Category: X-Files Genre: Drama Keywords: MSR Spoilers: very vague references: the Anasazi trilogy, Requiem, Small Potatoes, and the cancer and Emily stories. Rating: K
Archive anywhere. Let me know if possible. Disclaimer: Characters from the X-Files are owned by Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and Fox Television. They are being used without permission and without money changing hands.
Summary:It's a post-Requiem Christmas story, and that's all. Further summary would ruin the story.
Author's Notes/Intro: This story assumes that Requiem took place in June, and the pregnancy happened at least a month before her announcement to Skinner. The rest of the timeline should be pretty close to correct. I took some artistic liberties with Melissa Scully, but nothing out-of-character (I don't think).
Thanks to everyone who helped out with this one. Joylynn, as always; Meg, Squirrel, and Emerex who helped out in a pinch; and Robby, who wasn't MIA for Christmas after all.
Cheers and laughter rang out as Charlie Scully, the baby of the family at fourteen years, swayed precariously at the top of a ladder. He carefully maneuvered a glitter-covered star toward the summit of the tree, shaking it badly. The future of the whole expedition seemed to be in doubt for a moment as the young boy tipped dangerously close to the edge of balance, prompting looks of terror from both of his parents.
Finally, the star docked like a well-manned ship, mission complete without a single casualty.
But it wasn't until Charlie had both feet back on the ground that the family started to breathe again.
Bill Jr. smacked him on the back. "Good job, Chuck. I still don't think you've beaten my record time, though. Next year?" Home from the Naval Academy for the holidays, Bill was slowly getting used to being the big brother again.
Their father snorted good-naturedly. "Watch it, Junior, or I'll tell them how you tipped over the tree when you were six," he chortled. Everyone grinned, having heard the story every year since they'd been old enough to understand.
Dana didn't remember the event itself, though she'd been there. Toddlers didn't have a great memory for events, even if the events included their big brother and a giant tree.
She thought Melissa would remember it, though.
It was a bad thought. Despite the laughter and joking, there was an air of strain around the family. Melissa, the oldest sister, had vanished the month before. She had taken two suitcases and everything she held dear, and bailed out. They had gotten one short postcard from New York City the week after she left and hadn't heard a word since.
"She's always been a rebel", their father had said. "This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone." He was bitter at her leaving, but the headstrong teenager had always dreamed of greater things than their military-base lifestyle.
Surprise or not, expected or not, it was still a blow to the family. It was worse for Dana, now the only sister living at home. Before, she had Missy to talk to about the things she couldn't ever say to her mother. Now, she had no one.
There was Charlie, of course, but he was younger and a boy. Both made him an unsuitable confidante. A companion, sometimes, because they'd always been close, but not someone to tell her deepest secrets as she could with Missy.
She needed her sister back.
Thanksgiving had gone by as always, with turkey and the trimmings, but the festive spirit hadn't spread without Missy. Now they had to deal with the Christmas season. A time for family, with one member somewhere far away.
The "star ceremony" was one of many traditions that continued despite Missy's absence, sending someone up the ladder with the hopes that they could do the job without tipping the tree and causing complete mayhem. The ritual was there; the feelings weren't.
No one acted as if there was anything wrong. With the tree up, the family disbanded to their various areas of the house with their own things to do for Christmas preparations. Without anything constructive to do, Dana ended up in an easy chair, staring at an open book without realizing it. She heard the clang of the mailbox opening, and welcomed the distraction. Shelving the book, she headed for the front door to bring the mail in.
She did the chore without a second thought, dropping junk mail into the trash and stacking the obvious Christmas cards (which made up most of the mail that week) on Maggie's desk. After the letters were sorted, she turned her attention to the small package that had been included in the mailbox.
She assumed it was a gift from some distant relative, and was even heading for the tree before she really looked at the name on it.
"Dana Scully." So whatever it was, it was for her. The return address had no name or street, but simply stated "New York City, New York" in sweeping, feminine strokes. It was Missy's trademark handwriting, on a gift sent from her last known location.
At the bottom corner was written "open immediately" in the same script. Dana bit her lip, wondering if she should tell her parents that she had a package from Missy. Then she decided to tell them *after* she had looked inside.
With a furtive look around, Dana sprinted to her room and closed the door, confident that everyone else was too busy to interrupt her. She made short work of the packing tape and opened the small box.
Inside was an ornament, a glass ball like any other that a person used to decorate their Christmas tree. But this one was clear glass, and filled completely with pea-sized crystals of white and blue. It was beautiful.
