Title: A Moose and Squirrel Christmas
Author: dlynn
Written Dec. 1999. Revised Dec. 2000
Rating: PG
Category: STORY, UST, GENTLE HUMOR
Archiving: Revised for Gossamer. Anyone else, just let me know so I might visit. Feedback: dlynn1550@my-deja.com
Spoilers: very slight for unnatural, three of a kind, FTF

Summary: A Christmas bet gets way out of hand. The episode Millennium doesn't exist in this world.

Author's Notes: REVISED. A few have written and asked for Hickey Claus in this season of angst. So I dusted him off and spruced him up. I dare you not to whistle Blue Christmas as you hit the Mall today. Oh ... and if you spot Hickey Claus in your travels, you get bonus points. But the jackpot winner goes to the one who finds Mulder ... sigh. Disclaimer: As always, Mulder, Scully, the Lone gunmen, or anything else pertaining to the X-files, are not mine. Fox, CC and 1013 are sole proprietors. I'm just playing with them. I also don't have anything to do with MIB, Barbie, Pokemon, "The King" or any other possible trademark I've infringed upon.


CHAPTER ONE: A BLUE CHRISTMAS

A SATURDAY IN DECEMBER EARLY EVENING

"Mulder, I need to stop at the mall on the way home."

Looking over at his partner seated in the passenger seat of their car, Mulder grimaced. Obviously, she had lost her mind. There was no way Dana Scully was actually suggesting they go cruise the mall.

Seeing his perplexed expression, Scully continued. "I'm serious Mulder. I need to pick up a Christmas gift for my godson. I'll be seeing him tomorrow, and I haven't had a chance to shop. Someone I know keeps dragging me all over creation."

"Fine, Scully. I'll just drop you home. I'm sure you'll still have plenty of time. All the malls have extended holiday hours."

"What? You don't want to go with me? Mr. G-man can brave monsters and aliens but can't handle a few holiday shoppers?" Scully gave him the evil eye. "Mulder, you're a wuss."

"Hey, Scully, watch where you wave that word."

Special Agent Dana Scully was enjoying this. She knew from past experience, Mulder hated shopping. In fact he hated malls with a passion, ranking them up there with manure detail as far as he was concerned. She was sure that's why he barely acknowledged her birthday every year. To remember it would mean he had to buy a gift. To buy a gift meant he might actually have to step foot in a department store.

But he owed her. If it weren't for her partner, she would have already done this chore. He was the one dragging her clear across country to investigate another unsubstantiated UFO sighting. If he hadn't orchestrated this little impromptu excursion, she wouldn't be scrambling at the last minute.

Still trying to find a way out, Mulder tried negotiating.

"Scully, look, I'll swing by your place, drop you off, then go whip out the case report so you don't have to deal with it. You can enjoy your day tomorrow without worrying about Monday's paperwork."

"Sounds great, Mulder."

Putting his turn signal on, Mulder maneuvered into the left lane. This was great. Without too much effort on his part, he was going to get out of this. In fact, he'd planned to do the report anyway. It was the least he could do after another wild goose chase.

"Oh, Mulder. Turn left at the next light. The mall's two blocks up," Scully directed, looking sideways at her confused partner.

"I thought you said it was okay to drop you at home?"

"No, I said it was great that you were going to do the paperwork. Thanks, Mulder, I appreciate your making the offer. Now turn left on Jensen."

Realizing she was determined, Mulder got into the left turn lane. There was no sense arguing. It would be wasted breath, and he'd just end up giving in anyway. Already caught in the holiday traffic, Mulder winced envisioning the hordes of people they'd encounter. It might not be the busiest shopping day of the year, but it was sure a first cousin.

Pulling into the crowded parking lot, he joined the line of cars circling the lanes looking for an empty space. This was ridiculous. He was not going to waste time when he had perfectly good FBI credentials he could slap in the window. In essence, like the two-ton elephant, he could park it wherever he wanted.

Ah, government perks!

"Don't even think about it, Mulder." Scully's voice reached himas sorted through the the glove compartment for their parking permit.

"You're kidding, Scully. There's no way I'm gonna find anything out here. I'd have a better chance getting old Smokey to try Nicorette."

"We can walk; I don't mind. It'll feel good after that long plane trip." Scully held her hand out, demanding the parking permit.

With a grimace, he slapped into her palm and she placed into the glove box.

Swinging once more into traffic, Mulder mouth was tight as he tried not to say what he really thought of Scully's decision. After traversing several rows and being stopped for the umpteenth time by another car waiting for the perfect spot to open up, Mulder mumbled under his breath, "A few holiday shoppers.. right. A few thousand is more like it. Of all the ...."

Scully grinned with unconcealed delight at his predicament. "Did you say something Mulder?"

Squirreling his mouth into what somewhat resembled a smile, Mulder blew past his lips, "No, Scully, just thinking how this might be fun after all."

Exuding innocence, Mulder decided that if he were going to have todo this, he might as well enjoy himself. Dana Scully was going to rue the day she suggested shopping 'til you drop.


"Mulder, I can't believe you did that!"

"What, Scully? All I did was park the car. It's survival of the fittest out there, naturalism at its highest order, dog eat dog, only the strong survive ...and I'm a big dog." Mulder justified, shaking slushy, sooty snow from his trouser leg.

Arms crossed, Scully watched his little dance as Mulder attempted to clean his shoes. He had stepped into a deceptively deep pile of snow. Consequently, his pants leg and shoe were drenched. The way he was shaking his leg around, she almost expected a small, slushy yellow puddle to appear beneath the 'Big Dog.'"

Seeing her inquisitive expression, Mulder stopped mid- shake, his leg poised in the air. "What, Scully? Am I doing this wrong?"

"Does the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes" mean anything to you, Mulder?"

"Yeah, chick flick, Scully. It means chick flick."

"It means I hope your car insurance is current. That woman was ticked. I saw hostile intent."

Mulder looked over his shoulder into the night. He thought of Fried Green Tomatoes and Cathy Bates ramming her car into the parking space thieves flashy vehicle, teaching the perky co-eds a lesson in parking lot etiquette. Surely Scully was joking. He hadn't really done anything wrong. He'd seen the space from the aisle over, hustled around the corner and zipped in just as another car was signaling to take the space. All's fair in love and holiday parking, right?

Turning back to his partner, Mulder noticed she'd walked on ahead. She was headed toward the Salvation Army bell ringer. Of course, his Scully would put a buck in the pot.

Reaching inside his overcoat, Mulder pulled out his wallet. Time for redemption, he thought pulling out a bill. Great. All he had was a twenty. He'd meant to stop at the cash machine, but he had forgotten in their haste to get home.

"Uh, Sir, do you have change?" Mulder asked the weary Salvation Army worker.

The bell ringer looked as though it had been a very long day. His cheeks were flushed, his nose was windburned, and his ears stung where his knit cap didn't quite reach to cover their tips. He was tired, hungry and feeling foolish from ringing a silent bell for the last several hours.

The clapper had been removed - shopping mall policy, too many people had complained about the traditional bells. So holiday "ringers" were forced to shake silent instruments. What a joke. Where was everyone's holiday giving spirit?

Now this guy, who looked like he had just stepped out of GQ, needed change. Did he look like an automated teller? Did it say First National Bank of Schmuck across his forehead? Remember the season he told himself for the umpteenth time that day. Be nice.

"Yeah. What you need?"

Mulder handed him the twenty. "Keep $5.00."

Counting $15.00 out in change, the bell ringer decided Mr. Fancy pants wasn't so bad after all. Earlier in the day some other jerk had wanted him to change $20.00. Then he'd walked off, pocketing the cash in its entirety.

Seeing the smile the pretty red head bestowed on Mr. GQ, the bell ringer figured he'd just helped get someone's butt out of the doghouse. Catching Mulder's eye, he experienced a moment of fraternal bonding knowing the male of the species had just scored one in the dance of life.

Now that's helping your fellow man.

Mulder walked to where his partner was holding open the mall door.

"Smooth move, Chief. I bet you take change from offering plates too."

Having enough good sense to look sheepish, Mulder shrugged, entering the bustling mall.

"Hey, Scully, I work for Uncle Sam. I figure I'm just one paycheck short of a budget deficit."

"Mulder, you're an ass."

With a gleam in his eye, Mulder turned his back. Bending, he looked over his shoulder at her and suggestively wiggled his butt. "And a nice 'piece of ash it is', ain't it Agent Scully?"

"Well I wouldn't mount it over the fireplace, but I could see itwrapped in holiday trimmings beneath my tree." Scully studied his derriere with clinical detachment.

Mulder heard a laughing snort. Looking up he spotted an old, gray haired grandma enjoying his public display way too much. Seeing laughter in her eyes, along with her raised eyebrows, he couldn't help but feel better about his embarrassing exhibition.

"I wouldn't throw him out of bed for having cold feet," Grandma said, smiling the smile of someone who had loved long and well. Reaching up gently, Mulder kissed her cheek and whispered against her ear, "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, young man, she's a beauty," the woman whispered back.

Throwing his head back in a delighted laugh, Mulder slung his arm over Scully's shoulder, giving his partner a gentle squeeze. She was a beauty, and sometimes it felt so good to be alive.

"Off, McDuff! We have holiday cheer to capture!" Mulder began to jauntily whistle jingle bells' - out of tune - as he piloted Scully through the jam packed mall entrance.

The inside of the mall looked likes a Tim Burton film; everywhere Mulder's gaze landed, he spied garish displays. Not an inch existed that remained clear of holiday trappings.

"Don't stand still too long, Scully. They'll turn you into one of these smiling animatrons." Mulder peered into one of the storefront windows. He watched swirling skaters glide by on fake ice. "I'd swear that's Burleson from accounting. See him? - the little guy in red tights doing the fancy pirouette."

Not wanting to humor her partner's manic phase, Scully tried desperately not to smile. He didn't need any extra encouragement. It was obvious that he was going to make this evening a challenge.

The concept was simple. Mulder was paying her back.

Taking off at a fast clip, Scully steered a course to the mall directory. She perused the text, searching for the little numbered square that signified her objective.

"So what are we looking for, Scully? What's the "gotta have" toy this year?"

Ignoring him while dodging strollers and overburdened shoppers, Scully set a course for the toy store. Narrowly avoiding a harried mother trying to untangle herself from her toddler's safety harness, Scully stopped short. Mulder, whose attention had been in the Victoria Secret's window, stepped on the back of her shoe, pushing down her heel.

"Damn it, Mulder, that hurt."

"Sorry, Scully, didn't see you stop." He helped her to an empty bench where she could sit and fix her shoe. Of course it didn't hurt that said bench was directly across from the object of his distraction.

"Hey, Scully, I've been very good this year. Suppose Santa will put one of those in my stocking?" Mulder pointed to the mannequin dressed in the emerald green merry widow with matching garters.

"Personally, I think you'd look better in the navy blue, Mulder. It'd go better with your eyes," Scully suggested as she got up from the bench, resuming her focused trek down the aisle.

"Yeah, well, I'm not sure it would do anything for my figure."

Gotta give her credit. She's lobbing 'em back as fast as I can serve 'em. Agent Scully was in fine form. Passing through the food court, Mulder's stomach rumbled, reminding him that it had been an awfully long time since lunch.

"Scully, does this holiday excursion have a dinner show. I could sure use a little sustenance." Mulder salivated on the glass at the Cinnabon store, practically leaving streaks of saliva as he panted.

Grabbing his arm, she tugged him away from the bakery window. Cinnabon's were her weakness, and she was not going to give in to that temptation.

"We'll eat after we hit the toy store. I'll feel better once I get Brian something. And if you're a good boy, Mulder, Dana will buy you a happy meal when we're done."

"Gee, thanks, 'Dana'."

Without further mishap, if one didn't count Mulder ogling every scantily clad mannequin from Victoria's Secret to Frederick's of Hollywood, they arrived at their destination.

The store, of course, was a zoo. Frazzled parents balanced precariously stacked boxes. Children ran through the aisles pushing every button there was to push. Canned holiday music fought to dominate over squealing children, singing Santas and talking Rugrats. Scully was determined to get out of there as quickly as possible or they were going to have to fit her with a straight jacket.

Mulder, on the other hand, was in his element. The moment he entered the store his eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas. It was amazing. He was so enamored that he couldn't figure out what to look at first.

"Hey, Scully, look at these." Mulder held up a couple of Men in Black action figures. They were thrown into the 'reduced' pile with other assorted 'no longer cool' action figures.

"We could be action figures, Scully. These guys don't have anything on us."

Ignoring her look of tolerant condescension, Mulder dangled a purple and white multi-eyed organism in front of her face.

"We've seen it all. I mean look at this thing, is that supposed to be an alien? Get real."

"I think it's an Arquillian. Although, I'd say he has a passing resemblance to something I've seen in your files."

"We're much cooler than these guys, Scully. I mean what's with these names, K and J? I'd rather pay to see a red-haired, kickbutt G-Woman in all her molded plastic glory. I'm sure we'd never end up in the 'reduced for quick sale' pile." Mulder disdainfully tossed the purple blob back on top of the toy landfill.

"Right, Mulder, and we could be accessorized."

"Exactly, Scully."

Stopping at the beginning of the Barbie aisle, Mulder grabbed NBA Barbie. "Hold the presses, Scully, forget those dinky action figures. You could be FBI Barbie, complete with trench coat, cell phone and SIG automatic.

A bored teenage girl, with younger sibling in tow, was perusing Barbie mania. Mulder couldn't resist conducting a scientific survey of one.

"Hey, kid."

The little girl looked over at Mulder. He had squatted down next to her because he realized his height could be imposing to children.She sidled up closer to her older companion, hiding behind her baggey clad sister. "I'm not supposed to talk to strangers, Mister."

Miss 'I'm too cool for school' realized she had a chance to talk to an absurdly good-looking older guy and didn't want to lose the chance.

"That's 'all right', Jenny. I'm with you so it's okay."

Giving Mulder her best grown-up smile, she continued. "I'm Sue. This is my younger sister, Jenny. What can we help you with?"

"Well, I had a question for Jenny. I was just wondering if she'd want an FBI Barbie? You know, one that looked like her?" Mulder pointed to and extremely embarassed Scully.

"Well. She's pretty, but what's FBI?" Jenny looked confused.

Wanting to show how mature she was, Sue explained. "You know, like in that movie Men in Black. They hunt space aliens and stuff."

Scully mumbled under her breath. "Out of the mouths of babes."

"Sure, I think that would be cool, Mister. Are you guys FBI? Do they make one like her?"

Raising up from his crouched position where his knees were letting him know he wasn't twenty years old anymore, Mulder laughed. "Yeah, we're FBI, and no, there's no FBI Barbie. Agent Scully is an original."

"That's too bad," Jenny said. "She'd make a pretty Barbie."

Looking affectionately at his partner, Mulder agreed.

"Yes, she would."

