Title: Christmas Vacation  
By: J
Rating :PG
Classification: H, S,UST, spoilers all over the place, almost one for every season! Nothing major though. Just a few lines.

Summary: Scully invites Mulder over for Christmas.

AUTHOR NOTE: I realize that's it's no longer Christmas, but I really want
to finish this series, not that I have yet. :) So put on some Christmas
tunes and join our favorite agents on a little holiday trip.



Dec 22nd
Skinners office
Washington DC

"So Agent Mulder, you and Agent Scully are here for given two weeks paid holiday. Consider this your Christmas gift to me and return what ever tacky tie you planned to give me."

Mulder nodded and started to walk out the door, when Assistant Director Skinner stopped him.

"And Agent Mulder?"

Mulder turned

"Get Agent Scully something nice for Christmas. God knows how much she deserves it, after all she's done for you."

Mulder nodded again.

- Aliens, implants, mutants, Congress. She deserves more than a gift. She deserves a sainthood for putting up with me-

"Dismissed, Agent Mulder. And have a good vacation."

Dec. 23rd Mulder's Apt.

"Come in, unless your Scully" Mulder yelled at his door. Catching glimpse of himself from the reflection of the TV and seeing that tape on his fingers and the ribbon around this neck, Mulder decided that he looked more like a bachelor wrapping a gift for a girlfriend then he did like an FBI agent.

-Not a girlfriend Mulder, partner.-

"Is that anyway to great Dana? She really deserves better than you Mulder" Byers announced, smiling as he walked into Mulder's apartment.

Mulder smiled to himself. "So she tells me."

-One more piece of tape and I'm finished-

"What can I do for you, Byers? Anything but go carolling again. I think I got frostbite last time."

Byers laughed a little, remembering the way Mulder looked in his elf hat, singing Frosty The Snowman. "But the kids loved you last time Mulder."

"No."

"Well, I'm not here for that anyway. We were wondering if you were going to see Dana tonight"

"Are you checking up on me?" Mulder asked as he tried to tie the ribbon around Scully's gift.

" Heaven forbid Mulder. The three of us wanted to get Dana something for Christmas, and we decided it would be more efficient if you deliver it to her."

" That and you didn't want any evidence of your organization contacting a government official"

"That too."

"Yes, I'm seeing her tonight. She's coming over to get her present." Mulder gestured to the package he was wrapping.

Byers eyed the mass of colorful paper and tape with disdain. "You're giving her that?"

"Yes"

" Oh, well, then would you give Dana this with our regards, Mulder?" Byers pulled a small gift from his coat pocket. No larger than a deck of playing cards, but twice as thick.  " Sure" Mulder looked at the elegantly wrapped package, then at his own. " Who wrapped this"

"Frohike."

"Short guy, glasses, obsessed with my partner. That Frohike?"

"Have a good holiday, Mulder"

-How did he know Skinner gave us... No.. Forced us to take two weeks off? -

Byers smiled again.

-Forget it. I don't want to know. They more then likely bugged our office-

" Merry Christmas Byers."

The door closed and Mulder looked at the present her had wrapped for Scully.

-Pretty pathetic. I should have taken the girl at costumer service up on her offer to wrap it for me, but no, I wanted to do it myself. Sort of a personal gesture after all the times I left Scully covering for me.-

Mulder looked at the package again, and sighed.

-This is no way to repay her.-

Mulder heard the door close from the washroom, where he was drying off from his shower. His hair still wet and a towel around his waist, he shouted to the outer room.

"Is that you Scully?"

"Who else comes to visit you, Mulder?" Scully dropped her jacket and garment bag on a chair and sat down on the sofa.  "Aliens, Santa, Frohike, Byers, Skinner, if I've been bad, your mom if I've been good....."

"That's enough Mulder, I don't need a complete run-down." Scully shook her head and smiled. "Are you decent yet?"

Mulder grinned to himself as he towel dried his hair "Come in and find out."

Scully laughed. "In your dreams, G-man"

-You have no idea, Scully.- Mulder frowned at the thought -where did that come from? Partner. Not girlfriend. -

Mulder looked for his robe on the back of the washroom door, but remembered that is was in his bedroom. Swearing softly, he called to Scully.

" Hey Scully, would you grab my jeans from off the sofa for me?"

Scully looked at the light blue jeans beside her, her eyes flashing playfully. "Maybe."

Mulder opened the washroom door a crack. He couldn't see Scully, and for some reason that worried him. "That or I come out of here in a towel and we can really start some rumors at the office."

"Oh, don't be such a stick in the mud Mulder. Can't you take a joke?" A pair of black jeans were held out to him, and Mulder raised an eyebrow.

"These aren't the jeans I put on the sofa."

"I know, I like those better" Scully answered

"But *I* have to wear them." Mulder argued

-These are my favorite pair, though, so *why* an I arguing?-

"Yes, but I have to look at you."

"You sound like my mother Scully."

"Just get dressed Mulder."

Mulder smiled and laughed "Now you *really* sound like my mother!"



When Mulder had finished dressed, he found Scully at his kitchen table, two airline tickets on the table and a small gift-wrapped package beside it. She had made coffee and handed Mulder a mug as he sat down beside her.

Mulder glanced at the packages quizzically.

"My mother's presents. She insists that you spend the holidays with us at Bill's." Scully eyes clouded over and she frowned slightly "That is if you aren't going to the Vineyard."

"No, I called my mother, she's going down to Florida to visit some old friends." Mulder saw the 'are you alright with that' look in Scully's eyes, "It fine Scully. She sends her regards."

Scully remembered her first Christmas after being assigned to the X-files. She had asked Mulder if he was having family over. Scully also remembered the look on his face when he said no.

* Christmas isn't really big around our family Scully, We tried to keep it alive after Samantha was.... gone, but there really wasn't any point*

Scully shook her head slightly, trying to clear the cobwebs "So you'll come to Bill's?"

"I don't know Scully. Are you sure you want to spend your vacation time with me?"  "No. But mom wants to see you."

Mulder faked a pained look, then smiled.

"Actually, Mulder. We have spent so much time together over the past years, I'm not sure I know *how* to spend time without you." Scully grinned, "Besides, I want to see my brothers beat you up."

Mulder laughed, eyeing the gift wrapped package on the table "Can I open the present now?"

"That depends, Mulder, are you coming to Arizona or not?"

Mulder raised an eyebrow. "Is this geography based gift?"

Scully matched his questioning look. "Yes or no, Mulder. Does everything have to be complex with you?"

"Think of it as my way of keeping the mystery alive."

"Is that why you're always taking off on me? To keep the mystery alive?"

-Direct hit, Damn Scully, you're good- Mulder tried to say something witty to cover up his discomfort, but his mouth wouldn't cooperate.

"That's what I thought." Scully couldn't hold her frown for long, and smiled. "Now you'll have to wait to open it. " she said, as she grabbed the gift from off the table.

"You're that sure I'll come with you ?" Mulder asked.

"Yep."

Mulder leaned into her space, "And why is that, Dr. Scully?"

-Did she just shiver, or was that me?-

"You would never give up a chance to have my mother feed you." Scully got up from the table and walked to Mulder's bedroom. "Come on Mulder, let's put some clothes in a bag and get out of here before Skinner changes his mind."

