Ghosts of Christmas Past

GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST

Author: Traveler

Written for Virtual Season Christmas Special 2005. This story follows

the VS universe and presumes that Mulder and Scully share the townhouse

in Georgetown where this story takes place.

Summary: Mulder and Scully take a rare moment to share some Christmas

memories.

Rated PG

Disclaimer: As usual, used without permission but always with good

intentions.

Author’s notes at the end.

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Scully rolled over to find the other half of the bed empty. She signed

at the early hour; it was half past two on Christmas morning. Gathering

her robe from the foot of the bed she headed out of the bedroom in

search of her wayward partner.

She half expected to find him in the study gazing mindlessly at some

website as he often did in the middle of the night but the study and for

that matter the remainder of the upstairs was empty and silent. At the

top of the stairs she heard the unmistakable sound of Jacob Marley’s

chains being dragged across the floor and knew from the soft glow in the

living room below where he had gone.

The polished wood floor beneath her feet was cold and a quick glance

outside told her that the dusting of snow that had been predicted was

beginning to accumulate. D.C. was going to have a very rare white

Christmas this year. The room was dark, sans for the harsh glow from

the television as Scrooge shivered and Marley’s ghost ranted on in black

and white.

/”I wear the chain I forged in life, I made it link by link, and yard by

yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore

it. Is its pattern strange to you?”/* *

Mulder sat on the couch, his back to her; he hadn’t heard her come

down. She padded across the floor and bent down to relight the tree.

The live tree had been Mulder’s idea. The two of them had driven out to

the Virginia countryside last weekend, trekked through the fields and

found what he had exclaimed to be their version of the Griswold family

Christmas tree. As it came to life with all its tiny lights she had to

admit it was a pretty tree, filling their town house with its wonderful

evergreen scent.

The sudden infusion of twinkling lights startled him and he turned

around to find her standing there rubbing her arms. “Scull…I’m sorry,

did I wake you?”

“Your absence woke me. What are you doing down here?”

He smiled, watching her toes curling on the cold bare floor, “Come ‘ere

I’ll warm you up,” he said, extending his hand to her. She stepped past

him, grabbing the throw from the back of the couch as she nestled in

next to him. He helped her drape it over the both of them. “How many

times have you watched…?”

Mulder chucked at the memory, “I don’t know, twenty years, maybe more…”

The ghost* *on the screen sent up another cry and rattled his chain.

/”You do not know the weight and length of strong chain you bear

yourself. It was full and heavy and as long as this… It is a ponderous

chain. Mark me! In life, my spirit never roved beyond the limits of

our money changing hold. Now I am doomed to wander without rest or

peace, incessant torture and remorse”/

/”But it was only that you were a good man of business, Jacob.”/

/”Business!// Mankind was my business! Their common welfare was my

business.”/

* *She tapped him on the arm, “You didn’t answer my question.”

Mulder nodded towards the television, “Revisiting the ghosts of

Christmas past. Ol Scrooge and I have spent a lot of Christmas’s together.”

“You don’t have to spend this one with him you know.”

He leaned into her, “Yes, I know that, he whispered, rubbing his cheek

against her head. “This is much better than watching it alone. You

warm enough? I can relight the fire.”

She snuggled more against him, “No, you’re warm enough.”

The spirits came as Marley’s ghost had predicted. They watched the

spirit of Christmas Past take Scrooge on a trip back to his younger

days, as a lonely school boy abandoned by his family until his sister

had suddenly come for him.

/”Oh dear brother, I have come to bring you home… Home for good you

see! Home forever and ever. Father is so much kinder than he used to

be that home is like heaven.”/

/ /

/”For your perhaps, but not for me. He doesn’t even know me, nor even

what I look like.”/

/ /

/”…he sent me in a carriage to bring you and you’re never to come back

here anymore and you’re never to be lonely again. Never, for as long as

I live.”/

/ /

/”Then you must live forever, Fran. Nobody else ever cared for me and

nobody else ever will. You must live forever Fran!”/

/ /

/”…you must forgive Pa-pa and forget the past.”/

/ /

/ /She listened to pieces of the dialog as she snuggled against Mulder’s

shoulder.

/”She died giving you life. For which your father never forgave you as

if you were to blame.”/

/ /

He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her closer. She watched his

foot tap as the characters danced about at the lavish party Old Fezziwig

was throwing.

