Title: Lost Spirits

Author: Pattie
Feedback: patfiler@outlook.com
Archive: Gossamer. Others please ask, and I'll likely say "Yes".
Rated: PG (I said the word sexy)
Spoilers: Season 3
Category: Missing Episode (AU?)

Disclaimers: All X-Files characters, ideas, props and miscellany are owned by Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and Fox Studios. If it weren't for the internet, I would still write stories, and not make any money, and my stories are too un-Carter-like to be sued about.

Summary: Mulder and Scully suffer pre-Christmas stress. They need special help to remember the spirit of Christmas.

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, DC.
Two weeks before Christmas 1995

When Dana Scully walked into the office that morning, she had a lecture all prepared. It was bad enough that the latest cases had left her little time to shop for Christmas. What was really making her want to burn someone in effigy was the fact that Fox Mulder had accepted an invitation to the FBI Christmas party on her behalf. She slammed the office door shut, hung her coat and dropped her purse into a chair. Ready for combat, she slammed her hands on the desk and leaned across to Mulder.

Mulder was not the least bit scared. Surprised, perhaps. But not afraid. "Good morning, Scully. You know, there are less dramatic ways to express anger."

"Mulder, how could you!"

"Well, I usually play basketball or run... Well, with all this snow so early, I can't say I do much running lately..."

"Don't get sarcastic, Mulder!" She moved her angry face closer to his. "You accepted an invitation for us both to the annual Christmas Party! I had no idea I couldn't speak for myself! Then, I notice people are smiling and whispering as they see me go down the hall."

"And you don't want to go to the party, Scully?" Mulder hadn't realized she'd be offended it he accepted the invitation for both of them. "Well, we're in the same office, and I thought I'd save you a little work. I'll tell them you won't be going."

"I didn't say I wasn't going Mulder! I just don't like you doing it all for me! I can speak for myself. I might have my own date, I might have a date for somewhere else, I might even want to just ignore the whole thing. Damn, why do I bother." She sat down and resumed reading a file she had left the night before.

Mulder just sat there puzzled. *What the heck is in that head of hers?* he wondered. Did she hate Christmas parties? Did she resent his answering for her? Did she already have a date? "So, who is he?"

"Who is who?" she muttered, without looking at him.

"Your date. At least, I know in all probability you've been asked out by now."

Scully finally relaxed her tense shoulders, took a deep breath, and slowly exhaled. "They think we're an item."

"They? Who are 'they'?" Mulder folded his hands and put on his best psychologist's posture.

"People in this building. They just assume we're either involved or just 'doing it'."

That brought an uncontrollable smirk to Mulder's face. "Um, I'd be flattered if I heard the same rumor." Scully's glare told him not to be. "On the other hand, I can see where I also might be embarrassed. What do you care what they think? Rumors fly around here all the time, and I don't pay much attention. I have better things to do."

"I guess you're right. I'm sorry, Mulder. It's just getting close to Christmas, we've been busy as hell, and I'm behind on the Christmas shopping this year. I'm not really in a Christmas mood, let alone a party mood."

"Hey, it's okay to feel that way. You're stressed out. I think we all are lately. Look, Let's say we don't go to the party."

"Then they'll think we're 'doing' it. See what I mean?"

"No, but I think everybody's all hyped up about the season, and you're no exception. You have a big family to buy for and a long drive to see them. I barely speak to my mother, and there are no other relatives. It's hard on me as well. But I don't have the experience of all that hustle and bustle at the stores anymore. So, I'll tell you what: Why don't I drive you around to do your Christmas shopping?"

Scully laughed. "Right. And why don't I invite you to Christmas with my family!"

"Well, that's cute, but not necessary."

"Don't you like my family?"

"Sure. Your Mom's been really good to me, Melissa treated me like a king, and Bill treated me like a bag of rotten garbage... "

"But you wouldn't mind spending Christmas with us, would you? We're a bit crazy sometimes, there are a lot of decorations, the opening of the presents, church, the traditional feast my mother sets out ... "

Well them, what is wrong with the Christmas party here? We all work together, there's usually a pretty good buffet luncheon, and it gives us a chance to meet our co-workers without being too formal and business-like. It's the closest thing I can give you to any family of mine right now, Scully. Why can't we both go to the party?"