-Two weeks in Arizona with Scully and family. I can handle this. -

"Your the boss"

Scully looked at Mulder pointedly, "You bet."

-At least, I think I can handle this-



After getting Mulder to pack jeans and T-shirts into a carry-on and putting his black dinner jacket into Scully's garment bag, the two hailed a cab and tried let the fact they were going on an actual, not case related, vacation sink in.

-No mutants, no fat sucking psychopaths, no mind manipulating....- Mulder glanced at Scully, who felt his eyes on her and gave a devilish grin. -Well, maybe. Hell, she looks great. Calm down Mulder, remember your mantra - -Partnernotgirlfriend, partnernotgirlfriend -

Clearing his throat, Mulder made an attempt at conversation. "So Dana, tell me why we're having Christmas at Arizona this year."

"They have Christmas all over the place at this time of year, Mulder, not just Arizona" Scully looked away from the scenery flying past her window with a surprised look. "Did you just call me Dana?"

"Yes, if memory serves me, that is your name."

"You barely ever call me Dana." Scully narrowed her eyes "Unless you want something."

Mulder raised his eyebrows in a 'who me?' expression

"Forget it, Mulder. I get the window seat this time"

"I just figured if I'm going to spend the holidays with *your* family, I should at least call you by your first name."

Scully smiled at him like she was about to suck his blood, and enjoy it.

-More importantly, I might enjoy it.- Mulder pondered -What is it with me and vampires?-

"Does this mean I can call you Fox?" Scully asked sweetly.

-When you have a look like that you can call me anything you want-

Mulder winced, and tried to get his mind out of places it shouldn't go.

-Partnernotgirlfriend Partnernotgirlfriend-

"Sure."

Scully's eyes grew to twice there normal size "What??"

"Sure, after all you are taking me in for the holidays, I can at least let you call be by my given name."

Using the tone of voice she usually reserved for Mulder theories on the Kennedy assassination, Scully inquired "What are you up to Mulder."

Mulder paused long enough to make Scully slightly uncomfortable, "A desperate attempt at reverse psychology, how did it go?"

Scully leaned into Mulder "I still get the window seat."



At the loading gate, Mulder fished through his duffle, looking for the present Byres had left with him, but realized something else was missing.

-Damn-

"Ah, Scully?"  "What, Mulder?"

Sheepishly, Mulder dropped his head and looked the other way when he spoke. "I think I dropped my SIG somewhere."

-Again. And where is my cell phone?-

Scully smirked "No, you didn't."

"Scully, I remember packing them and now they are not here" Mulder opened his duffle up for Scully to look inside

Scully raise an eyebrow "Them? "

"My cell phone is gone too"

"Shocking" Scully said as she handed the two tickets to the agent at the desk.

"Scully, this is serious!"

-what happened to my level headed partner?-

"Mulder, I took the SIG and your cell out of your bag before we left your apartment. You are not bringing a firearm to my brothers house."

Mulder raised an eyebrow "What about my cell phone?"

"I figured you'd just drop it as soon as we got to Arizona anyway, so I put in your front closet."

"I have a front closet?"

Scully stowed the boarding passes in her coat pocket "Tell me Mulder, do you dance?"

Stopped short, Mulder looked confused "Pardon me?"

"Do you dance." Scully enunciated each word "It's a relatively straightforward question."

"You know, Dana, you are being very...."

"Very?"

"Un-you."

Scully's eyebrows arched and she smirked, "Un-me? How is that ?"

"Playful, almost " Mulder shrugged his shoulders, reaching for the right word. "Relaxed"

Scully lost some of the lightness in her eyes, and Mulder watched the darkness seep back in.

-Santa, for my Christmas wish, let me go take back what I just said.-

"Mulder, I had some sort of Christmas vision last night." Scully looked at Mulder, then out the large airport window. "I was sitting on the sofa, watching TV and deciding if I should go to Arizona or not. then I just got this burst of clarity, telling me to just give in to the season for awhile."  Scully smiled and looked back at Mulder, her eyes sparkling at the memory "Like Missy did every year. It didn't matter to her what state or city we were in when Christmas rolled around, she loved it." She shrugged her shoulders "I guess I'm just trying to keep that alive."

Mulder nodded and gently squeezed her hand. Scully smiled one of her rare genuine smiles. " So, I'm not going to think about the Bureau, Cancer Man, Skinner or anything else work related for two full weeks."

"I think Melissa would approve" Mulder said, his voice low.

"Hell,she probably sent me the vision." Scully sniffed, then turned back to Mulder, her eyes dancing again. "You never answered my question. Do you dance?"

"Why am I *so* scared to answer this question?" Mulder asked, trying to match Scully's playfulness.

Straight faced, Scully countered "I suppose your abnormal paranoia couldn't be the answer?"

Mulder thought about it, his lips pursed together and one eye closed "Nope."

"Then I have no idea." Scully sighed

The pair boarded the plane and as they were walking up the ramp, Mulder realized he would be meeting Scully's brothers for the first time. Panic set in.

"So Scully, tell me about your family."

Scully raised an eyebrow, "Ok," she said tentatively "Basic Norman Rockwell, two brothers, both married. Bill and Marie have a little boy, his name is Adam. Charlie married a nice Canadian girl named Kara, no children yet. Both brothers are in the Navy, " Scully smiled at Mulder, who was putting their luggage in the overhead compartment. "They're both on leave for the holidays and Kara's family is still in Manitoba, so Marie decided to invite everyone over for the holidays."

Mulder sat down beside Scully, and nodded. Scully could tell he had been memorizing everything she had said.

"Anything else I should know?" Mulder asked

Scully laughed "Mulder, this is just a family Christmas. It is *not* a senate committee. Just relax."

-Just relax. Easy for her to say.- Mulder glanced at Scully, who was looking out the plane window. -Nothing about this is easy for her, Mulder, you should know that. For once this isn't about you. It's about Scul..Dana. And you being here for her. So quit the paranoia for two weeks and let yourself have a good time.- He looked at Scully for a long time, she finally felt his eyes on her and smiled.

-For once, just enjoy the season-

Scully sensed his mood and grabbed his hand, quickly giving it a squeeze. Mulder reciprocated, then jumped out of his seat to grab his duffle bag. Scully looked at him quizzically. Rummaging around for a bit, Mulder pulled out two packages, and presented them to Scully like they were the keys to heaven. Scully took the packages gently and put them on her lap.

"The one that looks like blind elves wrapped it is from me. The other one is from The Gunman."

Scully scrutinized the package. "Frohike?"

Mulder had to laugh "And Byres and Langly." Scully still didn't look convinced. "I'm sure it's safe." Mulder said, as he leaned in to Scully's personal space.

Scully grimaced, but opened the package anyway. Inside the box was a twenty dollar bill, a small delicate pendent, and a card. Glancing at Mulder questioningly, Scully opened the card, then broke out in laughter.

"What's so funny?" Scully tried to tell Mulder, but the giggles had got her, so she just pointed at the card.

The card read that the "magnetic tracking strip " had been removed from the twenty, and one from a hundred had been woven into the pendent. So now 'the government wouldn't know how much she was carrying.' Mulder smirked. The pendent looked strikingly like a sniper scope.

"Do this up for me Mulder?" Scully asked, she was turned do that the ends of the necklace were hanging down her back. Mulder gulped.

