Title: Christmas Trilogy – 03 Season's Greetings
Authors: Amy Schatz and Michelle Hiley
Disclaimer: And here are the usual disclaimers. All the characters in this story belong to 10:13 etc, and are used without permission. However, the characters of Susan and Jason belong to Michelle and myself.
Feedback: Should you wish to comment, the authors can be reached as follows: Amy Schatz is at firstname.lastname@example.org and Michelle Hiley is at email@example.com
This story may be freely distributed, providing it remains intact, with both authors names and e-mail addresses, and provided no money changes hands.
Here is the final story in our "Christmas Trilogy." This is rated PG-13 for some kisses, suggestive behavior, and mildly rude slang. It kind of ties up the whole Christmas holiday for Scully and Mulder. This is a romance, though, so if that bothers you in any way, you won't like this story. **This also has some third season spoilers, so be careful of those.
As usual, these characters don't belong to us. They are the property of 1013, CC and FOX.
And we wish you a Merry Christmas, from both sides of the Atlantic.
It had begun to snow again on their drive, and now fine, light snowflakes fell from the almost white sky. The day was brisk and chilly, but not terribly cold. A flake fell down and landed on Dana's eyelash, and she smiled, turning to look up at Mulder.
He smiled back at her and couldn't stop himself. Before he knew what he was doing, he had pulled her close and placed a kiss on her snowy eyelash. Scully relished the affection, but she was also worried about prying eyes. What if someone saw them? She didn't know yet if they were going to tell anyone. As they stood before the door to Dana's mother's house, locked in a tight embrace, Dana smiled.
"Yes?" he asked, his voice sounding almost dreamy.
"Do you realize that we are standing on my mother's doorstep, hugging?"
She chuckled lightly. "And they call you the paranoid one... What if she's looking out the window? What if my brother's showing my nephew the snow? What if they see us?"
Mulder suddenly realized what she meant, and he gently pulled away from her, however reluctantly. Before she rang the bell, he said, "Well, Scully, we're both federal agents. You're a doctor and I'm a psychologist. We, of all people, should be able to come up with a believable explanation."
She smiled at him again and pressed the doorbell button. Moments later, the door opened and Margaret Scully was revealed to them, decked out in all her festive splendor. Her dark, wavy hair was curled around her face, and her dark eyes sparkled.
"Dana! Fox! I'm so glad you're here!" she said as she stepped aside to allow them entry. Once inside, Dana hugged her mother a little longer than usual, and said, "Merry Christmas, Mom."
Margaret smiled, and watched Mulder over Dana's shoulder. Their eyes met and they shared a knowing glance. Melissa.
Once Dana had pulled back, Margaret headed towards Fox. They embraced as Mulder smiled widely. "I'm glad that you came, Fox."
"I wouldn't have missed this for anything, Mrs. Scully."
"Good," said Margaret, as she let go of Mulder and glanced around the room. "As you know, Dana, Charles wasn't given leave because he is a new recruit. So, I'm afraid that this year, the only Scully children home for Christmas are..." she abruptly trailed off as fresh tears appeared in her eyes. To her credit, she didn't allow them to fall. "...Are you and Bill Jr."
Dana placed a comforting hand on her mother's shoulder and nodded quietly. A few moments of silence passed, as Mulder watched the two strongest women he knew, fight their sadness and loss. And once again, he was awed by them. Then, a new smile spread across Dana's face, and she looked at Mulder.
"Come on, Mulder. You have to meet Bill, Susan, and the little demon-child they call their son." She held her hand out, and after a second of hesitation, he took it, and allowed her to lead him down the hall and into the family room.
And as they walked away, Margaret Scully saw the simple gesture of affection, and smiled in wonder.
Dana turned the corner into the family room and found her older brother watching a Christmas cartoon with his son and wife. Susan, Bill's wife was sitting on the couch, her arm around Bill. Their son, Jason, sat in the middle of the floor right in front of the television. He had rather dark hair, and looked, to Mulder, to be about seven years old.
"Bill!" Dana called, letting go of Mulder's hand.
Bill leapt to his feet immediately and moved to embrace his younger sister. "It's so good to see you, Dana!" he said, almost lifting her off the floor in his joyful hug. Mulder was not surprised in the least that Dana was so loved by her brother.