Scully tugged at her wayward partner's sleeve.

"Come on, Mulder. We've got a gift to buy for an eleven-year-old boy, and we're not going to find it in this aisle."

"I don't know, Scully. Have you looked at the proportions on these Barbie's? I wouldn't find something like that inmy stocking. I go for petite, ya know?"

Moving past lots of little girls, Mulder and Scully headed to the back of the store. Between dodging holiday shoppers and avoiding Mulder's, "Scully, look at this!" they finally reached her destination. However, just as Scully reached up to examine a space shuttle model kit, she realized she'd lost him again.

Oh well, how much trouble could he get into?

"Damn!" Scully turned around. She reached beneath her feet and retrieved the small nerf missle that had smacked her in the head. Her gaze beheld polished dress shoes and moved from there to a soggy, dirty cuff; a twitching, nervous leg; and finally up a very sexy abdomen to a decidedly sheepish face.

Busted, Mulder tried unsuccessfully to shove the nerf gun at the young boy standing next to him.

"He did it, Scully. I was just an unfortunate observer."

"Hey, man, that's a lie. Look, lady, he asked me how it worked, and I was trying to explain when it ... and ... he just let it fly! God's honest truth, lady. I know better than to shoot those things indoors. My mom would kill me."

"That's okay. I'm sure you had nothing to do with it." Scully glared at her incorrigible partner, who rocked back and forth on his feet as though he had to go to the bathroomand was doing his best to not bolt.

The kid quickly hurried away before he got into any more trouble. He couldn't afford any grief right before the holidays. He had hopes of a new Sega system. And he could tell that guy was bad news.

"Blaming children, Mulder, for your bad behavior?" Scully turned back towards the shelf to remove the shuttle - no good letting her bad boy partner see how much he was amusing her with his antics.

"Well, technically, Scully, you didn't see the incident, and I know how much you rely on the rigors of scientific evidence before you come to any conclusions."

"Uh ... huh."

"Seriously, you can't hang me on the word of one twitchy child. I thought our partnership was based on trust...."

"Yep, it is. I *trust you* to get into trouble."

With that, Scully took the space shuttle off the shelf.

"What? We're done? You're gonna get him that?"

"Yeah, Mulder, I'm going to get him the model kit. My brothers loved putting these together when they were his age."

"Well at least get him one of the monster kits, Scully." Reaching above her head, Mulder pulled down a Frankenstein model. "Now that's cool! What kid could resist old Frankie."

Taking the model from her partner, Scully placed it back on the shelf. "That's okay. I like my choice. Brian's always been fascinated with space."

Moving behind a woman paying for a mountain of toys, Mulder and Scully were privy to a heated argument between her two young sons. They appeared to be nine or ten years old, each was arguing his respective point. Scully wondered how their mom could ignore the commotion.

"Uh...uh, Charmander evolves into Vulpix."

"No it doesn't, Bobby. Charmander evolves into Charmeleon. Vulpix evolves into Ninetails."

"Yeah, but a Charmander beats a Bulbasaur cause flame burns grass," Bobby replied heatedly.

Mulder, finding another childhood avenue to explore, chimed in.

"But doesn't a Bulbasaur beat Pikachu? After all, grass doesn't conduct electricity like water."

Scully slapped her partner in the arm, trying to shoosh him.

"Mulder, what are you babbling about?"

"Pokemon, Scully. Gotta catch em all!"

Seeing her puzzled look, he continued. "You're kidding right? Even I know about Pokemon. They're the latest craze. The baseball cards of the 90's. These kids know their stats like I know the NY Yankees batting averages. Schools are banning them, violence is escalating over bad trades, and they've made the cover of Time Magazine."

"Right, and you just happen to have intimate knowledge of these Pokemon. You're scamming those kids, Mulder. You wouldn't know a Charmander from a ..what did you call it Balthazar."

"That's where you're wrong, Scully. I do know what I'm talking about, and Charmander has more power than a Bulbasaur and beats it every time."

There was no need to tell Scully that he had taken a trip through Langly's pokemon trading card collection the last time he'd been at the Lone Gunmen's lair. Sometimes his eidetic memory came in handy.

"In fact, I'll make you a wager, Scully. I'll bet you that I can give details of any Pokemon these guys choose.

"Mulder, you could make anything up. I wouldn't know if you were correct or not."

"Yeah, but these guys would." Giving the brothers his best, 'don't mess with me look' he asked, "You'd tell the lady straight, wouldn't you, Sports?"

"Sure, Mister, we wouldn't lie about something like that."

"Fine. But I get to pick my part of the wager, Mulder. If you can't give the pertinent facts, without cheating, you have to go to the center of the food court and sing Elvis' Blue Christmas."

"Alright, and if I win, you have to go and sit on the mall Santa's lap and tell him what you want for Christmas."

"Mulder, I'm an adult. I can't do that."

"Like I'm the Mormon tabernacle choir? Who's the wuss now Agent Scully?"

Reaching out to her mocking partner, she firmly grasped his extended hand. Shaking it once, she said, "It's a bet."

The kids were grinning from ear to ear. This was turning out to be a better day than expected. Mom had dragged them to the mall to shop for all the cousins. It had been pretty boring until now. One of these adults was going down. The day was definitely on the upswing.


Dana Scully tried to figure out where she had lost control. It had been simple enough. Run inside mall. Get toy. Enjoy a little downtime with her partner. At what point could she have stopped this and avoided being where she stood, which was in line to visit Santa Claus?

I'm a grown woman who accepted a ridiculous bet and now has to pay the consequences. Welching is not an option, no matter the embarrassment. She looked over at Mulder who was biting the inside of his lip and averting his eyes every time she glanced his way. He was trying, she was sure, not to outwardly enjoy this too much.

He failed miserably.

Every time he caught her eye, he had to look away before he totally lost it. This was so good. He couldn't have planned it better. The fates were smiling on him today. He had fully expected to lose that bet. How could he know the kids would pick one of the few Pokemon cards he'd actually seen?

Langly had been so excited about this new hobby; he'd forced his collection on his friend. Humoring him, Mulder had glanced at a few, then distracted Langley with conspiracy theories. He'd learned more than he'd wanted to know and just enough to get him into trouble. Or at least, that's what he'd figured.

"Hey, Mom, what's a listening device?" asked a little boy as he and his mother walked away from Santa's throne.

"Why, Tommy?"

"Well, Santa said I needed one of those for Christmas so I could "get the goods" on Patricia."

"How did he know about Patricia, Tommy?" The boy's mother glanced over her shoulder at the mall Santa.

"I told him that I wanted a squirt gun so I could get Patricia when she was bugging me. Santa said older sisters could be a pain so I should get a listening device and put it in her room next to her phone. He said with all the good stuff I'd get on her, she wouldn't bother me anymore."

"He said that, did he?"

"Yeah, so that's what I want this Christmas - a listening device."

By this time Mom and son were too far out of range to hear anymore. That's my kind of Santa, Mulder thought moving forward as the line crawled along.

"Just a little longer, little girl. Think you're gonna make it?" Mulder put his arm over Scully's shoulder, nudging her forward in the line. "Have you made up your Christmas list? You haven't forgotten to put something good on there for your partner. By the way ... I prefer naughty to nice."

"Mulder, I suggest you remove your arm or you're going to be asking for your two front teeth for Christmas," Scully hissed.

"Don't be a sore loser, Scully. Where's your Christmas spirit?"

"I left it back at the toy store, Mulder."

Just then a gangly middle school aged kid ran up to the line. He stopped to talk to the boy standing directly in front of Mulder and Scully.

"Your mom dragging you to see Santa, Jimmy?" the newcomer inquired.

Looking embarrassed, Jimmy mumbled something about his mom wanting to get a picture with all the kids. She didn't seem to care that this was so uncool.

"Yeah, I understand, man. My mom did the same thing to me."

"Really, Matt? I mean this is so lame."

"Actually, Jimbo, it's not that bad. They got this really neat guy playing Santa this year. He told me all about this government conspiracy where the military's putting mind control drugs in candy canes so they can run all these experiments."

Mulder and Scully locked eyes.

"Mulder if you've set me up... if that little troll is playing Santa...there's not a prayer that will save you!"

"Scully, I didn't know...I don't know...it could be purely coincidental."

"Right, like there are hundreds of conspiracy spewing Santas around the country. Mulder, if that's Frohike up there, you're dead meat."

Peering over the crowd, Mulder took a good look at the Santa. For the most part nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He had all the correct attire, gray/white beard, big black boots, matching elf. However, looking more closely he realized this Santa had a stool up under his feet, and his gloves were fingerless. Not a good sign. She was going to kill him.

"Scully, you still packin'?"

"You mean do I have my firearm? Yes, Mulder, you know I do."

"Well, I don't suppose you'd want to give me the clip?" he chuckled.

"Why?"

"I'm just afraid you might shoot me again."

"Oh God, it's him isn't it? Frohike's playing Santa?" Scully got up on her toes and peered around the colorful gingerbread house by Santa's throne. It wasn't possible but there he was. In order to fulfill the bet, she was going to sit on Frohike's lap and tell him what she wanted for Christmas.

Scully turned towards Mulder, banging her head against his chest while murmuring over and over, "I just wanted a Christmas gift, just a small toy."


The moment of truth was upon her. Only one more family stood between her and "Hickey Claus". In his defense, Mulder had offered to let her out of her end of the bet. She figured that was his way of proving to her he had not set this whole thing up. She thought he was as genuinely surprised as her to see Frohike decked out in holiday glory.

But she decided to go through with it. She had made the wager. Backing out would mean breaking a commitment. In the scheme of life this little bet was no big deal, but the trust she shared with Mulder was important, no matter the situation. He had to be able to count on her to follow through, even with the small stuff.

Actually, as she had time to process the twist of fate, she realized the whole scenario was ripe with possibilities. As much as Mulder professed to the contrary, she knew he was deriving an inordinate amount of satisfaction from the situation. She would show him 'Dana Scully' was no wuss.

In fact, this was an opportunity for payback. The Lone Gunmen had never been properly paid in full for their 'Las Vegas' prank. Frohike and his cohorts still owed her big time for that deception. Like an elephant, Agent Dana Scully didn't forget.

Watching the line inch forward, Mulder considered the situation. Not that he wanted to see Scully embarrassed in any way, but when fate drops a present in his lap, who was he to return it unopened. It might be nobler to give than receive, but who ever said he was noble. This was just too good!

Puzzled, he looked over to where Scully was in rapt conversation with one of Santa's elves. She appeared to be signing up for a holiday photo of the memorable event to come. Now that was interesting. He had intended to ask for a snapshot, intrigued with the potential for blackmail. He figured Scully would confiscate the camera before she'd allow any pictures.

What was she up to?

Frohike reached down helping a small toddler climb into his lap. The little boy was adorable, dressed in his holiday finest, a cowlick in his hair refusing to be combed down and the biggest toothless grin imaginable. As far as he was concerned, Frohike was 'The Man', Mr. Santa, 'The Claus' himself.

Holding the wiggling child more securely so he didn't fall off Santa's lap, Frohike saw the child's mother silently mouth her son's name over the boy's head.

"So Michael, how you doing, bud?"

"Great, Santa, is that a real beard?" Michael reached to tug on Frohike's whiskers. Thankfully Frohike had taken the few weeks necessary to grow a pretty decent beard. He had been afraid some kid might try this and he didn't want to be exposed as just another shopping mall Santa. In fact, if any of the little kiddies or their parents had looked really close, they might have seen the earpiece nestled in Santa's ear.

This Santa was high tech. He came with support personnel. Langly was planted in the crowd where he eavesdropped on family conversations, passing along little bits of info. This allowed Frohike to mesmerize parents and tykes alike with intimate knowledge of their families.

So, management didn't know. No matter. The mall manager had come up to him only this morning to tell him of the wonderful feedback he was getting about 'Santa'. Through word of mouth, more and more were seeking him out. That translated into greater mall traffic, which spilled over into increased store sales. The manager didn't care how Santa was doing it. He just wanted Frohike to continue his fine job.

Marketing aside, Frohike was having a blast. He loved the Santa gig. He'd been doing it for years. The little personal touches he and Langly were able to add only increased the magic. Seeing children's' wondrous expressions was such a high, especially when he was able to put the enchantment back into the eyes of a doubting THOMAS - one of those kids who were so sure he had this whole Santa thing figured out. It was a joy to have parents thank him for helping them bring one more year of childhood innocence, one more year of Santa's magic.

Bringing his attention back to Michael, Frohike asked, "So Michael how are you getting along with your baby sister, Kayla?"

Watching Mom's eyes widen as much as Michael's, Frohike continued, "You've been treating her good, right son?"

"Sure, Santa. I love my little sister."

"Then I think it would probably be best for you to stop throwing all your stuffed animals into her crib and covering her up when she's sleeping. That could be dangerous for Kayla. She could have trouble breathing. You're her big brother. You have to help protect her."

Frohike caught Mom's eye as he heard her gasp. How did he know that? They'd been trying to get Michael to stop that for some time. Only a short while ago, they had tried unsuccessfully, again, to discuss this rationally with their four-year-old. He just couldn't understand why his newborn sister couldn't play with him.

Sitting up taller, Michael announced solemnly, "I promise, Santa. I won't ever do that again."

"Good. Now let's get little sister in the picture."

Just as Michael's mom was bending down placing little Kayla upon Frohike's lap, Langly's voice hissed in his ear.

"Mayday! Mayday! Oh man, I don't believe this! Check out the next couple in line, my man. You're gonna lose it."

As discreetly as possible, Frohike glanced at the man and woman waiting next in line. They were watching him intently. Mulder and Scully.

So much for good deeds, the fates were cruel today.

"Santa. Santa!"

Frohike brought his attention back to Michael who was tugging on his arm.

"Yes, Michael."

"Well I'd like some race cars, a big boy's bike with training wheels and...um.. a...umm... a puppy."

"Oh you would, would you?" Frohike replied.

"Yeah, and Santa could you bring something for Kayla, too? She doesn't play much, but she likes to put things in her mouth and drool all over them. Maybe you could get her something good."

"I'll make my best effort, Michael. Now you go off and be a good boy and help your mom and dad look after little sister. Alright?"

"You bet, Santa. You're the coolest, Santa. I gotta tell my friend, Alex."

Gathering up Michael and Kayla, their mom stopped to thank Frohike for being so wonderful. She didn't ask him how he knew so much about their family. She didn't really want to know. Even grown-ups need a little holiday mystery.

"You old softy."

"What?" Frohike looked up to see Scully standing beside his throne. She was watching the mother bundle Michael and Kayla into the double stroller.

"Ah, Agent Scully. You seem to have forgotten something."

"No, I didn't. Mulder's right behind me."

"No, not Mulder."

Gazing past her to Mulder who was still looking like he was trying to figure him out, Frohike asked, "Where's the kid? It's traditional, you know, to bring a child to see Santa."