Scully realized there had been a flaw in her logic somewhere. Perhaps it was the feeling that Mulder had made a decision without telling her, perhaps the ridiculous rumor mill, perhaps she was just stressed out. "Let me think about it, okay, Mulder? I need some time to work this out in my head."

"The offer's still there for taking you Christmas shopping."

"Thanks. I'll consider it, and if you want to come to our house for Christmas... "

"I'd really have to think about that. Let's just get on with the day, shall we? I want to get my desk reasonably clear before Christmas. It's only three weeks away. Could you please get me the Turner file?"

"Sure. Look, I'm sorry I ragged out on you, Mulder."

"Don't worry about it, Scully. I've done enough of that to you. Maybe both of us will get a lump of coal in our stockings this year.

"Speak for yourself, Mulder."

2:15 A.M.

Dana Scully's bedroom was colder than usual that night. She awoke to find herself uncomfortably cold. When she returned from the living room with another blanket from her couch, she saw what appeared to be a young boy in her room. "Must be dreaming," she told herself," as she quickly crawled under the covers. She felt someone nudging her shoulder, as if to get her attention, and although she tried to ignore it, eventually she turned around. "What are you doing in my apartment?"

"I was sent to find out why you feel so ‘iffy’ about Christmas." A blond little boy, about eight years old, stood beside her bed with his hands in his pockets. "Seems you've got a very good like." The boy walked to Scully's dresser and looked at pictures of her mother, Melissa, Bill and Tara, Bill, Dana and Melissa in a picture of them at the beach, and looked back at Scully. "You know, most ladies your age have a husband and at least one kid by now."

"Kid, you're crossing the line. These things are very private to me. Whether I have a husband and children or not especially." Scully shut her eyes and thought perhaps trying to dream of something else would make this dream go away.

"That won't work, Miss Scully. Do you know how much time I have here. Very little. So, open your eyes and listen. You're being just as rude to me as you were to your partner yesterday."

"All right. Say your lines and then get out. I'm tired."

"Of course you're tired. Keeping up that front of yours takes a lot of energy. No wonder you're so nasty lately."

"Nasty! Listen you little... "

"Uh, uh, uh! No swearing at a kid. Stop being so snappy. I'm here to help you make things easier for yourself."

"Really?" Scully couldn't let herself believe that anyone was there--especially an eight-year-old boy.

"Yes, REALLY. It's not important what everybody thinks where you work. Besides, some of the things they say about the way you and Mr. Mulder look at each other sometimes is true. Then there's this thing about not wanting to go to that party. The fact is, you're not afraid that he's taken your power to answer for yourself. You're afraid that if people see you two together having a good time with friends, your strong, cool exterior will crumble, and you'll let your guard down around HIM! You're both a couple of lost spirits, and I'm around to help you find your Christmas spirits tonight."

Tears began to well up in Scully's eyes.

"Christmas isn't about appearances, decorations, or turkey dinner. It's about love. Not just the mushy stuff that people have when they're 'in love'. You've sacrificed for this man, and he's sacrificed for you. Well, guess who sacrificed for you two thousand years ago? A little boy. Who was born with nothing, into poverty and he had real love. That sacrifice of his was the ultimate love. You don't need to show the sexy, mushy or romantic love. Just your human love."

"Well, I guess I have been rather hard to get along with, lately."

"Lately? Try since you graduated from medical school, or since you stopped seeing that Daniel. Now, that was a good sacrifice. You knew it was wrong and you stopped it. Can't shut yourself down forever."

"Well, how... ?" Before Scully could ask a vital question, the boy was gone. She was left to think, eventually falling back to sleep.

4:10 A.M. Fox Mulder awoke to the sound on an infomercial for an all-purpose beauty cream, reached for the remote, and turned off the TV. In the light from the street that shone into his room, he could barely make out the form of a small male child, approximately eight years old. He decided it was probably someone from a commercial earlier on, and closed his eyes.

"Mister, you must really be lonely if you fall asleep on the sofa, in front of a TV every night."

Without opening his eyes, Mulder whispered, "Can we just change the channel in this dream and forget about everything?"

"For a guy with a photographic memory, you sure forget that you have trouble forgetting."

"Mulder opened his eyes and sat up. "Must have left the door unlocked. Do you live around here?"