/”Oh, there never was a kinder man…the happiness he gave to us, his

clerks and apprentices, and everybody who knew him. It was as great as

if it had…as if it had cost a fortune.”/

/ /

Mulder had crawled into some sweats and had a serious case of “bed

head”. If it wasn’t for the shadow of a beard across his face he’d look

like a boy she thought to herself. “What was Christmas like at the

Mulder house?” She’d said it without thinking and when he didn’t

hesitate, she wished she could take it back.

“You know how I spent Christmas, Scully,” Mulder’s voice was soft; he

answered without taking his eyes off the screen watching Scrooge stumble

though an awkward proposal to Alice, his love.

/”If ever I should have a change of heart towards you. It will be

because my heart has ceased to beat.”/

Scully reached over to take Mulder’s hand in hers “Not as an adult

Mulder,” she amended. “What was Christmas like when you and Sam were

kids?” She’d opened the can of worms; she might as well dump them all

out. “How old were you when you stopped believing in Santa Claus?”

Mulder let go of her hand, when she turned to look at him he had an

expression of utter disbelief, maybe even horror, plastered on his face.

“What do you mean, there’s no Santa Claus?”

“Mulder?” She smiled, “Come on, you…” Her eyes met his and for a

moment she wasn’t sure if he were joking or not. But then his lip

started to curl again, “Christmas isn’t a day Scully, it’s a state of mind.”

“Damn you,” she slapped at him playfully. “Come on, did you tease your

little sister after you figured it out or what?”

Mulder glanced back at the television, Scrooge was at his dying sister’s

bedside.

/”Fran you, you can’t die…Fran you’re going to get well again/*.”*

“Actually I tried to convince her he still existed long after my parents

had given it up.” He signed, looking up, “God, I wish I knew.”

/”The world is on the verge of great changes… Some of them, by

necessity will be violent. …No, I think the world is becoming a very

hard and cruel place Mr. Marley…one must steel one self to survive it.”/

/ /

She squeezed his hand to draw him back to her. Maybe it hadn’t been

such a good idea, dredging up a past that he really didn’t want to

remember. “Knew what, Mulder?”

“The two years after she was gone are such a fucking haze in my memory

Scully,” he shook his head gently. “I wish I knew how much of what I do

remember was actually real.”

“You have a photographic memory, Mulder, it has to be real.”

He lurched back from her a little. “But that’s just it Scully, it’s a

memory, I don’t have any photographs, none of that proof you always

insist I need. They’ve all gone up in smoke,” the remorse in his voice

was evident.

On the screen, Scrooge was learning from the ghost that his love for

Alice had been replaced by another.

/”She has not changed by the harshness of the world. But you are.”/

/ /

/”…then you no longer love me.”/

/ /

/”When have I ever said that?”/

/ /

/”In words?// …Never…in the way you have changed.”/

/ /

/”But how have I changed towards you?”/

She paused as the sudden thought of how like Scrooge Mulder had been.

/”By changing towards the world…you fear the world too much.”/

How he too might have been consumed by an obsession of an entirely

different kind had she not found her way into his heart.

/”With reason!// But I — I am not changed towards you!”/

/ /

/”Aren’t you?” …You who weigh everything by gain! I buy you nothing but

repentance and regret. That is why I release you…may you be happy in

the life you have chosen.”/

/ /

/”Thank you. I shall be.”/

/ /

It seemed it wasn’t only Alice that Scrooge’s heart had abandoned. Bob

Cratchit was knocking on Scrooge’s office door, /”It’s about Mr. Marley,

he’s dying, Sir.”/

/ /

/”Well, what can I do about it? If he’d dying, he’s dying.”/

/ /

/”Well, the message was for you to go at once, Sir.”/

/ /

/”It is now a //quarter to five//. The business of the office is not

yet finished; I shall go when the office is closed. At //seven o’clock//.”/

/ /

/”Yes sir.”/

/ /

“What was the best thing you ever got for Christmas?” She asked, trying

to steer the subject in a slightly different direction as poor Bob

Cratchit bumbled about trying to justify not working on Christmas day.

/”I suppose you will want the whole day off tomorrow, as usual.”/

/ /

/”If quite convenient, Sir?”///

/ /

/”Ha ha…every Christmas you say the same thing. And every Christmas,

it’s just as inconvenient as it was the Christmas before. Goodnight.”/

“Let me guess,” he turned to look at her, disappointed in himself for

dampening her holiday mood. “Yours was the latest chemistry set.” He

watched as she closed her eyes and pursed her lips in recognition of the

innocent jab before he continued. “Do you mean did I get my Daisy Red

Ryder 200-shot carbine action BB gun?”

“You didn’t want one?”