Tearing her eyes from the shining globe, Dana took out the enclosed letter and read it quietly aloud.
"I know I've been gone too long, but I love it here in New York. In the last month, I've learned more than I ever dreamed possible. I will come home, though, and soon. I miss you all more than you know.
"I especially miss my baby sister, and I know it must be rough with just Charlie to talk to. I've been thinking of you and I decided to send you something. This ornament was hand-made by a good friend of mine, who studies things like crystals and chakras. It's all fascinating. Anyway, he says that the crystals he used are for happiness and luck, and that you should always think of me when you look at it.
"Don't tell Mom and Dad about this, or that I'll be home as soon as I can. They'll know soon enough, won't they? Let's have a secret for old times sake, and the ornament can be just ours.
"I love you, baby, "Missy."
Dana didn't know whether to laugh or cry, or a gasping combination of the two. She settled for a wistful grin. With extra care she folded the letter and replaced it in the box, hiding both of them in the far reaches of her closet.
Ornament in hand, she sought out her mom.
Maggie blinked at the ball, which was practically glowing in the sunlight of her reading room. "Where did that come from?"
Dana gritted her teeth for a second. She was a horrible liar and everyone knew it.
"A friend gave it to me, and I forgot about it until now. Can I put it on the tree?" she asked smoothly, wondering how this particular fib came out so easily.
Maggie, who never noticed that her daughter was crossing her fingers behind her back, granted permission without a second thought.
After all, why would Dana lie about something like a Christmas tree ornament?
Dana had the ornament up within minutes, gazing again at the prisms of color that danced over it. The holidays had just gotten a lot brighter.
December 22, 1990
Dana sighed as she flopped backwards on her couch, looking at her new apartment. It was a pretty nice place for a woman just starting a new job.
Sitting up again, she surveyed her territory. One couch. One kitchen chair. One microwave. One refrigerator. Twenty boxes of clothing, knickknacks, and other necessities of life. One stubby Christmas tree with nine glass ornaments on it.
She smiled as she thought of the ornament tradition that Melissa had begun. After that first year, even though Missy came home in early February, Dana always received one glass ball. There hadn't been a letter enclosed since the first one, the still-beautiful crystal globe, but there could only be one person providing the gifts.
It was their secret, something for the sisters and no one else. Dana liked it that way, especially after the past few months.
She still didn't quite understand why the rift had appeared. The FBI was a great place to try and distinguish herself, and it didn't seem any less prestigious than a career as a doctor. To her, anyway.
Her father had different ideas. He blamed everyone he could think of for her sudden about-face decision, including her, her professors, her friends, and her sister. Missy had borne the tirades with an inner peace that she had slowly learnt over the years. And she had supported Dana as much as possible.
Then, she disappeared again, headed for parts unknown to continue her spiritual quests. And once again, Dana was alone when she needed someone the most.
She had sent her new address to her family, but she doubted she'd get visitors. Her father was the only one who was vocal about it, but everyone held a degree of disapproval in their tones. Except Melissa, and she had gone to find her "path", as she called it.
With a sigh, Dana opened the mostly-empty refrigerator.
There was a bang and a series of sparks, and the whole room descended into darkness. Dana was left standing in the kitchen, blind and dumbfounded. She cautiously made her way into the hallway, which seemed unbearably bright after the apartment, and went down to the landlord's place.
He nodded as she explained what had happened. "It's a bad fuse," he told her. "We expect to have it fixed by tomorrow at the latest, but for tonight I suggest you light some candles."
Oh, wonderful. "No problem," Dana said with a tight smile and turned to leave.
"Oh, hang on a second!" he said suddenly, and vanished back into the recesses of his own well-lit apartment. He was back in moments with a small box. "This came in the mail today, but whoever sent it didn't have your apartment number. Your name isn't on your box yet, so the mailman passed it to me."
Dana took the box with shaking fingers and thanked the man with a suddenly dry voice. She fled home as fast as she could go.
Three candles later, she was on her couch, ripping into the box, wondering all the while how Missy, who had left first, had found her.
It was, without a doubt, from Missy. This time, there was a rare letter enclosed.
"I'm in New Orleans now, enjoying the heat but missing the white Christmas. I'm sorry I left while you were still having trouble with Dad; I know it'll blow over soon.
"I got your address from Charlie, but he didn't have the number of your apartment. I guess if you're reading this, you got the package. That's good to know.
"The ornament this year is another hand-made one. I'm told that it's a combination of the Flame of Knowledge and the Scales of Justice. I thought it was appropriate.
"See you soon!
