh, we’ll do clean up detail

tonight, Tara,” she promised.

Tara was still distracted by her failure at shopping

to give it a second thought. “Sure, that would be

great,” she said flatly.

“Where are we going?” Scully asked when they got

outside.

“We’re going to find that dinosaur set, or come home

on our shields,” Mulder informed her.

Scully frowned and caught his arm. “Why? Mulder,

it’s just one toy.”

Mulder shook his head and clasped his hand over hers

where it rested on his forearm. “He’s a believer,

Scully. Maybe we don’t share the same object of

belief, but I don’t want him to be disappointed.”

“He’s Bill’s son,” Scully pointed out with a smirk.

“So maybe I can score points with the next generation

of Scullys,” Mulder said with a grin. “C’mon. We’re

FBI agents. We track down mutant sewer monsters on a

daily basis. How hard can it be to find one toy in a

nation filled with strip malls?” He pulled out his

cell phone and started to dial.

“Who are you calling?” she asked as they both got

into the car.

“The experts in toys,” he replied and turned his

attention to the phone. “Yeah, Byers, it’s me. I

have a job for you guys, I think it’s right up your

alley.”

Fourteen toy stores in all the San Diego metro area

and five phone calls later, they had yet to hear a

good word.

“Not even on Ebay?” Mulder whined. “No, I don’t

think they have a thousand bucks in the bank

somewhere, Langly. That’s totally out of line for a

kids’ toy at Christmas. Yeah, I agree. No, thanks,

and thank the other two. I appreciate it. No, I

won’t count this against your ‘case solved’ ratio,”

he added with a chuckle.

He’d no sooner disconnected that call when Scully’s

cell phone chirped. “Yes sir. No luck? How about

your contact in New York? No luck there, either?

No, sir, I don’t think we need to tax the Bureau

resources any further on this. Yeah, I will. Thanks

for trying, sir.” She closed down her cell phone and

sat next to her partner, looking equally dejected.

“Skinner’s a bust.”

“So are the boys. Nothing. That rotten toy set

doesn’t seem to exist on the North American

continent!” Mulder proclaimed angrily.

Scully rubbed his arm. “C’mon, it’s getting late and

we promised Tara we’d be over for dinner by 6.”

He took her hand and kissed it lightly. “I just

really wanted to find that for him.”

Dinner was a lively time, with Matty chatting non-

stop about all the dinosaurs he intended to make with

his new Lego set when he got it. Tara and Bill tried

unsuccessfully to steer his attention toward other

subjects, but the young boy was not to be swayed.

After dinner, Mulder was helping Scully do the dishes

when his cell phone rang.

“Byers, what have you got for me?” Mulder ended up

walking out the back door and into the yard to get

better reception. Scully finished up the dishes and

was about to join him when he came back inside.

“The guys have a lead,” he said quietly.

“On a set? A new one?” Scully asked, biting her lip.

“Yeah, only one hitch: it’s in Oakland.”

Scully scowled. “Oakland? That’s 700 miles away!

Mulder, there’s no way we can get something shipped

quickly to arrive tomorrow night! Not at this late

hour,” she said, glancing down at her watch.

“I know. That’s why I’m going to drive up and get

it,” he said firmly.

“Are you nuts! We can’t just disappear for, what, 15

hours to go pick up a toy! Mom and Tara are counting

on me to help finish wrapping the presents, and

Tara’s having the Open House tomorrow night, I can’t

just leave . . .”

“Scully, you don’t have to go!” he interrupted her

tirade. “I’ll go. If I drop you off at the motel

and leave now, I could be up there before daybreak.

The owner has it on reserve for me, so I’ll pick it

up when the store opens at 8 and hightail it back

down here. I should be back in time for the Open

House and no one has to be the wiser.”

“Where are you runnin’ off to now,” came a voice from

behind them. Mulder cringed and didn’t move, but

Scully turned to confront her older brother.

“For your information, Mulder has found that Lego set

Matty has been talking about. But it’s in Oakland.

He’s planning on driving up there tonight, picking it

up when the store opens and driving back. So just

lay off, Bill,” she warned.

“No shit, you found one of those sets?” Bill directed

his question to Mulder.

Mulder nodded. “It’s an independent toy dealer. He

has one set, reserved just for me.”

“I don’t work tomorrow,” Bill said, thinking aloud.

“I’ll go pick it up.”

“Bill, the guy won’t hand it over to anyone but me.

He’s a bit, um, well, on the paranoid side. He’ll be

expecting me, I have to show him identification to

get the set.”

