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Title: Veritas

Classification: MSR, pure holiday fluff

Rating: PG

Summary: Mulder spends Christmas with Scully and her family. Happiness ensues.

 

 

December 22

9:42 pm

"Damn!" Scully said, sucking on her index finger. Medically, she knew sticking her bleeding finger in her mouth was perhaps not the best thing to do, but the scissors had made a nice little slice in her finger and it hurt like a bitch. She hated wrapping Christmas presents, and this little injury had done nothing to improve her mood.

Getting up off her living room floor, she walked to her bathroom and fumbled around her medicine cabinet as best she could using only one hand. She washed her hand and put Neosporin on the cut, making sure the band-aid covered the entire tip of her finger. Cursing her need to have perfectly wrapped presents, she sat back down at her coffee table and pondered how on earth to wrap that obnoxious green Teletubbie she had bought for Matthew.

When the doorbell rang, she groaned and reluctantly got up to answer it.

"Hey, Scully." Mulder smiled at her.

"If this is about aliens, ghosts, or conspiracies, Iím not in the mood." Her face was as hard as her voice.

"Gee, canít I even come in?" he asked jokingly, as he walked past her and into her living room.

Scully shut her door with a sigh. "Whatís up, Mulder?" she asked, her voice softening. She sat back down at her coffee table and with a distasteful look, threw the offending Teletubbie aside for the moment.

Mulder sat down on the couch and put a shopping bag down on the floor. "Well, I know youíre leaving for your Momís tomorrow, so I wanted to give this to you before you left." He took two boxes out of the bag and handed them to her.

She looked up at him as she took the gifts. "Thank you." Pausing a moment, she said, "Are you going to your motherís?"

"Ah.....no. She decided to go to her brotherís this year."

She saw the look of sadness cross his face briefly. "When were you going to tell me?" she asked, putting the gifts down and turning back to her wrapping.

"I didnít want to worry you, Scully."

She smiled as she wrapped a copy of the latest Maeve Binchy book for her mother. "You worry me anyway, Mulder."

He chuckled. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Scully."

"You realize what this means, donít you?"

"That youíre going to have me Lojacked for Christmas?"

Scully chuckled. "No. That youíre coming to my motherís for Christmas."

"Ah, Scully......I canít do that."

"Yes, you can. You go home and do whatever you need to do, and we leave tomorrow night. Itís that easy."

"No, really......Iím fine being at home. Frohike mentioned something about hacking the IRS-"

Scully picked up the phone, which had been sitting on the coffee table underneath a mound of wrapping paper, and quickly dialed. After a moment, she said, "Mom, itís me..........Iím fine.........Yeah, Iím still coming. However, I am having trouble convincing Mulder that he is more than welcome to spend the holiday with us." With an innocent look, she held out the phone to him. "Itís for you."

With a sigh, he took the phone. "Hi, Mrs. Scully." There was a pause. "Iím just fine. How are you?..........But......." He sighed deeply. "I would love to join you for Christmas.......Iíll be there." He paused once more, and when he spoke again, his voice cracked with emotion. "Thank you."

When Mulder hung up, Scully said, "Weíre leaving at 7."

"Whyíd you do that?" he asked softly.

She turned to him and took his hand in hers. "Because I hate the thought of you spending Christmas alone."

He smiled at her and gave her hand a squeeze. "Guess I can take those back then, huh?" he said, motioning toward the presents he had given her.

"For now," she replied, turning back to her wrapping. "Did you wrap those yourself?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Get down here and wrap presents, G-man."

"Is one of those presents mine?" he asked, peering over into the pile of unwrapped gifts.

"If you donít stop talking and start wrapping, youíll never find out."

"What happened to peace on earth, goodwill towards men?"

"Mulder, shut up and wrap."

 

December 23

8:15 pm

Mulder lifted his and Scullyís bags from the trunk of his car and set them on the ground with a thud. "What did you pack, bricks?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I did," Scully replied, taking shopping bags filled with gifts out of the trunk.

Mulder looked around and saw two minivans parked in front of Mrs. Scullyís house. "Uh, Scully, now may be a bad time to ask, but will Bill be here?"

"Yeah, he will."

Mulder picked up his suitcase and put it back in the trunk.

"Mulder," she said with a smile. "Come on. Momís expecting you."

"Thatís all well and good, Scully, but the last thing I want to do is ruin big brother Billís Christmas by showing up." He looked genuinely distressed.

"Youíd ruin my Christmas if you left."

He looked down at her and saw the honesty in her eyes. "Really?"

"Really."

Giving the minivans another wary look, he sighed. "Okay. But only because you asked."

They made their way to the front door, where Mrs. Scully was waiting. "I was wondering when youíd get here," she said, embracing her daughter.

"We left a little late......" Scully replied. "We should have called."

"Iím just glad you made it okay." She turned to Mulder. "Iím glad you came, Fox," she said, hugging him warmly.

He grinned at her. "You are quite persuasive when you want to be."

"Dana, why donít you show Fox to his room?" Maggie said. "Iíve put him in Bill and Charlieís old room."

Mulder followed Scully up the stairs and into a smallish blue room decorated with baseball pennants and model ships. "My room is right next door if you need anything," she said, turning to walk out.

"How about my head examined for possibly thinking that this was a good idea." He sat down on one of the two twin beds, his head in his hands.

