Title: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Author: LolaX

Summary: This story is just a bit of warm, fuzzy Christmas goodness. Itís AU because it is set as though Emily had not passed away and was now living with ScullyÖwell thatís pretty much it! Sorry if itís a bit silly and rushed! Merry Christmas! Xxx :)

~*~*~

The fire roared as Mulder settled himself on the couch with his feet up. Scully handed him a mug of coffee and he smiled gratefully.

"Thanks, Scully."

"Youíre welcome." She squeezed his shoulder, then sat down in the armchair near the Christmas tree with her legs tucked up under her and sipped her own coffee. It was Christmas Eve and Mulder and Scully were relaxing before the madness of the next day. Scully had insisted on doing the Christmas dinner this year, as it would just be her, her mom, Mulder and Emily. Bill and Tara were out with the Navy for the holidays and Charlie had taken his family to Lapland to see Santa.

Emily had stayed with Maggie last night, as Mulder had taken Scully out for dinner as a special treat. They tried their hardest to find time to get out together, but it wasnít easy now as Scully had Emily in her life. However, Maggie was always willing to take care of her special granddaughter and Mulder didnít mind going out with both Scully and Emily... but sometimes Scully needed some special attention paying to her.

Mulder admired the twinkling, colourful Christmas tree while he drank his coffee. He looked at the cute angel on the top that Scully had insisted he put there by himself and smiled. Its manís work she had said.

"When did your mom say she would get here?" Mulder asked.

"This afternoon. About 3.30, I think." She looked out of the window at the snow which had begun to fall. It drifted lazily down past the white frame of the window, and began to pile up on the window ledges.

"Itís really starting to come down." Mulder said happily. "Looks like we are gonna have a white Christmas after all!"

Scully smiled and set her coffee down on the table. She got up and went over to the closet.

"I think Iím gonna wrap some presents." She said, grabbing some rolls of red and green plaid Christmas wrap and Scotch tape from the closet. "Want to help me Mulder?"

"Sure." Mulder smiled, draining his coffee mug and placing it on the table next to Scullyís.

"Can you grab Emilyís gifts? Theyíre in a pile in my closet."

In Scullyís bedroom Mulder pulled his Christmas sweater out of his overnight bag and put it on. Now he felt festive and in the mood to wrap gifts. He opened Scullyís closet to reveal a whole rack of suits and shirts. He smiled at the familiar clothing and picked up a pile of boxes from the closet floor. There were all sorts of gifts: dolls, Lego, books, candyÖ. Mulder smiled fondly as he went back into the living room.

"Emily sure is a lucky girl to be getting so many gifts!" He said, gently putting the pile down next to Scully who was kneeling on the floor in front of the Christmas tree, the wrapping paper rolled out before her. "You alright on your own for a sec, Scully? I have to go out to the car to get my gifts." She smiled brightly when she saw his Nordic reindeer-patterned sweater.

"I love your sweater! You havenít bought anything too expensive have you Mulder? I donít want you spoiling EmilyÖ"

"But what about spoiling you?" He winked. She laughed as he left the room.

Mulder came back into the living room carrying two big paper bags, snow flakes in his hair and on his sweater. He put the bags on the couch, walked over and stood behind Scully and brushed the snow from his sweater onto her. She laughed and swatted at him.

"Cut it out Mulder!"

"Cold hands!" he yelled playfully as he grabbed her flailing arms.

"Urgh!" Scully pulled away, smiling.

"Have you got any wrap I can use?" Mulder asked.

"Thereís plenty in the closet. Help yourself." Scully said as she tied a ribbon to her motherís gift.

Mulder came back with a roll of wrap, but then disappeared into the hallway. After a few minutes Scully heard him grunting with exertion.

"Mulder what are youÖoh my!" In the doorway stood Santa carrying a huge fuzzy teddy bear, almost as big as he was.

"Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!" Mulder said. "Do you think Emily would like her new bear to be delivered by Santa?"

Scully stood up as he walked closer to her.

"Definitely. But I thought I told Santa not to spoil herÖ" She reached up past the teddy bear and kissed Mulder through his fake white beard. "Scratchy beard! You might wanna change back into Mulder now Santa, Emily will be back soon."

Mulder dropped the bear, quickly tugged off his Santa hat and beard. "Mulderís back!" He said, putting his arms around her and pressing his lips to hers.

"You know Mulder, I like you in this Santa suit." Scully said suggestively. "Its kindaÖcute."

"Well, you always have had a thing for older menÖ" Mulder teased, smirking. Scully swatted him on the arm. "Shut up Mulder!"

He leant down to kiss her again and stopped just before his lips touched hers.