-Think of something safe - Mulder told himself as he picked up the ends of the chain -What's the most common abduction time?- He fastened the clasp and left his hands on her shoulders, for what seem to him, to be a moment to long.

Scully turned back to Mulder, "Can I open yours now? " Scully asked her head tilted slightly.

"Of course."

Scully ripped the paper away from the gift, and saw something soft and black. She raised an eyebrow "Is this a PG gift?"

-Partnernotgirlfriend, partnernotgirlfriend -

"Dana, you wound me."

Scully gave him a half smile that said 'yeah, right' and unfolded the gift. It was black cotton T-shirt with Einstein face emblazoned on it in orange. Underneath his picture it read 'Imagination is more important that knowledge'. Scully chuckled "You know, Mulder, I do have a pension for re-writing Einstein."

Mulder grinned, remembering their first meeting "Look on the collar."

Scully looked at him, one eyebrow raised, then at the collar of the shirt. There were two little upside down tear shape earrings. Except these tears had huge almond shaped eyes and tiny mouths. "You know, my mother will think this is akin to an engagement ring from you ." Scully said as she took the tiny hoops from ears and put in the aliens. Turning slightly from side to side, she asked Mulder "How do they look?"

Mulder paused slightly, then put a thumb under her left ear. "They look great."

Scully's face broke out into a huge smile, her eyes lighting up. She leaned over and gave Mulder a quick kiss on the cheek " Thanks Mulder, they're great." -Partnernotgirlfriend- Mulder managed to mumble 'your welcome' before the stewardess began her lecture on the importance of fastening your safety belt. Mulder looked at Scully, who was looking at the stewardess. He held that gaze for awhile, before Scully elbowed him in the ribs.

"What's wrong? Are my aliens upside down?" Scully touched her earrings gently.

"No, They're fine. "

Scully gave him a concerned look, to which Mulder gave his disarming grin. Shaking her head, Scully turned her attention back to the stewardess, and Mulder continue to look at her.

-I think I'm going to need a stronger mantra-



Phoenix Dec 24th

Mulder looked beside him. Scully was staring out the window with a contented look on her face. Her hand supporting her chin, just watching the clouds go by. Mulder looked from her alien earring to her sniper scope pendent. The gold of her crucifix and the silver of the Lone Gun Men's gift had intertwined, making the cross Dana wore seem brighter against the silver circle. The sun from the window caught the pendent, sending a flash of light into Mulder's eyes.

-What is going on in that head of hers?- Scully closed her eyes for a brief moment, her lips pulling into a small smile.

"Hey Dana, what are you thinking about?"

"You" Mulder arched his eyebrows. "I was wondering how my brothers are going to react to you"

"I promise not to mention ET if they promise not to tell me how wonderful working for Uncle Sam is"

Dana shook her head and laughed. "Mulder, I have never brought anyone home for Christmas, and the fact I have never allowed them to..."

"*Allowed* them?"

Scully continued as she was never interrupted. "Allowed them to met you does not sit well with my" Scully sighed "Completely overprotective brothers."

"Scully, what exactly are you afraid of?"

Scully bit her lip "Nothing Mulder. Lets just enjoy the holiday OK?"

Mulder nodded his head and watched his partner return to her cloud watching. The 'fasten seat-belts' sign started to flash, and Mulder got another panic attack.

"Dana?"  "Um?" Scully continued to watch the clouds

"Tell me more about Kara and Marie?"

Grinning from ear to ear, Scully turned slowly "Mulder, are you nervous?"

"Yes. I don't want to make a fool out of myself. Please help."

Scully calmly shook her head "No"

"What???"-She cannot do this to me- Mulder caught the devilish look in his usually reserved partners eyes -I'm a dead man-

"No. I want to see you make a fool of yourself. Remember what you once said to me Mulder. Sometimes the need to mess with there heads out weighs the millstone of humiliation. Well, this time I get to mess with your head and you get to be humiliated."

"You can't be serious."

"Isn't that my line?"

"Scully!"

Dana's eyes light up. She was finally getting to him. "So we're back to Scully now?"

"Fine, Dana. I am begging you for information. Please!"

Scully raised her eyebrow and rolled her like she was thinking.

Panic filled Mulder's eyes, - This is bad idea. I should be at home watching a bad Christmas movie. But no, I'm here, in an airplane going to a place I know nothing about to met people I don't know-

Mulder looked at Scully again, this time with a hurt puppy dog face that always seemed to work.

"How does it feel not to have *all* the information, Mulder?"

-Payback. I should have known-

"I get the picture Scul...Dana."

"Good. Now if you promise to be better about giving me information on our next case and all the cases after that. I might.." Mulder's face broke into a smile "*Might* help you out a bit."

Putting on his most solemn face, Mulder promised "I promise, next case, every scrape of information I have is yours."

"Good."

Scully went back to her cloud gazing and Mulder shifted uncomfortably in his seat. After what seemed like a life time to Mulder, Scully finally spoke again.

"Marie is a mainly a housewife, the place we're going to has been in her family for generations. She inherited it when they passed on. She also is a historian of sorts. She is cataloguing the families that lived in Bennett for over 100 years. Bill married her years ago, when I was still in the academy. Adam is dead set on being a military man, just like his daddy." Scully smirked. "Marie not your typical Navy wife though. Following blindly is not one of her strong suits."

Mulder nodded "Sounds like my kind of woman"

- Or, a redhead who second guesses my every move and fights like a tiger-

Scully arched her brows, and Mulder wondered for a second if he spoken out loud.

"Kara is well, different. Her and Charlie got married three years ago, and she still refuses to become a US citizen. She's a writer, she studies the medicinal value of rocks and crystal and such. Missy loves her. They're two of a kind." Scully's voice caught, and her gaze returned to the window. "They *were* two of a kind"

Mulder reached for Dana's hand and squeezed it gently. Scully looked at him, and squeezed back.

This time, neither one let go till they were on the ground.



Marie met the due at the gate, with a huge sign reading "DANA & MULDER". The five foot seven blonde had a high powered grin and a charm Mulder could feel from yards away. Mulder turned to his partner and deadpanned.

"Dana Mulder. What do you think Dana, is it a sign?"

"You bet. A sign in black felt marker." Scully slung her garment bag over her shoulder and walked toward her sister in law.

Mulder stopped short. "I don't know, sounds pretty good to me." - Dana Mulder. Sounds to good to be true.-

"Dana!" Marie embraced the woman she had come to know as a sister, and Dana reciprocated "How was the trip?"

"It was fine, Marie." Scully glanced around the gate "Did Bill come with you?"

"No, I wanted to met Mulder before your brothers got to him"

Mulder appeared at Marie's shoulder "Should I be worried?"

Marie glanced toward Dana with a smile "Heavens no." Marie started toward the sliding doors, then stopped and looked back to Mulder "You did bring your sidearm, right?" Mulder arched his eyebrow in a Mr. Spock imitation. Marie wiggled her brows mockingly. "Just kidding, follow me the cars this way."

Mulder shot Scully a glance, and they both heard Marie laugh. Her laughter was like chimes, and it seemed that she laughed often.