With a sigh, she set her bag down and sat next to him on the bed. "Mulder," she said, taking his hand. "Things wonít be so bad, I promise."

He laughed wryly. "Tell that to Bill."

"Look.....Billís a grown man, and if heís going to be an ass, heís going to be an ass. End of story. But that doesnít have to ruin our holiday." She smiled at him. "Momís glad youíre here, and more importantly, Iím glad youíre here. What Bill thinks is of no importance." Giving his hand a final squeeze, she stood up and walked next door to her room.

Mulder followed.

"Pink?" he said, leaning against the doorjamb. "Oh, and that David Cassidy poster just completes the decor."

"Missy picked the color, not me."

"And the poster?"

"I was young."

"And apparently deaf, too."

She attempted to give him a dirty look, but she couldnít help but smile. "Come on," she said, grabbing his arm. "Letís introduce you to the rest of the family."

 

Mulder sat next to Scully on the couch, making a mental list of Scullyís family members. It wasnít that there were a lot of names and faces to get right.......it took his mind off of the icy look Bill had been giving him for several minutes. There was Bill and Tara, of course, and little Matthew who would soon be two. Charlie (who looked so much like his sister it was almost frightening), his pretty, dark haired wife Beth, and their two children-seven year old Brian and four year old Katie, who looked startlingly like her aunt Dana.

Mulder was snapped out of his reverie when little Katie crawled out of her fatherís lap, over Scully and Brian (who was in Scullyís lap), and plunked herself down in Mulderís lap.

"Can I help you?" he asked, smiling down at her.

"Are you Aunt Danaís boyfriend?" the girl asked.

Laughter erupted from the adults in the room. Beth put her hand affectionately on Charlieís knee and said, "We know which parent she takes after."

Mulder looked over at Scully. "You wanna field that one?"

"No, Katydid, Mulder is just a friend," Scully said.

"But if heís a boy, and heís your friend, then heís your boyfriend." Katie regarded her aunt with serious blue eyes.

"No, silly," Brian piped up. "Boyfriends and girlfriends kiss. Aunt Dana doesnít kiss him........do you?"

"Are you sure youíre not Aunt Danaís boyfriend?" Katie asked Mulder skeptically.

Laughing, Maggie walked over and picked her granddaughter up out of Mulderís lap. "Why donít you and Brian go upstairs and get a game?"

"Am I in trouble?" Katie asked with a sigh, her blue eyes wide. "I didnít mean to bug Aunt Danaís boyfriend."

"No, munchkin, youíre not in trouble." She kissed the little girlís head and put her down. "You and Brian go get a game, okay?"

"Do you think Aunt Danaís boyfriend will play with us?"

Maggie smiled at Mulder. "I donít know little one, youíll have to ask Fox. But Iím sure if you ask him nicely, heíll say yes."

The little girl walked over to Mulder and gave him her best sad puppy look. "Fox, will you play Candy Land with me and Brian?"

"Katie, I would love to play Candy Land with you."

She gave him a dazzling smile and pulled her brother out of Scullyís lap."Come on, Brian! Iíll race you upstairs!" They ran up the stairs, the sound echoing through the house.

"Looks like you found a friend, ĎFoxí," Scully said with a snicker.

"I refuse to dignify that with an answer, Scully," he said, standing up. "Now if youíll excuse me, I believe I have a game of Candy Land to win."

"Youíll never beat Katie," Charlie said with a laugh. "She cheats."

"Thatís okay," Mulder replied with a grin. "So do I."

 

 

 

December 24

9:08 am

Mulder stood in the doorway of the kitchen, enjoying the domestic scene before him. Scully stood at the stove cooking, and from the smell of it she was making bacon and eggs. She was wearing an old pair of faded jeans and a long sleeved blue t-shirt with the name ĎScullyí above the number nine, emblazoned in yellow. On her feet were pink bunny slippers, which she was tapping in time to a jazzed up version of ĎSleigh Rideí which was coming out of an old radio on top of the fridge. She must have sensed she was being watched, because she turned around to face Mulder.

"Morning. Coffee cups are in the second cabinet."

He took down two mugs and poured the coffee, handing one to Scully. He sat down at the kitchen table, and she set a plate down in front of him. A moment later she sat next to him with a plate of her own.

"Where is everyone?" he asked, taking a bite.

"Scully family tradition is to go out on Christmas Eve morning and get a tree." She took a long sip of coffee. "Weíll decorate it after dinner, and then the whole family goes to mass at midnight." She looked over at him. "I know youíre not really religious.....if you donít want to go to mass, you donít have to. I donít mind staying home with you-"

"Iíll go."

Stunned, Scully was silent for a moment. "Are you sure? I can go to early mass in the morning-"

He smiled at her. "Yeah, Iím sure. I figure itís Christmastime......if you and your family can be nice enough to have me for the holiday, the least I can do is participate."

She smiled. "Wow. And it isnít even what I asked Santa for."

"What did you ask Santa for?"

She stood and took her empty plate to the sink. "If I tell you what I asked for, I wonít get it."

"Not true. That rule only applies to birthday wishes and wishes on stars. There is no such rule applying to what you asked Santa for." He grinned at her. "Does this mean you believe in Santa, Scully?"

"Not a chance, Mulder."