"I figure Mulder fits the bill." Scully shocked Frohike by calmly climbing onto his lap.

"Uh...Agent Scully?"

"Yes... Fro...uh... Santa."

Scully was aware that several small children were close by watching everything with fascination. In fact, one child was busy complaining to his parent that Scully was too big to be a kid. What was she up to, didn't she know Santa was just for kids?"

"What do I owe this... uh... unexpected pleasure?" Frohike croaked out as he tried to figure out where to put his arms.

"Keep those hands where I can see them Frohike, unless you'd like to become an elf."

Putting his hands to his side, Frohike tried to puzzle this out. What was the delectable Dana Scully doing in his lap? Who had read his Christmas wish list?

"I lost a bet with Mulder, Santa, and the wager was that I would have to sit on Santa's lap and tell him my Christmas list."

"You're kidding, right?" He looked incredulously at Mulder, who only shrugged.

"Does this look like I'm joking?" Scully focused her attention on the details of Frohike's costume. He had gone all out. Not just a real beard, but there was real fur trim bordering the costume and intricate embroidery and stitching. He even had little wire rim glasses perched on his nose.

"Okay. So 'Dana' what can Santa bring you for Christmas?"

Noticing conversations had stopped so the people around her could hear this dialogue, Scully leaned in closer to Frohike. Knowing this would drive Mulder crazy since he couldn't hear what she was saying, she whispered.

"Frohike, I had every intention of embarrassing the Hell out of you, but I've been watching you around the kids. You're terrific with them. You're a wonderful Santa. And don't think I haven't noticed the earpiece. Who's out there? Byers, Langly?"

"Uh...Langly. Just trying to put a little magic back in Christmas."

"I personally think it's clever. You sure put the fear of Santa in Michael. His parents looked relieved."

Scully put her arms around Frohike giving him a warm hug. "Frohike?"

"Hmmm," he said breaking from his reverie, even as he hugged his Christmas wish more tightly to his chest.

"Merry Christmas." Scully grasped his grungy beard and pulled him toward her. She captured his lips with hers, planting a very passionate kiss on the shocked Santa. Not wanting to waste the moment, Frohike recovered quickly and reciprocated in kind.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the camera flash. In his ear he heard Langly's audible gasp. And from somewhere behind Scully, he heard Mulder's delighted laughter, whistles and cheers.

With the background chant of 'Go Santa! Go Santa!', Frohike got down to business. Who was he to look a gift horse in the mouth, and a wonderful mouth it was, too? Frohike was beside himself.

Scully smiled as she broke the kiss. "Not bad, Frohike. Not bad."

Mulder came up behind her. Extending his hand, he helped Scully down from Frohike's lap.

"You're the man, Frohike."

"Thanks, Mulder. I guess I have you to thank for this lovely Christmas gift. What was the bet?"

Watching Scully pick up her photo, Mulder said, "It's a long story. Suffice it to say, you definitely came out the winner."

"Don't I know it, man! Don't I know it!"

Scully walked back to Frohike. She handed him one of the pictures, placing the other in her purse.

"A word of advice, Santa, never place a bet with a man with who has an eidetic memory." Scully smiled affectionately at her partner.

"Come on Mulder. I'll buy you that Happy Meal."


Mulder and Scully were in the food court finishing up their meal. Thankfully Chik-Fil-A had won out over McDonald's Scully thought, smacking Mulder's hand as he stole another waffle fry. Leaning back in her chair, she listened to the school choir entertaining the patrons with Christmas Carols. For a high school group, they were pretty good. What they lacked in skill, they made up for in enthusiasm.

Mulder was enjoying the evening as well. It had been a good evening. Life's burdens had seemed just a little farther away tonight. It had been great seeing Scully cut loose and enjoy herself. Those times were way too infrequent for someone still so young.

"Hey dudes!"

Looking past Scully, Mulder saw Langly approaching.

"You off surveillance detail?" Mulder asked.

"Yeah, Byers came in to provide relief so I could grab a bite." Langly set his tray down at their table.

Langly poured enough catsup on his burger so that it dripped off the sides. "So Mulder. Tell me about this bet. Enlighten me. Frohike wants details."

Ignoring their conversation, Scully focused her attention on the choir.

"It was stupid, really. I bet Scully I could answer some kid's question about pokemon."

"What was it?" Langly was intrigued; this topic was in his domain.

"The kid wanted to know who Evee evolved into when you use the thunderstone."

"Oh, yeah, Jolteon. Man you lucked out. That's a no brainer, Mulder."

Scully reached across the table, grabbing Langly's arm just as he was about to put his sandwich in his mouth. The burger slipped out of his grasp and glopped onto the table.

"Hey, if you wanted some, all you had to do was ask," Langly griped, cleaning up the mess.

"Langly. Isn't the answer 'Flareon'?"

Scully motioned Mulder to sit back down in his seat as her partner made moves to head toward the men's room.

"Mulder, don't you even think about getting up out of that chair."

"Scully, when you gotta go. You gotta go."

"Mulder, I don't care if pee starts dribbling down your leg, you're not moving."

Answering her question as he wiped catsup off his fingers, Langly said, "No, Flareon evolves with the firestone. Jolteon evolves with the thunderstone."

"Mulder, you were wrong! Those boys didn't even know it."

Glaring daggers at Langly, Mulder watched as Scully got out of her seat, heading toward the choir director who was starting to gather his group's belongings. After several seconds of conversation, he noticed the man looking in his direction. Smiling broadly, the band director handed Scully his microphone.

Turning the microphone on, Scully began speaking. "Ladies and gentlemen. In the spirit of the season, one of the FBI's finest, Agent Mulder, would like to pay off a holiday bet. For your listening pleasure, I give you Fox Mulder and his rendition of one of Elvis Presley's holiday songs."

Getting up out of his chair, Mulder turned to Langley. "I'll get you for this. There's no place you can hide - no hole big enough for you to crawl into. I know people in the IRS. Your ass is sooo mine."

Not wanting to give her the satisfaction, Mulder smiled broadly as he took the microphone from Scully.

Turning to the music director, Mulder asked, "I don't suppose your orchestra knows Blue Christmas?"

The kids behind him took their instruments back out of their cases. "Blue Christmas" was in their inventory.

"Alright, folks, I apologize in advance to both you and the King."

As the orchestra began to play, Mulder beckoned Scully to join him on stage. Knowing his knees were probably shaking, she acquiesced. The fact that Mulder had sung in his high school choir had never come up in conversation. He saw no sense in enlightening her now.

"I'LL HAVE A BLUE CHRISTMAS WITHOUT YOU I'LL BE SO BLUE THINKING ABOUT YOU DECORATIONS OF RED ON A GREEN CHRISTMAS TREE WON'T MEAN A THING, DEAR, IFYOU'RE NOT HERE WITH ME.

AND WHEN THOSE BLUE SNOWFLAKES START FALLIN' THAT'S WHEN THOSE BLUE HEARTACHES START CALLIN' YOU'LL BE DOING ALL RIGHT WITH YOU CRHRISTMAS OF WHITE BUT I'LL HAVE A BLUE, BLUE CHRISTMAS." Finishing the last haunting notes, Mulder looked deeply into her eyes.

"Merry Christmas, Scully."

"Merry Christmas, Mulder."

"So kiss her already," shouted the gray haired Grandma they'd run into earlier in the day.

Mulder was happy to comply - very, very happy to comply.


CHAPTER TWO: MULDER, THE RED NOSED AGENT

Later that same evening

 

CLICK!

SNAP!

CLICK!

"Out of my way, Frohike! Where is he?" Mulder bellowed, pushing his way into the gunman's lair as soon as the last lock snapped open.

"Where is that lame excuse for a Woodstock reject!

"Glad to see you, too," Frohike mumbled as Mulder's shove sent him careening off balance into Byers, who was seatedat a computer terminal.

"Watch it, Frohike! It took me an hour to get into this site," groused Byers.

"Hey, I'm not the one with the lousy social manners. Talk to Mulder. He's the one with a bur up..."

Langly, where the hell are you?" Mulder yelled, poking his head into various empty rooms.

Byers, typing furiously at his keyboard, shouted over his shoulder, "He's not here!"

Mulder stopped mid-stride, his hand poised at the doorknob of another room. If Frohike had said that, he'd probably have continued his search. But, Byers, he was such an open book. He couldn't even play passable poker because it just wasn't in him to bluff.

The few times he'd helped with covert operations, such as Mulder's impromptu hospital break to Antarctica, Byers had been a basket case. It was fortuitous all he'd had to do was lie in the hospital bed that day. Apparently, his skin had taken on such a frightening grayish pallor, Skinner had thought he'd passed out.

"So, where'd the scrungy beatnik get to anyway? I told him I'd find him. I'm going to lop off his goldy locks," Mulder griped, sitting in the vacant seat next to Byers.

Byers didn't miss a keystroke. "So, Mulder, I hear I missed a 'classic' day at the mall today."

"Oh, Yeah ... Classic," moaned Frohike.

"Hickey, get it out of the gutter."

"Oh but, Mulder, it was sooooo good. Dr. Scully can give me another tonsillectomy, anytime."

"If you don't lay off. You'll be seeing her again in her professional capacity - the morgue's got all these little drawers, especially sized for trolls like you."

With Mulder still seated, Frohike was able to look him directly in the eye and jab his finger into Mulder's chest. "Hey, you got problems with Langly, you take it out on Langly. Leave me and the delicious Agent Scully out of your vengeful tirades."

"Where's the lovely, 'Dana', anyway?"

"I dropped her home," Mulder admitted, beginning to calm down.

Letting the screensaver take over, Byers swirled his chair around so he could face his friends.

"What's got you so upset with Langly anyway? From what I hear, he only forced you to ante up."

Mulder grimaced, "Due to Langley's compunction for the truth, I had to sing "Blue Christmas" during the food court's dinner rush. That's not exactly doing a friend a favor."

"No but I call setting the stage for a little holiday nookie a favor, man," came a voice from the open front door. Langly stepped inside, his arms full of Chinese take-out. "You oughtta be writing sonnets to me, old buddy. I sure didn't hear any complaints coming from you while you and Agent Scully sucked face."

Coffee sputtered from a startled Byers. Frohike emitted a long wolf whistle, chanting, "Who's da man, who's da man!" And Mulder brought his startled eyes up to a grinning Langly. Noting Langly's head moving slowly side to side, Mulder realized Langly hadn't told his fellow cohorts about he and Scully's spontaneous lip-lock, until now ... If Mulder hadn't shown up on their doorstep, Langly would have continued to respect his privacy. Now, however, Mulder might as well have taken out a billboard in Times Square.

"Uh...guys."

"So, Mulder, give it up already. Did you enjoy your holiday cheer?" inquired Langly, putting the steaming white boxes down on the table.

"Big lug!" Frohike walked over to Mulder, giving his arm a good-natured whack. "I'm deeply offended. She's stepping out on me already. What would she want with a tall, dark, drink of water like you when she could have a compact, raging dynamo like me?"

"Frohike, I am not going to stand here one-upping each other with 'I've kissed Scully stories'. This is beyond juvenile."

"Afraid you'll come out on the short end, huh?" Frohike grabbed a pair of chopsticks and a box of cashew chicken.

Byers, joining the others at the table, snatched his own set of chopsticks. He looked pensive as though he had found himself in the middle of a story and was trying to get caught up. The fact that Scully had been sitting on Frohike's lap and kissed him was startling enough to wrap his brain around. But that was a bad joke gone "good", at least in Frohike's eyes.

Catching Mulder's gaze from across the table, Byers looked deeply. Beneath the obviously feigned anger at Langly and the banal banter with Frohike, Byers saw a changed man. Silently, Byers questioned his friend. "This is good, right?"

Nodding imperceptibly in return, Mulder peacefully acknowledged the truth in their non-verbal exchange. "Yes, this is very good."

Straddling a chair he'd pulled out from the table, Mulder reached into the middle of the fray.

"Frohike, quit hoarding the cashew chicken." Mulder grabbed the box out of Frohike's hands.

"Mulder, your table manners are pitiful," Frohike flipped his chopsticks end over end and hit Mulder in the head.

"I wouldn't damage the goods, Frohike. I think Agent Scully's got plans for him," Langly joked, snapping the top off his beer bottle. "From the look she gave him, I'd say you'd better pass our boy some broccoli and beef too. He's going to need his strength."

Standing, Frohike raised his beer bottle in the air. Seeing his demeanor, the others looked questioningly at each other. What was he up to?

"Lift 'em high, gents. I propose a toast."

Byers, Langly and, eventually, Mulder, all raised their bottles. With a seriousness, that belied their previous bantering, Frohike began his toast.

"To Agents Mulder and Scully. It's about time."

With the sounds of clinking glass and hearty echoes of "about time" ringing in his ears, Mulder wondered, "What was Scully doing right now?"


11:00pm, SAME EVENING DANA SCULLY'S APT

Turning off the water tap and wrenching open the shower curtain, Scully scrambled for a towel. "Blast!" she thought as she heard the phone ringing.

Running from the bathroom, she left behind a trail of expletives, a pathway of water, and scattered clothing from the laundry hamper she knocked over in her haste. As it was, the machine had already picked up by the time she got to her bedroom phone.

She heard her mom's voice. "Dana, Dana. If you're there, honey, please pick-up."

Punching the buttons to turn off the pre-recorded message, Scully scrambled to pick up the receiver before her mother hung up.

"Don't hang up, Mom. I'm here."

"Oh, I thought maybe you and Fox hadn't made it back from your last assignment."

"No, we finished up early," Scully answered, wrapping the bath sheet around her. Putting the cordless phone under her chin, she headed for the kitchen.

"Well, good. Then you'll be able to make it to Carol's tomorrow for her Christmas Open House?"

Scully put the tea kettle on to boil and re-adjusted her precarious towel. She strolled into her bedroom and grabbedher suitcase off the floor. Hefting it onto the bed, she clenched her chin tighter into the phone, trapping it againsther should as she tried to keep the phone in place whileshe messed with the suitcase clasps.

"Yeah, I was planning on going. You want me to pick you up after Mass?"

"Sure, honey, that would be lovely. We haven't had a chance to really talk in awhile."

"No we haven't. I'd love to catch up." Scully rummaged through her suitcase looking for her robe. Not finding it, she slammed the suitcase closed.

"Damn."

"Is something the matter, Dana?"

"No, I must have gotten my robe mixed in with Mulder's things when I was pack-"

Realizing how that sounded, Scully let the rest of the sentence dangle like a pesky participle.

"Dana, is there something you'd like to tell me?"

CLICK!

"Uh, Mom, hold on a minute. I've got another call." Scully hurriedly switched to the other party using her call-waiting feature.

"Woman, 'Fickle' is thy name," breathed the voice on the other end of the line.

"Frohike, is that you?"

