Title: Just Mommy & Me And Mr Potato Head
Extra: spoilers from episodes Christmas Carol and Emily. Alternative Reality.
Author's Notes: Okay, so, this fic is a little strange, I know, but I really wanted to offer you a little something for this Christmas and once I had exams I wasnít able to finish it until now. Iím sorry if I skipped an important moment to you, but I think I have the necessary to understand the plot. At least, I didnít block with them! =P
Summary: Emilyís first Christmas after becoming a Scully.
December 24th, 1998
"Close your eyes!"
"Oh... itís a surprise! Címon, close it..."
A sigh. A roll eyes. Less than a second and her eyelids closed. No one could ever tell that she wasnít able to take all her requests!
"Okay... you can open them now!"
Once again, she granted her wish, in expectation. She couldnít help but to giggle when she noticed the necklace made with noodles, still shining due to the inks she had used to paint them. Behind her "surprise," the little one bestowed her with a tender and childish smile.
"Itís beautiful, Emily!" Dana said, while feeling a new and warm sensation sprouting on her chest. "You made it?"
Emily nodded with her blonde head.
"Yes. Aunt Tara gave me the idea. She did the same with her kids from kindergarten!"
"Ah, now I see why Aunt Tara finished the noodle stock at her home..."
"Itís for you! Itís for you to use on todayís dinner!"
Dana focused her attention at the necklace that the little girl Ė her daughter Ė was offering her. No doubt it wouldnít be her first choice for such a moment, for any moment, to be true. However, once she couldnít destroy her joy, she removed her red hair from her neck and tied up the loose points around it. The showy red, blue and green from the inks werenít a match to her chosen sweater cream tones.
Funny... it doesnít look that bad!
"You look beautiful, Mommy!" praised Emily, with a special glow on her blue eyes. How could she ever doubt those eyes?
It had been a year since everything had happened.
Three hundred and sixty five days since that young girl with blonde hair and doll face had entered her life in such a special way.
Eight thousand, seven hundred and sixty hours experiencing the most sublime of feelings.
She couldnít forget the initial confusion over the undeniable truth, the shock when she found something much more terrible than everything she had ever thought, her despair when she realized she was about to loose her once more after she had just found her.
Doctors had cut her wings, they had stolen her hope on a miracle. Dana herself had crushed at some point; she had lain down next to Emilyís fragile and feverish body and, holding her cross hard on her hands, she had asked Him why Ė why them, why now? In that night, she got no answers; she didnít even noticed when fatigue won and she fell asleep, lulled by the rhythm of heir hearts, beating as one. But on the next morning, when a hand placed on the top of her head brought her back to the world and she was convinced that it belonged to a nurse who had come to tell her that they had reached the end, she woke up and, surprisingly, found Emily staring back at her. Her little hand was caressing her tarnished fire-red hair in a search for attention. Once she got it, in a low and forced voice, the little girl asked for her favorite cookies.
Could a prayer save a lost child? Could a miracle last for a lifetime? Actually, Dana didnít want to find an answer to her questions. Some days later, she brought Emily back from the hospital, leaving behind a hand full of astonished specialists, who couldnít believe on her recover. No, she wasnít cured Ė hardly she would ever be. But relapses were never so serious again and not for once she had to spend a night at the hospital again. Without thinking twice, Dana took her from every experimental project she was part of and gave her clinical case to old Med School colleagues with whom she was able to establish enough confidence ties. And when the social assistant told her that she was about to testify for her at the custody audience... Dana simply felt that, for once in her life, things were actually going honestly okay.
Wining Emilyís custody and signing every legal document that established that she was now her own daughter were great moments that took the same effect as a double rollercoaster trip. Her entrance at a life used to its own proper and solitary rhythm turned it upside down. But she felt herself ready for it. For once, she forgot her pride and asked for an extra hand next to her mother, who immediately came to make all the transition easy for her new granddaughter, and asked for Skinnerís understanding, which turned possible for her to find a balance between her work and her new post. She knew that in time things would change once more and she would have to take new and hard decisions for Emilyís well-being. But right now she was determined to live for the present, and only for the present.
A knock at the door made her wake up from her momentary trance. When she realized, Emily was already running to it, screaming like crazy:
"Let me open it, let me open it!! It must be Fox!"
She wanted to tell her again not to call him Fox. He doesnít like being called Fox. Then she saw him smiling to Emily even after hearing the "forbidden name" coming out from her mouth.