"Something tells me you were the kind of kid who never really believed in Santa."

"Or the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy."

"Geez, Scully, what kind of kid were you?" Mulder asked with a laugh.

"One who knew better than to believe that a man who had flying reindeer would fall down my chimney and leave me the beautiful blue Schwinn two-wheeler I had my eye on-which, by the way, I didnít get."

"You didnít get a bike and you stopped believing? Pretty harsh, Scully."

"I never really believed. Not getting the bike just cemented it."

He stood up and handed his plate to her. "What will you tell your niece if she asks you about Santa?" he asked, crossing his arms.

"Iíll tell her to ask you."

"Why me?"

She laughed. "You believe in little grey men and government conspiracies...... why should Santa be any different?"

"Santa isnít happy to hear that, Scully. Youíll be getting coal in your stocking this year."

"At least it will give me something to throw at you."

 

10:45 am

"Nice tree," Scully said to Bill as he set the large blue spruce in the far corner of the living room.

"Brian picked it out," Bill said with a grin. "Heís got a good eye for this."

"This was an absolute nightmare," Tara said to Scully in a low voice as she unzipped Matthewís snowsuit. "Bill and Charlie argued the entire time. Bill wanted a Scotch pine, Charlie wanted a Douglas fir. Bill wanted a small one, Charlie a huge one. And prices-sheesh! I have never seen them argue like that!"

"Gee, sorry I missed it."

"Sure you are." Bethís voice was dripping with sarcasm, but she smiled.

"Bill," Maggie said with a smile, "why donít you and Charlie and Fox go downstairs and dig up the decorations? Theyíre in the closet."

Giving Mulder a dirty look, Bill led them down into the basement to dig up the tree ornaments.

With a sigh, the four women plopped down onto the couch. The house was almost silent; the kids were upstairs watching television, and on occasion there would be a noise from the basement.

"Whatís with you and Mulder?" Beth asked Scully.

"What do you mean by that?" Scully was defensive.

"Come on, Day," Tara said. "Heís handsome, heís smart, and he is so obviously interested in you."

"What?"

"We all see it," Beth said. "Itís in the way he looks at you."

"You are seeing things."

"I think theyíre right, honey," Maggie said.

"Not you too."

"You mean you and that handsome man have never even thought about it?" Beth asked.

Scully sighed. "The one time Mulder and I-" she stopped short. "Never mind."

"Spill it, Dana."

Again, she sighed, thinking about how she should put this. This wasnít your run-of-the-mill thwarted attempt at romance. "About a year and a half ago, I was thinking about leaving the Bureau. Mulder and I had this huge fight, and he basically told me that he was nothing without me."

"And?" Tara urged her on.

"Just before he kissed me, I was stung by a bee and had an...... allergic reaction. We havenít discussed it since."

Tara and Beth exchanged looks. "You mark my words, Dana," Tara said. "Something is going to happen between the two of you, and soon. Just you wait."

"Iím waiting, Tara. Iím waiting."

 

3:32 pm

Mulder wandered into the kitchen, lured by the smell of freshly baked sugar cookies. The Scully women stood around the kitchen, each with her own specific task; Maggie was decorating cookies, Tara was making the dough, and Beth was putting the cookies on the baking sheets. It was a wonderfully domestic scene, and Mulder got a tiny thrill of joy watching his partner bake with her family.

"Something smells wonderful," he said, leaning on the counter next to Scully, who was rolling out cookie dough. "Nice apron."

Without even looking up, she said, "Touch the cookie dough and die, G-man. What happened to Chutes and Ladders with Katie?"

"After I lost for the sixth time, I told her no more games for today." Surreptitiously, he tried to sneak a fingerful of raw dough.

Scully slapped his hand away. "Beaten by a four year old. Didnít the Bureau make you take some sort of IQ test before they hired you?"

"Childrenís games werenít on the test I took. They saved that test for the guys from white collar crime."

She put down the rolling pin and picked up a bell shaped cookie cutter. "You want to make yourself useful?" she asked him with a smile.

"Define Ďusefulí, Scully."

She handed him the cookie cutter.

"Do I get an apron too?"

"No."

He cut eight cookies, then very carefully placed them on a cookie sheet.

"Very nice, Mulder. Iím impressed."

"You should see me with snickerdoodles."

Maggie, Tara, and Beth exchanged amused glances.

With an eye roll and a sigh, Scully once again began rolling out dough. "Mulder, could you hand me that container of flour thatís on the table?"

He picked up the large ceramic pot and put itís lid on the table. "Whatís the magic word?" he asked sweetly.

She turned to him, and amused smile on her face. "Now."

"No, Scully, last time I checked, that wasnít the magic word." He grinned at her. "Try again."

Smiling, she attempted to grab the pot from him. "I said now, Mulder."

"Wrong again, Scully." They were now engaged in a tog-of-war over the flour. "Say the magic word, and Iíll let you have it."

"Okay! Please!" she finally shouted, her voice a cross between exasperation and humor.

And with that, Mulder let go. Flour went everywhere-all over the counter, the floor, and Scully. The white powder covered her shirt and her jeans, and most of her face, which was trying desperately to look mad but just wasnít pulling it off.

"Thatís a nice look for you, Scully," Mulder said, trying to contain his mirth.