"It's been too long, Bill," said Dana as he let her go. Dana then moved to put her arms around Susan and Jason. Then she turned back to Mulder and Bill, and said, "Bill, Susan, this is my partner, Fox Mulder."
Bill, who was a tall man, with a wavy mop of light red hair, smiled and extended his hand to Mulder. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Fox."
Mulder shook Bill's hand warmly, and said, "Same here, Bill. And call me Mulder."
Bill nodded as Susan stepped forward and smiled prettily at him. "We've heard some interesting stories about you and Dana and all the adventures you've been on," she said by way of greeting.
Mulder glanced at Scully. "Oh, is that what you're calling them now, Scully? `Adventures'?"
She grinned. "Well, it added to the story, Mulder. Somehow, `It all began with case number X12645...' just didn't cut it." He grinned back at her. "I'll have to hear one of these `adventures'."
Scully nodded, and for a moment or two, she and Mulder were lost in each other's eyes; communicating in that silent way that they had.
Suddenly, Bill waved his hand between them. When there was no response, he glanced at Susan, who raised her eyebrows knowingly. He turned back to Dana and Mulder. "Hello? Are you two in there?"
Scully snapped back to the present and looked to her brother. "What were you saying, Bill?"
"I was trying to say that we are going to go help Mom set the table."
This promise of work was the first thing that seemed to reach Jason. "Do I have to help, too?" he asked, his eyes never leaving the television.
Susan had not missed the way that Mulder and Scully had looked at one another. "Yes, Jason, you do. Come on. The TV will still be here when you get back."
Jason didn't argue. He simply rose and followed his parents out of the room. Mulder had never seen a child behave so well in his life. But, then again, he had never known a child who had a Scully for a parent.
And maybe Jason wouldn't be the last one...
When they were gone, Scully stepped closer to Mulder and ran her finger along his jaw line. Soon, they were once again lost in each other's eyes, and Scully wrapped her arms around his waist.
And then, Mulder lowered his head and they came together in a sweet kiss. Scully felt like she was awakened by *his* touch, and his alone.
And Mulder felt as though each kiss with her would be like the first one.
When they parted, Scully smiled and said, "What do you want to do, Mulder?"
He was still lost in the sensation of their kiss. "About what?"
"Should we tell my mother about us?"
Margaret was just setting the candles in the centre of the table, when Bill and his family swept in. Much to Susan's amusement, he didn't lose any time in coming to the point.
"Mom, why didn't you tell me that Dana and her partner were sleeping together?!"
Margaret continued arranging the table, unruffled. "I didn't know dear, that's why."
"But surely it's obvious!" Bill almost exploded.
Susan turned her back, so that he didn't see her smile.
"I mean you only have to look at them! Can't you see it?"
Margaret turned to her flustered son. Bill was never going to accept that his baby sister was a woman past thirty.
"Yes, I can see it. But I saw Dana only two days ago, and she wasn't having an affair with Fox then. She was in love with him, yes. That's been obvious for a long time. And of course, I don't know Fox as well as I know Dana. But it seemed pretty mutual to me. But they've only just acted on it. If they have acted on it. They may have just admitted it to each other. I'm still not sure yet."
"Not sure?" Bill was working himself up. "How can you not be sure? Is that man screwing my sister, or not?"
Margaret was having a hard time not laughing now. "Bill, I've only seen them for a couple of minutes. I'll let you know after lunch. And keep your voice down. They might hear you. Although...."
"Although I *did* have a very strange conversation with Dana this morning."
Bill opened his mouth to reply when a voice came from the forgotten member of the group.
"Dad, what does screwing mean?"
"Never mind Jason". Susan quickly hushed him. "It's not important. Now I want you to forget you heard it please. Why don't we let your father help Grandma, and we'll go into the kitchen to check nothing's boiling over".
She hustled Jason from the room. Bill turned to Margaret, his hands spread wide in apology. "Mom, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to lose my temper. But I'm Dana's big brother. I have a right to know. Just what are Fox's intentions towards her?"