Maybe it wasnít a problem to him.
"FOX!! You came!"
"Of course I came! I was invited by a beautiful princess, how could I refuse it?"
Without thinking twice, she stretched her arms and let Mulder take her to hold her strongly against himself. Peeking over his shoulder, Emily noticed the card bag he was carrying with him.
"You brought presents?" she asked, puzzled.
"Santa got it all wrong, he left these ones at my home but labels say theyíre for you and mom..." Mulder shrugged with a smile and faced his work partner, who was observing both of them at some feet away. "Iíve always said that the old man was getting a little blind!"
"Santa brought presents before mid-night?" Emily seemed so happy with her new discover.
"He likes to start his work a little earlier. But no... you can only open them tomorrow!"
Putting a disappointed little girl at the floor, Mulder blinked at Scully before entering at the apartment. She shut the door with a smile on her lips.
To Emily, her new family was a lot larger and different from her previous one. For the first time, she knew what it was like to have a grandmother, which to her was someone who baked her cinnamon cookies, she had uncles and aunts Ė uncle Bill and aunt Tara, next to whom she stayed most of times when mom had to work, and uncle Charlie, who lived in another town but with whom she had even talked over the telephone Ė and a baby cousin, Matthew, whose first word had been Emmy. Her new mother was very different from mother Roberta, but she gave her all the love and attention she was used to, which was everything that mattered to her.
And, of course, her new family was never complete without Fox Mulder.
Fox Mulder was somewhat similar to father Marshall. He also liked to offer her presents, take her to the fair, tickling her tummy and read her stories with enchanted princes and princesses. Once, when she got sick, Fox had stayed next to her bed and had told her that her favourite teddy bear was the only doctor who could heal her cold with kisses. However, Fox Mulder didnít live at the same house as her and mother Dana, she had never seen them kissing on the mouth or walking hand in hand, just like it had happened with mother Roberta and father Marshall. Actually, the only time she had called Fox "dad" her mom had told her that Mulder wasnít her father, only a friend, a great friend for both of them.
But on her innocent mind, Emily couldnít understand how in that family there was no space for someone she missed so much; thatís why she was ready, whether she had or not their authorization, to find a substitute on the only person who was the most similar to her late daddy. And who else could have been?
"It smells good!" Mulder said, while taking his coat and walking through the apartment, at ease. "I feel guilty, Scully! Itís not fair for you to cook for all of us!"
"Oh... it was my choice, remember?"
"Even so. You donít need to be scared of me, I may not be perfect with domestic work but I swear I wouldnít destroy your kitchen!"
Scully smiled once more. By the way she lowered her head, she seemed a little embarrassed with the environment around her.
"Well, maybe you can help me now!" Walking towards the dinner table already covered with the towel, Dana approached the wooden cupboard and started taking her dinner service, the one she barely used. "Can you start laying the table while Iím finishing dinner?"
"I want to lay the table!" Emily asked, running after her mom. "Can I lay the table?"
"We can lay the table together! Címon, Doll Face!"
With a warning look, as if she was scared to see them practicing juggling with the dishes, Scully returned to the kitchen, where she had been all afternoon working on the dinner with Emily. Mulder started taking the dishes from the cupboard and cleaned each one of them with a wet cloth.
"Fox?" called the little one while putting every piece he handled her at the table.
"I did something for you!"
"Oh really? Iím touched... honestly, I am!"
"Iíll show you, wait a minute!"
Leaving him alone, Emily ran to her bedroom and came back in the next second with a paper sheet on her hands. Mulder placed the cloth over the table to receive his present.
"Itís a drawing!" he laughed. "Youíre a girl full of talents, Doll Face!"
"Do you know who they are?"
Mulder observed the three colourful figures in a green scenario, under a radiant summer sun. In the middle, with some yellow traces as hair, he was sure it was the artistís own painting of herself. On her left side, a pretty similar figure but with red hair Ė certainly, it was Scully. And on the opposite side, a third group of forms. On his chest, Mulder felt his heart rate rise. He could almost swear the brown haired thing with green eyes was a drawing of himself.
"Itís lovely, Doll Face!" he sighed, touched by her gift. "You and mom are so look alike!"
"And you! This one looks like you, donít you think?"
"Yeah... actually, Iím even more handsome than in real life!"
Emily smiled and rolled her eyes to the floor, as if uncomfortable. However, the glow at her eyes seemed to disappear once she faced him again, noticing the strange expression on his face.