Maggie and her daughters-in-law cracked up. "Way to go, Day," Beth said through her laughter. "Guess youíll be doing laundry tonight."

"Iím glad to see that you all find this so amusing," Scully said as she brushed a floury piece of hair out of her face, attempting to wipe the flour off of her face. "You are a dead man!" she said to Mulder, throwing a handful of flour at him, which he dodged deftly. "Donít sleep tonight, Mulder."

"Oooh! Iím scared!" he said in mock fear, snatching a cookie off the sheet.

She threw a dishtowel at him. "Shut up!" she laughed.

Mulder took the dishtowel and gently wiped her nose off, looking deep into her eyes. "You missed a spot."

She blushed slightly. "Thanks."

He put the dishtowel over her shoulder and turned to walk out, grabbing two cookies on his way.

11:15 pm

Mulder was tying his tie when there was a knock on the door. "Come in."

Scully came in. "Just checking to make sure you were up from your nap."

He turned to her. "You look beautiful."

She blushed and looked down at her long black skirt and green shirt. "Thanks." After a pause, she said, "Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Scully......Dana." He walked over to her and put his hands on her upper arms. "Yes, I am sure. I appreciate your concern, but Iím sure."

"I......I just donít want you to feel obligated."

He smiled as he pulled her in for a hug. "If I didnít want to do this, I wouldnít. So stop worrying."

"I know."

Little feet were heard in the hallway, and a voice said, "I thought you said Fox wasnít your boyfriend!"

Scully laughed as she disentangled herself from Mulderís embrace. "He isnít, Katydid. I was just giving him a hug."

The little girl gave her aunt a skeptical look. "I donít believe you."

"You hug your friends, donít you?" she asked, picking the girl up.

"Well, yeah."

"So, whatís so different about me hugging Mulder?"

The little girl sighed. "For a doctor, you sure can be dumb."

Mulder laughed. "And why is that?"

"Because, silly......you are in love."

Blushing, Scully asked, "And how do you know this?"

"Duh. Everyone knows." The little girl squirmed out of Scullyís arms and ran out of the room.

They looked at each other, amused and a little embarrassed. "Uh...weíll be leaving soon," Scully said, turning and walking out of the room.

"Iíll be ready."

 

 

 

11:48 pm

The church was dark, lit only by the candles that were spread out among the pews. An organ played softly, and Mulder recognized the tune as ĎAway in a Mangerí. He just stood there, taking in the sights-the wreaths of holly, the pine garlands with their festive gold ribbons, the white pointsettas that decorated the sanctuary, the hand-carved wooden creche that stood at the front. Although Mulder was uncomfortable with religion, he felt a deep sense of peace in this place.

A tug on his arm by Katie got him walking, following Scully into a pew.

Katie sat herself in his lap, her little legs stretched out over his, barely reaching his knees. Within moments she was dozing, her head resting on Mulderís chest. He smiled down at her sleeping form, at once completely entranced and awed by her.

"Sheís some kid, huh?" Scully whispered to him, smiling at the sight of her niece asleep in his lap.

"Sheís going to be a heartbreaker, this one."

"Yours included?"

He laughed. "No, that happened a long time ago. But she comes close."

With a smile, Scully squeezed his arm.

Mass began. Still holding the sleeping Katie in his arms, Mulder stood and listened to the congregation sing the processional hymn. She shifted in his arms and stuck her thumb in her mouth.

As mass continued, Mulder only half paid attention. He stood when Scully stood, and knelt (or tried to, depending on if Katie was awake) when she did. At one point Katie was very much awake, standing on the kneeler between Mulderís knees. Her head was bowed in reverent prayer, her lips moving silently. When the rest of the family got up to receive communion, he and Katie sat down in the pew. A lovely soprano voice began to sing ĎO Holy Nightí, and Mulder felt his eyes tear up.

That had been Samanthaís favorite Christmas song.

"Fox, why are you crying?" Katie whispered. "This is a happy song."

"I know, munchkin. But it reminds me of someone I miss very much."

She looked at him with big eyes, her little face falling into a frown. "Donít be sad, Fox. Iím sure they miss you too." She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. "Please donít be sad."

"Iíll try, Katie."

Scully returned to the pew and knelt down. Katie reached over and tapped her aunt on the shoulder. "Aunt Dana, Fox is sad."

Scully looked over and saw his eyes were damp. "Mulder......"

"This was Samís favorite Christmas song."

"Oh, Mulder." She took his hand, but said nothing more.

Bill looked over at them, somewhat annoyed. When he saw the tears in Mulderís eyes, his heart softened just a bit.

Mulder felt Billís eyes on him, and turned to look at him. He was sure Bill was going to say something or give him a dirty look.

Instead, Bill Scully gave him a small smile.

And for a brief moment, Mulder believed in small miracles.

 

December 25

2:22 am

Scully tossed and turned, unable to sleep. When she had been a child, she had never slept well on Christmas Eve; however, she had broken that habit years ago, and to have it pop up again was frustrating. With a sigh, she put on her old bunny slippers and padded out into the hallway.

"Mulder?" she whispered, knocking softly on his door. When there was no answer, she opened the door. As she suspected, the bed was empty, the pillow and the comforter missing.

She found him lying on the living room sofa, bathed in the twinkle lights of the Christmas tree. "Mulder?"