"Did your father ever dress up as Santa?" He asked, eyes wide.

"No, never." She whispered as she snaked her arms around his neck.

"Thank God. Have you been a good girl this year Dana?Ö"

After he had hidden the costume in the closet Mulder returned to wrapping gifts.

He wrapped up gifts for them all, telling Scully to close her eyes and not peek as he wrapped her gifts and then slid them under the tree.

"I donít think thereís enough wrap for Walter here." He patted the bear on the head.

Scully laughed. "Walter? Thatís a great name for a bear! Iím glad he isnít a bald bear thoughÖ"

Mulder smirked and began to tie a red ribbon around Walterís neck.

"There." He picked up the bear. "Where shall I hide him?"

"Try the closet in the hall."

As Mulder was closing the closet, the doorbell rang.

"Mulder, will you get that?" Scully hurried past him into the bedroom to hide all the presents in her arms. "Itíll be mom and Em."

When Mulder opened the front door the smiling six-year-old bounced into the hallway followed by Maggie.

"Hey Mulder!" Emily hugged him around the waist.

"Hey Em. You have a nice night with Grandma?" He tousled her hair playfully.

"Yep. We made Christmas cookies!"

Maggie smiled and held up a tray of Christmas-shaped cookies with colourful frosting.

"Nice!" Mulder said as the girl released him. "How are you Maggie?" He kissed her on the cheek.

"Very well Fox." She said as she hugged him.

Scully emerged from her bedroom. "Hi mom. Hey Em!" She scooped the girl up into a hug. "You have a nice night? Thanks for looking after her mom." Scully led the way into the living room.

"My pleasure Dana. Did you two have a nice evening?"

"It was amazing." Scully gushed. "We had such a nice meal."

"Well, you have to tell me all about it over a cup of coffee and some of these cookies." Maggie said heading towards the kitchen.

"Donít forget! We have to save some for Santa!" Emily beamed delightedly.

The day passed with much talk of snow, Santa and presents. In the evening they settled down to watch "Itís A Wonderful Life" and as that ended they all felt much more festive. Emily had begun to rub her eyes sleepily.

"Letís put up the stockings!" said Scully. Emilyís stocking was red with Santa on it and her name in gold letters. She handed it to Mulder who carefully pinned it up above the fireplace. Scullyís stocking was red with an angel on it, the word Dana also written in gold. Maggieís stocking was green and it had stars on it. Mulder smiled as he pinned them all to the wood of the mantelpiece.

"Arenít we a bit old for this?" He asked as he put up his own green and red stocking with a snowman design.

"No way!" Scully and Maggie chorused.

Emily yawned loudly and they all laughed. Then Scully helped Emily prepared a plate of cookies for Santa as Mulder poured a glass of milk and Maggie got a carrot for Rudolph from the refrigerator. They put everything on the coffee table in the lounge.

"Do you think he will come mom?" Emily asked hopefully. Scully looked at her daughter.

"Of course he will Em! Wonít he Mulder?"

"Oh yeah! Em, youíre such a good girl so I Santa will definitely be here!" He walked over to her and scooped her up.

"Come on you two." Scully laughed fondly. "Letís get you to bed."

"Goodnight everyone." Maggie kissed them all. "Iíll see you in the morning." They said goodnight to Maggie, wishing her a merry Christmas as she retreated to the spare room for the night.

In her bedroom Emily knelt beside her bed with Scully and Mulder.

"God bless Mommy who takes care of me and loves me. She is the bestest mom in the world. Thank you for Grandma, far-away Grandpa, Uncle Bill, Aunt Tara, Uncle Charlie and God bless Mulder. Thank you for Mulder being such a good friend to mommy and taking care of her and me. Amen." They all finished their prayer together.

Emily climbed into bed and Mulder tucked her in as Scully grabbed a book from the shelves.

"How about a Christmas story tonight Emily?" She asked sitting down in the chair by the bed. Mulder sat on the end of the bed.

Scully began to read a story about Santaís reindeers and Mulder gladly helped out by doing sound effects.

Both Scully and Emily began to roar with laughter at Mulderís attempt at a reindeer noise, both were almost crying with laughter.

"Mulder..." Scully panted wiping a tear from her eye. "Thatís one of the funniest things I have ever heard!"

He did it again delighted to hear their laughter. Eventually the story was over and Emily was ready to sleep. Mulder stood up and kissed her forehead. "Goodnight Emily. See you in the morning kiddo." He walked to the door and watched Scully.

"Oh goodnight Sweetie!" Scully hugged her daughter tightly and Emily beamed.