"Donít you like the drawing?"
Mulder moved his head. Afraid that this situation could crush the little girlís Christmas happiness, he tried to change her mind fast:
"Of course I do, Doll Face! In fact, I love your drawing!"
"But you seem sad..."
"Iím not sad, Iím just...". He shrugged, biting his lower lip. How to explain it to such a young girl? "Itís funny, you know? No one has ever drawn me a single thing!"
"Ah, but I like drawing!" she smiled, seeming to return to her usual energy. "Do you want me to make you some more? Then you can take them to your office... you have an office, donít you? My other daddy always took my drawings to his office!"
For the first time since she had entered his life, Mulder noticed she was referring to her previous family without a trace of sorrow in her voice.
"Do you miss your other parents very much?" he asked, praying inside that his curiosity wouldnít open wounds that possibly werenít even healed.
The little one shrugged, without looking at him:
"Just a little. But theyíre with the Angels now, theyíre fine!". Her blue eyes, shinning like two precious stones, met his. "I still have mommy. And I still have you!"
"You two are impossible!" they heard Dana Scully behind them, with a voice tone that mixed despair and amusing. "I asked you so little and you canít even lay a table?"
"Why donít you like being called Fox?"
Mulder rolled his eyes to Scully, who shrunk on her sofa and pretended to not know a thing about what her daughter was talking about.
"Itís a stupid name!" he said, with a grimace. "If it was Lion or Tiger... but Fox? Whatí so special about foxes?"
"I like foxes!" Emily raised her head from the drawing she was working on. "They seem like big cats with huge and beautiful tails. And they fur colour is the same as mommyís hair!"
"Maybe mommy was a fox in a previous life!"
Without wanting to participate at the conversation, Scully turned her face to her work partner, with a frown. He looked at her from the corner of his eye and gave her a sly smile.
"The other day mommy called you Spooky!" the little one continued, without noticing their looks exchange. "Fox, whatís a Spooky?"
"It seems like itís me! A lot of people from my office like to call me that!"
"What?" Emily made a face to his comment. "I donít like it not even a bit! I think they should call you Mr. Potato Head! Itís better for you! And itís prettier!"
"Donít say it near them, youíre going to give them new ideas!"
The clock over the fireplace announced the ten oíclock. The little girl lifted her chin, knowing exactly what that sign meant. It was her time to go to bed, today, because it was a special night, an hour later than usual. Dana lifted up from her place, stretching her hand to her daughter.
"Címon... Doll Face!" with a smile, she blinked at Mulder, who was still sitting at the couch behind her. "Time to sleep, the earlier you go to bed, the sooner Santa will come! Kiss Mulder goodnight!"
Obediently, she got up from the floor and ran to her play mate, hugging him around his neck to kiss him on his cheek. Her colour pencils and the paper sheet stood forgotten at their place, but for once Dana didnít mind with the mess and bended over to catch them.
"Good night, Fox!" she said in a tight hug.
"Good night, Doll Face. Sweet dreams!"
"Will you be here tomorrow? Maybe we all could go together have lunch at Uncle Bill and Aunt Taraís!"
Scully couldnít help but to giggle once she noticed Mulderís face towards the proposition, but she covered her mouth with her hand. At the right time, with the proper facial expressions, she actually could laugh with the eternal rivalry between him and her oldest brother.
"Maybe some other day!" Mulder put a finger on Emilyís nose. "My mother wouldnít be happy if I left her alone at Christmas Day!"
"You have a mommy too?!" she exclaimed, excited with her discover. "Why havenít I met her yet?"
"Good question! One of these days weíll pay her a visit. I think sheíll be very happy to meet you!"
"Yes, yes..." Emily waved a last time before running after her mother. "Bye, Fox!"
"Brush your teeth before going to bed!" Dana was already waiting for her next to the bathroom door. "Do you need help?"
She gave her a no as an answer and took her white and pink teeth brush. Leaving her alone Ė after all, she understood the need of independence that she was already noticing on her daughter Ė Scully went to the girlís room and started opening her bed. It was a cold night and she was afraid that the blankets already in there wouldnít be enough. So, she opened the press and took a rug from the first shelves, which she added to Emilyís bed.
"Iím leaving you this in here in case itís cold tonight, okay?" she said once she felt the little girl entering the room. "Anyway, if you need me, call me! You know I always listen to you, you know it, right?"