“No, I didn’t,” he looked thoughtful for a moment and then seemed to

relax. “The best thing I ever got was probably my first bike. It gave

me such freedom…you could cover a lot of ground on a bike when you were

a kid. Ride off for a whole day and nobody worried about where you’d

gotten to. If you weren’t home for dinner, you didn’t get any.” She

saw a little light twinkle in his eyes as the memories came flooding

back. “Those pick-up games I told you about were only part of it. The

beach, the woods, there was always someplace for an adventure. Of course

Sam would get mad ’cause I’d go off and leave her…” His eyes were drawn

back to the film.

/”We spirits of Christmas do not live only one day of the year. We live

the whole three hundred sixty five. So it is true of the child born in

//Bethlehem//. He does not live in men’s hearts only on one day of the

year, but in all the days of the year. You have chosen not to seek him

in your heart; therefore you shall come with me and seek him in the

hearts of men of good will.” /

/ /

The spirit of Christmas Present loomed over Scrooge, beckoning him on a

journey about those he shared his days with. Their first stop was the

home of Bob Crachit.

/”Why…Where’s our Martha?”/

/ /

/”She’s not coming.”/

/ /

/”Not coming? Not coming on Christmas day?” /

/ /

But as she and Mulder watched, Martha couldn’t tease her father any

longer and popped from the cupboard she had hidden in and danced about

with siblings before they ran off to see the pudding.

/”How did little Tim behave in church?”/

/ /

/”As good as gold and better.// Sometimes he gets thoughtful setting by

himself so much and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told

me he wasn’t going to feel that people looked at him because he was a

cripple, as it might be pleasant then, being in church, to remember upon

Christmas day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.”/ Scrooge

shuddered at the boy’s infinite wisdom.

/”Spirit…tell me will tiny Tim live?”/

/”I see a vacant seat…”**/

“Christmas was always kind of funky at our house Scully,” Mulder looked

down, absently picking at his nails. “Mom would work in some of her

Jewish traditions so we ended up with a sort of a Hanukkah-mas.”

Scully chuckled, “Well then you probably made out pretty good.”

The scene changed to the home of Scrooge’s nephew and a gathering of

friends and family.

/”He said that Christmas was “humbug”, and he believed it too… Well a

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the poor old man. He wouldn’t let

me wish it to him personally, but here it is never the less.”/

/ /

/”Uncle Scrooge!” /The group held their glasses up in a toast.

/”Well, I don’t know that our drinking to him will do him much good.”/

/ /

/”…I’m sorry for him. I couldn’t feel angry with him, if I tried. Who

suffers worse from his humors? Himself always.”/

The scene on the screen changed again, to a shelter for the homeless and

Scrooge was faced with the truth that his beloved Alice had never

married; content in life to serve the less fortunate about her. Scrooge

watched as she comforted an elderly woman.

/”I never thought there was anyone like you left in the whole wide world.”/

/ /

/”…Spirit, are these people real or are they shadows?”/

/ /

/”They’re real, we are the shadows. …Did you not cut yourself off from

your fellow beings, when you lost the love of that gentle creature?”/

/ /

Again the scene in the film changed, to an empty street in the dark of

night, Scrooge shivered and begged the spirit, /”Where are you taking me

now?/”

/”My time with you is almost done. Will you profit by what I have shown

you of the good in most men’s hearts?/

/ /

/”I don’t know. How can I promise?”/

/ /

/”…If it is too hard a lesson for you to learn, then learn this lesson.” /

/ /

/ /She and Mulder watched the huge figure pull apart his coat to reveal

two children cowering at his feet.

/”Spirit, are these yours?”/

/ /

/”They are man’s. They cling to me for protection from their fetters.

This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, but most

of all beware this boy.”/

/ /

Mulder seemed momentarily mesmerized by the story,* *”Yeah, I guess

maybe we did,” he turned to look at her, the ghost of a grin etching his

lips. “What about you, all those kids in the house, the four of you

must have driven your mom and dad crazy.”

She hadn’t really expected him to reciprocate. Memories of Christmas’

past were a delicate subject for her as well. Right now, the only

person with whom she had to hold onto those memories with was her

mother. Flashes of Melissa and her bratty brothers danced through her

memory as Mulder waited her out.

“Christmas was a pretty big production at our house. Even if dad wasn’t

in port we all had to get a new outfit and got dragged to Midnight mass

and then mom would spend most of Christmas slaving over the stove making

this huge meal that most of us didn’t eat because we were too excited

about what we got.” She met his eyes, he’d manage to charm her into

relinquishing the memories and she smiled back, grateful for his effort.