"If you donít sleep, Santa wonít come," he said softly.

She walked over to the couch and he sat up, making room for her.

"Nice slippers."

She laughed. "Gift from Missy when I was eighteen. These things saw me through college and med school. When I was on the pediatric rotation during my residency, I would wear them on my rounds."

"And you say youíre not creative."

They sat in silence for a moment. Finally, Scully said, "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, Scully, Iím fine."

"Donít lie to me, Mulder."

He laughed. "What, me lie?" Then he sighed deeply. "Itís so hard, Scully. Some days I think things will be okay, that Iíll find Sam and my life can go back to normal. But then some days I have to wonder if this is all worth it, if I will ever see her again." He looked over at her, tears welling in his eyes. "Some days I just feel like what I do is so meaningless."

"Mulder, no. If you do what you do out of love, it has meaning." She reached out in the semi-darkness and found his hand. "Your search for your sister.......you do it because you love her and you miss her. Sheís a part of you.....itís only natural for you to want to find her. But you canít get discouraged, Mulder. If you do, they win. If you stop looking, you will never find her. But if you persist, if you keep up your search, there will always be hope."

He laughed wryly. "I just look around at all that Iíve lost.......at all that I have caused you and your family to lose......and I wonder if clinging to a faint hope is worth it."

"You havenít caused me to lose anything, Mulder." She looked over at him. "Look at me, Mulder, I want you to see my face when I say this." He looked over at her, her delicate features bathed in the soft light of the twinkle lights. "Nothing that has happened to me or to my family is your fault. You donít force me to stay with you. In fact, I think there are some times when you try to drive me away. "

He chuckled.

"But I stay because I want to, because I believe in what we do. Nothing-and I mean nothing-will ever make me leave. I donít have to stay with you, I choose to. And I will be there for you until the very end. But please donít give up. Weíve seen so much, weíve come so close.........I refuse to let you give up now, Mulder. Not after all that we have seen." Her eyes welled up with tears. "And yes, we have both made sacrifices......but thatís what friends do for one another. I wouldnít change one thing about the past seven years, Mulder. Not one thing. It has all been worth it to me."

Mulder felt the tears running down his cheeks, and didnít care. He pulled Scully to him in a tight embrace. "God, Scully, what did I ever do to deserve you?"

"I ask myself the same thing about you," she replied. She pulled out of his embrace and gently wiped his tears away. She looked deep into his eyes, and a thrill of electricity went through her. Slowly, Mulderís face inched toward hers, and her eyes slipped shut as his mouth made contact with hers.

The kiss was tender and slow. It was familiar yet strange, a new sensation that was as comfortable as an old pair of jeans. For a brief moment, it was though time had stood still.

When they broke the kiss, they could only stare at each other in wonder. Mulder put his hand on Scullyís cheek, tenderly caressing it with his thumb. "I need you, Scully," he whispered. "More than you can know."

A lone tear slipped from her eye. "Oh, Mulder....."

"If being with you meant giving up my sister forever, I would do it." He wiped her tear away. "Without you, Iím nothing."

"Donít say that-"

"Itís true. You remember that time I was shipwrecked in the Bermuda Triangle?"

She smiled. "How could I forget?"

"Do you remember what I said?"

"Yes."

"I meant it. I mean it now."

Scully was speechless.

"Iíve meant it for a long time, Scully. I mean yeah, at first you were a nuisance with your scientific theories and all.......but you kinda grew on me. And then you were taken from me........and I realized that I didnít want to live without you."

Scully was openly crying now, the tears streaming down her face. "I donít know what to say, Mulder."

"Say you feel the same way."

"I do."

He kissed her again, this time with more intensity. After several minutes, she broke the kiss, breathless. "We had better stop. The last thing we need is for my family to find us naked on the sofa on Christmas morning."

"Merry Christmas, Billy boy," Mulder muttered.

Scully smacked him playfully. "You stop that." She stood up, pulling him up with her. "We need some sleep."

He sighed. "I guess this means Iím going to bed alone tonight."

"Only for tonight," she said, kissing him quickly and heading up the stairs for bed.

 

 

4:17 am

Even in his sleep, Mulder sensed he was being watched. Reluctantly, he rolled over and opened one eye.

Two blue eyes were watching him curiously.

With a sigh, he opened his other eye and looked at the clock. "Katie, itís four in the morning. Why are you up?"

"Itís Christmas!" she whispered. "I want to see what Santa brought me!"

He sat up and yawned. "Go back to bed, munchkin. Itís not time to get up yet."

"I canít sleep."

"What do you mean you canít sleep? You didnít get to bed way past your bedtime. You should be sleeping like a log."

"Will you tell me a story?" she asked, climbing up into the bed with him. Standing precariously on the bed, she stood eye to eye with Mulder and gave him her best sad puppy look. "Please, Fox?"

With a sigh, he lay back down, defeated. "What story do you want to hear?"

She snuggled under the covers next to him and said with a yawn, "I want to hear a love story."

"How did I know that was coming?" Mulder sighed. " Okay, once upon a time," he began, "there was a beautiful doctor named Dana."

"Aunt Dana?"

"Yes. And she worked for this big bad government agency called the FBI."

"Whatís a Ďgovernment agencyí Fox?"