Dana gently laid the letter down and pulled the ornament out of its wrappings. It was as Missy had described: the red glass ball was covered in flames, with stylized scales repeated four times. It really was appropriate.
This one had an inscription too, something different.
Dana Scully, Future Pride of the FBI
Pleased smile firmly in place, Dana attached the ornament at the front of the tree, right at eye level.
"Merry Christmas, Missy," she said softly, and went to unpack.
*~~*~~*~~* December 15, 1995
Mulder glanced over at his partner for the third time in as many minutes, appearing to wonder at the gloomy mood that she was in. Scully hadn't been sleeping well, and she knew that it was showing.
"Hey, Scully?" he called, getting her attention from the back room.
Scully looked up, still preoccupied. "Yeah?"
"Are you okay?"
She looked startled. "What are you talking about?" she asked. But she knew what he meant, and there was no way he could miss the subtle changes in her expression.
He came out and plopped down on the desk, facing her. "I can tell that something's bothering you. You know you can talk to me, right?" He stood up again and moved closer to her, resting a comforting hand on her shoulder.
Scully sighed. "I'm fine, Mulder." He looked unconvinced, and she wasn't surprised. She could never lie with any degree of skill.
He squeezed her shoulder again and retreated behind his desk. "If you need to talk..." he started, and trailed off. He started working again, but the troubled expression never left his face.
Scully could see his head tilting as he kept looking over at her. Finally she decided that if she couldn't talk to Mulder after over two years of work and friendship, she was in a pretty sorry state.
She cleared her throat. "Mulder?"
"Yeah," he said, as if he had been waiting for her to speak.
"Can you come over later tonight? After work?" She asked the question quickly, still unsure about saying anything at all.
Mulder flashed her a smile. "Sure. Should I bring Chinese?"
She answered his smile with a small one of her own. "Why not? Remember I like the Chicken Lo Mein."
So at 7:00 that night, Scully found herself eating a Chinese dinner in her living room. She still hadn't said a word to Mulder about what was bothering her, and he hadn't pressed the subject, seeming content to just be there if she needed him.
Then he unwittingly stumbled upon the source of Scully's internal pain as she was carrying dishes into the kitchen.
"This is *incredible*, where'd you get it?"
The world felt as if it turned in slow motion as Scully looked around. Mulder had found the Christmas tree, complete with fourteen glass ornaments. He had zeroed in on the oldest of the bunch, the blue and white crystal globe.
He looked over his shoulder at her and seemed to sense her distress with one glance at her face. He released the ornament, which swung back to its accustomed place, and watched with a helpless expression as Scully plopped down weakly on the couch.
He was by her side in a flash, close enough for her to feel his presence but not close enough to crowd her. For a moment she thought he was going to see her cry, a rare occurrence. Then she brought herself under control and tried to slow the flood of memories running through her mind.
After a while she looked up, even managing a smile for him. "I'm sorry," was the first thing she said.
Mulder raised an eyebrow. "Don't be. You haven't done anything wrong."
She sighed, her gaze fixed on the tree of ornaments. "This is the first Christmas since Melissa died," she said flatly.
Mulder looked like he'd been kicked in the stomach. Scully caught his involuntary grimace and sighed, understanding that he blamed his quest for Melissa's death.
She also knew there was more than that. "It feels selfish for me to unload this on you. You're in the same boat I'm in, with your father gone." It seemed she was sad enough for both of them.
"Scully, my relationship with my father was rocky at best. I miss him, and I'll miss him more as time passes," he said gently. "You lost your sister, someone you were very close to, and that's much worse." He paused. "I wouldn't trade sorrows with you, but I'll share them if you want me to."
An open invitation to spill anything if she needed to.
Scully met his eyes, open and ready to help. She made a valiant effort to push aside her normal reserve, and started to tell him about Christmas of 1981, and the crystal globe.
As she described the meaning of each globe, she remembered how the ornaments always brightened her up at her lowest points. She talked of how she and Melissa had drifted apart over the years, yet still the glass balls kept coming on schedule every year.
She finished the last story as Mulder listened with a rapt expression. When Scully stopped, Mulder said, "It's a wonderful tradition."
Scully nodded. "I guess I never realized how important it was to me. Missy always knew exactly what kind of pattern would be the best for me, every year. It was like she read my mind and picked out whatever would make me feel the best. She was my best source of support, all the time." And now she's gone added her traitorous mind.
Mulder looked pensive for a moment, then smiled. "It'll take a while to get used to her absence," he told her, "but you have these to remind you of her at the holidays. I think that's a great thing to hold on to."