Margaret eyed him shrewdly. Then she finally laughed, lightly so as not to alert the others. "Bill, the real question is what are Dana's intentions towards Fox? Because if anyone needs protecting from anyone else's wicked wiles, it's Fox that needs protecting from Dana!"
Bill just stared at her dumbly.
"I don't know, Dana. Do you want to tell her?"
Scully gave it some thought. "I don't know either."
"You said she liked me. Don't you think she'd be happy?"
"She'd be ecstatic. But I just feel odd telling her. I mean I'm a grown woman. I don't need her permission."
"You're not asking her permission. You're just letting her know that you're happy." He looked at her, suddenly concerned. "You are happy, aren't you?"
"Of course!". She glanced briefly towards the door, checking they were still alone, and gave him a brief, reassuring kiss.
He pulled her a little closer, not caring if they were caught. "Then tell her. If it would make her happy, and I think it would, then let her know. Your mother has gone through so much pain this year. Don't you think a little happiness on Christmas Day would be a wonderful present?"
Dana just smiled up at him, marvelling how much he cared about other people. His own life had been far from easy, yet he had not allowed it to make him hard-hearted or cruel. He really wanted to tell her mother because it would make her mother happy, but at the same time he was sensitive to Dana's own feelings. He was sensitive to her awkwardness in discussing the subject with one of her parents. He was looking at her quizzically, so she finally broke the silence.
"All right. We'll tell her after dinner."
Mulder enjoyed Christmas dinner. The food was excellent, but then Margaret's cooking always was. But it was the company he enjoyed most. He was already very fond of Scully's mother, and now he found himself liking her brother and his wife too. The conversation was animated, and lively, and Mulder knew he hadn't laughed so much in a long time. He even managed to get along with Jason. He didn't have much experience with children, but the kid turned out to be a Knicks fan, much to Mulder's delight, although Bill shook his head in despair. Mulder winked conspiratorially at the child, and was rewarded with a grin.
And then, of course, there was Dana next to him. She was wearing the bracelet he had bought her for Christmas. When he had given her the carefully wrapped gift, two days ago, he had not thought he would see her wearing it on the day. Now as she laughed, and raised her hand to pick up her wine glass, it flashed in the light. Mulder felt his heart would burst from so much happiness.
He was distracted by a small tug on his sleeve. Jason looked up at him. "Uncle Mulder, can I ask you something?" He blinked, not used to being someone's "uncle". "Sure, Jason. What do you want to know?"
"What does screwing mean?"
Before Bill or Susan could silence the child, Dana butted in. "Where on earth did you hear that word, Jason? It's very rude." She shrugged. "Well at least it can be. Who said that? One of your friends at school?"
Bill tried desperately to stop Jason from answering his well- meaning aunt, but he was too late. "Dad did. When he was asking Grandma about you and Uncle Mulder."
With the exception of Jason, everyone at the table blushed.
Of course, it wasn't long before Dana's embarrassment was eroded away by her anger. She shot Bill an icy blue glare. "Bill! Is that true?"
Bill simply couldn't meet his sister's gaze. He knew it would be like looking into his father's eyes, and he could never take the pressure of his father's gaze. He busied himself with his napkin.
"I was just asking Mom if you and Mulder were..." Thankfully, he remembered Jason, and corrected himself. "...*What* you and Mulder were...doing," he said.
Dana took a deep breath, trying to hold onto her control. "Bill, what Mulder and I *do* or do not do is none of your damn business, and I will thank you to keep out of it. I am not thirteen anymore. I am a grown woman, and I can take care of myself."
Mulder smiled. "She's got you there, Bill. I've seen her beat up guys bigger than you on a bad day."
Dana turned to him. "Mulder?"
She smiled sweetly. "Don't help me."
Mulder, ever the actor, immediately slipped into his puppy-dog look, and sighed. "Okay, Scully. Jeez, what did I do?"
She turned to him again, this time her eyes had regained their light, but only she and Mulder knew that she was kidding. "And don't pull out that face, either. I'm on to you, Mulder. I know all your tricks."
Mulder's eyes twinkled. "Oh, you think so? And I don't know all your tricks?"
Scully's face took on a shocked expression. "I do *not* have any tricks!"