Emily knew. It had been like that all the time, since those days when she had been at the hospital until now. If she woke up at night with a nightmare, mother Dana was always there next to her, holding her hand, telling her that everything would be okay in a second. And that always gave her a strong feeling of safety, something very important for her, especially since what had happened to her previous parents.
"Mommy!" she called when she was already laying in bed, covered to her chin, by the lamp light. "Are you sad?"
Dana was caught in surprise. Why was she asking her such a thing?
"Me, sad?! Of course not! Why do you ask that?"
"Youíre strange today, since Fox arrived! You seem so sad..." Her eyes suddenly opened, like if she had found the answer to her question. "Mommy, I like Fox, but I also love you very, very, very, very much!"
"Oh, honey, I know that, donít worry!" With a tender smile, Dana caressed her face. "Actually, Iím very happy to see you two to close to each other! Itís something very important to me!"
"You like Fox very much, donít you?"
Her eyes met hers. Dana knew exactly what Emily was implying with such a question. She was aware of the fact that she had adopted Mulder as her new father. And who could judge her? She was so lost in that fantasy of hers that no warning could change her mind. And, to be honest, the truth was that Scully herself wasnít very comfortable with the idea of making all go away. The real explanation was too complicated to be explained and understood. Everything would happen by its time. On the other hand, deep down inside, even though she wouldnít think much about it, she felt a certain relief and even a little hope that someday things would be different and the three of them would know a new reality together.
"Yes, Emily, I do!" A kiss on her warm forehead and she turned off the lamp. "Nice dreams, honey!"
Dana never closed her girlís room door and that night wasnít an exception. With a last look to her little angel, already with her eyes closed, she turned her back and returned to the living room, where Mulder was still waiting for her, while looking at Emilyís new drawing.
That was why none of them knew that, seconds after her mother had left the room, Emily sat at her bed and, looking around to make sure she wasnít alone, she rolled her eyes to the dark ceiling and whispered to it:
"Santa, can you hear me?" The fact that she didnít get an answer didnít convince her. She knew that Santa was able to hear everyone and everything, wherever he was at the moment. "Please... donít forget the special present I asked you... please... donít forget it!"
The crackle from the fireplace was the only sound to break the silence between them both. Sitting at opposite sofas, Mulder and Scully seemed to try everything to avoid each otherís looks. A not so common situation for them which was starting to mess with their minds and their spirits.
For Mulder, used to another kind of feelings, it was impossible to stay like that.
"I enjoyed the dinner! Honestly!" he said, decided to break the ice. "To someone whoís not used to celebrate Christmas, it was a nice change of setting!"
"Emily insisted!" Suddenly, Dana realized that her words could be misunderstood and tried to justify them. "I mean, I never wanted to bother you. I know you donít care for this kind of things. But... Iím very grateful for you to come!"
He smiled at her. That fragile and scared smile that she knew well enough to know that something weird was happening with them.
"It was a pleasure! I had much fun!" Mulder looked around and his attention focused at the window to the main street. No one had noticed yet that had started snowing. "Emily is a great kid! Youíre doing an amazing job with her!"
Scully could never know how much her eyes shined with this sentence.
"Well" she started, feeling that there was only a way to get that weight out of her chest. "you have been a help from Heaven! I donít know what I would do without all of you, but you, Mulder... you didnít just made everything easier at the Bureau, you helped me here with her, you made this change a lot easier to both of us. Youíre so great with kids, Mulder, they trust you! Emily loves you! And Iím very grateful for that too!"
He didnít answer her. He wasnít very good to deal with all the praising when he felt it wasnít a good moment to start with his typical jokes.
On the other couch, Scully looked at her perfect nails. She didnít like what she was about to admit.
"I may have to leave the X-Files!" she said, asking herself how was she able to speak when everything was tearing apart inside her. "Being a FBI Agent is too stressful, it takes a lot of my time... and now, with Emily, I have other priorities! I still love my job, but... things change! I changed! I must put her first in everything I do!
"I know!" Mulderís grave voice scared her. She wasnít ready for him to break the silence like he did. "I was getting myself ready for this. And Iím not holding it against you, Scully! I understand your choice! I just wanted you to know that... it has been a great ride! You were my best partner in years!"
For the first time in that night, their eyes met. She had never noticed how green his eyes were, even by the fragile light coming from the fireplace.
"But I hope you two to visit me!" he continued, like if nothing had interrupted them. "My... our office looses its life when youíre not around! And little Emily still has so much to learn about life..."