"Discard me like an old pair of shoes. Throw my heart on the floor. Squash my hopes and dreams with your size six stilettos. Until there's nothing left but ... squashed ...uh ... well, squashed-"

"Frohike, are you drunk?"

"No, I just have a pleasant, <burp> buzz..zz..zzz"

"Frohike, I assure you I could have gone all day without that sound in my ear."

"Sorry, 'scuse me for my poor manners."

"Hang on, Frohike, my mom's on the other line. I'll get back to you in a minute."

Scully switched back to her mother, forgetting that her momhad the memory of an elephant.

"Mom, I'm sorry. It's Frohike. He's drunk. I should probably talk to him. I'll call you..."

"Whoa, young lady, don't you hang up on me. I want to know why your bathrobe is in Fox's luggage." Margaret Scully refused to be pushed aside that easily.

Exasperatedly, Scully took off for the kitchen where her teakettle was piping a piercing tune. Removing the kettle from the burner and turning off the stove, Scully grabbed, once more, at the towel's edges that were threatening to dislodge.

"Look, Mom, it's nothing. Mulder went to check out of the hotel, and I said I'd finish..."

Just then Scully heard her cell phone chirping. Digging through the pocket of her overcoat, she reluctantly pulled out the phone. Since it was probably worked related,she needed to take the call.

" Hold on, Mom, I've gotta get my cell phone."

She placed the cordless phone down on the end table next to the couch and placed her cell phone to her ear.

"Scully."

"Oh hey, Scully, it's me."

"Mulder?"

"Yea, Mulder. What you wearing, Scully?"

Standing there freezing, dressed only in a ratty old bathsheet, Scully wasn't in the mood to play games. "You've got to be kidding, right? I thought it was work calling, Mulder."

"Nope, just me. Couldn't get through on your home line. Phone was busy. You're a regular Social.. Uh... you know...um... Butterfly. Yeah, that's it, butterfly."

"Mulder, you're drunk. Where are you?"

"I'm at the...."

"Hold that thought, Mulder, I left my mom hanging on the other phone."

Scully went to grab her cordless phone and lost her towel from its precarious position. Getting her feet tangled in the terry cloth, she stumbled into the couth and stubbedher toe on the end table, throwing the phone onto the couch.

Now ... totally naked and cold she hopped on her foot.

"Damn, damn, damn it all to Hell. I just wanted to take a shower, and here I am freezing my ass-" Realizing her mother had just been privy to that entire tirade, Scully picked up her cordless phone.

"Mom, I'm sorry."

"Honey, are you alright? Was that Fox you were talking to on your cell phone?" Mrs. Scully asked, concern edging out the laugher in her voice.

"Yeah, it's Mulder. I'm fine. Just dropped my towel and the phone and stubbed my toe."

Scully grabbed both phones, glaring into the receivers andheaded for her bedroom. She was going to find a t- shirt and a pair of boxers she could put on. She was tired of performing in the Theatre of the Absurd.

"OH, Shi..shoot, Mom. I forgot Frohike. I left him on hold. Hang on a minute. I still want to explain."

Scully threw one of Mulder's old Knicks t-shirts on over her head as she punched the button transferring her back to Frohike.

"Frohike?"

"Frohike?" she asked again. Listening carefully she could hear gentle snoring coming through the receiver.

"FROHIKE!" she screamed trying to wake him up.

"Agent Scully?"

"Byers, is that you? Where's Frohike?"

Looking down at Frohike, slouched down in the chair, dead to the world, drool slipping between his pursed lips, Byers answered, "Uh... I guess he's tired. He fell asleep."

"Right, fell asleep," Scully mocked. "He passed out, Byers. You want to tell me why a drunken Frohike decided to call me?"

"To congratulate you, maybe?"

"To congratulate me? About what?" A dawning realization came to Scully - drunk Frohike and Mulder spelled trouble.

"Hold that thought, Byers. I've got Mulder on the other phone."

Picking up her cell phone, Scully asked, "Mulder, where are you?"

Looking over the front seat at the driver, Mulder answered, "I'm in a cab, Scully. Me and ...uh... it's, Ray, right?Ray, the cab driver.. are in a cab.

Noticing how Mulder seemed quite pleased with his verbal accomplishments, Scully firgured she had better take advantage of his lucid moment.

"Mulder, have you been with the Lone Gunmen? And would it be any stretch of the imagination to say, you've been getting sloshed?"

"Sloshed?" Mulder slurred.

"Yeah, sloshed as in pickled, inebriated, drunk, smashed, stoned, feeling no pain."

"Well, I'm not feeling any pain. You feeling any pain, Ray? No? Okay, Scully, Ray and me, we aren't feeling any pain."

"What did Langly tell the other stooges, Mulder? He narked about you kissing me, didn't he?"

"Uh... Technically, yes.. but uh... not until I let the cat out of the bag myself," Mulder admitted ruefully.

"DANA. DANA!" Scully heard her mother's voice shouting from the other phone.

How could that be? She thought she'd left Byers on the line and her mother on hold.

Placing the cordless phone to her free ear while keeping her cell nestled to her other ear, Scully looked around the room. Surely there had to be a hidden camera. This had to be a set-up.

"Mom? I thought I'd left you on hold."

"You must have hit the transfer button when you put the phone down. Dana, what is this about Fox kissing you?"

"Oh God, Mom it's a really long story. Let's just say, I lost a bet. Can the rest wait 'til tomorrow?"

"You kissed Mulder 'cause you lost a bet?" Scully's mom inquired, while Mulder was screaming in the other ear.

"Whooaa, Scully, you didn't kiss me 'cause you lost a bet!" Mulder caught Ray's smirk in the rear view mirror. "Don't let your mom think that. I'm no one's booby prize. I'm giving the phone to Ray, Scully. You tell him. I ain't no booby prize."

"No, Mulder, don't give the phone- Uh... Uh huh, Ray?'

"Ya, mon, it's Ray. This guy's snockered bad, lady ... He keeps sayin', 'not someone's booby...', over and over, 'not someone's booby."

"I understand, Ray. Just give Mulder back the phone, okay?"

"Sure, no problem, mon"

"And, Ray, I didn't kiss him 'cause I lost a bet."

"Gotcha' lady. Here's your man." Ray tossed the phone over the seat to Mulder. "Hey, mon, she as pretty as she sounds?"

"Yeah, she's pretty. And she's mine."

"I hear ya, brother. I hear ya."

"Dana?"

"Yes, Mom." Scully slid onto the couch, throwing her legs up under her as she pulled an afghan down to cover her. Smiling, she was brought back from eavesdropping on Mulder and Ray's conversation.

"You are going to explain this all, aren't you?"

"Just one more minute, Mom. I need to get back to Byers."

"Dana, I thought you were talking to Frohike?"

"I was, I think, uh... I don't really know any more, but hold on and I'll get rid of whomever."

Clicking the transfer button once again, Scully hesitantly whispered.

"Byers you still there?"

"Yeah, Scully, I'm here."

"I'm going to hang up now, Byers. Tell, Frohike, ...ah , hell, forget it. He probably won't remember this conversation anyway."

"Umm, Agent Scully?"

"Yes."

"Congratulations, on umm... You know what I mean," Byers stammered.

"Thanks, John, I know."

As Byers hung up, Scully took a deep breath, bracing herself for her mom's questions. As she transferred to her mom one last time, she thought, 'I feel like I'm in a Monty Python routine. Always look on the bright side of life...ta, da, ta, da...'

"Mom?"

"Yes, Dana."

"I've hung up the other line."

"Good, now maybe we can finish our talk."

BZZZZZZZZZZZ!!

"Uh, Mom, it's the door."

"Okay, Dana, I can see this conversation is not going anywhere real quick. We'll talk tomorrow, honey. And Dana?"

"Yes, Mom."

"Bring Fox. I think I'd like to talk to him too."

"I'll ask him. Goodnight, Mom."

"Goodnight, Dana."

Scully swore she could hear laughing from her mother's end as she hung up. I'm glad she thinks this is funny. Hopping into the boxers she'd been trying to put on for the last ten minutes, Scully grabbed her gun off the kitchen table. With her luck she'd find old Smokey on the other side of the door, ready to offer up his 'congratulations'.

Peering through the peephole, she saw a very loopy Mulder, with a most disgruntled face.

She opened the door and stepped aside so he could enter.

"I ain't no booby prize, Scully."

Just inside the door, Mulder slid down the wall, his butthitting the wooden floor with a thump as his head conkedthe door frame. Slowly ... ever so slowly, his bodyleaned starboard, until he was stretched out in her entryway. He unknowingly joined Frohike in the land of Nod.

Placing a gentle kiss against his lips, Scully whispered, "No, Mulder you're definitely not the booby prize."


*2:00am, still Dana Scully's apartment*

Strains of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" floated through the living room. His was not the voice of angels, but there was something about that song. Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without Bing.

Listening to "White Christmas" reminded her of her grandfather. He had been in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. Because of his knowledge of German and French, he was an army radio operator and translator.

She could remember the gentle ribbing every holiday between her and her granddad. She would pray for the first holiday snow, delighting in a world blanketed in white. He would tell her how "White Christmas" reminded him of being fanny deep in the freezing cold of winter during one of the war's bloodiest battles. With a hug and a kiss year after year, they'd agree to disagree.

Scully was wrapped in the warmth of terry cloth. She had dug through her closet, finding the well-worn robe shoved way back in a corner. Since her other one was still AWOL, this one would have to do.

She was seated on her living room couch, her feet tucked beneath her, and an afghan thrown over her legs. She held a steaming mug of tea in her hands, cradling it gently to her lips. Bing was still crooning, the fire was blazing, and the tree lights were twinkling. There was a gentle snow falling right outside her window. Nothing drastic. No blizzard. Just the slow, aching drop of perfect flakes.

The lights were off, save the one small one over her kitchen stove. Shadows danced with the small tendrils of flickering firelight. The twinkling tree lights gave a fairy like quality to the darkened room. There was a hush over the world, the quiet slumber existing in the morning's wee hours. Not a sound besides Bing disturbed her contemplation.

Until now.

"Oh God, I've died and gone to Bedford Falls." Mulder's croaked from his corner of the floor.

"No, Mulder, I don't think you could say this is your Wonderful Life."

"Nope, Scully. In my life's version of the movie, I don't find myself waking up on your hardwood floors. Something a little softer comes to mind."

"Hey, I tried to move you. You're the one who refused to budge, saying, 'sol right, just wanna sleep...'" she slurred, imitating his inebriated condition.

Mulder pushed aside the covers that were tangled around him.

"I appreciate the blanket and pillow. Nice touch. Leave the drunk on the floor, but at least layer him in goose feathers and down."

Placing her mug on the end table, Scully got up, moving over to where Mulder lay in her entryway. She grasped both his hands, helping him pull himself up from his supine position. He leaned back, his head against her door, a moment of deja vu upon him. He tried shaking his head to clear the haze, but discovered that was an unbelievably stupid idea.

Grasping his head with both hands, Mulder shakily asked, "Would you please turn that music down. I don't need any more sleigh bells jingling in my head."

Scully flipped the stereo switch. "Better?"

"I'm not sure. You wouldn't by any chance be hearing "Joy to the World" would you?"

"'The Three Dog Night' version?"

"No, the 'Hark', it's Harold and his angels version," Mulder whined, doing his best to come to a standing position and failing miserably.

"Nope, not hearing a thing." Scully grasped his forearm, forestalling him from swaying into the tree.

"That's what I figured."

"Mulder, you're looking a particularly nasty shade of green at this moment."

"That's good, Scully, because I'm feeling pretty putrid. In fact..."

Mulder lurched from her grasp, charging with a hurried, unsteady gate down her hallway as quickly as his swaying legs would allow. Heading into the bathroom, he thought heheard her scream.

"Mulder, you'd better make it. I'm telling you right now. I don't do throw-up!"


Moments later Scully pushed open the bathroom door several inches. She extended her arm through the door, but only the distance needed for Mulder to grab the new toothbrush box from her hand. She heard sounds of running tap water and frantic teeth brushing.

"You okay in there, Mulder?" she inquired solicitously, wanting to give him a modicum of privacy.

"I've made my donation to the porcelain god, if that's what you're asking." Mulder's voice was muffled around a mouthfullof toothpaste. "And before you ask, donations were delivered directly into his waiting maw. No side trips along the way."

Mulder turned off the water, fully opening the bathroom door. Permission was granted. She could enter.

He stood in front of the mirror, examining his red eyes and the puffy shadows beneath them. He gestured to the disheveled man reflected in the glass. Here was a man, whose rumpled suit and five o'clock shadow made him look like Red Skelton's version of the pour soul. Mulder grimaced.

"Scully, you kissed that?"

"Yeah, hard to believe, isn't it?" She slapped a clean towel down on the vanity. Turning her back on him, she left the room.

Washing his face and running his wet fingers through his spiky hair, Mulder sneered at his reflection.

"I wouldn't kiss you either. You are such a sorry son of a..."

The rest of his words were lost as Mulder, once again, staggered into the drunkard's cathedral. After further donations were delivered, and he went through a repeat clean-up, Mulder remembered at least one thing very clearly. This is why he rarely drank. He didn't need this kind of help in making a bigger ass out of himself than normal.

After throwing his dirty towel on top of Scully's hamper, Mulder turned off the bathroom light. Unsteadily shufflingback towards Scully's living room, he heard the faint strains of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Scully was definitely eclectic with her holiday selections.

"I wish you a hopeful Christmas. I wish you a brave New Year. All anguish, pain and sadness, Leave your heart and let your road be clear."

"Feeling better?"

"Better is a relative term, Scully. I'm feeling 'rode hard and put away wet.'"

Mulder reached into her kitchen cabinet and grabbed a large tumbler. Turning on the tap, he filled his glass with cool water.

"Got any aspirin?"

"One cabinet over. Fill that glass to the top, Mulder. You need every ounce of water. Your body's dehydrated."

Quite aware that aspirin, sleep, and lots of water were the only true remedies for a hangover, Scully felt Mulder needed more penance than that. He and the Lone Gunmen had gotten her into a fix with her mother and he should pay.

So, she stood at her kitchen counter, with a selection of booze at the ready.

"Uh, Scully. I think I've had enough for this evening."

"No kidding, Mulder. I want you to pick out what your particular poison for the evening has been, and I'm going to make you a hangover remedy."

"I thought I just needed to drink lots of water?" Mulder suspiciously eyed the variety of alcoholic options.

"That's true; you do need to re-hydrate. However, a little home remedy couldn't hurt." Scully's gaze dared him to back down.

Mulder grabbed a bottle off the counter.

"Bourbon, Mulder?"

"Well, we started with beer, but quickly ran out. Frohike had the bourbon stashed for a special occasion."

"This was a special occasion?" Scully's eyebrow poked up asshe filled a shot glass full of bourbon.