"I know you're right, and it'll get better," Scully agreed half-heartedly, "but I still feel lost without that little package showing up on my doorstep."
Mulder reached over and hugged her. "You'll never be lost."
Nine Days Later
Yawning, Scully wandered out of her bedroom after sleeping in *way* too long. She padded out into the living room, still barefoot, and pulled the door open to pick up her newspaper.
Her hand froze halfway down.
Sitting on the paper was a small brown box. An eerily familiar brown box. Scully rubbed her eyes like a child and looked again. Still there.
Then, realizing she was still in her pajamas, she snared the box and newspaper and retreated back inside.
This box was different from all the others, in that there was no mailing label. It had been deposited at her doorstep. There was no letter inside, simply a mess of shredded paper and one shining glass ball. Scully stared at it, stupefied, for a long moment.
It was white, with two figures on it, little more than glorified stick-men. Or in this case, a stick-man and a stick-woman. The man was significantly taller than the woman and had a painted mop of brown hair. The woman was clearly a redhead. It didn't take a scientist's brain to know who the people were supposed to be.
The figures were holding hands on the front of the ball. On the back was a short inscription: "You are never lost." The same words Mulder had whispered to her the week before after listening to her memories and fears.
It was as clear a message as the ones Melissa had sent her. An assurance that she'd always have someone who cared.
Grinning foolishly and fighting tears, she added the new ornament to the tree.
December 22, 2000
Scully gazed dully at the Christmas tree she hadn't wanted to put up and counted the balls for the fifth time. Nineteen of them. And there would be no more.
It had been too long. Too many hours of searching that did little or no good, too many leads that fizzled out. Even the diligent help of her friends had failed to produce the only thing she wanted for Christmas.
She didn't want to think about him, but in a way, she needed to. Her hand snaked out and touched the first sphere that he had given her, trying to make her understand that she was always a part of something and never alone. The stick- people had faded a little, but they were still recognizable.
The second ball had come the next year, after she had been diagnosed with cancer. It had been a blow that no one could make better, and she had steadily lost faith as time passed. Then, right before Christmas, that trademark box appeared again with its precious cargo.
That ornament had been gold, with only one word painted on it in shades of red.
Mulder's message, a mix of encouragement and plea. She needed to keep hope alive, and he needed it as well. Scully had realized that year that Mulder had her sister's gift for reading her like a book.
The next year had been different. In the wake of her remission, the holidays had been progressing happily. That year's ornament had arrived much earlier, anticipating her impending departure to San Diego.
The red ball had one word, showing that no awkwardness could ever permanently harm the two agents and their friendship. In comical bubble letters, the ball read SUPERSTAR.
Eddie VanBlundht (with an H) was far enough behind them to make that joke extremely funny to her. A few months closer to the actual case, and she would've punched Mulder into next year. Trust Mulder to know when the time was right.
Then, a mere ten days later, came Emily.
The memory of her first, lost daughter was still too painful to dwell on, especially with a third-trimester baby kicking around inside of her. Scully's mystifying fertility reversal was something she had never imagined.
But the Christmas after Emily's death, she had received a white ball with tiny crosses and angel wings on it. A tender way to remember Emily, and possibly the sweetest gesture Mulder had made up till that point.
Not that he had admitted it once. Through those years, he never made a mention of them, not even when he was at her apartment during the Christmas season.
That had all changed last year.
Scully smiled to herself as she remembered that evening. Just a day or two before Christmas, Mulder had appeared at her doorway with box in hand. She let herself remember that evening when things had almost changed forever.
December 23, 1999
Scully was stunned, to say the least. Their variation of Melissa's tradition was a nameless one. She knew it was Mulder, and Mulder knew that she knew. But no one ever talked about it.
So having Mulder hand-deliver the box was definitely new.
He stood on the doorstep looking sheepish, holding out the box like an offering, until Scully finally gathered her wits and ushered him in. She unwrapped the box for the first time in his presence, revealing a green ball with a little red X pattern all over it.
Written on the back was Scully & Mulder, seven years and counting. Christmas 1999
Mulder blushed like a little boy as Scully read it. "I even put your name first," he said in a tiny voice, trying to gauge her reaction.
She hung the ornament first, before she said a word. "I guess this means I'm stuck with you for a while," she declared lightly, smiling fully at him.
He relaxed minutely. "As long as you'll have me," he agreed.
That changed the tone of the conversation dramatically. Scully wasn't quite sure how to answer that, and Mulder wasn't sure how to continue. Both were distracted by the television, blathering on in the corner and previously unnoticed by both of them.
