Title: A Different Kind Of Christmas
Summary: They're different people celebrating a different kind of Christmas, but they've got each other, and that's all that matters.
The snow had been falling heavily all day - all week, for that matter, with a blizzard sweeping through the area two days ago - but it finally looked as if it was easing up a bit. Each distinctly individual snowflake - occasionally being picked up by a breath of air and falling a few centimeters off course - is smaller, and there is an obvious decrease in their numbers. It's the perfect weather for Christmas in urban Washington D.C.
It all means nothing, however, to one lonely soul as she stands at the window and watches the white specks fall from heaven; it doesn't make it a perfect Christmas. There's something...someone missing...and this isn't even D.C., for they'd left that all behind seven months ago. She remembers standing and looking out of her Georgetown apartment at the snow too many times alone, several times in the company of Mulder, a couple of times with the warmth of his arms encircling her, and once with a baby resting against her shoulder. But this, as she lives the life of a fugitive in a perfect home, on the complete opposite side of the country in some town she'd never even heard of before and silently watches the doomed drops of ice spatter against the glass panel, makes it all seem like an age ago and too nostalgic to not wish she had them all back.
Of course, the missing status of her beloved partner right now does not distil the bitter darkness that fills this new life in Freesol.
She'd awoken to find his note on the pillow five weeks ago - short, but to the point - and there'd been no word from him since. Her heart persistently assures that he wouldn't have left unless it was critical, but her brain needs to find a solid explanation, and so her torn emotions have been warring since that day, and it's practically draining everything out of her.
'I have to disappear somewhere for a little while. It's better you
Love you always, M'
'When'? More like 'if'! He'd been gone so long, she had to wonder if he was even still alive, considering the threat against them. She'd lost him three times (four if you counted his 'death' separate from his abduction) in the short space of two and a half years; explanations, promises and apologies were just not enough anymore.
After fruitlessly waiting by and searching out through the window for him for two hours, she finally turned away and moved to switch the lights off in the house, before then getting into the large double-bed he'd made sure was here before they'd arrived.
For several minutes she just lays there in the darkness, staring at the ceiling. A year ago she had done the same in her Georgetown apartment - praying for Mulder's safe return ASAP and silently wishing him a warm Christmas wherever he was. At least then, however, part of him had been sleeping in the crib not ten feet from her...their miracle had given her a reason to go on. Now she's in a strange place, with no ability to contact her family, and absolutely no idea where her son is...
Suddenly, the word 'ditchee' feels like her middle name.
"Your explanation had better be good," her sleepy voice slurred as her eyes slipped shut. "Please..."
She's swirling in a dream about the first time Mulder had driven her and William home a year and a half ago when her senses are sharply awoken by the sound of a creaking floorboard beyond the bedroom door. Her body sits bolt upright and her arm instinctively reaches for the holstered gun on the bedside cabinet.
"Who's there?" she calls out, aiming the automatic at the closed entrance. Only the silent darkness replies, so she calls out the question again before swinging her legs out of the bed and standing.
Suddenly, the door opens, though, and a silhouetted figure looms in the doorway. It's tall, but wide also - certainly nothing like the person she had longed to see standing there every second since he'd walked out five weeks ago. He's also carrying what looks like a large bag in his right hand.
"Who are you? What are you doing here?"
Still no response from the stranger as it steps toward her.
"Stop where you are, or I'll shoot!"
She's cut short as an arm wraps around her and pulls her up against the stranger's body. Of course, she struggles as hard as she can to free herself, but then the last thing she expects happens: a mouth bordered by a fluffy beard claims hers. The struggle continues for a moment or two...but then, as the visitor's tongue slips past her lips, something familiar about the feel of the kiss and the realization that the beard is fake kicks in and she reciprocates for several long seconds before pulling away a fraction.
"Mul-der?" The cautionary tone is unavoidable.