"Are you going to let me tell the story, or are you going to keep asking questions?" he asked, pretending to be angry.

The little girl giggled. "Sorry."

"Okay. Now one day the beautiful Dana was sent to work in a division of the FBI called the X-Files. It was there that she met a handsome man named Mulder. Danaís bosses had sent her to work with Mulder because they thought he was wild and weird and needed someone to keep an eye on him. So, she barged into his office and spouted her scientific theories and was a general pain in the a......butt."

"You almost said a bad word." Katieís voice was sleepy.

"Mulder didnít realize how much he really cared for the beautiful Dana until one day she was taken away from him. She was gone for so long, and he missed her very much. One day she was returned to him, and he vowed never to let her go again."

"Was he in love with her?"

"Well, sort of. He knew he loved her, but wasnít sure he was in love with her. Then she got very, very sick, and he almost lost her again. He looked all over to find the cure for her sickness, and thatís when he realized he was in love with her."

She yawned. "Then what?"

"Magically, the beautiful Dana was cured, and Mulder knew he wouldnít lose her again. But he didnít tell her that he loved her for fear that she would run away......so, he kept it to himself until she told him she was leaving their job. This made Mulder very sad, and so he told her how much he needed her. She stayed with Mulder, but things were never quite the same between them. When Mulder did tell her that he loved her, she blew him off. Mulder got very sad and began to think that the beautiful Dana would never love him."

"But he was wrong, right?" She yawned again.

"Yes, he was. One Christmas, she invited Mulder home with her. He baked cookies with her and played Candy Land with her niece, and had the best Christmas of his life. And on Christmas morning, the beautiful Dana told Mulder that she loved him."

"Do........Dana.....and.....Fox.....get married?" Katie asked, her little eyes slipping shut.

"I donít know, munchkin. But if they do, youíll be the first to know." In the darkness, he could hear her slow, even breathing and knew she was asleep. Gently, he kissed the top of her head and slowly drifted off to sleep.

 

 

8:45 am

 

Scully knocked on Mulderís door. "Mulder?" She knocked again, louder. "Mulder? Time to get up." When she got no answer, she opened the door and walked in.

Mulder was sound asleep, Katie snuggled up next to him. He had one arm around her protectively, and both were snoring softly.

Scully just watched them for a moment, moved by what she saw. Mulderís gentleness with Katie and her utter trust in Mulder-a virtual stranger!-was touching.

"Dana?" Maggie said, coming up behind her.

"Mom, get the camera."

Maggie peered over her daughterís shoulder and smiled. "Heíll make a good father," she said, hugging Dana. "Iíll be right back."

Scully just stood there and watched them sleep. Both Katie and Mulder looked so sweet and innocent, and she felt her maternal instinct kick in. She had to fight the urge to go in there and tuck them in and kiss their foreheads.

Maggie returned with the camera, and snapped a picture. "That is such a sweet picture," she said, turning to her daughter. "Heís very good with children."

"Thatís because heís a child himself," Scully replied with a laugh.

Maggie put her arm around Scully. "I know you donít like it when I pry, but I just wanted to say........follow your heart, Dana. Donít listen to what anyone else says. You alone know whatís best for you. If Fox makes you happy........then do what you feel. Forget what everyone else says about it. Follow your heart."

Scully turned to her mother with tears in her eyes. "Oh, Mom. Thank you for understanding." She hugged her mother tightly.

"Honey, itís my job."

Mulder heard the voices and opened his eyes. "Whatís going on?" he asked sleepily, noticing Scully standing in the doorway. "Are you okay?"

She smiled. "A day into our relationship, and already youíre sleeping with other women."

He laughed. "She came up here and woke me at 4 am and insisted I tell her a story."

"Thatís what they all say."

Maggie smiled at him. "Good morning, Fox. I see you had company last night."

Katie rolled over and rubbed her eyes sleepily, mumbling. Laughing, Scully said, "Hey munchkin.....someone was here for you last night."

The little girl sat up with a start. "Itís Christmas!" She jumped out of the bed and grabbed Mulderís hand. "Fox! Itís Christmas! Letís go see what Santa brought us!"

"You go on ahead, Katie. Iíll be down in a minute."

"Letís leave Fox to get dressed, Katie," Maggie said. "Iíll make you hot chocolate."

Smiling happily, she took Maggieís hand and they went downstairs.

Mulder smiled up at Scully. "She kept your spot warm."

With a smile, she lay down in bed next to him, and he wrapped his arms around her. "We have to go downstairs soon, or someone will come looking."

"Just a few more minutes, Mom," he said, his face buried in her neck.

Laughing, she elbowed him. "Come on. Donít you want to see what Santa brought for you?"

"Santa gave me my gift last night."

Smiling, she pulled out of his embrace and stood up. "Come on, lazybones."

He sighed as he stood up. "Slave driver."

 

The living room was a mess of paper and ribbons. Predictably, Katie and Brian sat in the middle of the mess, ripping open their gifts with childish glee. Mulder and Scully sat down on the couch, smiling at the scene before them.

"Sorry about Katie," Charlie said to Mulder, handing him a cup of coffee. "I had no idea she had gotten up. I hope she wasnít a bother."

"No bother," Mulder replied with a smile. "All she wanted was a bedtime story."

Maggie handed Dana several packages. "These are for Fox. Thereís a pile over here for you, too."