"Goodnight Mom. I love you." She hugged her mom tightly around the shoulders as Scully kissed both her cheeks and then her forehead.

"Love you too! Now go to sleep, Santaís on his way!" In Scullyís bedroom, Mulder set the alarm clock for 5am. That should be enough time for Santa to get out of bed.

He changed into a red t-shirt and Christmassy plaid pyjama bottoms and clambered under the covers with Scully leaning over to kiss her. She smiled at him as he reached to the nightstand to turn off the light. He settled down next to her and she searched out his hand under the thick white duvet. "Merry Christmas Mulder." She murmured contentedly. "Are you all set for tomorrow?"

"Operation Saint Nick is good to go!" He laughed and kissed her forehead, caressing the small of her back through her purple silk pyjamas. "Merry Christmas Scully."

Scully slept peacefully in Mulderís arms, dreaming of the day last week when they had decorated the tree. Emily had been so excited and Mulder had been there for the weekend so his height was useful when decorating the house. Scully and Emily had insisted that he be the one to put the cute angel on top. "Its manís work." Scully remembered saying as Mulder had reached up to put the little cherub on the highest bough. "Thatís what the Scully family always say."

Mulder lay awake for a while after Scully had fallen asleep. He watched her sleeping in his embrace and closed his eyes, reluctant to stop watching her dream. Mulder dreamt of the day that he had taken Emily to pick out presents for Scully. They had had such a great time. He truly felt like she was his daughter; plenty of shop assistants certainly thought so. Emily had helped Mulder choose the present he wanted to buy for Scully.

"Which one of these do you think she would like?" He had asked the little girl, holding her up so she could see through the shop window. Emily had taken a few moments to think before pointing to her choice.

"That one!" She exclaimed. "Mom would love that one! The blue would match her eyes, like mine!"

"Well, thatís great because thatís the one I wanted to pick for her!" Mulder said truthfully before they entered the shop. "That one it is!"

Emily ran into her momís bedroom and jumped onto the bed, straight onto Scullyís legs.

"Oh!" Scully woke with a start. "Merry Christmas Em!" Her daughter hugged her tightly and she kissed her cheek. Emily looked at the empty space on the other side of the bed.

"Whereís Mulder, Mom?" The little girl asked. "I want to wish him merry Christmas too!"

"Erm..." Scully thought fast. "Heís gone for a run. He loves to run before breakfast." She looked at the clock. It read 5.30am. "Yeah...he loves to go out for an early run."

Emily seemed satisfied with her momís answer. Suddenly, Maggieís head peeked around the door.

"Quick you two!" She whispered urgently. "Youíll never guess whoís in the living room right now!" Emily and Scully scrambled out of bed and together the three of them crept into the living room.

Emily gasped. There, by the fireplace, putting gifts into the stockings, stood Santa. She quickly looked at the coffee table. The glass of milk was empty; the plate of cookies eaten and Rudolphís carrot was gone. She giggled, and then put her hand to her mouth, realising she had broken the silence. Santa turned to look at her.

"Emily?" He asked, his voice deep and kind, just as she had imagined it to be. She nodded and Santa opened his arms.

"Go on Em..." Scully whispered, pushing her daughter gently forwards. Emily walked cautiously towards Santa who was waiting for her, and then she threw her arms around him happily, "Santa!"

"Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas Emily!" Santa said, looking over the little girlís shoulder and winking at Scully, who was shocked to feel a great deal of butterflies erupt in her stomach. She smiled happily at the wonderful scene.

"Would you like one of your presents now Emily?" Santa asked. "I have filled stockings for you all. You, your mom, your grandma and..." Santa paused. "Where is your mommyís special friend Mulder?" He asked the wide-eyed little girl.

"Heís out running, Santa." Emily replied.

"Well, he must be very healthy and fit." Santa added, chancing a cheeky glance at Scully again. "Anyway Emily, let me get you your special present."

He turned to a large sack behind him and produced the huge teddy bear. "Merry Christmas Emily! I know you will take great care of my friend Walter here." Emily hugged Santa again as the clock above the mantelpiece began to chime 6am. "Oh dear. I have to be going." Santa said sadly. "But I will see you again Emily, I am sure of it." He tousled her hair and walked towards the hallway. "Goodbye everyone and merry Christmas!"

Emily stood with happy tears welling in her eyes. She waved to Santa before blowing him a kiss. "Bye Santa. Thank you."

And with that he was gone, out the front door, but not before picking up Mulderís running shoes from the floor.

Emily, Maggie and Scully sat down on the couch, the little girl unable to believe that she had seen Santa. The door flew open and Mulder walked in, wearing dark grey sweat pants and his blue Oxford hoody and pulling his running shoes off his feet.