As they bantered back and forth, oblivious to the rest of the world, Margaret saw it in their eyes. She saw the love they felt for each other. It was impossible to miss. She smiled, so wide in fact, that Bill looked at her, a confused look on his face. "What are *you* smiling about, Mom?" he asked, loud enough to bring Dana and Mulder out of their little world.
Everyone at the table turned to her and she sat back, still smiling. "I was wondering when Dana and Fox were planning on telling us."
Dana leaned forward, a suspicious gleam in her eyes. "Tell you what, Mom?"
Margaret shook her head. "Oh, no. If I say it that would ruin the surprise. I imagine you'll announce it soon enough. You always did like to make a production out of things, Dana Katherine."
Scully knew exactly what her mother was referring to, but she had no intentions of announcing it in front of her brother and his family. Not before she and Mulder told her mother in private. She shrugged.
"I don't know what you're talking about, Mom. But, Mulder and I *are* investigators, so I'm sure we'll figure it out." She glanced at Mulder and winked at him, silently telling him to play along.
This lapse in conversation was when Jason decided to ask his question again. The last time he had, it had provoked quite a reaction, and being a seven year old, he just lived for reactions from adults.
He pouted. "I *still* don't know what screwing means."
Dana looked at him. "And I hope you don't for at least ten more years, Jason."
Everyone at the table laughed.
A little while later dinner was over, and Bill and Susan had been sent out to get some videos for later. Jason had returned to his best friend, the television, and Mulder, Scully and Margaret were in the kitchen washing dishes. Margaret had decreed that Mulder and Dana should wash and dry the dishes while she cut up the remaining turkey to use for sandwiches. Margaret had done this on purpose, so she could observe her daughter and the dark, mysterious man who had obviously captured her heart.
Dana had decided to wash while Mulder dried. Margaret knew it wouldn't be long before they were bickering and teasing one another, and forgot that they weren't alone.
Five minutes had barely passed before it started.
"Honestly, Mulder," Dana said as scratched her nose with a yellow gloved finger, "where did you learn to dry dishes? The jungle?"
Mulder smiled at her. "Funny, Scully. You should know by now that I don't eat at home much. Besides, you don't have to be a connoisseur of dishes to know how to dry them." She sighed, and scratched her nose again. This time, she left behind a bit of bubbly soap. When Mulder turned to take the next dish, he saw the soap and couldn't stop himself from giggling.
Scully didn't bother to look at him. "What's so funny?" By now, Mulder was laughing so hard that he couldn't talk. He stepped back from the sink and wrapped his arms around his stomach.
Scully flushed with annoyance. "What are you laughing at, Fox Mulder?"
That shut him up. Everyone knows that the use of one's full name is never good. He took a deep breath, but was still smiling. He pointed to her nose in silence.
Finally, she looked down at her nose, and her eyes crossed, which sent Mulder into another fit of laughter.
Scully's hands flew to her hips after she had swiped the soap away. "Oh, so you think that's funny, do you?"
Mulder was backed into the corner of the counter, and he could only nod, his eyes shining with tears of joy.
Scully smiled wickedly, dipped her hand into the sink, and scooped out a handful of soap suds. She advanced on Mulder, knowing he had nowhere to run. She stepped up to him and stood very close. They were eye to eye because he was half crouched in the corner, awaiting her attack.
On the other side of the kitchen, Margaret watched, amazed by the fact that Fox and Dana could just tune the rest of the world out when they were together.
Dana smiled up at him. "Well, Mulder, since you thought that was so funny, I'll bet you'll just love this!" she said as she put her hand up to his cheek, and spread the suds on, running her hand down his neck and under the collar of his sweater.
His smile faded as he felt the sticky, wet substance trickle down his chest. Dana stuck her tongue out at him and stepped back to the sink, resuming her washing.
Mulder's eyes widened and he stared at her, already plotting his revenge.
But before he could enact his plan, Margaret's voice reached them. "All right, you two. Enough. I want to know what's going on."
Dana smiled secretly to Mulder, who was again standing beside her. "What do you mean, Mom?"
Margaret's eyes narrowed. "You know very well what I mean, Dana Katherine Scully."
Uh-oh. The whole name technique.
As Dana winced, Mulder grinned inwardly. Now he knew where Scully got it from.