"I thought so." He tried to meet her eyes, but Scully would have none of that. She poured a large glass of orange juice, added a couple of raw eggs and a large dollop of tobasco. She then added the shot of bourbon.

With a final flourish, she stirred the mixture together.

"Hair of the dog, Scully?"

"Dr. Scully's cure-all for what ails you. Guaranteed to diminish that hang over you're already beginning to feel."

Looking at the finished product sitting on her counter, Mulder tried not to think about the raw eggs and bourbon.

"Who does your testimonials, Dr. Scully? Your clientele are not noted for stimulating conversation."

Scully handed him the drink and patted him on the cheek, not so very gently. "I don't know about that, Mulder. This stuff's been known to raise the dead."

Taking a sniff, Mulder's face grimaced with dissatisfaction.

"Can't I just take an Alka Seltzer? You know, 'plop, plop, fizz, fizz.' It's always worked before."

"It'll put hair on your chest," she cajoled, noting his less than enthusiastic response to her ministrations.

"Hell, Scully, that'll put hair on my tongue!"

"I promise not to complain if it does." She left him to ponder her words as she slipped down the hallway to her bedroom.

Contemplating the tongue comment and hearing her chorus of 'wuss, wuss', Mulder forced the noxious liquid down his throat. He feared Scully's cure would probably inflict a slow, painful death. He may have been sloshed, but he knew her game. This was no home remedy. This was an act of retribution, and he couldn't really fault her.

Scully returned to the living room with arms full of bed linens. Noting his curious look, she shoved him toward the couch.

"One kiss does not a bed partner make. Besides, I think the only intimacy in your immediate future will include bathroom plumbing."

"Yeah, just call me "Roto Rooter." Mulder took the bedding from her and settled it on the couch.

Catching the sleeve of her robe, he pulled Scully gently into an embrace. Wrapped tightly around her, he marveled at how well she fit up against him. He fought protective urges that always entered his mind when he was this close. She was so small. Their size disparity was never more obvious to him than when she was enclosed in his arms.

But there was strength in her - a strength that proclaimed loudly,'I may be small but don't be mislead.' And the vigor of her will was a gravitational force, a compulsion not to be ignored. The complexities of Scully could fill a book.

His mind may have been focused on her formidable spirit but the rapid beat of his heart detailed his response to her beauty. Too bad he was in the doghouse and the reality of his upright position was more attributed to her balance than his own sense of coordination.

"You owe me, Mulder," she mumbled into his shirt.

"I know. My behavior sucks."

"Yes," pulling away long enough to grab a receipt off her end table, "It does. But separate from that, you owe me exactly $90.00."

"What?" He grabbed the receipt from her hand.

"Mulder, you and your new best 'bud', Ray, went gallivanting all over D.C. to the tune of $67.50."

Mulder rubbed his eyes, noting two Scullys present in his field of vision. And in his current state, that was just one Scully too many.

"Ray?"

"The Jamaican cab driver." Scully handed him another glass of water.

"Ah, Ray." Mulder flopped on the couch as his legs finally gave up the ghost. There was a vague recollection trying to force itself to the surface of his muddled brain.

Forcing the water into his churning stomach, Mulder blustered, "Wait a minute, Scully, you said I owed you $90.00. Now I may not currently be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but that's a difference of... uh... hell, that's a big difference."

Watching his valiant attempt at higher cognitive function and resounding failure at basic math, Scully took pity.

"Mulder, that's Ray's tip. I figure after putting up with your crap, the man deserved additional monetary compensation."

"Geesh, Scully, that's a 33% tip. He didn't give me a kidney, only a ride home."

Mulder noted her surprise that his brain appeared to be calculating again. "Don't get your hopes up. It comes and goes. And, oh God, I think it's going again."

Taking a few difficult breaths and sliding down deeper into the cushions, Mulder successfully fought the rising dizziness. He could do it. All he had to do was close his eyes to stop the room from spinning.

"Well you were hardly in any shape to determine high finances, and Ray did manage to drag your sorry butt in here."

"He did?"

"Yeah, I thought you'd arrived by yourself, barely making it in time to pass out in my entryway. But then Ray came knocking at my door. You told him I'd cover the bill."

"Forgot. I used it all at the mall," Mulder slurred, his voice beginning to give out.

"Thankfully, I had some I'd put aside for buying gifts." Scully loosened his tie and tossed it on the chair with his suit jacket. She then pulled off his socks and shoes, laying them at the end of the couch. She grabbed a small card off the end table and handed it to him. "What's this?" Mulder asked, one eye barely open as he tried to focus on what was in her hand.

"Ray's card. Apparently, somewhere between your rendition of Montego Bay and Day'O, you offered to get him an interview with the bureau."

Full cognizance returning, Mulder sang softly. "Daylight, come and me wanna go home."

"Yep, that's the one." She unbuttoned his shirt at the cuffs. Slapping his hands away as he awkwardly tried to help, Scully finished off the shirt in short order, adding it to the pile on the chair.

"I'm so tired, Scully."

"I know but give up the pants first before you go to sleep. "Scully's fingers began to loosen the belt at his waist.

"Agent Scully..." Mulder feebly admonished, even as he lifted his hips so that she could divest him of his trousers.

Laying his crumpled suit pants with the other articles of clothing, Scully pushed him gently back onto the couch.

With a gentle kiss to his forehead, Scully murmured, "Daylight come and you're gonna talk to Mom..."

//Mom?// Mulder thought drifting off to sleep. //I don't wanna talk to Mom. I wanna kiss Scully.//

Succumbing to the heavy darkness, Mulder's mind drifted.

It all began with...

... a mall.

...a bet.

Santa... Hickey?...

... a song.... ...The Kiss!

Groaning, he thought,// too bad it was going to end with her mother.//


CHAPTER THREE: HARK, IT'S MULDER AND HIS ANGELS

*11:30am, next morning, Fox Mulder's apartment*

He looked quite presentable. Maybe not "GQ fine", but at least not something dismal the cat drug in, either. The poor soul he'd seen in Scully's bathroom mirror the night before had been replaced by the man ... someone who had life all together.

His pupils were clear; there were no lingering bags or dark shadows beneath his eyes. He was coiffed, freshly scrubbed, teeth brushed, and bright as a new shiny penny.

STYLIN'

Too bad he felt like crap!

He might as well have spent the night bathing a cat with his tongue. Tiny fur balls littered every nook and cranny in his mouth. His breath should be quarantined - extreme biohazard.

Good news, he no longer heard "Jingle Bells" or "Joy to the World" reverberate in his skull. Bad news, the construction crew replacing the choir delivered even more mind numbing symphonies. Regrettably, the new crew's ability to keep tempo rivaled Scully's capacity for singing on key.

"Deck the Halls" took on a whole new meaning when the tympani section included jackhammers and blowtorches.

And his stomach... he didn't even want to go there.... The coffee he'd forced down earlier was staging a coup with his physiology. The caffeine might be dancing merrily through his system singing, "It's time to get up...it's time to get up... time to get up in the moooorning!" But the actual coffee itself battled hand to hand in mortal combat with his intestines. He feared his colon would win the war.

Thus it had been ever since he'd woken this morning, stretched out in a rumpled heap on Scully's couch. He may have gone to bed with "Silent Night" whispering sweet lullabies, but he woke up with "The Hallelujah Chorus" screaming in his ear.

Before she'd gone to Mass, Scully had set an alarm, placing it on the coffee table right next to his head. Smacking the impertinent "rooster" off the table into the kitchen, Mulder mentally made note to buy her a new alarm clock for Christmas. The momentary satisfaction he garnered hearing the offending clock smash into the refrigerator, didn't make up for the time he had to spend on hands and knees picking up tiny glass and plastic pieces.

Her warm, welcoming morning message sat on the kitchen counter. She'd left the aspirin bottle, a ready-made carafe full of hot coffee and his marching orders for the day.

"DEAR MULDER,

I HOPE YOU SLEPT WELL. NOW GET YOUR TAIL IN GEAR! I'LL BE ATYOUR PLACE NO LATER THAN 11:30A.M TO PICK YOU UP. DRESS NICE. MOM'S INVITED YOU TO CAROL'S HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE. YOU'LLGET A CHANCE TO MEET MY GODSON.

SINCE YOU GOT ME INTO THIS MESS WITH MOM, YOU CAN SUFFER THETHIRD DEGREE RIGHT ALONG WITH ME.

SCULLY

P.S. DON'T EVEN THINK OF WEASELING OUT OF THIS."

Over the grumble of his stomach, he heard steps in the hallway outside the bathroom door. Scully must have let herself into his apartment during his last swish and spit.

"I've seen worse." Scully poked her head through his open doorway, her eyes traveling up and down his form as he patted his face dry with a towel.

"I know, but they've all had Y-incisions." Mulder spit out his second, or was it third, round of mouthwash. Shit, he might as well drink the whole bottle. Kissably fresh, right.

"True, but they weren't dressed in J. Crew."

"You like?"

"I like...." Scully bestowed a soft, lingering kiss to his minty fresh lips, trailing her tongue over the edge of his full bottom lip.

Maybe he was kissably fresh he thought, wrapping his arms around her waist.

Mulder nuzzled her hair. "So you wanna stay and play?"

Scully looked into his deceptively innocent eyes and chuckled. "Don't look for me in your Christmas stocking. I think you're on Santa's 'naughty' list."

"Oh, but Scully." Mulder ran his lips down her neck to the open collar of her blouse. "I do 'naughty', so nice."

Playfully slapping at his nuzzling face, Scully drew him into the living room. Seriously, considering the shape he'd been in the night before, he was an impressive specimen. Maybe there was something to that old family "Hair of the dog" recipe after all.

Mulder glanced around the living room. "Did you leave your mother in the car? That seems pretty tacky, Scully."

"I called Mom from the church this morning and told her I'd be running late. She decided to drive on ahead. It's not as far for her. Anyway, I felt you and I needed a little time to get our ducks in a row."

"You mean concoct a plausible story?" he snapped on his holster and grabbed his keys from the table.

"We don't need to concoct anything. Nothing's happened that requires ambiguity. Last night was just a comedy of errors, an evening unparalleled in insanity."

Giving her a puzzled look, Mulder ruminated on what she had just said. Did she mean everything that happened last night defied logic? Everything? Wait a minute. She did kiss him when she arrived this morning. Looking into her laughing eyes, he realized he was allowing his insecurities to dissect Scully's every word, every gesture, every nuance. This was ridiculous.

Yesterday's kiss may have been born in spontaneity, but he had no doubt of her feelings. Deep abiding love stood just a breath away.

Leaning in and brushing her lips across his, Scully murmured, "Gotcha...."

Grabbing his leather jacket off the back of his chair, she tossed it to him. She walked into his kitchen and poured a large glass of water from the jug he kept in his fridge. She handed it to him, and he scowled, draining what he was sure had to be his second gallon of water since last night.

Mulder followed through the living room and out the door. "Scully, any more liquid and my eyeballs are going to float. I hope you're prepared to stop if I need to use the little boy's room."


"Dana, I'm so glad you could make it."

Sweeping Scully into a warm embrace, Carol tugged her inside the foyer. Including Mulder in her effervescent welcome, Carol grabbed him around the middle, for all practical purposes squeezing the stuffing out of him.

Where Scully was petite, Carol was tall, just a few inches short of his own 6'1'' height. Scully and Carol, auburn and brunette, quiet and boisterous, both obviously enamored with the other.

He watched them talk at the same time, stepping over each other's words - each interrupting, finishing the other's sentences, jumping from one topic to the next.

...you've been?"

"It's been hard on Brian...more introverted than ever."

"I know...time."

"Sometimes, it's so difficult..."

It was ease born of familiarity, a camaraderie that came with time and shared experience. These women were obviously close friends of the heart.

"And you must be Fox. Maggie's told me so much about you." Carol extended her hand to Mulder, realized they had excluded him from their conversation. It was just so good to see Dana. Life's circumstances lately had kept them apart. She hadn't seen Dana, since her own husband's funeral, several months ago. Talking on the phone was good. Up close and personal was better.

"Where is Mom?" Dana peered past the louvered doors into the kitchen. She knew that's where she'd be, helping to make sure everything went smoothly for Carol. The Scully's and the Frank's had been connected for years. She and Carol had practically grown up together as their fathers' posted the same assignments. In fact, Bill used to complain he had three sisters instead of two.

Until the year he noticed Carol had developed much more than a sparkling personality. No longer was she a nuisance tagalong, as his kid sister was, but she was fuel for a young man's fantasies. He'd even gone so far as to ask her out once, but she had sliced him down by snottily informing him, "Bill, that would be like dating my brother. And that's beyond majorgross! "

Scully knew Maggie would be close.

"Dana."

Scully turned to see her mother coming up beside Mulder. Maggie Scully gave him a tender kiss on the cheek. Mulder returned her affectionate greeting.

"Mrs. Scully. It's good to see you again."

"Fox, after all we've been through. Don't you think you could call me Maggie?"

"Maggie," he acknowledged, noticing Scully's wicked grin behind her mother's head.

"Dana, how about you and I go take a look at the tree," Maggie Scully said, linking arms with her daughter. "I'm sure Carol will take good care of Mulder."

Mulder noticed how quickly Scully's grin turned inward. She was no longer smirking as her mother pulled her into the living room. In fact, Mulder thought he saw Scully wearing his panic face. Carol, on the other hand was not going to let him off the hook either.

Tucking her arm in his and pulling him to the dining room holiday buffet, Carol began her interrogation.

"So Fox,... may I call you, Fox..."

"Uh... Mulder, I really prefer..."


With a heaping plate steeped in holiday favorites, Mulder found a seat over by the fireplace hearth. The heat, emanating from the roaring fire, made him feel a little bit like a bag of roasted chestnuts. However, he sweated through the misery because this location afforded several positives. What was it they said, "Everything is location, location, location."

First of all, he was partially hidden by the tree. He had visual of the room, but for the most part he was obscured. Secondly, if worse came to worse, he could hide his plate of Christmas goodies. He'd already scoped out a spot, between the large green package and the one decked in garish, gold foil. A temporary cease-fire had been declared between he and his stomach. But, like all truces, there usually was one remaining battle. He wanted to be prepared.

Picking at the food Carol had gleefully piled high on his plate, Mulder was momentarily distracted. That was all it took. Feeling her presence, Mulder smiled.

"Mrs. Scu...Maggie," he finished, noting her admonishing grin.

"Fox."

Mulder chuckled. Maggie was one of the few people who refused to call him Mulder. She seemed to take great delight every time she said, "Fox".

"Uh, Maggie, I apologize for my disgraceful behavior last night. I was..."

"...feeling no pain," she finished, patting his arm gently. "Although, from the looks of things, you're not out of the woods yet."

"Well, the jackhammer's gone on break, but it's been replaced with a repeating staple gun. My diminished capacity excuse is, however, diminishing. I'll live, right?" He looked hopefully into her eyes. They both knew he was not talking about recovery from this hangover.