"Hey," comes his whispered reply as he gently rests his forehead against hers. "I've missed you so much...Have you been a good girl while I've been away?"
Frowning, Scully steps out of his embrace, and moves to switch on the bedside lamp, only to see her partner dressed in a complete Santa outfit - padding included. Despite the mixture of joy and anger mixing within her, she can't help but smile at how ridiculously good he looks in the costume.
"Don't tell me you got abducted by elves?"
"Yeah, from the Land Of Frohike," he smiles back, letting go of the sack and taking another step forward so that he can once again hug her.
"Mulder, this isn't funny...don't--...You walked out on me! Do you know how painful it's been? How hurt I was to wake up and find a piece of paper in your space on the bed? For all I knew, the super soldiers had taken you back! You could have been being tortured, or...or d-dead, and I wouldn't have known a damn thing about it just because you felt it was okay to assure me you'd explain all when you got back!"
The tears stinging her eyes sting Mulder's heart as he watches her fight against the desperate need to sit down or collapse on the floor. He had known what his ditch would do to her emotions straight after Deep Throat had told him where to go, but leaving her behind had been the only option, and she would never have let him go alone. He just hoped the reward would be enough to make it up to her.
In the dim light, he approaches with outstretched arms and fiercely pulls her back against him. It's been too long since he was last here...
"I'm sorry," he utters, resting his cheek against the top of her head after placing a kiss there. "I--...God, Scully, it wasn't a move I took lightly - it killed me to leave as much as (if not moreso) when I walked out on you and William...but I had to go. There was no other way."
It's his turn to step away, and as the uncomfortable tension begins to suffocate the atmosphere, Mulder goes to the bag he brought in with him. "I was hoping I could save this til later - maybe after I'd snuck into bed beside you and had the first decent night's sleep in over a month, but...I guess..." He falters and looks at the sack - unable to look her directly in the eye just yet. "I just got the most important gift for the most important person in my life..." Shrug. "Merry Christmas, Scully."
All Dana can do is stare at him with confusion creasing her worn features until she follows his gaze and stares at what she had believed to be a sack, but what is in fact a disguise. He's turned it around, and she can now see that it's nothing more than a metal frame, supporting a safety seat, which holds a child - a strawberry-blonde haired child.
Everything she's been feeling up until this point takes its toll on her senses, and as the disbelieving gasp whooshes past her lips, she finally drops to her knees, with arms reaching out toward the infant. "Mul--...Wil--...How--?...Oh, my God, William!?"
Mulder lowers himself also to the floor and lifts the boy out of the seat, smiling "See, kiddo? I told you she'd be happy." His glance flicks back to Scully, and the tears of joy streaming down her cheeks makes the pain of the last five weeks fade away. The smile on his face broadens, and there's no longer any point hiding his own tears, so he lets them fall freely. "I told you we'd get him back...I've promised time and again since that night in Roswell that it'll be okay...I figured it was time to get my ass in gear." He kisses Will's head and then carefully passes him over to her. "Excuse my language, sorry. I didn't want to leave you alone, but another of those lost to us appeared and told me where he was..." A thoughtful pause, and he strokes a hand down the soft cheek of his long-missed son. He's had two weeks on the road to enjoy being back with the miracle he had thought he'd never see again, but here, reuniting with Scully and - in turn - reuniting her with William on Christmas Day, it's like the day he was born and seeing him for the first time all over again. "I didn't realize how short my time was until I got there..."
Dana had had her eyes shut whilst cuddling her baby boy as tightly as possible since claiming possession of him from Mulder's grasp, but now she looks up - wide-eyed - as she only now thinks to ask how he recovered their son from the adopted parents.
"What do y-you mean? Mul-der, what happened to--"
His gaze drops, and she knows there's no need to finish the question.