Dana took a deep breath and turned around. When Mulder did not join her she pulled on his sleeve, until he was also facing Margaret. Then Dana took his hand, and held it gently.
"Well, Mom. It all happened kind of suddenly, didn't it, Mulder?" she asked, looking to him.
He nodded. "That's very true." And suddenly, they felt like they were in the middle of an investigation, and they were questioning a suspect. They slipped into that language of looks and glances, that told the other all they needed to know. Mulder used that language now, to tell Dana that she should say more.
She understood his look. "Mom, Mulder and I have discovered that we...that we like being together. We love each other, Mom."
Margaret folded her arms across her chest and smiled. "Well that's obvious, Dana. Did you two think you have been fooling everyone?"
Mulder smiled shyly, and his fingers tightened around Dana's hand. "I don't know, Mrs. Scully. We did a pretty good job of fooling ourselves."
Dana gave him an amused smile. "We *were* going to tell you, Mom."
Margaret nodded. "Oh, I'm sure you were, but when? When I stumbled upon you at the mall with your kids?"
This question made Dana and Fox blush severely, and it made Margaret chuckle. However, Mulder recovered quickly.
"I don't think that will ever happen, Mrs. Scully."
Margaret turned to gape at him. "Excuse me, Fox?"
He shrugged. "Well, I simply loathe malls. I refuse to go to them, except under emergencies. So I doubt you'd ever see Scully and me there with our kids."
Margaret sighed in relief, and Dana suddenly couldn't look at him, afraid he would see the color in her cheeks, and slightly scared at the feelings she was experiencing. He had said it like it was going to happen, not if. She let her mind wonder for a minute.
Margaret smiled. "You scared me there for a minute, Fox." Mulder
raised his eyebrows. "How could I not like kids, Mrs. Scully, when *I'm* still a kid?"
Dana, who was finally able to look at him, laughed and said, "*That* is true."
Margaret smiled again. "All right, you two lovebirds. Back to work."
Mulder and Sculy turned back to the sink, but not before Scully said, "Thanks, Mom."
Margaret looked at her daughter and the man she loved, and she felt a great happiness well within her - as if these two would give her many things: holidays filled with laughter, happy times, and maybe, just maybe, grandchildren.
As he dried the next dish, she never heard Mulder whisper, "Thanks, Mom."
Much later on, after a protesting Jason had been bundled off to bed by his father, the women and Mulder sat by the fire, lazily doing nothing. Dana leaned across her lover to pick up the half empty bottle of wine, lingering a little too long before straightening up. Her sister-in-law could finally take it no longer.
"Dana. Fox. I'm really sorry about what Jason said. About what we said. Can you forgive us?" Dana looked a little taken aback. "Of course, Susan. Don't worry about it."
Mulder mumbled his assent. He was growing sleepy, curled next to Dana on the couch. Of course, he hadn't had a full night's sleep. Not that he normally did, he thought, grinning to himself. And a night of love with Scully was definitely preferable to insomnia. He wondered if she'd let him sleep with her again tonight. Abruptly his thoughts were interrupted. Susan hadn't finished.
"So, now we've got that sorted out, how much longer are Bill and I going to have to wait before you let us in on the secret? I mean the two of you are having an affair, right?"
Dana looked at Susan, shocked, and then began to laugh. She just couldn't be angry with her sister-in-law. Dana was too fond of her. She would never be Missy, but the pain left by that loss was just a little easier to bear when Susan was around. Still chuckling, she glanced at Mulder, who was regarding her from under sleepy eyelids. Time she thought about getting him to bed, too.
"Ok, Susan. I guess there's not much point in lying about it. Mulder and I are involved with one another. Now are you satisfied?"
Susan got up from her chair and hugged them both. Margaret watched in pleasure from another chair.
"So, when's the wedding? When does Jason finally get a cousin to play with?"
Margaret came to their rescue. "Give them time, Susan. There's no rush." She turned to Fox and Dana. "Well, since you have decided to admit it, I can invite you both to stay. There are two spare rooms with double beds. Bill and Susan have the one, but I put clean sheets on the other too, just in case. And Fox looks tired out."
Susan grinned and prepared to make a run for the kitchen if necessary. "It's Dana. She's a dominant woman. I bet poor Fox isn't *allowed* to have headaches."