"It's Charlie Brown!" Mulder exclaimed, and the atmosphere tipped back into familiar territory. Scully didn't know if that was relieving or not.
Mulder was settling in on the couch, kicking back and preparing for the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Scully rolled her eyes.
"Mulder, they're having a marathon. Are you planning on watching Christmas shows here for the rest of the night?" she asked incredulously as he continued making himself comfortable.
His only response was to pat the couch next to him, inviting her to snuggle in with him for the shows. She hesitated for a moment, wondering if spooning with her best friend would be an advisable course of action. Then she squished that part of her mind and jumped onto the couch to watch Charlie Brown.
Hours later, she woke up. She had dozed off somewhere in the middle of the Garfield special, and had turned in her sleep. She and Mulder were now a tangled mass of arms and legs squeezed onto a narrow sofa.
Blood rushed to her face as she extricated herself from her partner's embrace. She waited until the flush subsided, then shook Mulder a little.
"Go 'way," he mumbled.
Scully decided to let him sleep and simply covered him up with a blanket. When she woke up in the morning, he was gone and a note was in his place.
Have a good Christmas, Scully. Say hi to Bill for me.
December 22, 2000
Scully closed her eyes and laughed out loud as she thought of that note. It was no secret that Mulder and Bill weren't the best of friends. It wasn't surprising that, seven months into her pregnancy, Scully still hadn't told Bill about it.
She hadn't told Mulder either, but that wasn't her fault.
That night had marked a change in them. From there came New Year's Eve and their first, chaste kiss. Then the walls came down like dominoes and eventually there were no more barriers.
There had been a sad kind of freedom in their lovemaking, between the knowledge that neither had any bizarre diseases and that Scully couldn't get pregnant. Protection was the last thing on their minds when they finally let themselves express what they had bottled up for too long.
And a few months later came the baby. The perfect irony.
Once again, when she needed a simple gesture from someone who cared, she was without it. She was lost again.
Scully grimaced as a hard rap shook the door. She hefted herself out of the chair and walked slowly toward the door, trying not to waddle, and failing.
"I'm coming!" she called, and received no answer. "Who is it?" she tried again, still getting no answer. She cursed as her belly kept her from getting close enough to the peephole to see out.
Grumbling internally about her lack of speed, she cracked the door open. There was no one in the hallway. She was about to close the door again and go back to moping when some instinct told her to look down.
There was a box on the doorstep, balanced right on top of the newspaper she hadn't even thought of bringing in.
Except she was the only one who knew about the ornaments, now that Melissa and Mulder were both lost to her.
Fumbling fingers brought the box in, completely disregarding the newspaper. The door was latched automatically; Scully's whole mind was focused on that brown cardboard box.
It took her three tries to get the tape off, and the FBI in her noted the absence of mailing labels. This one was left at her door. She knew that whoever did it was long gone; it had taken her much too long to answer the door. They'd probably been gone before she was even out of the chair.
There was no letter, just the customary ornament.
It was a deep, matte silver-gray with beams of light painted on the top half. The light illuminated the inscription that marched in spidery letters all the way around the ball.
We shall linger on, for the light is never far. Remember I love you, Scully. Forever, Mulder.
The globe almost fell from her hand before Scully realized how badly she was shaking. Heart pounding, she affixed the new ornament to an open spot on the tree.
She couldn't articulate what she was feeling. Her mind and body were both numb, unable to comprehend what had happened.
Tears filled her eyes as she started to smile. Laughter broke free and a new hope filled her heart. Maybe there was still a chance. It wasn't time to give up on him yet.
"I love you too, Mulder," Scully whispered, and went to get her newspaper.
A lone figure turned another corner on his way back home, mind on the place he'd just left. The errand was done and the message received, he hoped.
Mulder's instructions had been clear, prompted by his near brushes with death the year before.
"If anything happens to me, I need you to do something for me," he had said to his friend, revealing their tradition in vivid detail. And a year later Mulder vanished.
He didn't need to be psychic to see the love that prompted the request. He had agreed without hesitation.
So he had delivered the hand-made ornament with a message he was certain echoed Mulder's thoughts. A message Mulder needed to express, wherever he was, and one Scully desperately needed to hear.
With a tiny smile and warm satisfaction from a job well done, Frohike pulled into his customary parking spot at the Gunmen's lair. Before he got within range of the security cameras, he stopped and looked up at the stars.
"Merry Christmas Scully...and Mulder, wherever you are."