Hearing laughter from across the room, Mulder and Mrs. Scully spotted Dana and Carol engaged in lively conversation with another group of guests. Scully was beautiful. Animatedly giggling and carrying on, she looked happy.

"Fox, you do this for her," Maggie whispered, noting his fascination with Scully's vitality.

Seeing his hesitation, she continued, "You can't live on 'what ifs', Fox. The reality is that you and Dana are involved with things I can't even begin to comprehend. But I do believe God places the right people, in the right places, at the right time. You and Dana have a destiny."

"Maggie, there's been such pain. Scully's gone through so much."

"And from what I understand, she'll likely go through more."

Maggie noted the intensity of his gaze upon her. "Mulder, I'm not naive. What you two do, scares the hell out of me. And from the small amounts I've gleamed from Dana, I realize your relationship will never be the stuff of mother-in-law's fantasies. But, Fox, look at her."

Mulder turned to see Scully staring at the two of them. She had a wistful smile on her face. The deafening conversation was still going on around her, but her focus was totally narrowed on him.

"Why must you two be so alone when it's obvious to the world around you that no two people ever fit so well together?" Maggie said, leaning in and placing another gentle kiss upon his cheek. "Conspiracies be damned, Mulder..."

"Fox... call me Fox," Mulder placed an endearing kiss upon Maggie's lips.

"Making time with my mother?" Scully sat down on the carpet in front of him.

Mulder affectionately pulled Scully up on to his lap. "It's hard to turn down the Scully charm."

"I don't see a beard or red coat, Santa."

"I belong to a more enlightened Santa organization. One made up only of psychologists. We feel the whole "costume thing" can be terribly intimidating to some - ranks right up therewith scaring children with clowns."

"I'm not intimidated, Mulder." Scully tightened her arms around his neck.

"Oh but I am, Scully. I've seen the indomitable spirit of the Scully women.

Music began. A group had gathered across the room around the Baby Grand. Robert, the man Carol was dating, was banging out Jingle Bell Rock. The revelers were in fine voice and spirit.

"Come on you three. Come join us," Carol cajoled, sliding her arm over Maggie's shoulders.

Looking back to where Mulder and Scully were still wrapped in their own little world of gentle touches and soothing words, Carol coaxed, "Mulder, I hear you do a mean "Blue Christmas". You're next up."

Grabbing Scully's bottom lip in a playful nip, Mulder stood.

"You're gonna pay, Scully. You're gonna pay."


Title: A Moose and Squirrel Christmas: Epilogue 1
Author: Dlynn
Rating: PG Archiving: Anywhere but I'd appreciate being notified so that I would know where it is. My brother, in Ohio, might want to visit. Feedback: dlynn1550@my-deja.com
Spoilers: You need to have read "A Moose and Squirrel Christmas" for this to make any sense. You can find that story at ephem.

Summary: This very short vignette follows Moose and Squirrel on the same day.
Author's Notes: After several people asked that I follow up Moose and Squirrel, I decided to write a couple of epilogues. This is the first. DISCLAIMOR: I do not own Mulder, Scully, The lonegunmen, or anything else pertaining to the x-files. I realize that all things x belong to Fox, Chris Carter and 1014 productions.

A Moose and Squirrel Christmas: Epilogue 1

CLICK!

SNAP!

CLICK!

"Out of my way Frohike! Where is he?" Mulder bellowed, pushing his way into the gunman's lair as soon as the last lock snapped open.

"Where is that lame excuse for a Woodstock reject!

"Glad to see you, too," Frohike mumbled as Mulder's shove sent him careening off balance into Byer's, sitting at a computer terminal.

"Watch it Frohike! It took me an hour to get into this site," groused Byers.

"Hey, I'm not the one with the lousy social manners. Talk to Mulder. He's the one with a bur up."

Langley, where the hell are you?" Mulder shouted, poking his head into various empty rooms.

Byers, typing furiously at his keyboard, shouted over his shoulder, "He's not here!"

Mulder stopped mid-stride, his hand poised at the doorknob of another room. If Frohike had said that, he'd probably have continued his search. But, Byers, God he was such an open book. He couldn't even play passable poker because it just wasn't in him to bluff.

The few times he'd helped with covert operations, like Mulder's impromptu hospital break to Antarctica, Byer's had been a basket case. It was fortuitous all he'd had to do was lie in the hospital bed that day. Apparently, his skin had taken on such a frightening grayish pallor, Skinner had thought he'd passed out.

"So, where'd the scrungy beatnik get to anyway? I told him I'd find him. I'm going to lop off his goldy locks," Mulder griped, sitting in the vacant seat next to Byers.

Without missing a keystroke, Byers said, "So, Mulder, I hear I missed a "classic" day at the mall today."

"Oh, Yeah.. Classic," moaned Frohike.

"Hickey, get it out of the gutter."

"Oh, but, Mulder, it was sooooo good. Dr. Scully can give me another tonsillectomy, anytime."

"If you don't lay off. You'll be seeing her again in her professional capacity-- the morgue's got all these little drawers, especially sized for trolls like you."

With Mulder still seated, Frohike was able to look him directly in the eye. Jabbing his finger, into Mulder's chest, he said, "Hey, you got problems with Langley, you take it out on Langley. Leave me, and the delicious, Agent Scully, out of your vengeful tirades."

Looking back to the locked door, Frohike asked, "Where's the lovely, 'Dana', anyway?"

"I dropped her home," Mulder admitted, beginning to calm down.

Letting the screensaver take over, Byer's swirled his chair around so he could face his friends.

"What's got you so upset with Langley anyway? From what I hear, he only forced you to ante up."

Mulder grimaced, "Due to Langley's compunction for the truth, I had to sing "Blue Christmas" during the food court's dinner rush. That's not exactly doing a friend a favor."

"No, but I call setting the stage for a little holiday nookie, a favor, man," came a voice from the open front door. Langley stepped inside, his arms full of Chinese take- out. "You oughtta be writing sonnets to me, old buddy. I sure didn't hear any complaints coming from you while you and Agent Scully sucked face."

Coffee sputtered from a startled Byer's. Frohike emitted a long wolf whistle, chanting, "Who's the man, who's the man!" And, Mulder, brought his startled eyes up to a grinning Langley. Noting Langley's head moving slowly side to side, Mulder realized Langley hadn't told his fellow cohorts about he and Scully's spontaneous lip-lock. He had respected their privacy. Mulder, on the other hand, might as well have taken out a billboard in Times Square.

"Uh.guys."

"So, Mulder, give it up, already. Did you enjoy your holiday cheer?" inquired Langley, putting the steaming white boxes down on the table.

"Big lug!" Frohike walked over to Mulder, giving his arm a good-natured whack. "I'm deeply offended. She's stepping out on me already. What would she want with a tall, dark, drink of water like you when she could have a compact, raging dynamo, like me?"

"Frohike, I am not going to stand here one-upping each other with 'I've kissed Scully stories'. This is beyond juvenile."

"Afraid you'll come out on the short end, huh?" Frohike said, grabbing a pair of chopsticks and a box of cashew chicken.

Byers, joining the others at the table, grabbed his own set of chopsticks. He looked pensive, like he had found himself in the middle of a story and was trying to get caught up. The fact that Scully had been sitting on Frohike's lap and kissed him was startling enough to wrap his brain around. But, that was a bad joke, gone "good", at least in Frohike's eyes.

Catching Mulder's eyes across the table, Byers looked deeply. Beneath the obviously feigned anger at Langley and the banal banter with Frohike, Byer's saw a changed man. Silently, Byers questioned his friend, "This is good, right?"

Nodding imperceptibly in return, Mulder peacefully acknowledged the truth in their non-verbal exchange. "Yes, this is very good."

Straddling a chair he'd pulled out from the table, Mulder reached into the middle of the fray.

"Frohike, quit hoarding the cashew chicken," Mulder said, grabbing the box out of his hands.

"Geesh, Mulder, your table manners are pitiful," Frohike said, flipping his chopsticks end over end and hitting Mulder in the head.

"I wouldn't damage the goods, Frohike. I think Agent Scully's got plans for him," Langley joked, snapping the top off his beer bottle. "From the look she gave him, I'd say, you'd better pass our boy some broccoli and beef, too. He's going to need his strength."

Standing, Frohike raised his beer bottle in the air. Seeing his demeanor, the others looked questioningly at each other. What was he up to?

"Life 'em high, gents. I propose a toast."

Byers, Langley and eventually, Mulder, all raised their bottles. With a seriousness, that belied their previous bantering, Frohike began his toast.

"To Agent's Mulder and Scully. It's about time."

With the sounds of clinking glass and hearty echoes of "about time" ringing in his ears, Mulder wondered, "What was Scully doing right now?"


Title: A Moose and Squirrel Christmas: Epilogue 2
Author: Dlynn
Rating: PG Archiving: Anywhere, but I would appreciate being notified so that I would know where it is. Please, keep my name and all headers attached.
Category: Vignette, humor,

Summary: This is a continuation of A Moose and Squirrel Christmas, and A Moose and Squirrel Christmas: Epilogue 1. It takes place the same evening as the other two. Scully discusses 'the bet' with her mom, et. al.
Spoilers: very slight one for FTF, mostly you just need to have read the other two Moose and Squirrel Christmas stories. They are currently at ephemeral. Eventually they'll be at gossamer. Millennium isn't a part of this universe, for obvious reasons. And, for those that have asked, "no, I don't have my own site."
Author's Notes: I couldn't resist continuing the holiday fluff. For those of you who asked, "What happened next?" Here's your answer. Disclaimer: I don't own Mulder, Scully, the Lonegunmen or Mrs. Scully. Everything x belongs to Fox, Chris Carter and 1013 productions.

A Moose and Squirrel Christmas: Epilogue 2

Turning off the water tap and wrenching open the shower curtain, Dana Scully scrambled for a towel. "Blast!" she thought. "That's the phone."

Running from the bathroom, she left behind a trail of expletives, a pathway of water, and scattered clothing from the laundry hamper she'd knocked over in her haste. As it was, the machine had already picked up by the time she got to her bedroom phone.

She heard her mom's voice. "Dana, Dana. If you're there, honey, please pick-up."

Punching the buttons to turn off the pre-recorded message, Scully scrambled to pick up the receiver before her mother hung up.

"Don't hang up, mom. I'm here."

"Oh, I thought maybe you and, Fox, hadn't made it back from your last assignment."

"No, we finished up early," Scully answered, wrapping the bath sheet around her. Putting the cordless phone under her chin, she headed for the kitchen.

"Well, good. Then you'll be able to make it to Carol's tomorrow for her Christmas Open House?"

Putting the teakettle on to boil, Scully replied, "Yea, I was planning on it. You want me to pick you up after mass?"

"Sure, honey, that would be lovely. We haven't had a chance to really talk in awhile."

"No we haven't. I'd like that a lot," Scully said, rummaging through her suitcase looking for her robe. Not finding it, she slammed the suitcase closed.

"Damn."

"Is something the matter, Dana?" her mother queried. "No, I, must have gotten my robe mixed in with Mulder's things when I was pack.." Realizing how that sounded, Scully let the rest of the sentence dangle.

"Dana, is there something you'd like to tell me?"

CLICK!

"Uh, mom, hold on a minute. I've got another call," Scully said, switching to the other party using her call-waiting feature.

"Woman, 'Fickle' is thy name," breathed the voice on the other end of the line.

"Frohike, is that you?"

"Discard me like an old pair of shoes. Throw my heart on the floor, squishing it with your size six stilettos. 'Until there's nothing left but..

"Frohike, are you drunk?" asked an annoyed Scully.

"No, I just have a pleasant, <burp> buzz..zz..zzz"

"Frohike, I assure you. I could have gone all day without that sound in my ear."

"Sorry, 'scuse me for my poor manners."

"Hang on Frohike, my mom's on the other line. I'll get back to you in a minute."

Scully quickly switched back to her mother.

"Mom, I'm sorry, It's Frohike. He's drunk. I should probably talk to him. I'll call you.."

"Whoa, young lady, don't you hang up on me. I want to know why your bathrobe is in Fox's luggage." Margaret Scully said, refusing to be pushed aside.

Exasperatedly, Scully took off for the kitchen where her teakettle was piping a piercing tune. Removing the kettle from the burner and turning off the stove, Scully grabbed the towel's edges that were threatening to dislodge themselves.

"Look, mom, it's nothing. Mulder went to check out of the hotel and I said I'd finish.."

Just then Scully heard her cell phone chirping. Digging through the pocket of her overcoat, she pulled the thing out. Knowing it was probably work related, she said, "Hold on, mom, I've gotta get my cell phone." She placed the cordless receiver down on the end table next to the couch.

"Scully." She answered.

"Oh, hey, Scully, it's me."

"Mulder?"

"Yea, Mulder. What you wearing, Scully?"

Looking down at herself, dressed in a ratty old bath sheet, Scully laughed. "You've got to be kidding, right? I thought it was work calling, Mulder."

"Nope, just me. Couldn't get through on your home line. Phone was busy. You're a regular Social ..uh.. you know..um. Butterfly. Yea, that's it, butterfly."

"Mulder, you're drunk. Where are you?"

"I'm at the..."

"Hold that thought, Mulder, I left my mom hanging on the other phone."

Scully went to grab her cordless phone. Losing her towel from its precarious position, she tripped over it, stumbling into the couch and stubbing her toe.

"Damn, damn, damn!" she said, hopping on her other foot. Realizing her mother had just been privy to that entire tirade, Scully picked up her cordless phone.

"Mom, I'm sorry."

"Honey, are you alright? Was that Fox you were talking to on your cell phone?" Mrs. Scully asked, concern edging out the laugher in her voice.

"Yea, it's Mulder. I'm fine. Just dropped my towel and stubbed my toe," Scully said, picking up both phones and heading for the bedroom to find a t-shirt and a pair of boxers she could put on. This was getting ridiculous.

"OH, Shi..shoot, mom. I forgot Frohike. I left him on hold. Hang on a minute. I still want to explain."

Scully threw one of Mulder's old knick's t-shirts on over her head as she punched the button transferring her back to Frohike.

"Frohike?"

"Frohike?" she asked again. Listening carefully she could hear gentle snoring coming through the receiver.

"FROHIKE!" she screamed trying to wake him up. He'd obviously passed out while waiting for her to come back to him.

"Agent Scully?"

"Byers, is that you? Where's Frohike?"

Looking down at Frohike, slouched down in the chair, dead to the world, Byers answered, "Uh. I guess he's tired. He fell asleep."

"Right, fell asleep," Scully mocked.

"He passed out, Byers. You want to tell me why a drunken Frohike decided to call me?"

"To congratulate you, maybe?" Byers answered.

"To congratulate me? About what?" A dawning realization came to her.

"Hold that thought, Byers. I've got Mulder on the other phone."