"Hey, everyone! Merry Christmas!" He panted as he approached them. "What did I miss?" He asked as he saw their delighted faces.

"Mulder, you missed Santa! He was here!" Emily squealed, rushing over to hug him. "Merry Christmas Mulder!"

"Merry Christmas to you too Emily. Wow! Did Santa bring you that bear?" He asked as he sat down on the couch and put an arm around Scully. Maggie pulled her granddaughter onto her lap and whispered in her ear, handing her a sprig of mistletoe. Emily carefully stood up on the couch and held the mistletoe above Mulder and Scullyís heads. "Mistletoe!" She giggled cheekily.

Scully put the turkey into the oven and then returned to the living room to find the others admiring Walter the bear. Mulder was sat on the floor with Emily and Walter, and Maggie was on the couch with her feet up.

Scully knelt down beside the tree. "Time for presents I think!" She said cheerfully. Mulder stood up and removed the stockings from the fireplace and handed them to their owners. He sat back down on the floor next to Emily and Scully clutching his own red and green stocking.

Scully looked under the tree and handed a small soft gift to Emily saying quietly, "Give this to Mulder..."

Mulder took the parcel from the little girl as she sat next to him and, forgetting herself for a moment, whispered,"Merry Christmas, Daddy." She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. He kissed her cheek in return and began to carefully unwrap his gift. His face broke into a huge grin as he pulled out a new tie. It was characteristically wacky; black covered with many green and red UFOs and bearing the slogan ĎHave an out of this world Christmas!í

"I love it! Thanks girls."

Scully continued to hand out the presents from under the tree. She pulled one out and smiled at her own name on the tag.

"Oh, thatís from me." Mulder said, a silly grin on his face. Scully ripped off the paper and opened the box inside.

She looked at Mulder quizzically and showed him the desk plaque which read ĎDana Mulderí.

"I donít believe it!" Mulder gasped, horrified and angry. "They made a typo! Oh my God! And after I finally got you that desk you always wanted!" He added annoyed, his grin fading to a frown. "I canít believe that I didnít check inside the box before I wrapped it!"

"Donít worry, we can get it changed. Thanks Mulder!" She beamed and kissed his cheek, making his smile return, as they all continued to identify and open even more presents.

"Shall we leave a few presents for after we are all dressed?" Maggie asked getting up from the couch.

"Good idea mom. Címon Em, letís go get washed and dressed." Scully said taking the little girlís hand. She reluctantly followed her mom, not really wanting to leave all her new toys.

In the bedroom, Mulder buttoned up his shirt and put on his new tie, smiling smugly to himself. When he returned to the living room Scully was helping Emily to put on a Christmas CD for some background music. Mulder sat down on the couch with Maggie, as Scully and Emily sat on the floor beside the Christmas tree and began to give out the remaining presents.

Scully felt around under the tree. "I think thatís all of them...oh, no wait!" She pulled out a small square gift, wrapped in red paper with a luxurious gold bow. The tag simply read, ĎDana xí. Scullyís brow furrowed.

"Who is this from?" She asked, looking at Mulder and her mom.

"Mulder!" Emily said, clambering up onto the couch. "Itís from Mulder. I know it is from him!"

"Yup." Mulder smiled. "Open it...Dana." He added her name tenderly, as Andy Williams came on the stereo.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, With the kids jingle-belling, And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer

Scully untied the bow and very slowly unwrapped the red paper, revealing a black velvet box. Before opening the box she looked up at Mulder.

"What have you been buying me?" She asked, her eyebrow arched. Mulder smiled and slipped off the couch onto the floor beside her.

"Open it." He said, his voice soft and gentle. Scully looked down to open the box; not noticing that Mulder was perched on only one knee. Maggie gasped as realisation hit her, but Scully did not hear. She had opened the lid and was now sat staring into the box, tears welling in her eyes. Inside the box was a very beautiful, very modern, platinum, diamond and sapphire ring. Scully looked up at the man on the floor with her and for the first time noticed how he was kneeling.

"Mulder..." she gasped, as he took the box from her hand and removed the ring.

"Scully..." He started, but a lump had formed in his throat. He swallowed. "DanaÖ" Mulder shook his head, and squeezed his eyes tight, banishing the tears threatening to fall. Maggie and Emily sat with bated breath and smiles on their faces. Mulder composed himself and continued. "Dana Scully, will you marry me?" He looked hopefully into her glowing face as a few tears escaped her left eye and she reached for him.

"Yes, of course I will Mulder!" She threw her arms around him and kissed every part of his face she could find. Her eyes shone as they kissed and Mulder laughed and smiled happily against her lips before pulling away to look at her.