"I found him hidden in a crawl space down in the basement...I don't know how They didn't find him, but I'm just so thankful They didn't..." Once again, Mulder reaches out to stroke an unsteady hand over the strawberry-blond hair. "He's grown so much, but to me he's...he's still a few days old..." He inches closer as she gives a slow, understanding nod of her head, and then wraps his arms around them both - rebuilding the protective wall around his family that had been smashed to pieces and left them exposed in his eleven month absence after Will's birth.
More silence as the two fugitive agents stare down at their son.
'The Truth we both know...'
They both look up at the same time, she pulls the fake white beard down away from his face, and lips meet in a slow, passionate kiss even fiercer than the one on that night a year and a half ago.
"I'm sorry I doubted you - I just got so scared I'd lost you again after all we've been through... I love you."
"Love you more..." he slurs, trying to conceal the yawn...with no success.
"Mulder, you're exhausted!"
"I drove all day and night. I had to be here today...It's our first Christmas together in three years - since before I was abducted...I couldn't--...I--...I'm fine...I just wanted to get back...to you..."
With a sad smile, Scully shakily stands - struggling a little to carry William's slightly heavier bulk. "You're not fine. Come on, you need to rest." She sits Will down in the middle of the bed, turns back to where Mulder is knelt and offers a hand to help him stand. He obliges, but just stands there staring down at her once at full height. "What?"
She's ready to think he's fallen asleep, when he suddenly lifts a hand to cup her cheek. "Our first family Christmas," he muses, smiling and briefly glancing toward William.
"Mulder, we've got no decorations...We've still got the turkey in the freezer I didn't have at Thanksgiving, but there's no dinner and trimmings to have...No gifts for William...There's nothing to make this Christmas..."
"Silly woman," comes his chuckled reply as he tenderly rubs his thumb back and forth over her skin. "We may not have the tree or the lights and ornaments, we may not have a full dinner topped with everything edible, but we have something a million times more important."
All Scully can do is frown in confusion, but then hesitantly suggests with a smile, "William?"
"Well, there is that," he beams. "But there's something more precious: each other." Yawn. "I'd happily...trade in every Christmas I've ever had - even the ones on the Vineyard with Mom, Dad and Samantha - for this one. To be able to look into the...blues of your eyes...T-to hear our child cooing to us...from across the r-room... Every pain and sacrifice and moment of loneliness was always brightened by the fact that at the end of a cellphone line, or just across the office, or walkin' by my side was the one person that...that m-made it all...worthwhile... So, we don' ne-ed derecorationses...Just...this..." He slumps as the exhaustion weighing down his body takes control, and she quickly helps him over to the bed.
"Come on, Romeo," she whispers, laying him down on the right-hand side. "Let's leave all those heavy words til a little later..."
William looks up at her and then taps a chubby fist against his father's leg several times. "Dada eep!" he cheers.
With her already broad smile reaching its maximum girth, a wide-eyed Scully snaps her head round to stare at the boy, and has to rest her palms down on Mulder's lightly snoring body to help keep her from falling flat on her face. "Oh, my God...William...Daddy Santa's just taking a little rest from all his hard work...He's a very sweet but exasperating man." With a thoughtful chuckle, she finishes removing Mulder's boots, rolls the blankets she had thrown aside at the sound of the intruder back up the bed (covering him and Will), and then carefully crawls in beside them. "I've missed you so much, sweetie," she whispers, hugging up to her two men. "Don't ever leave me again...Please..."
Mulder shifts to wrap his own arms around them, and quietly mutters, "We...won't."
No coaxing needed, Will immediately closes his eyes after the bedside lamp has been switched off, and it's not long until all three are asleep.
Later, they'll eat turkey sandwiches; the former-FBI agents will take their first steps in being parents together; William will scream with delight at the toys Mulder got on the way home, and maybe there'll be a little time to watch an old B-movie...
They're different people celebrating a different kind of Christmas that nobody else would give a glance to, but they've got Hope, Faith, their lives, and each other. That's all they need to survive, and that was all that mattered
'I don't want a lot for Christmas