-When was the last time we laughed like that? When it wasn't case related stress or exhaustion?- Mulder grinned to himself - or Five hours of Ba Ba Boe?-

Marie stowed their luggage in the trunk, then looked at Dana, who was studying Mulder. Something on the horizon had caught his attention.

"Tell me Dana, does he zone like this often?"

Dana turned to Marie "Yes, and it usually means that he's up to something."

Mulder looked hurt "Me?" Scully shot him a death glance and got in the car.

"If looks could kill...." Marie smiled and shut her door and Mulder followed suit

"I would be dead years ago"

Fastening her shoulder strap, Dana addressed Marie "I could *not* be so lucky"

Mulder leaned over the front seat and spoke directly at Dana "You love me, admit it."

Scully met his gaze "Maybe later."

Mulder turned to Marie "Promises, promises"

Marie pulled the car out of it's parking spot. "Come on you two, play nice."



The drive to Bennett took them through Phoenix, to a town far from the outskirts of Eloy. The terrain outside Mulder's window turned from city to country and Marie a gave brief history as they drove into town.

"Bennett started out as a sort of retirement village for cowboy and quote unquote outlaws of the time. Now it's a suburb of a suburb of a suburb. It's to far to commute to Phoenix, so it's kind of become a semi-ghost town. There's about three hundred who live in Bennett and the population swells to three fifty when the winter people come down for the holidays."

Marie drove toward the town square, which seemed to be the centre of Bennett. Shops and residences encompassed the green space in a rectangular pattern, sheltering the town from the desert that surrounded it. "Bennett has a underground river flowing below it, which means we aren't dependent on water from the North." Marie glanced in her rear view mirror, "I would take you the long way, but there really isn't one."

Marie pulled into the carport of a large two story ranch house. "This house has been in our family for generations" Marie said as they walked up the front steps. "I didn't even know what snow looked like till we moved up north when I was twelve."

"I was going to ask how you got a Navy family to spend Christmas in the desert." Mulder held the door open for the ladies to enter. The home was clad in hardwood and smelled of polishing oil and Christmas dinner. A long hallway led to the back of the home and openings along the walls led to inner rooms. Mulder took a deep breath of the sweet smelling air.

-This is * definitely * what Scully and I need to relax-

"I told Bill that *my* son was going to spend Christmas with his family and in a house, not some apartment near the base."

Scully laughed "And Bill knows better then to mess with a woman who has made up her mind"

Marie flashed a look that said 'You bet' and yelled down the hallway. "Honey! Dana and Mulder are here."

"Be right there! Don't let him leave."

Mulder looked at Dana, his eyebrows reaching for his forehead. "You're *sure* I don't need to be concern."

Dana leaned into Mulder and whispered into his ear, her perfume mixing in with the sweet air. "There bark is worst then their bite." Mulder took a deep breath of the perfume scented air and look at Dana's profile.

-Where *does* she get that perfume? It smells like lavender and vanilla- Mulder sensed Dana's eyes on him and he looked down the hall, trying no betray his state of mind -Reminder, before you met your *partner's*, remember that *partner*, older brothers, do not get caught staring at said partner and analyzing her perfume-

A loud voice boomed into the hall from an inner room "So *your* the man who's been driving our little sister crazy?"

Mulder gulped and looked back at Dana, who had a grin on her face the size of the Arizona sky "Could he mean 'crazy' in a good way?"

"All you can do is hope. " Dana reached for Mulder's hand a gave it a tight squeeze, leading him to the room where the voice came from "Mulder, meet my brothers. This is Bill and Charlie. Bill, Charlie this is Mulder, he's spending Christmas with us." Two large figures rose from the sofas facing the TV.



Bill and Charlie looked Mulder up and down, their faces etched with the sort of disapproving looks fathers give prom dates. Squaring his shoulders, Mulder slowly met their gaze.

The brothers looked at each other from the corner of their eyes, and broke up laughing.  "I'm Bill and this is Charlie, sorry about the stone faces, but we don't get to play big brother to Littlefoot often.  Mulder glanced at Dana, who shook her head slightly, warning him off "*Littlefoot*?"

Scully's blue eyes turned a shade of ice " Don't even think about it *Fox*"

Bill and Charlie exchanged another look, but this time Charlie spoke. " Now, now Dana, play nice"

" She is playing nice" Bill joked, elbowing his brother in the ribs.

Scully ran a hand through her hair, and sighed to herself "I'm beginning to think this was a huge mistake"

"What was?"

"Bringing *you* here"

Mulder took a step towards his partner and was hit again by her perfume. Fighting the his internal reaction, he leaned into Dana "Really? I was just thinking the opposite."

Scully faked a laugh, raising her eyebrow slightly.

Margaret entered the den, bringing with her a waft to air from the kitchen. Mulder inhaled deeply. -Meeting the brothers, having Christmas dinner with her family, why does this all seem a bit too, well, personal-

Mulder let the thought sit for the time being and gave Mrs. Scully a quick hug, and told her how good dinner smelled.

"Thank you Fox, it's almost ready. Why don't you all come into the dining room?"

Bill started to follow his mother out of the den, "Why do you get to call him Fox, when the rest of us were told to specifically to call him Mulder?"

Margaret looked at her son playfully, "Because I'm cuter and cook better. Now of all of you, in to the kitchen." Margaret ushered Bill and Charlie out of the Den and smiled at Dana and Mulder.

"You're mom looks happy."

Dana nodded her head and pushed a strand of hair back into place "It's the full house, makes her go into super-grandma mode"

"And I thought it was just because she loved to cook for us" A voice called from behind them, Dana and Mulder both jumped and the petite brunette smiled at them. "Hi, I'm Kara, Charlie's wife. You must be Mulder."

Mulder gave Dana another quick glance and wondered just how much the Scully family know about him " My reputation proceeds me again."

Kara laughed and ushered the two agents into the dining room, eight places were set for dinner and Mulder realized he had not met on of the most important members of the family. Little Adam.

" Who are you?" a voice asked with a tugging of Mulder's pant leg.

-Speak of the devil and he shall appear-

"Adam, this is Fox Mulder, he's a friend of mine from work"

"Hi." The small boy looked at Mulder with questioning eyes and Mulder knew he was going through the ultimate personality challenge. He crouched down to Adam's level and gave him a small smile

"Hello, you can call me Fox like your Grandma does, Ok?"

Adam's face broke into a huge grin at the privilege, even his dad had to call this stranger 'Mulder', Aunt Dana had said so. "Ok." A hopeful shine appeared in the child's eyes "You want to play Sega with me later?"

Mulder shrugged his shoulders. "Why not? how about after dinner?"

"Are you trying to get out of doing the dishes Mulder?" Scully asked, her own eyes shining

"You bet." Mulder put on his half grin and titled his head down slightly.

Mulder felt a tug on his pant leg "We can't play after dinner 'cause we got to ready from the dance. How about after we open presents tomorrow?"

Only flustered for a moment, Mulder recovered his voice. "Sounds like a plan" Mulder pinned Dana with his gaze as Adam scurried back to his seat at the table. "A dance? Why didn't you tell me?"

Dana put on her most exasperated expression "Mulder, I asked you repeatedly on the plane if you could dance, I though you would just pull one of your Mr. Wizard moments and figure it out."

Mulder walked to one of the two empty seats and held the chair out for Dana with a flourish. After she was seated, Mulder's hands lingered on her shoulders for a second to long, and he whispered in her ear.