"Here..." He took her left hand in his and slid the ring onto her finger. She sniffed back happy tears as he lifted her hand to his mouth and kissed the ring. He then turned her hand and pressed his lips to her palm letting them linger there as he heard her whisper, "I love you."

Maggie and Emily could not contain themselves any longer and erupted into cheers and applause. Scully beamed and hugged Mulder again.

"Happy?" He asked into her hair as she nuzzled the side of her head against his.

"Ecstatic!" Scully squealed, before giving into temptation and kissing him again. "Iím gonna be Dana Mulder!" Realisation hit her. "A typo? Mulder, you cheat!" Mulder just laughed and hugged her tighter.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, There'll be much mistletoe-ing, And hearts will be glowing, When loved ones are near...

"How am I supposed to concentrate on dinner now?" Scully said excitedly. "Iíll need some help with the turkey because my hand is being weighed down by this gorgeous ring!" She ran into the kitchen blithely and put on her apron, Mulder following her to help get the turkey out of the oven.

The family sat down at the dinner table and said grace. Mulder poured wine for Scully and Maggie first and then asked Emily, "For you Madam?" She giggled as he poured some soda into her wineglass before pouring his own wine.

Scully spooned some cranberry sauce onto her plate and then passed the bowl to Mulder. Maggie passed around the gravy. They didnít speak much as they all savoured the delicious food.

"My nameís gonna be Emily Mulder. Isnít it Mom?" The little girl chimed as she ate her turkey. Scully nodded happily, looking around the dinner table at her new family, a perfect family Christmas dinner.

The snow had started to fall again as the family pulled on their coats, gloves, hats and scarves. They walked out of the apartment block and across the road to the park. It was already dark and the park was lit beautifully with a few lights and the nearby orange streetlights.

Mulder, who had carried Emily on his shoulders, put her down on the ground and they began to make snow angels together, lying on the snow and waving their arms and legs, laughing delightedly.

Scully watched them with a smile as Maggie approached her daughter and took her hand.

"Congratulations again, Dana! I know you and Fox will be very happy." She hugged her daughter. "And Emily too!"

"Thanks Mom. I knew Mulder would ask me, but I didnít think any time soon!"

They watched as Emily and Mulder chased each other with snowballs. "I love him so muchÖ Heís gonna be such a good dad to Emily. He already is!" She added with a sigh.

Mulder came jogging up to them, his breath misty in the cold air.

"I think Emily wants grandma to help her build that snowman." Mulder said with a smile, pointing to where the little girl was rolling a big snowball to start a snowman. Maggie grinned and went to join her granddaughter, leaving Mulder and Scully alone.

"Scully," Mulder began as he took her gloved hands in his "would you care to dance?"

She beamed at him, her eyes shining, and moved into his arms as together they began to sway to no music other than the rhythm of their own heartbeats. They laughed together and Scully hugged Mulder tightly, both of them unable to hide their joy.

"Mulder, can I ask you something?" She mumbled happily.

"Shoot." He said as he kissed a part of her neck, not covered by her scarf.

"When weíre married are you still gonna call me Scully? Iíll be Dana Mulder then."

Mulder laughed. "I never really stopped calling you Dana. But youíre always gonna be Scully..."

"I love it when you say ScullyÖand then when you say Dana..." She sighed delightedly, her blue eyes sparkling with love. "You ever gonna let me call you Fox?"

Mulder just kissed her neck again and whispered insinuatingly, "You already do call me Fox sometimes..."

A few yards away, Emily and Maggie had stopped building their snowman to watch the other two. Maggie watched her daughter and her soon-to-be son-in-law and Emily watched her mom and soon-to-be dad. They had stopped dancing and were now stood in a perfect embrace. It was an embrace of love, friendship, respect, equality and complete trust. In fact, it was just as their embraces had always been; their foreheads resting together, their eyes locked and their arms entwined.

Scully turned in Mulderís arms and he kissed the top of her head. She leant against him as he rested his head on her shoulder and together they stood and stared up at the sky. Emily and Maggie walked up to them, and Mulder and Scully parted just long enough for Emily to grab Mulderís hand and Maggie to grasp Scullyís. Together the family stood, four pairs of gloved hands clasped ever so tight. High up above them the snowy sky was filled with stars which seemed to multiply before their eyes.

There'll be parties for hosting, Marshmallows for toasting, and carolling out in the snow, There'll be scary ghost stories, And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago. It's the most wonderful time of the yearÖ

Well, what do you think? Just hit that little button there....Merry Christmas!

THE END




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