Bill rolled his eyes and muttered a mild curse. “So

we both go. That way you don’t have to drive 16

hours straight and I can make sure you get that toy

back here in time.”

Mulder looked dubious and Scully looked concerned.

“C’mon, it’s a better plan than letting ER-boy here

go by himself!” Bill pointed out with a sneer.

Mulder looked over at Scully, who looked over at her

brother. “I’m not so sure of that,” she said,

frowning.

“Let’s do it,” Mulder said finally. “If we get

started right now, we might even be able to catch a

few winks when we get back.”

Bill hurried out of the kitchen to let Tara in on the

plan while Mulder and Scully waited by the door.

“You will be careful,” Scully informed Mulder in no

uncertain terms as they waited for Bill.

“Scully, it’s not like we’re doing any ‘funky

poaching’ here,” he huffed. “It’s more like a college

road trip.”

“I saw that movie, Mulder, and you’re not making any

points with me by bringing that up,” she said, arms

crossing her chest. “I want you to get that toy, but

I want you both back here, safe and sound, tomorrow

evening.”

“I’ll even be a good boy at Midnight Mass tomorrow

night,” he promised, two-fingered salute held high.

“I’ll be the one asleep on your shoulder.”

“Dana, you can drive your rental back to the hotel,

we’ll take my car,” Bill announced when he joined

them. “Got your cell phone, Mulder?”

“Fully charged,” Mulder said, patting his inside

jacket pocket.

“So is mine. Let’s lock and load,” Bill said firmly

and Mulder followed him out the door, after stealing

a kiss from Scully.

Mulder used his insomnia as an excuse to take the

first shift driving. He was a little concerned that

Bill would want to take this opportunity to rag on

him about what a horrible partner he was and how he

was ruining Scully’s life, but he lucked out. By the

time they hit the first interchange on the I-5, Bill

had the seat fully reclined in the big SUV and was

sawing logs and remained that way until the northern

side of Orange County. When Bill took the wheel,

Mulder politely returned the favor.

The sun was just peeking over the mountains when they

pulled into the parking lot of the little strip mall

in Oakland. The toy story, aptly named ‘North Pole,

Limited’ was on the far corner of the mall and Mulder

noted that it was an hour and a half until they

opened. A Denny’s shared the parking lot and Bill

pulled the big car over to a spot near the

restaurant’s door.

Over bacon, eggs, hash browns, pancakes and coffee,

Bill couldn’t hold his curiosity any longer.

“So, you’re doing this to score points with my mom,

right?” he asked, pouring half the carafe of maple

syrup on his short stack of pancakes.

“Nope. I don’t need points with your mom. She likes

me already.” Mulder held back a smirk when Bill

snorted his disbelief.

“If you really want to know why I’m doing this, Bill,

I’ll tell you. I just don’t want Matty to be

disappointed this early in life.”

Bill looked Mulder over hard, as if seeing him for

the first time. Then he picked up a packet of

sweetener and dumped it in his coffee. “Well,

thanks,” he said grudgingly.

“Hey, Bill, if it had been a present for you, I

wouldn’t have crossed the street. Does that make you

feel better?” Mulder asked innocently.

Bill let a full-fledged smile crack his face. “Yeah,

well, I didn’t even go that far, Mulder. I didn’t

get you a damned thing.”

Mulder happily returned the grin. “Then we’re even,”

he said and both men went back to their breakfast.

It was eight o’clock on the dot when they pulled the

car back over to the toy store. A little man who was

a dead ringer for Bob Newhart was unlocking the door.

He was dressed in a bright green suit with a jaunty

pointed hat perched on his head. His gold frame

glasses just barely hugged the end of his pug nose.

“Gentlemen, may I be of assistance?” he asked

formally.

“I believe you have a package for me. Fox Mulder,”

Mulder said, pulling out his FBI wallet and showing

his identification.

The older man took the wallet reverently and studied

the picture, then the man standing before him. “Oh,

we’ve been waiting a long time to meet you, Agent

Mulder,” he said happily. He handed Mulder back his

wallet and stuck out his own hand. “Maurice Selves,

at your service!”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Selves. You’ve been a

subscriber to the Lone Gunman long?” Mulder asked

congenially.

“Oh, yes. You might say we were the very first

subscribers,” the old man replied with a gleam in his

eye, “firm believers, yes indeed. Now, I know you

gentlemen are in a hurry. We can’t disappoint little

Matthew, can we?” He nodded at them both as he took

his leave to go to the back of the store and behind a

bright green and red curtain.