"I'll get you for that 'Mr. Wizard' comment later."

Dana simply patted his hand, with her best 'dear silly boy' look on her face.

Mulder went to his seat opposite of Scully, but not before catching a look from Charlie that clearly said "We like you, but don't even think about hurting our sister"

-I guess I forgot that flirting with the brothers in the vicinity is not a good idea-

The family watched this exchange with amused expressions, then got down to the serious task of eating Christmas dinner. The conversation was light, memories of Christmases past, Bill and Charlie's tales of the high seas, and Kara told her stories of Manitoba snowstorms. The dinner passed quickly and Mulder found it strangely relaxing to just sit back and listen.

Margaret push her chair out from the table. "We better get started if we're going to make it to the dance tonight. Marie, why don't you take Adam upstairs and have a bath first." Margaret flashed a smile at Dana and Mulder. "It'll give Fox and I time to do the dishes."

Dana smiled at Mulder, and he responded with his own mocking grin.

"Bill and Charlie will help you with the dishes, Mom" Kara shot her husband a glance that said 'yes you will' before he had a chance to protest "Why don't we let Mulder and Dana get settled? I'll show them to their rooms while you two clear the table"

Margaret nodded her ascent and left for the kitchen while Marie herded Adam upstairs.

"Do you *really* think they'll be needed two rooms?" Bill questioned Charlie as they cleared the table.

Charlie's eyes flashed in protectiveness, "They better! Did you see him at dinner?"

Bill smiled at this little brother "Don't worry about Dana, worry and Mulder. I can tell when our little sister has *feelings* for someone"

"No." Charlie smiled slightly at Bill "Yeah? Littlefoot had the hots for Mulder?" Bill nodded

"But I don't think she realizes it yet"



Kara led the pair upstairs, "Second door on the left is the guestroom, that's yours Dana, third door is bathroom and fourth door is yours Mulder." Kara glanced back at the six foot tall guest, a look of worry crossed her face. "I hope you don't mind, this is Marie's den, where she does her writing. There's not really a bed, it's more of a sofa. I hope you'll be comfortable"

Mulder and Dana stared at each other for a moment, then burst out laughing. Kara just stared at the two, making them laugh even harder. Mulder hunched his shoulders over in an effort to control his laughter, while Dana just hung her head.

Kara raised an eyebrow at them "Your bags are in your rooms, Marie put them in there when you got here. You have an hour before we leave for the dance." Kara walked past the still laughing forms and down the stairs.

Their laughter finally over, Mulder looked at Dana with light eyes. - This is turning out to be a lot more fun then I thought-

"Do you want to take shower first, or should I?" Dana asked, still short of breath.

"We could save time and shower together"

Dana gave him her most disapproving look, but behind her eyes Mulder swore he saw the slightest hint of temptation. "I'll take the bathroom first."

Mulder watched her walk to her room, a short distance from his own, and thought of the smell of Dana's perfume, and the soft feel of her shoulders.

-Maybe I should have taken that first shower-



Mulder looked through his clothes and wondered what to wear. Through the French doors that led out to the balcony, he could see the sun setting, casting reds over everything the light touched. Water began to run in the room next to him, and just barely, he could her Dana's voice.

"The stars look brighter in the desert sky No need to wonder, or justify, where this might lead My heart is riding on this dark horse, baby My heart is saying it's the lucky one And it's true colors are going to shine through someday If we let this, let this dark horse run"

Leaving out his choice of a white tee-shirt and black button up, Mulder walked out on to the balcony and leaned slightly over the railing, taking deep gulps of the dusk air.

-Time to make up your mind. Either you love her in *that* way,and you take a chance, or you don't and you stay just friends. You'll never have a better opportunity then tonight.-

Mulder was knocked out of his silent conversation by Scully shouting to him that the shower was his. When he walked into the bathroom, the mirrors were still foggy from Dana and her perfume lingered in the air. Mulder closed his eyes briefly, let his mind wander.

-Water pouring down her back, coppery hair darkened, eyes closed, mouth open, running her hands...- Mulder opened his eyes quickly -Whoa..Let's not go there-

Turning on the water and shedding his clothes, Mulder stepped into the shower and wondered just what he was going to do about these daydreams.



Mulder finished his quick shower, walked back to his room, and pulled on his black jeans. He was just about to get finished dressing when he heard a knock on the door.

"Mulder, are you dressed?"

A small grin played on his lips "Dressed enough, Dana. Come on in."

The door swung open slowly, and the scent of vanilla and lavender invaded Mulder senses. -Either that perfume is getting more potent, or I'm going loopy-

Dana walked into the room wearing a midnight blue dress that came to the top of her knee. Her hair, gelled slightly, was off her face, but Mulder knew it wouldn't stay that way for long. She was still wearing her gift from the Lone Gunmen and her cross, and Mulder realized he was staring.

"You look..." Mulder shrugged his shoulders, the words he wanted seemed just beyond his reach.

Dana smiled "I'll take that as a compliment." She walked closer to Mulder, her eyes not meeting his "I wanted to thank you for coming along Mulder. I don't think I would be having so much fun if you weren't here. "

Mulder put his thumb under her chin and lifted her head so their eyes met "Thank you for letting me be here." Impulsively, Mulder put his arms around Dana and hugged her. Her head fit perfectly into his chest and her arms snaked around his waist, trying to pull him closer. Mulder felt the softness of Dana's cheek on his chest, and her gentle breathing sent shivers up his spine.

Dana pulled away first, though reluctantly "I don't want to explain if my brothers walk in"

Mulder nodded and let his arms drop to his side. The air in the room seemed cool against his skin. They stood inches apart from each other, not speaking, until Dana stood on her tiptoes and brushed Mulder's cheek with a soft kiss.

"Thanks again." she said, then walked out of the room quickly.

Mulder stared at the door for a moment, then softly rubbed the spot where Dana had kissed him "No problem." he said to the door.

Mulder pulled the white tee-shirt over his head and ran a hand through his hair.

-Looks like the choice was easier then I thought.- Mulder thought back to the hug of a moment ago -And it seems I made the choice long before I knew the question-



Mulder searched through his day-pack, tossing aside the extra razor blades and small first aid kit.

-I know I have cologne.- Mulder stood up, his hands at his sides, shoulders slumped - I just have to find it-

"Mulder? It's Marie, can I come in?"

Mulder emitted a small grunt of approval, still searching through his pack. A soft laugh followed Marie into the room.

"I'll take that as a yes. I wanted to see if you got settled in OK." Marie cast a glance towards the sofa "Sorry about the sleeping arrangements, but Dana said you wouldn't mind"

Mulder had given up on his search for the time being "I'll be fine, Marie."

Marie nodded, then took a step back to look at Mulder's outfit. Dressed in black jeans and a black button-up, with a white T-shirt underneath, he had a slight 'James Dean' appearance.

"We should be heading out soon. Mom went ahead, she's volunteering at the refreshment booth and I finally wrangled Adam into his clothes. You look good." Marie stepped into Mulder's space "You smell good too."

"It's just plain soap."

"Well, don't put any cologne on. Most men don't appreciate the smell of soap."

-That solves that problem- Mulder zipped up his day-pack and threw it on the sofa.