Picking up her cell phone, Scully asked, "Mulder, where are you?"

Looking over the front seat at the driver, Mulder answered, "I'm in a cab, Scully. Me and, uh.. it's, Ray, right, Ray, the cab driver.. are in a cab."

Noticing how Mulder seemed quite pleased with his verbal accomplishments, Scully let him have it.

"Mulder, have you been with the Lone Gunmen? And, would it be any stretch of the imagination to say, you've been getting sloshed?"

"Sloshed?" Mulder slurred.

"Yea, sloshed, as in pickled, inebriated, drunk, smashed, stoned, feeling no pain."

"Well, I'm not feeling any pain. You feeling any pain, Ray? No? O.k. Scully, Ray and me, we aren't feeling any pain."

"What did Langley tell the other stooges, Mulder? He narced about you kissing me, didn't he?"

"Uh.. Technically, yes.. but uh.. not until I let the cat out of the bag myself," Mulder admitted ruefully.

"DANA. DANA!" Scully heard her mother's voice shouting from the other phone.

How could that be? She thought she'd left Byers on the line and her mother on hold.

Placing the cordless phone to her free ear while keeping her cell nestled to her other ear, she said, "Mom? I thought I'd left you on hold."

"You must have hit the transfer button when you put the phone down. Dana, what is this about Fox kissing you?"

"Oh, God, mom it's a really long story. Let's just say, I lost a bet. Can, the rest wait 'til tomorrow?"

"You kissed Mulder 'cause you lost a bet?" Scully's mom inquired, while Mulder was screaming in the other ear.

"Whoa, Scully, you didn't kiss me 'cause you lost a bet!" Mulder caught Ray's smirk in the rear view mirror. "Don't let your mom think that. I'm no one's booby prize."

"I'm giving the phone to Ray, Scully. You tell him. I ain't no booby prize."

"No, Mulder, don't give the phone.. Uh. Uh huh, Ray?'

"Ya, mon, it's Ray. This guy's snockered bad, lady . He keeps sayin' "not someone's booby.." Over and over,"not someone's booby."

"I understand, Ray. Just give Mulder back the phone, o.k?"

"Sure, no problem, mon."

"And, Ray, I didn't kiss him 'cause I lost a bet."

"Gotcha' lady. Here's your man." Ray tossed the phone over the seat to Mulder. "Hey, mon, she as pretty as she sounds?"

"Yea, she's pretty. And, she's mine."

"I hear ya, brother. I hear ya."

"Dana?"

"Yes, mom." Smiling, Scully was brought back from eavesdropping on Mulder and Ray's conversation.

"You are going to explain this all, aren't you?"

"Just one more minute, mom. I need to get back to Byer's."

"Dana, I thought you were talking to Frohike?" Mrs. Scully said, confusion evident in her voice.

"I was, I think, uh.. I don't really know any more, but hold on and I'll get rid of whomever."

Clicking the transfer button once again, Scully said, "Byer's you still there?"

"Yea, Scully, I'm here."

"I'm going to hang up now, Byer's. Tell, Frohike, ..ah , hell, forget it. He probably won't remember this conversation anyway."

"Umm, Agent Scully?"

"Yes."

"Congratulations, on umm.. You know what I mean," Byers stammered.

"Thanks, John, I know."

As Byer's hung up, Scully took a deep breath, bracing herself for her mom's questions. As she transferred to her mom one last time, she thought, 'I feel like I'm in a Monty Python routine. Always look on the bright side of life...ta, da, ta, da..'

"Mom?"

"Yes, Dana."

"I've hung up the other line."

"Good, now maybe we can finish our talk."

BZZZZZZZZZZZ!!

"Uh, mom, it's the door."

"O.k., Dana, I can see this conversation is not going anywhere real quick. We'll talk tomorrow, honey. And, Dana?"

"Yes, mom."

"Bring, Fox. I think I'd like to talk to him, too."

"I'll ask him. Goodnight, mom."

"Goodnight, Dana."

Scully swore she could hear laughing from her mother's end as she hung up. I'm glad she thinks this is funny. Hopping into the boxers she'd been trying to put on for the last ten minutes, Scully grabbed her gun off the kitchen table. With her luck, she'd find old Smokey on the other side of the door, ready to offer up his 'congratulations'.

Peering through the peephole, she saw a very loopy Mulder, with a most disgruntled face.

Opening the door, she stepped aside so he could enter.

"I ain't no booby prize, Scully," he said, sliding down the wall joining Frohike in the land of Nod.

Placing a gentle kiss against his lips, Scully answered. "No, Mulder you're definitely not the booby prize."


Title: A Moose and Squirrel Christmas: Epilogue 3
Author: Dlynn
Rating: PG Archiving: Anywhere, but I would appreciate being notified so that I would know where it is. Please, keep my name and all headers attached.
Category: Vignette, humor,

Summary: This is a continuation of A Moose and Squirrel Christmas, and A Moose and Squirrel Christmas: Epilogues 1 & 2.
Spoilers: You just need to have read the other three Moose and Squirrel Christmas stories. They are currently at ephemeral. Eventually they'll be at gossamer. Millennium isn't a part of this universe, for obvious reasons. And, for those that have asked, "no, I don't have my own site."
Author's Notes: I guess you would say that Moose and Squirrel are the proud parents of epilogues. Several of you are responsible for me being behind with Christmas preparations, geeesh! I'm writing as fast as I can. Disclaimer: I don't own Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunmen or Mrs. Scully. Everything x belongs to Fox, Chris Carter and 1013 productions. The lyrics for "I Believe in Father Christmas" are from Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Works Vol. II.

A Moose and Squirrel Christmas: 3rd epilogue

Strains of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" floated through the living room. His was not the voice of angels, but there was something about that song. Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas, without Bing.

Listening to "White Christmas" reminded her of her grandfather. He had been in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. Because of his knowledge of German and French, he was an army radio operator and translator.

She could remember the gentle ribbing every holiday between she and her granddad. She would pray for the first holiday snow, delighting in a world blanketed in white. Whereas, he would tell her how "White Christmas" reminded him of being "fanny deep" in the freezing cold of winter during one of the war's bloodiest battles. With a hug and a kiss, year after year, they'd agree to disagree.

Scully was wrapped in the warmth of terry cloth. She had dug through her closet, finding the well-worn robe shoved way back in a corner. Since her other one was still AWOL, this one would have to do.

She was seated on her living room couch, her feet tucked beneath her, and an afghan thrown over her legs. She held a steaming mug of tea in her hands, cradling it gently to her lips. Bing was still crooning, the fire was blazing, and the tree lights were twinkling. There was a gentle snow falling right outside her window. Nothing drastic. No blizzard. Just the slow, aching drop of perfect flakes.

The lights were off, save the one small one over her kitchen stove. Shadows danced with the small tendrils of flickering firelight. The twinkling tree lights gave a fairy like quality to the darkened room. There was a hush over the world, the quiet slumber existing in the morning's wee hours. Not a sound, besides Bing, disturbed her contemplation.

Until now.

"Oh, God, I've died and gone to Bedford Falls," came Mulder's croaking voice.

"No, Mulder, I don't think you could say this is your "Wonderful Life".

"Nope, Scully. In my life's version of the movie, I don't find myself waking up on your hardwood floors. Something a little softer comes to mind."

"Hey, I tried to move you. You're the one who refused to budge, saying, 'sol right, just wanna sleep...", she slurred, imitating his inebriated condition.

Pushing aside the covers tangled around him, Mulder said, "I appreciate the blanket and pillow. Nice touch. Leave the drunk on the floor but at least layer him in goose feathers and down."

Placing her mug on the end table, Scully got up, moving over to where Mulder lay in her entryway. She grasped both his hands, helping him pull himself up from his prone position. He leaned back, his head against her door, a moment of deja vu upon him. He tried shaking his head to clear it, but discovered that was an unbelievably stupid idea.

Grasping his head with both hands, Mulder shakily asked, "Would, you, please turn that music down. I don't need any more sleigh bells jingling in my head."

Flipping the stereo switch, Scully asked, "Better?"

"I'm not sure. You wouldn't by any chance be hearing "Joy to the World" would you?"

"'The Three Dog Night' version?" she inquired.

"No, the 'Hark', it's Harold and his angels' version," Mulder whined, doing his best to come to a standing position.

"Nope, not hearing a thing," she said, grasping his forearm, forestalling him from swaying into the tree.

"That's what I figured."

"Mulder, you're looking a particularly nasty shade of green at this moment."

"That's good, Scully, because I'm feeling pretty putrid. In fact,..."

Mulder lurched from her grasp, charging down her hallway as quickly as his swaying legs would allow. Heading into the bathroom, he heard her scream.

"Mulder, you'd better make it. I'm telling you right now. I don't do throw-up!"


Moments later, Scully pushed open the bathroom door several inches. She extended her arm, only the distance needed for Mulder to grab the new toothbrush box from her hand. She, then, heard sounds of running tap water and frantic teeth brushing.

"You, o.k. in there, Mulder?" she inquired solicitously, wanting to give him a modicum of privacy.

"I've made my donation to the porcelain god, if that's what you're asking," came his voice, muffled with toothpaste. "And, before you ask, donations were delivered directly into his waiting maw. No side trips along the way."

Mulder turned off the water, fully opening the bathroom door. Permission was granted. She could enter.

He stood in front of the mirror, examining his red eyes and the puffy shadows beneath them. He gestured to the disheveled man reflected in the glass. Here was a man, whose rumpled suit and five o'clock shadow made him look like Red Skelton's version of "the pour soul". Mulder grimaced.

"Scully, you kissed that?" he asked incredulously.

"Yea, hard to believe, isn't it?" she said, slapping a clean towel down on the vanity. Turning her back on him, she left the room.

Washing his face and running his wet fingers through his spiky hair, Mulder sneered at his reflection.

"I wouldn't kiss you either. You are such a sorry son of a..."

The rest of his words were lost as Mulder, once again, staggered into the drunkard's cathedral. Going through a repeat clean-up, he remembered at least one thing very clearly. This is why he rarely drank. He didn't need this kind of help in making a bigger ass out of himself than normal.

After throwing his dirty towel on top of Scully's hamper, Mulder turned off the bathroom light. Walking back towards her living room, he heard the faint strains of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. What was that? Oh, yea, "I believe in Father Christmas." Scully was definitely eclectic with her holiday selections. Not exactly "Joyful, joyful".

"I wish you a hopeful Christmas. I wish you a brave New Year. All anguish, pain and sadness, Leave your heart and let your road be clear."

"Feeling better?"

"Better is a relative term, Scully. I'm feeling 'rode hard and put away wet," Mulder replied, reaching into her kitchen cabinet for a large tumbler.

Turning on the tap, Mulder asked, "Got any aspirin?"

"One cabinet over. Fill that glass to the top, Mulder. You need every ounce of water. Your body's dehydrated."

Quite aware that aspirin, sleep and lots of water were the only true remedies for a hangover, Scully felt Mulder needed more penance than that. He and the Lone Gunmen had gotten her into a fix with her mother. Mulder deserved PAIN.

So, she stood at her kitchen counter, with a selection of booze at the ready.

"Uh, Scully. I think I've had enough for this evening."

"No kidding, Mulder. I want you to pick out what your particular poison for the evening has been and I'm going to make you a hangover remedy."

"I thought I just needed to drink lots of water?" Mulder inquired, eyeing the variety of alcoholic options.

"That's true, you do need to re-hydrate. However, a little home remedy couldn't hurt," Scully said, with her eyes daring him to back down.

Mulder grabbed a bottle off the counter.

"Bourbon, Mulder?"

"Well, we started with beer, but quickly ran out. Frohike had the bourbon stashed for a special occasion."

"This was a special occasion?" Scully asked, pouring a shot glass full of bourbon.

"I thought so," he said, trying to meet her eyes. But, Scully would have none of that. She poured a large glass of orange juice, added a couple of raw eggs and a large dollop of tobasco. She then added the shot of bourbon.

With a final flourish, she stirred the mixture together.

"Hair of the dog, Scully?"

"Dr. Scully's cure-all for what ails you. Guaranteed to diminish that hang over you're already beginning to feel."

Looking at the finished product, sitting on her counter, Mulder tried not to think about the raw eggs and bourbon.

"Who does your testimonials, Dr. Scully? You're clientele are not noted for stimulating conversation."

Handing him the drink, Scully said, "I don't know about that, Mulder. This stuff's been known to raise the dead."

Taking a sniff, Mulder's face grimaced with dissatisfaction.

"Can't I just take an Alka Seltzer? You know, "plop, plop, fizz, fizz". It's always worked before."

"It'll put hair on your chest," she cajoled, noting his less than enthusiastic response to her ministrations.

"Hell, Scully, that'll put hair on my tongue!"

"I promise not to complain if it does," she said, moving down her hallway to her bedroom.

Contemplating the tongue comment and hearing her chorus of 'wuss, wuss', Mulder forced the noxious liquid down his throat. He feared Scully's cure would probably inflict a slow, painful death. He may have been sloshed, but he knew her game. This was no home remedy. This was an act of retribution and he couldn't really fault her.

Scully returned to the living room with arms full of bed linens. Noting his curious look, she shoved him toward the couch.

"One kiss, does not a bed partner make," she explained. "Besides, I think the only intimacy in your immediate future will include bathroom plumbing."

"Yea, just call me "Roto Rooter", Mulder said taking the bedding from her and settling it on the couch.

Catching the sleeve of her robe, he pulled Scully gently into an embrace. Wrapped tightly around her, he marveled at how well she fit up against him. He fought protective urges that always entered his mind when he was this close. She was so small. Their size disparity was never more obvious to him than when she was enclosed in his arms.

But, there was strength in her. It proclaimed loudly, "I may be small but don't be mislead". And, the vigor of her will was a gravitational force, a compulsion not to be ignored. The complexities of Scully could fill a book.

His mind may have been focused on her formidable spirit but the rapid beat of his heart detailed his response to her beauty. Too bad he was in the doghouse and the reality of his upright position was more attributed to her balance than his own sense of coordination.

"You owe me, Mulder," she mumbled into his shirt.

"I know. My behavior sucks."

"Yes," pulling away long enough to grab a receipt off her end table, "It does. But, separate from that, you owe me exactly $50.00."

"What?" he responded, grabbing the receipt from her hand.

"Mulder, you, and your new best 'bud', Ray, went gallivanting all over D.C., to the tune of $37.50."

Mulder rubbed his eyes, noting two Scullys present in his field of vision. And in his current state, that was just one Scully too many.

"Ray?"

"The Jamaican cab driver," she said, handing him another glass of water.

"Ah, Ray." Mulder said, flopping on the couch as his legs finally gave up the ghost. There was a vague recollection trying to force itself to the surface of his muddled brain.