“I used to worry all the time because we moved so much how Santa would

find out where we were each year. I think finding out Santa wasn’t real

was probably the first big disappointment I had as a kid.”

“Let me guess, Bill told you.” He’d meant it in a light hearted manner

but he saw the sadness slip across her expression.

“No, one year I snuck out of my room and sat on the steps and watched my

mom and dad do the Santa thing, all the time complaining about how hard

it was to put all that stuff together. Somehow some of the magic went

out of the holiday that year.”

Scrooge howled on the screen as a bony finger appeared before him.

“/I am in the presence of the Spirit of Christmas yet to come… Spirit of

the Future, I fear you more than any other specter that I have seen…and

you’re going to show me shadows of things that have not yet happened but

will happen?”/**

* *

Mulder turned away from the screen to look at her. “Why?”

“What do you mean why?” she looked at him, astonished by the absurdity

of his question. “All that pomp and circumstance of sitting on some old

guy’s knee so you could tell him what you wanted and here it’s your mom

and dad that go out and buy it for you…no jolly old elf, no reindeer and

sleigh and you certainly didn’t have to be worried about being good all

year anymore…”

“Oh come on, when did you have to worry about that?”

“Just because I was raised Catholic, Mulder, doesn’t mean I was good.”

“Why Dana Katherine Scully, you shock me!”

Scully laughed at his mocked surprise. On the television Bob Cratchit

had come home to a house minus Tiny Tim, and spoke of spending a moment

at his son’s final resting place.

/”It was strange, but as I stood there, I felt his hand slip in mine, as

if he was standing beside me and comforting me. I felt very peaceful,

my dear. He was telling me, you see, in his own little way, that he’s

happy. Truly happy now…and that we must cease to grieve for him and try

to be happy too.”/* *

* *

The scene changed, Scrooge stood and watched the chow woman, the

laundress and his undertaker squabbled over the price of his possessions

while the Spirit of Christmas yet to come loomed over him.

“/Everyone’s got a right to take care of themselves, he always did.”/

/ /

/”If he wanted to keep ’em after he was dead why wasn’t he amiable in

his lifetime? If he had been, he’d have had somebody with him when he

was struck with death. Instead of lying, gasping out his last air alone

be himself.”/

/ /

/”He frightened near everyone away from him when he was alive…”/

* *

“Did you have something that you always wanted? Something you asked

Santa for, but never got?” Mulder asked without taking his eyes from

the screen. “You know that pony?”

“Pony?”

“Yeah, every little girl wants a pony, don’t they? Sam…” she heard the

sigh in his voice. “Sam always asked for one.”

She knew without asking that his sister never got her pony. She let her

mind drift back, “Missy and I always wanted an Easy Bake Oven when we

were little. We told mom we could help with dinner that way and kept

asking for one for our birthdays and Christmas every year…but neither of

us ever got one. And then once the Santa magic went out of the holiday

we both knew our parents would never get us one.”

“After a time, you may find that having…is not so pleasing a thing after

all…as wanting,” Mulder looked at her out of the corner of his eye.

“You still want one?”

She looked over to catch his eye and smiled a little, ” I have a grown

up oven now Mulder and they’re really not that fun. Perhaps you’re

right, sometimes when you got something, it turned out to be not so

great after all. The fun is in the wanting.”

/”No, I don’t know much about it either way.”/

/ /

/”When did he die?”/

/ /

/”Last night, I believe.”/

/ /

/”What was the matter with him? I thought he’d never die.”/

/ /

/”So did he, I daresay…”/

“Didn’t stop Christmas from coming did it?” Mulder asked.

“What?” The characters in the film were discussing death and she had

thought Mulder had asked her something about Christmas.

I said, “Just because you didn’t believe in Santa — it didn’t stop

Christmas from coming did it?”

“Of course no, but …”

/ /

/”Before I draw nearer to the stone, answer me one question.// Are

these shadows of things that must be? Or are they only shadows of

things that might be? I know that men’s deeds foreshadow certain ends,

but if the deeds be departed from, surely the ends will be changed!

Tell me it is so with what you show me now…”/

/ /

As Scrooge collapsed on his own grave, Mulder turned to her again, “I

mean, think of all those Whos down in Whoville…that damn Grinch came and

stole everything and Christmas still came. They all still gathered

around and sang …” For a moment she thought he was going to sing it to

her and was just a little disappointed when he continued. “That silly

Who song. Sure changed that old Grinch’s heart. ‘Maybe Christmas he

thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a

little bit more.'” She was looking at him with her eyebrow raised, in

skeptical mode, as he thought of it, but he wasn’t about to stop now.