"Then I guess I'm ready to go too."

Marie looked Mulder up and down again, a strange look in her eyes "Mulder, can I give you some advice?"

Mulder shrugged his shoulders, and Marie continued. "Let Dana lead tonight."

Mulder lifted an eyebrow "You mean dancing right?"

Marie didn't answer, she just turned and walked out of the room.

-I don't think she meant dancing- Mulder sighed and followed out of the room.



The family decided to walk down to the town square, since the night air was so warm and it wasn't more than a five minute walk. They walked in a group, changing formation every so often. But Mulder and Dana stayed side by side, their arms brushing against each other. The desert sky shone with stars and a half moon.

-Dana was right, the stars do look brighter here- Mulder pondered, remembering the sweet voice that had leaked through the wall.

Mulder felt some one take a hold of his hand, and looked at Dana. She had a similar expression of shock on her face. They both looked down at their hands and saw Adam. His black hair has been combed into submission, and he held Mulder and Dana's hands swinging them as he walked along. He hadn't said a word, just grabbed their hands and was content to walk along with them. Dana gave Mulder a surprised look.

Adam looked up at Mulder, his blue eyes beaming, "Are we still going to play Sega tomorrow?"

Mulder stared down at Adam, the corners of his mouth pulled into a grin "You bet."

"OK." Adam walked along with Mulder and Dana until the square came into view, then he was off like a shot, barely turning around to call to his mother.

"Looks like you made a new friend" Kara observed "Have you always be so good with children?"

Mulder slowed his pace until he was walking beside Kara "It's a gift"

"One of his few" Dana called from over her shoulder.

Kara flashed Mulder a grin, which he returned mockingly. "I'll have you know I'm an excellent dancer and impeccable taste."

Dana stopped walking, her eyes flashing with humor "In *what*?"

"Ouch!" Mulder feigned a hurt look and matched pace with Dana. The music got louder as they approached the raised pine platform that had been constructed in the middle of the square. The first strains of Alan Jackson's 'I Only Want You For Christmas' rang out and Dana reached out to lightly hold Mulder's arm, just above the bicep.

"Time to prove yourself" Dana said as she dragged a somewhat willing FBI agent toward the dance floor.

Marie and Kara walked in front of Bill and Charlie and looked at each other, both smiling.

Marie lowered her voice so the brothers behind her wouldn't hear. "Do you think that they're *just friends* ?" She asked, her tone clearly indicating her belief.

Kara looked toward the dance floor, where Mulder and Dana had begun to dance. Their arms wrapped around each other, just a tad closer than the dance required, and their eyes focused on each other, ignoring the rest of the dancers. Kara replied to Marie, straight faced. "Oh, definitely, just friends"

The two locked eyes for a moment the broke out laughing. Leaving their husbands wondering what was going on.



A railed pine platform had been constructed in the town square, decorated with Christmas lights and streamers. The townsfolk gathered around, dancing, talking and enjoying the desert air. Booths had been set up to serve drinks and squares, manned by grandmothers and those who liked to be near the action. Music rang in the air, mixed with laughter. And for a while, the cares of the year were sweep away in to the night. It was a time of celebrate, a time of hope.

No one felt that more than Mulder.

Silently he praising his mother for forcing him to take dance lessons when he was growing up, and asked whatever powers that be to bless the lady who had once dragged him to a cowboy bar. He figured out the two-step was remarkably like a travel in the fox trot, and although he wasn't a flashy dancer, he could stay off the toes of his partner.

-That was almost five years ago, before this dry spell in my dating pool, before D....-

Alan Jackson muted into a soft, slow ballad. Dana and Mulder inched closer together, their bodies swaying to the music, barely moving.

Then Mulder felt a tap on his shoulder.

"Can I cut in?"

Recognizing Charlie voice, Mulder pulled reluctantly away from Dana.

" I might have to dance with your wife now."

"She's counting on it."

Mulder smiled at Dana, then strolled to the railing where Kara was leaning. He gave a small bow, then escorted her on to the floor.

Charlie saw the look on his sisters face and grinned "That Mulder's really something. He's really great with Adam."

Dana nodded her head, just barely, her eyes were still on Mulder.

"He'll make a great father someday." Charlie said, straight faced.

"Yeah, he will, won't he?" Dana snapped out of her reverie, her eyes narrowing "What are you implying Charlie?"

A chuckle escaped from his lips "Nothing at all sis, nothing at all."



Marie, Charlie, Kara, Bill, Mulder and Dana danced until their legs almost gave out before taking a break to see Margaret at the refreshment stand. The night air was still warm, and the bells from the Catholic Church started to ring out as they approached the refreshment stand.

"That's our cue." Marie said as she looked around the square "Honey, will you find Adam? I'll get Mom"

"Sure." Mulder replied with a smile

Marie turned to him with a grin "Not so loud darling, Bill might hear you"

"Stop hitting on Marie, Mulder" Dana ordered, handing him a glass of punch for the table.

Mulder leaned into her space, and whispered in her ear "Jealous?"

Scully glared at him, a smile hiding behind her eyes, "Intensely"

Mulder took the offered glass and gulped a portion of the red liquid. He held Dana's gaze until Margaret walked beside them and cleared her throat.

"Dana, are you and Fox coming to service?"

Dana glanced at her partner, but before she could answer, Kara grabbed Dana's arm and spoke for them. "They're staying here with us heathens, Mom." Margaret face dropped slightly and Kara patted her on the arm reassuringly. "Don't worry, we'll be back in time for Santa"

Bill approached with Adam, who did not seem pleased about leaving, in tow. Smiling, Dana picked the boy up and gave him a hug.

"You go to Mass with Grandma and we'll see you in the morning to open presents, ok?"

Adam looked skeptical "Are me and Fox still going to play Sega?"

Dana looked at Mulder, who nodded his ascent. "You bet." Dana told her nephew, who's face broke out into a smile. She hugged him again and then let him down. "You go with Grandma now."

Adam ran to Margaret, and they began to walk toward the church. Marie gazed at the pair, hand in hand, walking through the park. She gave a slight sigh and turned to Dana and Mulder.

"I am *so* glad you two could make it this year. Mom is really happy." Marie gestured to her husband, it was time for them to go as well. "We're going to be late for Mass, see you at the house. "

Mulder watched Bill and Marie walk off after their son. - I wonder what it would be like to have a normal life?-  A corner of Mulders mouth turned up, a slight mocking grin. -Lets face it Mulder, you wouldn't know 'normal' if it knocked you on the head-

Kara caught the odd look on Mulders face and gently tapped him on the arm. "Come on, Mulder. Ready to dance the night away?"

Mulder stole one more glance in Marie and Bill's direction "Let's go."  Then looking at Dana, who was being lead back to the dance floor by Charlie, Mulder leaned to whisper in Kara's ear. "Do you know if the DJ take requests?"



The crowd had thinned considerably, nut the music was still loud, and the dancers were willing to go as long as the DJ played. A blues melody seeped out from the speakers, received by the crowd with a yell of approval. About twenty-five people remained, and they were all on the dance floor. Moving to the melodies, letting their cares be sweep away.