She squealed as Dana grabbed her out of her chair, wrestling her to the hearth rug in an attempt to silence her. Bill chose that moment to enter the room.
"Jason's finally in bed. Susan, Dana, what are you doing?" He turned to his mother, who, like Mulder was laughing. "Would someone like to tell me why my younger sister is apparently trying to kill my wife? Did I miss something?"
Dana straightened up and tried to regain some dignity. "Bill, Fox and I are together. No, it is too early to talk about children. And don't you dare ask Mulder about his intentions, because even if he has any, I feel the discussion should wait. And now, I intend to finish the wine, and take Mom up on her offer. Fox needs some sleep." And with that she sat down. The others took one look at Bill's face and surrendered to further laughter.
Susan got up and pulled him down to sit next to her by the fire, shaking her head at him. "I'll explain it all later, love".
What was left of the evening passed quietly. Margaret and Fox had a sleepy conversation about the latest news, while the others listened, chipping in occasionally, but they were all too tired, and too happy to debate it fully. Finally they all retired. Dana turned on the curve of the stairs to embrace her mother again.
"Thank you, Mom. It's been a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for all the work you put into it."
Margaret returned her hug. "You're welcome, sweetheart. And thank you. Both of you." She let go of Dana, and Fox abruptly found himself in Margaret's embrace. "You have both made me so happy". She released him. "Now I need some rest. Get to bed."
Mulder was at the window, staring out at the snow again, when Dana came back from the bathroom. She crossed the darkened room and put her head on his shoulder, wrapping her arms around him.
He turned to her. "I was just thinking. I was looking out of the window at the snow like this yesterday. My whole world has changed in 24 hours. And I have you to thank for it". He pulled her close. "Once before, it all changed overnight. I like this change better."
She put her hand up to his chin and kissed him. "This is a permanent change, Fox. Don't doubt it. And perhaps one day, we'll find her. I'll never stop helping you look."
He smiled. "At least now I can carry on. Even..." he paused, "...even if I never find her, I have you. I could be content with just you."
She smiled, and stepped away from him.
His eyes widened. "Where are you going?"
She bent down to retrieve something from her bag, and when she faced him again, she was smiling.
"What are you doing?" he asked suspiciously.
She held a medium sized, square present out to him. He took it gingerly, smiling at her in puzzlement and affection. "Scully, you already gave me that leather jacket I liked. What's this? I have all that I've ever wanted - you."
Dana blushed slightly, and looked up at him with something near wonder. "Thank you, Mulder. But I wanted you to have this. Open it." He turned the box onto its side and looked at it inquisitively the way he looked at a piece of evidence. Finally, he tore the paper off, and a white box was revealed to him. He opened the box carefully, and pushed the tissue paper aside. A leather-bound, red book was revealed to him. He took it out of the box and held it up to the moonlight. When he saw the title, his eyebrows went up.
"Moby Dick?" he asked.
She nodded. "I don't know if you know this or not, but I always called my father Ahab, and he called me Starbuck."
Mulder's heart melted for her. "Starbuck was the first mate, right?"
She nodded again. "He always read that story to me before I went to sleep. We finished it by the time I was seven, but he just kept on starting over again. I know it by heart now. When he...died, Mom saved it for me."
Mulder drew in a sharp breath. "Scully, I can't take this. It means too much to you."
Scully smiled, and reached up to touch his cheek gently. "That's why I want you to have it - because *you* mean so much to me."
Mulder lay his hand atop hers and closed his eyes. He felt his love for her fill his soul. When he opened his eyes, a single tear fell down his cheek. "Thank you. It means a lot to me. Maybe I'll read it to you sometime."
She leaned up to kiss him quickly. "You're welcome, and I would like that."
He put the book down onto the nightstand, as Dana took his hands and drew him into bed next to her, snuggling into his arms. They lay there, curled together. "Oh, and Fox?"
"If you have a headache, that's OK. I'm a doctor. I can cure headaches."
Mulder began to chuckle. Then he rolled her onto her back, and looked down at her. "Merry Christmas, Dana."
"Merry Christmas, Fox" she replied, as she pulled his mouth onto hers.