“Boy, this guy really takes this stuff seriously,”

Bill muttered, looking around. The toy store was

filled with toys, and was decorated right out of a

gingerbread house cookbook. Bill touched a giant

swirled lollipop near the door. “It’s even sticky!”

he proclaimed.

“Yeah, and you want to know how it got sticky?”

Mulder asked. Bill turned slightly green and backed

away. “I didn’t’ think so,” Mulder grumbled.

Maurice returned with a good-sized package and handed

it to Mulder with a smile. “Will that be cash or

charge and would you like to have it gift-wrapped?”

Bill stepped up to the counter, pulling out his

wallet. “Good deed finished, Mulder. Now it’s my

turn. And yes, I’d like that gift-wrapped. Can you

sign the tag ‘To Matty, From Santa Claus’?”

“Oh, yes. I have power of attorney,” Maurice said

with a grin and a wink.

When the toy had been wrapped and the bill paid,

Mulder and Bill headed out to the car. The sky

looked gloomy. “We better move it. We might hit

some rain on the way back,” Bill commented.

Seven and a half hours later, it wasn’t rain that hit

them. It was traffic. Bill glared down at the clock

on the dashboard, which glared back at him an angry,

digital 3:30 p.m. “Where the hell did all this

traffic come from?” he demanded.

Mulder had his ear tuned to the all news station

they’d found on the radio. “It’s a jack-knifed semi

about three miles ahead,” he said glumly. “They’re

suggesting alternate routes.”

“Well, it’s a damned good thing I ate breakfast, or

this would turn into the ‘Donner Party’ real fast,”

Bill growled. “So what’s an alternate route? I

promised Tara we’d be back by 5 and that’s in only

two and a half hours. Back roads take longer than

the interstate.”

“Have you got a map in this tank?” Mulder sneered as

he pulled open the glove box. He finally found a

rather worn map of California. “How old is this

thing?” he asked as he gingerly unfolded it to keep

from ripping it more than it was already.

“Who the hell cares? It’s not like they change ’em

that often. It’ll get us home. Just find a road

that doesn’t go through every podunk farm town.”

Mulder had a brief flash of his conversation with

Maggie exactly one year before and shuddered. She

told him of a Christmas Eve long past and a family

lost on back roads. Like father, like son. But this

time, Mulder would be navigating and hopefully, would

manage to get them to their appointed destination in

time.

Two hours later

“Son of a Bitch!” Bill howled as he looked at the

flat spare tire lying on the ground before him.

“What asshole would sell a car with a flat spare?” he

demanded.

Mulder was crouched just a few feet away loosening

lugnuts on the flattened rear passenger tire. “I

told you, we should just call a tow truck,” Mulder

gasped out as the lugnut refused to budge.

“It’s Christmas eve, for Chrissakes, dumbshit! A tow

truck tonight would cost a fortune,” Bill growled.

He looked up and down the lonely two-lane road. Not

a house in sight. “I better call Tara.”

“Do you even know where we are?” Mulder asked, giving

up on the lugnut and rising to his feet.

“We’re . . . south of Los Angeles,” Bill guessed,

continuing to dial.

“And west of Las Vegas and east of the ocean, that

tells us nothing!” Mulder grumbled. He leaned

against the car, resisting the urge to kick the shit

out of the side panel. “I’ve always thought your

sister had a good sense of direction. Oh, wait,

that’s on your mother’s side. Guess you missed out

on that gene, huh, Bill?” he taunted.

“Honey, it’s me,” Bill said into the phone, ignoring

Mulder’s swipe. “Yeah, well, we might be a little

late. OK, yeah, we’re sort of lost and we have a

flat. The spare’s flat, too. Tara, why would I

check that, we just bought the damned car three

months ago?” He walked down the road several feet so

that Mulder wasn’t privy to the rest of the

conversation.

Mulder shook his head and looked down at both flat

tires. Only to him, disasters of this magnitude only

seemed to happen to Fox Mulder. “No good deed goes

unpunished,” he muttered to himself.

The crunch of gravel on the road behind caused him to

spin around. A cherry red Mercedes convertible was

slowing to a stop just a couple of yards from their

stranded SUV. While Mulder watched, an elderly

gentleman with a flowing white beard and mane of hair

stepped out of the convertible and walked toward him.

“You boys seem to be in a bit of a jam,” the older

man said cheerfully. “Can I lend a hand?”

Mulder looked at the man, who had to be seventy if he

was a day and cringed. “Our spare is flat,” he said,

not wanted to insult the gentleman by pointing out

that he was probably too old to be changing tires on

deserted highways.