Scully handed the boxes to Mulder. "Pretty decent haul, Mulder."

He laughed. "I donít know which one to open first."

"Try that one, itís from Mom."

He picked up the large box and studied it. "Iím gonna go out on a limb here and guess itís not a tie."

Maggie gave him a look. "Fox, just open it."

With a smile, he tore the paper off with abandon and grinned "A remote controlled UFO!" He smiled at Maggie. "This is so great. Where did you find this?"

She laughed. "I saw it in a store window in Georgetown and thought of you. Iím glad you like it."

"Like it? I love it. Thank you so much." He stood up and walked over to where she was, and gave her a hug. "Thank you. Open yours....itís the one with the Santas on it."

She picked up the heavy box and opened it, revealing a beautiful Waterford crystal vase. "Oh Fox, itís just beautiful," she said, kissing his cheek. "Thank you."

He turned back to Scully, who handed him a flat, lightweight box. "This is from me."

He shook it, listening for a noise. There was none. Mulder gave Scully a look. "If this is socks or underwear, Iím going home."

She rolled her eyes.

Chuckling, he ripped off the paper and opened the box. "Scully, you know me so well," he said, lifting a black long sleeved shirt out of the box. Across the front it said ĎRuns with scissorsí.

She gave him a half-smile. "Well, they didnít have one that said ĎChases aliensí, so this one will have to do. Open the other one."

Mulder picked up the smaller box and noticed it was quite heavy. Giving Scully a quizzical look, he opened it and inhaled sharply. "Where did you get this?" he asked, his eyes tearing.

"After the fire.......I found it tucked away in your desk. It was a little burned, but I took it up to the lab and they cleaned it up for me."

He lifted the heavy silver frame out of the box and noticed there was an inscription at the bottom. "ĎFaith is the substance of things hoped forí," he read aloud. His eyes wandered up to the picture of him and Samantha and he smiled as a lone tear rolled down his cheek. He looked up at Scully. "Thank you," he whispered, pulling her into an embrace.

"Oh, Mulder."

"Open yours," he said, pulling away and wiping his eyes before Bill could see him cry. He turned and saw that Bill was giving them a decidedly unhappy look.

"Which one first?" she asked him.

"Uh......the bigger one."

She opened the package and with a groan said, "Mulder, you are so dead."

"What, you donít like it? Itíll be a hit at the next FBI picnic."

"Dana," Maggie said. "Show it to everyone."

With another eye roll, she held up the black t-shirt. On the front it said ĎThe X-Filesí in neon green letters, and on the back it said ĎWhere an ĎXí rating is just the beginningí.

Maggie gave him an amused look.

Charlie laughed. "Why do I get the distinct impression that we have all just gotten too much information?"

Giving Mulder a dirty look, Bill got up and walked into the kitchen.

Scully put the shirt away and picked up the smaller box. "Do I even want to know what this is?"

"Itís nothing bad, Scully. I swear."

Cautiously, she ripped off the paper and opened the box. Inside sat a pair of small, gold and silver bumblebee shaped earrings and a small round charm. She looked up at him and smiled. "You think youíre so funny, donít you?"

"I try."

Scully put the earrings on and with a smile. Tara said, "Those are so cute, Mulder. And bees.....what an original idea." She winked at Scully, who raised her eyebrow, only partially amused.

"Whatís this?" She asked, picking up the charm.

"Itís a charm for a necklace or a bracelet.......or itís really small, you could put it on your watch."

She turned it over and noticed the engraving on it. She held it up to the light and read it. ĎMea veritas esí. She looked at him. "My Latin is kinda rusty.........care to translate?"

He looked at the floor, embarrassed. "You are my truth." He looked up at her, his eyes expectant.

A lone tear rolled down her cheek as she smiled, and she reached for him. He pulled her close, running a hand through her hair. "Itís true, you know," he said to her.

She looked up a him. "Put it on me?"

He reached around and unclasped her necklace, sliding the small charm down the chain until it rested next to her cross. He re-fastened it and adjusted the pendants, then smiled down at her. Tenderly, she cupped his cheek in her hand and pulled him down to her in a gentle kiss.

From the kitchen, Bill sighed and shook his head.

Maggie exchanged glances with Tara and Beth, and the three women smiled.

And across the room, Brian nudged his sister, who was busy with her new Malibu Barbie. "Look," he said, pointing to where Scully and Mulder were kissing.

Katie looked at her brother smugly. "Told you he was her boyfriend."

 

 

6:45 pm

Mulder and Scully stood at the kitchen sink, one washing and one drying. The old radio on top of the fridge was softly playing a tune Mulder didnít recognize.

"What song is this?" he asked, drying the big pyrex dish Scully had handed him.

"Christmas in Killarney," she replied. "One of my fatherís old favorites."

Maggie popped her head into the kitchen. "Are you two sure you donít want to come with us to the Christmas concert down at the church?"

"Weíre fine, Mom," Scully said, handing Mulder the gravy boat. "You all go on and have fun. Weíll finish up here."

"Okay, then. We should be back about nine or so."

There was a momentary ruckus, then the front door closed and they were finally alone.

Scully handed Mulder a pot and drained the sink. "Thatís all. The rest can go in the dishwasher."

Mulder dried the pot and put it away, then stood to face her.