"Yeah, but donít overreact, Mulder! By the first night she wakes up screaming in terror because of Flukeman or the cockroach that ate Cincinnati or whatever, Iím going to kick your ass, Spooky!"
They laughed together. Impressive how things could alternate between two extreme opposites when they were alone.
Then Mulder looked at his watch and he stood up suddenly. She already knew what he was about to say:
"Itís getting late! Itís almost mid-night and you need to get up early for your Christmas lunch..." he started, confirming her suspicions. "Do you need anything?"
"No, no... well..."
Scully got up too. Mulder was already walking towards the entrance hall, searching for his coat. Once she reached him, he was already buttoning up the first buttons.
"Is it me or itís cold as Hell tonight?" he joked when he noticed her look.
"Be careful out there. Itís snowing and youíre a little wild while driving..."
"Iím always careful!"
They looked at each other again. The clock over the fireplace couldnít choose a better time to announce mid-night. The magical hour. Santa Claus was coming...
Mulder offered her a smile. Scully felt as if it was the best present he could offer her that night.
"Merry Christmas, Scully!"
"Merry Christmas, Mulder!"
It wasnít supposed to happen. It was the perfect moment for him to turn his back and leave, leaving her alone at the beginning of such a special day to her. But once she felt him coming closer, she knew nothing would happen as predicted.
Mulder embraced her in his arms and held her strongly against his chest. She wasnít sure why, but she always felt safe next to him, like if nothing could hit her. Like if hope was something that she could never lose. And then, he lowered his head towards hers and kissed her softly on her lips. Everything happened so fast that Scully didnít have another reaction besides closing her eyes and let herself go. She didnít felt her heart going mad, she didnít felt the weight disappearing, she didnít even felt herself caressing his back, searching for all, searching for nothing.
When she finally realized it, it was over.
She opened her eyelids and discovered his face, closer than ever. For some reason, Scully believed that Mulder had never seemed so serene or so good-looking. Without being able to resist it anymore, her lips shaped in the form of a warm and beautiful smile. He had never seen her smiling like that, not to him, not to anyone.
Mulder came closer to her face once more. They were now so close that their nose tips were already touching each other. His voice was to low she had to try hard to hear his whisper:
"Thought you wouldnít offer me such a thing this Christmas!"
Emily rubbed her arms hard in an attempt to rid herself of the cold. She knew Santa must be coming, she had heard the clock announcing mid-night, announcing his visit.
She had exposed her doubts to her mother some days ago. Do you think Santa knows Iím here? Do you think someone sent him my new address? Mother Dana had tried to calm her down: of course he knew, Santa knew everything, after all! But her firm voice tone hadnít been enough to calm her down that night. She could barely sleep with the simple idea that it was possible for Santa to leave her presents at her previous home and not the new. And which Christmas would be that if she hadnít the typical process of opening presents in the morning?
She walked through the corridor, she entered at the deserted living room. The illuminated tree was in there, just like how she had seen it last time. Foxís card bag with presents was still abandoned at the same place where he had left it. Where was Santa?
Five steps through the cold floor. Why had she forgotten her slippers, anyway? She noticed it was snowing outside and felt a chill running through her spine. She only hoped Santa had a heater on his sleight, one big enough for him and his reindeers.
Poor Santa, working with this cold...
Some strange shadows caught her attention, causing her to stretch her neck in an attempt to understand what was happening at the entrance hall. Her eyes couldnít see much through the dark. She noticed two arms and two hands.
And then two forms she knew so well... but...
Emily closed her eyes and opened them again in the next second. And then the Christmas treeís lights went off to turn on again with a new pattern. In that moment, she saw them. Mother Dana. And Fox. Hugging each other. Kissing each other. Mother Dana and Fox as she had once seen mother Robert and father Marshall.
Caught in surprise, Emily totally forgot what had made her get up from bed and returned to her room, the faster she could without making much noise. And after lying on her bed once more, she covered her blonde head with the blankets and started giggling while remembering what she had seen.
After all, one more year had passed and she still hadnít meet Santa... but at least now she was sure that her special present hadnít been forgotten!
A/N: I dedicate this fanfiction to sweet GiAnderson, dear friend and compatriot that I know from several communities dedicated to the best TV show from this world and beyond. She had her birthday on Dec 9th and no, I didnít forget it; I was just drowning myself in the terrible world of cardiac physiology! XD