Mulder and Dana joined the crowd, one arm around her waist. Dana put her hand on his shoulder and closed her eyes. They moved to music, each aware of the others body. Mulder noticed Dana's hair had fallen in her face and he fought not to touch a strand. A sweet voice rang out, and Mulder to closed his eyes, letting his heart sweep him away.

There is nothing I can do, nothing I can say That folks don't criticize me But I'm to do, just what I want to anyway Don't care if they all despise me

If I go to church on Sunday, And I honky-tonk all day Monday Ain't nobodies business if I do,

And if I should get a feeling I want to dance upon the ceiling Ain't no bodies business Ain't no bodies business if I do If I stay out all spend all my money, well that's alright Ain't nobodies business Ain't nobodies business if I do

The piano kicked in, sweet and soulful, Mulder looked at Dana, her eyes shut, mouth slightly open.

-What did I do right in my former life to get you-

You try to tell me I've no right to sing the blues What gives you the right to tell me What I should do? Ain't nobodies Ain't nobodies business if I do Well it, ain't no bodies Ain't no, it ain't no  you know it ain't no bodies business Ain't' nobodies what I do

The song ended, Dana slowly opened her eyes. "Wow."

Mulder chuckled, "Yeah, wow."

Dana took a deep breath and blinked her blue eyes "I think I need to sit the next one out"

Mulder nodded and led her to one of the picnic tables that had been carted on to the platform. Kara and Charlie were still on the floor, dancing to a old rock classic. Kara caught Mulders eye and motioned to the DJ with her head.

"I'll be right back. Don't move" Dana raised her eyebrows slightly, as Mulder made his way to the DJ booth.  



Kara smiled brightly, and Charlie gave her a questioning look. "You look like the cat who ate the canary. What's got you so happy?"

Kara smiled again and motioned to her sister-in-law. "A Christmas miracle, Charlie. Your little sister and her handsome partner are *finally* admitting they feel more for each other than respect."

Giving his partner a turn, Charlie inquired "You know this from spending *one* evening with them?"

Kara just shook her head "There are something's you can just see."



Mulder walked back to Dana, extending his hand "May I have the next dance?"

"That depends Mulder, what did you request?"

Mulder shrugged his shoulder in an exaggerated way "The theme from 'Close Encounters', why do you ask?"

Dana raised her eyebrow and took Mulders hand "Why Mulder, are you hoping for a close encounter tonight?"

"Is that an offer?"

Dana stood on her tiptoes and whispered in Mulders ear "Maybe, maybe not."

As they rejoined the dancers, the first strains of 'Dark Horse' floated into the arm. Mulder pulled Dana into a close dance, but she pushed him away.

"Wait a minute, Mulder. You have some explaining to do." Mulder raised his eyebrows in an innocent gesture, and Dana smiled as she continued "For how long have you been listening to me sing in the shower?" - Santa, give me one more wish. Help me to say this right-

Mulder closed his eyes for a moment to regain his courage, then, brushing a hair from Dana's forehead, he began.

"Dana, I've got something to say and I need you to just listen I know we've been working together for four years now and maybe this stems from the fact that I've seen you almost every day of those four years. But I'm beginning to think that......"

Dana tensed for a moment, but then looked back into Mulders eyes. Mulder's mouth hung open as he tried to find the right next words. and, finally finding them, they spewed out in a rush leaving Mulder breathless at the end.

".......I'm beginning to think I'm in love with you. No that's not right. I *know* that I love you but I think I love you in a different way. What I'm trying to say is that, Scully.... Damn, I meant to say Dana, Dana I love you not as a friend, but....well I love as a friend too, it's just that......"

The petite redhead that stood in front of him looked like she was confused and amused at the same time. Which just flustered Mulder even more.

".... It's just that, Dana I love you. in every sense of the word. And I'm about to shut up now, so please remember we are in public, so if you kill me there will be witnesses."

Mulder tried to catch his breath as Dana slowly nodded her head, processing what just happened.

"You love me."

Mulder nodded

"As a partner, friend and something else you can't seem to articulate"

Mulder nodded again.

"And I'm supposed to find this news?"

Mulder looked confused.

"Mulder, I have known you loved me in all of those ways for sometime now. I was just waiting for you to catch up."

"You knew."

Dana nodded

"You know before I knew that I loved you"

Dana nodded again..

"And you call *me* Mr. Wizard??"

Dana started to laugh, at first small little giggles that shook her shoulders. But every time she looked into Mulders confused eyes, the laughter grew harder and louder, until she was leaning on Mulder for support.

Mulder's arms snaked around Dana, and he inhaled her perfume again. he disengaged one arm and stroked her hair. Dana squeezed him tightly, then raised her head to look up at the man who was holding her.

Mulder leaned down and kissed her softly on the cheek. His face centimeters from hers, he whispered "You could have made this *so* much easier for me but telling me what I felt."

Dana smiled and touched her forehead to his "What fun would I have in that?"

Dana touched her lips to his and the swayed together, letting the world melt away, concentrating on each other, and the feelings that finally let escape.

-I will always believe in Santa-



Kara and Charlie watched the couple for a moment, then turned to each other, smiling.. A mischievous light danced behind Kara's eyes

"I get to tell Bill."



The DJ's voice rang out in to the dark night. Dana and Mulder, still holding on to each other, turned their heads toward the DJ booth.

"This will be the last song of the night folks. I'd like to thank you all for coming out, and I hope to see you next year. Have great Christmas, hope you get what you want from Santa"

Several voices rang out, protesting the end of the festivities for another year.

"But before we strike the stage, lets tear it up one more time. Merry Christmas all."

A rocking country tune kicked out of the speakers and all those who had protested the end of the night sent up a cry again. The dance floor filled with the remaining dancers, and Mulder and Dana grinned at each other when they heard the lyrics of the song.

There's a little bitty flame burning deep in my heart You want to make something of it? Do you feel the same, baby, just a little spark, You want to make something of it? Run wild like a fire if you only took the time, To meet me in the garden of love I'm waiting for you Tell me what you want to do You want to make something of it?

Oh, yeah I admit it. I love you yes, I do Now what you do with it Is all.. Up to you.

A grin formed on Mulders serious features as he spun Dana around and into a two-step hold, singing at the top of his lungs and staring into her blue eyes. Dana bit her lip in an effort not to smile, but was completely unsuccessful.

"So, I have admitted I love you Dana, now what do you want to do about it?"

"Shut up and dance, Mulder. And I do mean shut up, I hope you don't sing in the shower too."

"Are you *finally* coming on to me?"

Dana glared at him as the circled the dance floor. Eventually the song ended and the lights went out on the dance floor, leaving only the street lamps and stars as light.

Dana put her arm around Mulder waist and steered him toward the steps. "It's time to go home, Mulder"

"So you *are* coming on to me." Mulder asked, leaning in for another kiss

Dana pulled back and grinned a little "Maybe later."

"Promises, promises" Mulder sighed, wrapping his arm around her shoulders.

Mulder was only able to give Dana a kiss on the cheek before they were interrupted by Kara and Charlie, who were waiting for them at the bottom of the steps. Charlie cleared his throat and looked at Mulder.

"Something you want to tell us, Sis?"

Scully turned her head towards Mulder "He's talking to me, but he's looking at you. Do you think he's confused?"

Mulder just shrugged his shoulders, unwilling to get in the middle of what appeared to be a 'brother-sister' thing.