"I have one more gift for you," she said.

He smiled at her. "Do you?"

She walked out of the room and reappeared a moment later with a medium sized, unwrapped box. She handed it to him. "I didnít have time to wrap it."

He opened the lid and found a beautiful wooden box, cobalt blue with a moon and stars on the lid; he noticed that Scully had put a small sticker of an alien sitting on the moon and couldnít help but laugh . The lacquer shone in the dim light of the kitchen, and Mulder gently removed it from itís box. "Itís beautiful, Scully."

"Open it."

He did as he was told. The lining was red velvet, and inside sat a small, hand-carved wooden bird and a note written in Scullyís familiar scrawl.

ĎWhen Pandora opened her box, the one thing left inside was hope.

Just in case you lose hope.........know I never will.í

"Do you enjoy seeing me cry, Scully?" he asked with a laugh, his eyes moist. "You seem to be doing it a lot today."

She smiled at him. "I donít mean to."

He looked into her eyes. "Tell me, Agent Scully......have you ever made love in your parentsí house?"

She shook her head.

Silently, he picked her up and carried her upstairs.

 

 

 

8:32 pm

They lay in Scullyís childhood bed, Scully wrapped up protectively in Mulderís arms. He trailed gentle kisses down her arm, and she smiled contentedly.

"You know, we do have to talk about this," she said.

"Whatís to talk about?"

"Mulder, you know what I mean."

With a sigh, he stopped his kisses and rolled over onto his back. "Now?"

She turned over and propped herself up on her elbow. "Yes, now. Before we get any deeper into this."

"Okay. Go ahead."

"First of all, no hanky-panky in the office."

He balked. "None at all?"

She raised her eyebrow. "Mulder, you know as well as I do that our office is probably bugged. For us to do anything like that would jeopardize our jobs, our reputations, everything we have worked so hard for."

"I know, I know," he sighed. "Guess this means no sex on my desk, huh?"

"At least not until you get the Gunmen into the office to check. After that," she smiled, "weíll see."

"Deal. What else?"

"No fooling around on assignment."

"What?" He sat up straight. "That has to be a joke."

"Iím serious, Mulder. If we fool around on a case, we wonít be doing out jobs properly. We owe it to the people we help to give them our undivided attention......and I know that if we fool around while on a case, my mind will always be elsewhere."

He sighed resignedly. "Anything else?"

"No, I think thatís about it."

"What about after work? Is that off limits too?"

"No," she replied, kissing him lightly and settling her body on top of his, resting her head on his chest. "Thatís our time. What we do off hours is nobodyís business but ours."

He ran his hands up and down her back. "What do we tell Skinner?"

"Nothing. All information is on a need to know basis."

"Then thereís something you need to know."

She looked up, slightly alarmed. "What?"

"I love you."

He looked so childlike with his hair mussed and his hopeful smile. She felt herself choke up, but forced it away. "I love you," she whispered, reaching up and stroking his cheek.

He smiled and grabbed her hand, kissing her palm. She smiled at him and went to kiss him again. It was then that the iridescent numbers on the digital clock caught her eye. "Holy shit!" she said, rolling off of Mulder and sitting up. "Mulder, we have to get dressed now."

"What? Why?"

"Because my family will be home in a matter of minutes, and unless you want my brother to dismember you, I suggest you get up and get dressed." She stood up and pulled on her clothes.

Mulder sighed and got up reluctantly.

 

 

December 26

3:15 pm

"Iím so glad you came," Maggie said, hugging Mulder as he stood by the front door, suitcases in hand. "And I know I am not the only one."

Mulder laughed. "Yeah, Katie just loves me."

Scully appeared, several shopping bags in hand. "Well, weíre off." She kissed her mother. "Iíll be back next weekend, okay?"

"Are you sure?" Maggie asked. "Maybe Fox has other plans for the two of you."

"He can come." Scully gave him the look. "Right?"

"I wouldnít miss it for the world," he said. "Especially if there will be cookies."

Katie appeared next to Maggie. "Are you leaving?" she asked Mulder.

"Aunt Dana and I have to go to work tomorrow," he said, putting the suitcases down and kneeling down.

"Oh." For a moment, she looked heartbroken. Then, her little face brightened. "Will you come see me in my dance recital?" she asked.

Mulder looked up at Scully. "Whadda ya say, Red?"

"When is it?" she asked her mother.

"Wednesday at 8, at the high school gym."

Scully smiled down at Mulder. "Why not?"

He turned back to Katie. "We wouldnít miss it for the world, munchkin."

With a grin, she threw herself into his arms. "Iím so glad youíre Aunt Danaís boyfriend," she said. "Youíd be a fun uncle."

"Youíre pretty neat yourself, little one." He stage whispered in her ear, "Donít tell your Aunt Dana, but youíre my best girl." He gave Scully a look, and she smiled.

"Donít worry, Fox, I wonít tell her." She kissed him lightly on the cheek and was gone.

"I donít know about this, Mulder," Scully said with a smile, walking out the door and heading for the car. "First you sleep with her, then you tell her sheís your best girl. I think Iím hurt. "

He grabbed her by the waist and kissed her ear. "Yeah, but who am I going home with?"

"Get in the car, G-man," she replied. "And youíd better drive like a bat out of hell."