"No. By the way, your door is locked. I think you remember locking it after you paid for the pizza. You're all alone here. Many men your age are re-evaluating their goals for home and career... "

"Yeah, at about age 33 men do that. Developmental psychology theory--the stages in life and all that crap. Who or what are you?"

"You do know, of course, that women around your partner's age are thinking over their choices, their goals, where they are right now. I think people like you two tend to get all worked up about your families or lack of family around Christmas, argue about traffic, shopping, parties, who goes to what, what to buy for everybody, but you forget what the holidays really mean."

"A few days off of work, lots of neat presents, and old sappy movies... "

"Remember when you sat down the Christmas after your sister disappeared, and stayed in your room every day of your Christmas vacation regretting you hadn't been able to keep them from taking her? Well, before you yell at me, Mister, listen to what I have to say. You felt guilty because you loved your sister. You still do, which is why you're still looking for her, and not just for her or your mother, but for you. Then there was that time after you and Phoebe broke up, then you and Diana. You decided to close yourself off to ever giving out love again. The more love the holiday involves, the more you either bury yourself in work or hide in this dark place. Well, if you don't start sharing your love, even just friendship love, you're going to end up a desperate old man. Like your father. Another lost spirit, but I'm here to help you find your Christmas spirit."

Tears began to stream down Mulder's face.

"Your partner's a grown up. She doesn't need what you think she needs. She wants you to treat her as you would want her to treat her. Basic love for one another is the idea of Christmas. And she was never spying on you."

"You're right." Mulder stood and wiped his face with his hands. "I have been kind of domineering, patronizing, and sometimes I'm still suspicious of Scully. Say, how do you know all these things about me?"

The boy ignored the question. "Some day, you're going to realize what I'm about to say is true, because you'll do it yourself, for her, for others. 'Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for another'. You have love to share. Better now than never. Not just the kind you were watching on that TV earlier. This love never dies, and you never run out of it. Every time you show it, it gets replaced."

"This is a dream." Mulder closed his eyes and shook his head. "Too many Christmas specials on lately." When he didn't hear the boy speak, he opened his eyes. "Hey! Where'd you go?"

The boy was no longer there. But there was a note left on the coffee table that Mulder could barely read in the dim light that came through his living room window. It read:

"Ask her to the party again. Oh, and don't tell her this, but Billy was here."

"Who's Billy?" Mulder wondered. He lay back on the couch, smiled, and slowly went back to sleep.

J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, DC.
The Next Day at 8:30 A.M.

Mulder nearly fell over in shock when he saw that Scully had arrived at the office earlier than he had. There was a fresh pot of coffee ready, and Scully was reading some email.

"Good morning, Mulder."

"Good morning, Scully. Look at all the snow we had last night. It looks like we're in for a white Christmas." Mulder pulled a candy cane from his pocket and placed it on the desk. "An early Christmas present, Scully."

Scully seemed so relaxed. Mulder seemed relaxed as well. "Thanks, Mulder. About yesterday... "

"Yeah, I'm sorry."

"I was about to say the same thing. Look, I don't think we should stay away from that party," Scully said, as she spun the candy cane around on the desk, not looking at Mulder. "They might think we're rude. Worse yet, snobs, if we don't... I mean we really should... "

"Sleep well last night, partner?" Mulder had a look Scully had never seen before.

"Uh, yeah. Well, I mean, I feel all right."

"Me too." He smiled. "Even if I didn't sleep much, I feel great. May I escort you to the party, Agent Scully?"

"Yes. That would be just the thing to start the season."


Author's Note: Written for The Nursery Files Choose Your Own Christmas/Hanukkah Challenge:

A Holiday (pick one) Christmas

Setting (pick one) A Christmas between 1992 and 2002 (series AU or missing scene) (I used 1995)

Premise (pick one or more)

Holiday shopping isn't easy (Mulder offered to drive Scully to shop) A strange child teaches a character something about the meaning of the holiday ("Billy" visits both Mulder and Scully in the night)

Required elements (use all) A juvenile character (one or more) ("Billy" their nocturnal visitor) A Christmas stocking or menorah must be mentioned (Mulder and Scully's stockings) Snow, or the dismay that there isn't any (Mentioned it twice) A holiday treat or tradition (Scully turkey dinner, candy cane) Allowable characters (use any) Fox Mulder, Dana Scully,

Other Characters:

(Brief mention of Young Dana, Melissa and Bill Scully Jr., Margaret Scully.)

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