“And then there’s Charlie Brown, Snoopy wins the prize for the best

Christmas decorations and he kills his Christmas tree, but that doesn’t

stop Christmas either. And then who could forget poor George Bailey, he

didn’t have a cent. Thought if he killed himself, his family and

Bedford Falls would be better off without him. Christmas still came.”

“Mulder, what are you getting at?”

/”Hear me Spirit. I’m not the man I was. Believe me, I’m not the man I

was!” /

/ /

/ /Mulder looked back at the television, Scrooge had now awoken and was

dancing about his bed chamber.

/”I’m here…and the shadows of things that would be, can still be

dispelled, and they will be. I know they will be, I know. I don’t know

what to do! I’m as light as a feather. I’m as happy as a…I’m as happy

as an angel! I’m as…merry as a school boy! I’m as giddy…I’m as giddy

as a drunken man, I never…”/

*/ /*

“You know just because I sat alone on Christmas Eve with Scrooge here,

that didn’t stop if from coming either.” He turned back to her again

and reached up to gently push her hair back from her face. “The magic

never goes out of Christmas, Scully.”

On the screen the Cratchits’ were marveling over the grand Christmas

goose.

/”I think I know who sent it — Mr. Scrooge.”/

/ /

/”What would make Mr. Scrooge take such leave of his senses suddenly?”/

/ /

/”Christmas.”///

/ /

“I have a lot of good memories from when I was a kid,” Mulder told her,

the light returning to his eyes. “And my heart tells me they’re real

even though at times my head seems to disagree.” He watched her eyes

fill with tears and the soft smile came back to her lips. “Those were

the best times of our lives weren’t they, Mulder?”

He dropped his forehead to hers, “not necessarily.”

One the screen Scrooge had finally taken his nephew up on his Christmas

dinner offer. He entered their home to the surprise of the servant girl

that had answered his knock. In the background music played and voices

could be heard singing a ballad.

/”In //Scarlet// //Town// where I was born, there was a fair maid

dwelling; made every gent cry Well-a-day, her name was…”/

/ /

“Dana Scully,” Mulder had picked up the tune. “All in the merry month

of May, when green buds they were swelling; young Jimmy Grove on his

deathbed lay, for love of Dana Scully…”

“Mulder…you sing awful,” she chided him.

“So slowly, slowly she came up, and slowly she came nigh him, and all

she said when there she came; young man, I think…”

“What do you mean?” she asked, pulling back from him a little and

following his eyes back to the movie.

/”I haven’t taken leave of my sense, Bob. I’ve come to them.”**/

* *

“Look at that snow falling out there. Santa’s going to need Rudolph

tonight for sure,” he kidded her, turning her around to face the window

and pulling her against his chest. The snow was falling lightly but it

looked very picturesque behind the lighted tree.

“We just about always had snow for Christmas in New England. Dad

insisted we go out and cut a tree, we’d all be frozen by the time we

found one we all agreed on. I’m glad you let me do that for you.

Thanks for bringing back those memories,” he kissed the top of her head

softly.

“I’m not responsible for the snow, Mulder.”

“You’re not?”

“No, but it certainly is beautiful, and so is the tree, you did a good job.”

“And I have the blisters and frostbitten toes to prove it.”

They listened to the narration as the movie came to an end.

/”Scrooge was better than his word. He became as good a friend, as good

a master, and as good a man as the good old city ever knew; our any good

old city, town, or borough in the good old world. And to tiny Tim, who

lived and got well again, he became a second father./

/ /

/Uncle Scrooge!/

/ /

/And it was always said that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any

man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and

all of us. And so, as tiny Tim observed, God bless us…every one.”/

/ /

It came to her then as the credits began to roll and she sat there in

Mulder’s arms why he watched this wonderful old version of Charles

Dickens’s tale of love and good will to men every Christmas Eve. She

began to realize that somewhere during this story of an old man’s

redemption Mulder felt it too. A faith that despite the horrors and

atrocities they both knew man could inflict on his fellow man there was

always good in most men’s hearts.

And that goodness was what their fight was all about. Mulder drew his

arms round her tighter as if sensing what she was feeling. “Having you

here with me, this is the best time of my life, Scully.”

End

AUTHOR’S NOTES: The film dialog quoted in this story is taken from the

1951 film A CHRISTMAS CAROL staring Alastair Sim which IMHO is the best

film version of Charles Dickens’ classic novel. May you all keep

Christmas well.

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