Placing the empty water glass on the coffee table, Mulder blustered. "Wait a minute, Scully, you said I owed you $50.00. Now I may not, currently, be the sharpest knife in the drawer but that's a difference of. uh.. hell, that's a big difference."

Watching his valiant attempt at higher cognitive function and resounding failure at basic math, Scully took pity.

"Mulder, that's Ray's tip. I figure, after putting up with your crap, the man deserved additional monetary compensation."

"Geesh, Scully, that's a 33% tip. He didn't give me a kidney, only a ride home."

Noting her surprise, that his brain appeared to be calculating again, he said, "Don't get your hopes up. It comes and goes. And, oh God, I think it's going again."

Taking a few difficult breaths and sliding down deeper into the cushions, Mulder successfully fought the rising dizziness. He could do it. All he had to do was close his eyes to stop the room from spinning.

"Well you were hardly in any shape to determine high finances and Ray did manage to drag your sorry butt in here."

"He did?"

"Yea, I thought you'd arrived by yourself, barely making it in time to pass out in my entryway. But, then Ray came knocking at my door. You told him I'd cover the bill."

"Forgot. I used it all at the mall," Mulder slurred, his voice beginning to give out.

"Thankfully, I had some I'd put aside for buying gifts," Scully said, loosening his tie and tossing it on the chair with his suit jacket. She then pulled off his socks and shoes, laying them at the end of the couch. She grabbed a small card off the end table and handed it to him. "What's this?" he inquired.

"Ray's card. Apparently, somewhere between your rendition of Montego Bay and Day'O, you offered to get him an interview with the bureau."

Full cognizance returning, Mulder sang softly. "Daylight, come and me wanna go home."

"Yep, that's the one," she said, unbuttoning his shirt at the cuffs. Slapping his hands away as he awkwardly tried to help, Scully finished off the shirt in short order, adding it to the pile on the chair.

"I'm so tired, Scully."

"I know but give up the pants first before you go to sleep."

"Agent Scully!" Mulder admonished while divesting himself of his trousers.

Laying his crumpled suit pants with the other articles of clothing, Scully pushed him gently back onto the couch.

With a gentle kiss to his forehead, Scully murmured, "Daylight come and you're gonna talk to mom.."

"Mom?" Mulder thought drifting off to sleep. "I don't wanna talk to mom. I wanna kiss Scully."

Succumbing to the heavy darkness, Mulder's mind drifted.

It all began with..

. a mall.

..a bet.

Santa. Frohike?.

. a song.. .The Kiss!

Groaning, he thought, too bad it was going to end with her mother.


Title: A Moose and Squirrel Christmas: Finale
Author: Dlynn
Rating: PG Archiving: Gossamer, spooky's. All other's, please notify me. I would appreciate knowing where it is. Please, keep my name and all headers attached.
Category: Vignette, humor
Spoilers: You just need to have read the other 4 Moose and Squirrel Christmas stories. In order they are: A Moose and Squirrel Christmas, A Moose and Squirrel Christmas: epilogue 1, A Moose and Squirrel Christmas: 2nd epilogue and A Moose and Squirrel Christmas: 3rd epilogue. They are all currently at ephemeral. Millennium isn't a part of this universe, for obvious reasons.

Summary: This is the finale to A Moose and Squirrel Christmas.

Author's Notes: This started as a short, holiday vignette. Thanks so much to those who asked for a continuation. I had fun writing a series. Also, after the holidays, my husband is making a web page for my stories. I'll post the URL when it's done. Disclaimer: I don't own Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunmen or Mrs. Scully. Everything x belongs to Fox, Chris Carter and 1013 productions.

He looked quite presentable. Maybe not "GQ fine", but at least not "something dismal the cat drug in", either. The "pour soul" he'd seen in Scully's bathroom mirror the night before, had been replaced by "the man", someone who had it all together.

His pupils were clear, there were no lingering bags or dark shadows beneath his eyes. He was quaffed, freshly scrubbed, teeth brushed, bright as a new shiny penny.

STYLIN'

Too bad he felt like crap!

He might as well have spent the night bathing a cat with his tongue. Tiny fur balls littered every nook and cranny in his mouth. His breath should be quarantined -extreme biohazard.

Good news, he no longer heard "Jingle Bells" or "Joy to the World" reverberate in his skull. Bad news, the construction crew, replacing the choir, delivered even more mind numbing symphonies. Regrettably, the new crew's ability to keep tempo rivaled Scully's capacity for singing on key.

"Deck the Halls" took on a whole new meaning when the tympani section included jackhammers and blowtorches.

And, his stomach,. he didn't even want to go there.. The coffee he'd forced down earlier was staging a coup with his physiology. The caffeine might be dancing merrily through his system singing, "It's time to get up...it's time to get up... time to get up in the moooorning!"

But, the actual coffee itself battled, hand to hand, in combat with his intestines. He feared his colon would win the war.

Thus it had been ever since he'd woken this morning, stretched out in a rumpled heap on Scully's couch. He may have gone to bed with "Silent Night" whispering sweet lullabies, but he woke up with "The Hallelujah Chorus" screaming in his ear.

Before she'd gone to Mass, Scully had set an alarm, placing it on the coffee table right next to his head. Smacking the impertinent "rooster" clean off the table into the kitchen, Mulder mentally made note to buy her a new alarm clock for Christmas. The momentary satisfaction he garnered hearing the offending clock smash into the refrigerator, didn't make up for the time he had to spend on hands and knees picking up tiny glass and plastic pieces.

Her warm, welcoming, morning message sat on the kitchen counter. She'd left the aspirin bottle, a ready-made carafe full of hot coffee and his marching orders for the day.

"Dear Mulder,

I hope you slept well. Now get your tail in gear! I 'll be at your place no later than 11:30a.m. to pick you up. Dress nice, mom's invited you to Carol's holiday open house. You'll get a chance to meet my godson.

Since you got me into this mess with mom, you can suffer the third degree right along with me.

Scully

P.S. Don't even think about weaseling out of this."

Over the grumble of his stomach, he heard steps in the hallway outside the bathroom door. Scully must have let herself into his apartment during his last swish and spit.

"I've seen worse," she said poking her head through the open doorway.

"I know, but they've all had Y-incisions," Mulder replied, spitting out his second, or was it third, round of mouthwash. Shoot, he might as well drink the whole bottle. Kissably fresh, right.

"True, but they weren't dressed in J. Crew."

"You like?"

"I like," Scully said, bestowing a soft, lingering kiss to his minty fresh lips.

O.K. maybe he was kissably fresh, he thought, wrapping his arms around her waist.

Nuzzling her hair, Mulder said, "So you wanna stay and play?"

Looking into his deceptively innocent eyes, Scully replied, "Don't look for me in your Christmas stocking. I think you're on Santa's 'naughty' list."

"Oh, but Scully," Mulder said, running his lips down her neck to the open collar of her blouse, "I do 'naughty', so nice."

Playfully slapping his lips away, Scully drew him out into the living room. Seriously, considering the shape he'd been in the night before, he was an impressive specimen. Maybe there was something to that old family "Hair of the dog" recipe after all.

Looking around his living room, Mulder asked, "Did you leave your mother in the car? That seems pretty tacky, Scully."

"I called mom from the church this morning and told her I'd be running late. She decided to drive on ahead. It's not as far for her. Anyway, I felt you and I needed a little time to get "our ducks in a row".

"You mean concoct a plausible story?" he said, snapping on his holster and grabbing his keys from the table.

"We don't need to concoct anything. Nothing's happened that requires obfuscation. Last night was just a comedy of errors, an evening unparalleled in insanity."

Giving her a puzzled look, Mulder ruminated on what she had just said. Did she mean everything that happened last night defied logic? Everything? Wait a minute. She did kiss him when she arrived this morning. Looking into her laughing eyes, he realized he was allowing his insecurities to dissect Scully's every word, every gesture, every nuance. This was ridiculous.

Yesterday's kiss may have been born in spontaneity, but he had no doubt of her feelings. Deep abiding love stood just a breath away.

Leaning in and brushing her lips across his, Scully murmured, "Gotcha.."

Grabbing his leather jacket off the back of his chair, she tossed it to him. She, then, walked into his kitchen, pouring a large glass of water from the jug he kept in his fridge. Handing it to him, he scowled, draining what he was sure had to be his second gallon of water since last night.

Following her through the door into his hallway, Mulder said, "Geesh, Scully, any more liquid and my eyeballs are going to float. I hope you're prepared to stop if I need to use the little boy's room."


"Dana, I'm so glad you could make it."

Sweeping Scully into a warm embrace, Carol tugged her inside the foyer. Including Mulder in her effervescent welcome, Carol grabbed him around the middle, for all practical purposes squeezing the "stuffing out of him".

Where Scully was petite, Carol was tall, just a few inches short of his own 6'1'' height. Scully and Carol, auburn and brunette, quiet and boisterous, both obviously enamored with the other.

He watched them talk at the same time, stepping over each other's words. Each interrupting, finishing the other's sentences, jumping from one topic to the next.

...you've been?"

"It's been hard on Brian...more introverted than ever."

"I know...time."

"Sometimes, it's so hard..."

It was ease born of familiarity, a comeraderie that came with time and shared experience. These women were obviously close- friends of the heart.

"And you must be Fox. Maggie's told me so much about you," Carol said, realizing she had excluded him from their conversation. It was just so good to see Dana. Life's circumstances lately had kept them apart. She hadn't seen Dana, since her own husband's funeral, several months ago. Talking on the phone was good. Up close and personal was better.

"Where is mom?" Dana asked, peering past the louvered doors into the kitchen. She knew that's where she'd be, helping to make sure everything went smoothly for Carol. The Scully's and the Frank's had been connected for years. She and Carol had practically grown up together as their fathers' posted the same assignments. In fact, Bill used to complain he had three sisters instead of two.

Until the year he noticed Carol had developed much more than a sparkling personality. No longer was she a nuisance tagalong, like his kid sister, but fuel for a young man's fantasies. He'd even gone so far as to ask her out once, but she had sliced him down by snottily informing him, "Bill, that would be like dating my brother. " Oh, they'd laughed over that.

Scully knew. Maggie would be close.

"Dana."

Scully turned to see her mother coming up beside Mulder. Maggie Scully gave him a tender kiss on the cheek. Returning her affection, Mulder said," Mrs. Scully. It's good to see you again."

"Fox, after all we've been through. Don't you think you could call me Maggie?"

"Maggie," he acknowledged, noticing Scully's wicked grin behind her mother's head.

"Dana. How about you and I go take a look at the tree," Maggie Scully said, linking arms with her daughter. "I'm sure, Carol, will take good care of Mulder."

Mulder noticed how quickly Scully's grin turned inward. She was no longer smirking as her mother pulled her into the living room. In fact, Mulder thought he saw Scully wearing "his panic face". Carol, on the other hand was not going to let him off the hook either.

Tucking her arm in his, pulling him to the dining room holiday buffet, Carol said, "So, Fox,... may I call you Fox.."

"Uh... Mulder, I really prefer..."


With a heaping plate, steeped in holiday favorites, Mulder found a seat over by the fireplace hearth. The heat, emanating from the roaring fire, made him feel a little bit like a bag of roasted chestnuts. However, he sweated through the misery because this location afforded several positives. What was it they said, "Everything is location, location, location."

First of all, he was partially hidden by the tree. He had visual of the room, but for the most part he was obscured. Secondly, if worse came to worse, he could hide his plate of Christmas goodies. He'd already scoped out a spot, between the large green package and the one decked in garish, gold foil. A temporary cease-fire had been declared between he and his stomach. But, like all truces, there usually was one remaining battle. He wanted to be prepared.

Picking at the food Carol had gleefully piled high on his plate, Mulder was momentarily distracted. That was all it took. Feeling her presence, Mulder smiled.

"Mrs. Scu- Maggie," he finished, noting her admonishing grin.

"Fox."

Mulder chuckled. Maggie was one of the few people who refused to call him Mulder. She seemed to take great delight every time she said, "Fox".

"Uh, Maggie, I apologize for my disgraceful behavior last night. I was."

"...feeling no pain," she finished, patting his arm gently. "Although, from the looks of things, you're not out of the woods yet."

"Well, the jackhammer's gone on break, but it's been replaced with a repeating staple gun. My diminished capacity excuse, is, however... diminishing."

"I'll live, right?" he said, looking hopefully into her eyes. They both knew he was not talking about recovery from this hangover.

Hearing laughter from across the room, Mulder and Mrs. Scully spotted Dana and Carol, engaged in lively conversation with another group of guests. Scully was beautiful. Animatedly giggling and carrying on, she looked happy.

"Fox, you do this for her," Maggie said noting his fascination with Scully's vitality.

Seeing his hesitation, she continued, "You can't live on "what ifs", Fox. The reality is that you and Dana are involved with things I can't even begin to comprehend. But, I do believe God places the right people, in the right places, at the right time. You and Dana have a destiny."

"Maggie, there's been such pain. Scully's gone through so much."

"And from what I understand, she'll likely go through more."

Noting the intensity of his gaze upon her, Maggie continued, "Mulder, I'm not naive. What you two do, scares the hell out of me. And, from the small amounts I've gleamed from Dana, I realize your relationship will never be the stuff of mother- in-law's fantasies. But, Fox, look at her."

Mulder turned to see Scully staring at the two of them. She had a wistful, smile on her face. The deafening conversation was still going on around her, but her focus was totally narrowed on him.

"Why must you two be so alone when it's obvious to the world around you that no two people ever fit so well together?" Maggie said, leaning in and placing another gentle kiss upon his cheek. "Conspiracies be damned, Mulder..."

"Fox, call me Fox," Mulder said placing an endearing kiss upon Maggie's lips.

"Making time with my mother?" Scully asked, sitting down on the carpet in front of him.

"It's hard to turn down the Scully charm," Mulder said, affectionately pulling Scully up on to his lap.

"I don't see a beard or red coat, Santa."

"I belong to a more enlightened Santa organization. One made up only of psychologists. We feel the whole "costume thing" can be terribly intimidating to some."

"I'm not intimidated, Mulder," Scully said, tightening her arms around his neck.

"Oh, but I am, Scully. I've seen the indomitable spirit of the Scully women.

Music began. A group had gathered, across the room, around the Baby Grand. Robert, the man Carol was dating, was banging out "Jingle Bell Rock". The revelers were in fine voice and spirit.

"Come on you three. Come join us," Carol said, sliding her arm over Maggie's shoulders.

Looking back to where Mulder and Scully were still wrapped in their own little world of gentle touches and soothing words, Carol coaxed, "Mulder, I hear you do a mean 'Blue Christmas.' You're next up."

Grabbing Scully's bottom lip in a playful nip, Mulder stood.

"You're gonna pay, Scully. You're gonna pay."

THE END, FINI, *30*


Author's notes: Merry Christmas to everyone who made it through to the end. I appreciate all the wonderful e-mails I've been receiving. You've definitely made my holiday brighter. dlynn

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