Kara laughed at the exchange and grabbed her husbands arm, leading him in the direction of the homestead.

"Charlie, Dana is over twenty-one, and is capable of making her own decisions."  

Charlie nodded his head grudgingly

Kara looked over her shoulder at Mulder and Scully, who were walking behind them. Mulder still had his arm wrapped around Dana's shoulders, and she was rubbing his hand.

"But, Mulder...." Mulder gave a little grunt of acknowledgement, "If I find out you have hurt Dana intentionally. You won't have to worry about Charlie or Bill. I'll kill you myself." Kara gave Mulder a bright smile and turned back around.

"Gee, your family really knows how to make a guy feel welcomed." Mulder commented, pulling Dana closer to his side.

"You don't have to worry about any of them Mulder" Scully said, kissing his earlobe "Cause if you hurt me, I'll kill you myself."

"And I thought my relationship with Phoebe was abusive."

"This isn't abuse, Mulder, it's fair warning."



The couples walked in a contented silence through the streets of Bennett. Christmas lights decorated the roofs and porches of the homes, and laughter seeped out on the street. When they reached home, the couples split up. Mulder and Dana going upstairs and Charlie and Kara to the back of the house, where the guest bedroom was.

Mulder followed Scully up the stairs, a little nervous.

*This is dangerous ground.*

They stopped Dana's door and Mulder leaned down to kiss her once more. Dana ran her hands through his hair, and after a moment, leaned against the door jam, her eyes still closed.

Mulder gently stroked her cheek, then whispered "Dana, I have to explain....."

Scully started to laugh softly, biting her lower lip to keep the sound from amplifying.

Mulder was a little flustered by her response "You know, women usually wait till *after* I speak before they start laughing."

Scully was still giggling as she spoke "Mulder, if you call me Dana one more time, I'm going to have to hit you, or smash your NICAP mug, or *something*. "

She took a step toward him, and there was no more than a hair-width between them. "When you first called me Scully, I hated it. But since then, it's grown on me. I've even started to like it."

Scully stood on her tiptoes and gave him a kiss. Mulder groaned a little when she broke away. "So, if you don't start calling me Scully again, I'm going to have to call this off right now."

Mulder kissed her neck "We couldn't have that, now could we *Scully*"

"Ummm, no. No we couldn't."

With considerable regret, Mulder pulled away from her. "Goodnight, Scully"

Scully raised an eyebrow.

"If I stay here for one more minute, I won't be able to leave for a very, very. ..." Scully smiled at him, and he closed his eyes.

*She is not playing fair*

"....*very* long time."

Dana took a step forward and kissed Mulder once more, deeply and slowly. Then she pulled away and took a step back, opening the door to her room.

"Good night Mulder."

Scully closed her door and Mulder leaned heavily on the railing behind him.

*She is *definitely* not playing fair.*



Mulder woke up a few hours after Scully had left him in the hallway. The blankets Marie left him had been kicked to the floor. Rubbing his face, Mulder stood up and grabbed his jeans from the floor, then walked on to the balcony.  The cool night air hit his chest and Mulder inhaled deeply. He was fully awake now, and the sun had just begun to rise.

*Still beating the sun up* Mulder grimaced a bit and stretched his hands above his head. He turned and looked at the reflection in the window where Scully was sleeping. *at least this time, they were good dreams*

Mulder walked back into his room and grabbed a black T-shirt from his bag, then walked quietly walked down the stairs to the living room. The tree lights were on and Mulder noticed that someone had already been down to play Santa.

* The stocking were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that....* One stocking caught Mulders eye. It was bright red and had a half familiar word stitched on it. Fox. He traced the stitching with his fingers. It had been carefully d one in gold thread, and Mulder's eyes shone.

"I should have told you about my mother fetish for cross-stitch."

Mulder didn't have to turn around, he knew the voice so well. "I can't believe she did this." He turned to face Scully, who was now standing within a foot of him. "She didn't have to."

Scully stood beside him and touched his hand. "She wanted to, she wanted you to feel like a part of the family." Scully reached up and caressed his face. "I think she knew before we did."

Mulder grinned "Even before you?"

Scully lead Mulder to the sofa, and they sat down. Mulder put his arm around her and snuggled in beside him, her face on his chest.

"So why are you up Scully? I'm the insomniac, not you." Mulder asked, stroking her hair.

Scully traced a pattern on his leg. "I couldn't sleep either. I kept on having the strangest dreams."

"Yeah? What kind of dreams?"

Scully stopped her tracing for a moment. "The same kind you were having."

Mulder leaned down and kissed her, and Scully responded. When they broke away from each other, Dana kept her eyes closed and ran her tongue over her lips.

"That was nice."

Kissing the top of her head and inhaling the remnants of her perfume, Mulder whispered "Very nice."

"We're going to have to do this more often."

"Come to Arizona? Yeah, I like it here too."

Dana hit him softly in the chest "Shut up and kiss me Mulder."



The two agents eventually had to come up for air. They rearranged themselves on the sofa so that Mulder's back was against the arm of the sofa and Dana was lying half on top of him. Mulder had his arms wrapped arms wrapped around her, his chin resting on the top of her head. Mulder sighed contentedly.

"Mulder."

"Umm?"

"What were you trying to say upstairs?"

Mulder stopped stroking Scully's hair for the briefest of seconds, and she shifted around so she could see him.

"I was going to explain how...How I couldn't..."

Dana's eyes sparkled "Couldn't what?"

*She's enjoying this way to much*

"I didn't want us to take things too fast."

Dana kissed Mulder on the nose then shifted back to her original position. Mulder waited for her so say something.

"You didn't think four years wasn't slow enough?"

"Shut up so I can kiss you."



The sun was still rising in the sky when the rest of the Scully family trooped downstairs. They were being lead by Adam, sleepy relations in tow. Margaret was tying a knot in her robes belt when she caught a glimpse of Mulders head on the sofa. Sighing to herself she walked over to his sleeping form, ready to wake him for the gift opening.

Instead of just Mulder on the sofa, she saw her daughter as well. They were still holding on to each other, and what ever dreams had over taken them, they were peaceful ones.

Adam grabbed his Grandmothers hand. "Does this mean Aunt Dana and Fox are boyfriend and girlfriend?"

Margaret led the small child into the kitchen, where they had gathered to make coffee for the morning festivities. "I don't know, You'll have to ask Dana when she wakes up."

Adam looked a little disappointed with the answer. "I bet if they *are* boyfriend an' girlfriend, Fox will want to play Sega with her and not me."



Dana and Mulder woke to the smell of coffee. They both sat upright and had sheepish looks on there faces when confronted by the grins that surrounded them. Mulder recovered first.

"So! Who wants to open the first gift?"

Adam yelled that he would, and Mulder watched as the boy ripped into the brightly decorated box. Mulder was still getting some strange looks from the brothers, but on the whole, the family looked pleased at the development.

Margaret appeared in front to Mulder with a cup of hot coffee.

"Dana told me you like lots of sugar. I hope it's sweet enough for you."

Mulder took the cup thankfully, and Margaret sat on the chair next to him. Dan a was helping Adam pass out the gifts under the tree. He stared at her for a while, a slight smile on his face. Then he turned back to Margaret. She too was smiling.

"Glad you two finally woke up."



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