“Does it have a hole, or just need air?” the man

asked as he surveyed the tire iron and the spare

lying on the ground near Mulder’s feet.

“I think it’s just out of air. It’s a new car,”

Mulder replied with a shrug.

“Detroit! No body pays attention to craftsmanship

anymore,” the old man said with a shake of his head.

“Well, I guess it’s a good thing I came along. I

have an air pump in my trunk. Keep it for my

recumbent bicycle. We can have you two fellas back

on the road in no time!” He clapped his hands once,

gave Mulder a congenial wink of his eye and headed

back to his car.

“We either start walking to a town or I start calling

around for a divorce lawyer,” Bill griped as he

walked up next to Mulder. “Who’s the old guy?”

“Don’t know. He just stopped to help. He says he

has a hand pump in his trunk.”

“Hot damn!” Bill exclaimed. “Shit, Mulder, our luck

is turning!”

The old man was good to his word and in a matter of a

few minutes, the spare was inflated and the flat

changed out. Bill tossed the flat in the trunk of

his car while Mulder started to pull out his wallet.

The old man caught his hand and shook his head.

“No need, son. Consider it an early Christmas

present. Now, you two better get on the road. You

have an early Christmas roll call and Matty’s been

waiting months for that set.”

Mulder looked up to shake the old man’s hand and

blinked. The man and his convertible were gone.

“Um, Bill,” Mulder said shakily.

“Grab that tire iron, will ya? We gotta get movin’!”

“Bill, did you see where the old man went?”

Bill looked up and around the side of the car. “It’s

Christmas Eve, Mulder. He probably had places he

needed to be.”

Mulder frowned, walked over to where the convertible

had been sitting, and kicked at the rocks on the side

of the road. Something shiny caught his eye. He

stooped to pick it up and saw it was a gold button,

embossed with the letters S. C.

It was getting close to eleven o’clock when they

pulled into Bill and Tara’s driveway. Scully ran up

to the car, pulled Mulder out before he could reach

for the door handle and kissed him for all he was

worth. When they broke the kiss, she led him into

the house and kissed him again for good measure.

“Not that I’m objecting, but Scully, you act like I

was gone for months!” he exclaimed happily. “What

gives?”

“Mulder, when Tara got that call from Bill, we were

sure you guys would be stuck out there all night!

I’m just happy you made it home, and in one piece,”

she told him. “And with the toy,” she added as they

watched Bill deposit the brightly colored package

under the tree.

“Yeah, about the toy,” Mulder mused, but before he

could finish his thought Scully was pulling him out

the door to the car so they could leave for Midnight

Mass.

It wasn’t until after church, when they were back at

their hotel, that Mulder got a chance to tell Scully

his suspicions.

“OK, so the owner of the toy store was named Elf?”

“No, Selves, Scully, with two ‘s’es. And he just

looked, well, elfish. Not to mention that crack

about having the power of attorney to sign for Santa

Claus.”

“I’m pretty sure that was just a joke, Mulder,” she

said with a grin.

“But what about the old guy who helped us on the

road?”

“So you think Santa traded in his sleigh for a Benz?”

Scully asked with a gleam in her eye.

“Scully, the button I found said S. C. I think that

pretty much narrows down the list of possible

owners,” he said, crossing his arms. “Besides, he

knew about Matty and the dinosaur set. I know I

never mentioned anything about it, but he did. How

could he know about it if he wasn’t the Big Guy

himself?”

“But Mulder, if it was Santa Claus, why didn’t he

just deliver the Lego set for Matty to Bill’s house

tonight? Why make you go through all that trouble?”

“He didn’t make us go through all that trouble,

Scully – we did! We’re the ones who decided to call

all over creation to find a toy at a store 700 miles

away. We’re the ones who decided to get off the

interstate and get lost. We’re even the ones to run

over that barbwire on the road and puncture the tire!

It wasn’t like any of that was his idea. But when we

were stranded and couldn’t complete our mission, his

mission, really, he came to our aid!”

Scully blinked and then smiled broadly. “So, now you

believe in Santa Claus, too?” she asked sweetly.

“How could I not, Scully? He got me exactly what I

wanted!”

“We haven’t opened a single present,” she pointed

out.

“True, but what I want isn’t wrapped in foil with

ribbons,” he said, enfolding her in soft embrace.

“What I want for Christmas is right here, in my

arms.”

She tilted her head to kiss him tenderly on the

mouth. “Then we both got what we wanted for

Christmas.”

The end.

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