Title: Shopping For More Than A Tree
Author: Katie Phillips
Written: November 2003
Disclaimer Info: I know they don't belong to me and I appreciate the chance to play with them from time to time.
Archive: I will take care of Gossamer and Ephemeral. Feel free to post this elsewhere, just let me know.
Feedback: I would love to hear what you think. Xfstories@yahoo.com.
Keywords: MSR
Summary: This piece was written in response to Erin's December challenge (elements listed at the end of this piece). Mulder and Scully spend their first Christmas together after the birth of William and is based on the assumption that after his return, Mulder gets to live a relatively happy life with Scully and William.
Special thanks to Sallie who was gentle with me my first time through the beta process.
Dedication: This story is dedicated to X-file fans everywhere.

Dana Scully glanced at her watch and frowned. They were already ten minutes late leaving for her mother's house and she had no idea what was taking Mulder so long. She threw her coat on the back of a chair and strolled towards the bedroom where she could hear Mulder speaking quietly. The scene in the bedroom caused Scully to pause in the doorway.

Mulder was leaning over William's crib holding a rather one-way conversation with his son. "So you see William, it is perfectly obvious that Santa Claus is an alien. How else could he accomplish so much in so little time?"

He paused as if waiting for William's response. William obliged by gurgling slightly. "I agree with you wholeheartedly."

As much as she was enjoying this interchange between the men in her life, Scully knew that they really had to get going. She walked up behind Mulder and cleared her throat. Getting his attention, she raised an eyebrow and pointed at her watch.

Mulder smiled at her and looked back down at William. "Come on William, it seems we're making Mommy anxious again. You know how she hates to be late." Scully snorted at this comment and tried, unsuccessfully, to suppress her smile.

Mulder quickly picked up the baby, holding him so his head was peaking over Mulder's shoulder at his mother. "Hey Scully," he began as he began to pat William's back absentmindedly. "Have you ever thought about making it official?"

Scully's smile at the image in front of her disappeared only to be replaced by a small frown. "Mulder, it is official. You are listed as William's father on the birth certificate, how much more official can you get?"

Mulder turned sideways so he could look at Scully. "No, I'm not talking about that Scully. I'm talking about us officially becoming a family."

Scully stared at him for a second as she began to comprehend his meaning. Her eyes narrowed a bit and she looked at him with suspicion. "Has Bill been after you again to make an honest woman out of me?"

Mulder laughed and shifted William to his other shoulder so he was practically eye-to-eye with his mother. "No. I just thought it would be a good idea to marry you before William here gets big enough to kick my ass for not doing it earlier."

Scully chuckled at this. "Mulder, I think. . .oh no, William! Did you really have to do that all over your father's shirt just when we were getting ready to leave?"

"Mulder, you seriously can't believe that tree would fit in the living room. It has to be close to ten feet tall." Scully walked around the tree Mulder held up for inspection, shaking her head. "Besides, we decided on Blue Spruce."

"I don't want to disagree with you Scully, but *you* decided on Blue Spruce." Mulder placed the tree back on the pile and walked over to the tree at which Scully was pointing. "This one? It has this huge dent over here."

Scully nodded in agreement and followed Mulder as he strolled around quickly appraising trees. She looked thoughtfully at the next Blue Spruce he held up for her inspection. "That might do. Would I get a ring?"

Mulder looked at her through the tree branches. He could see that Scully's attention was no longer on the tree he was holding. "Of course you would get a ring Scully. I admit that our relationship is far from being a traditional one, but even I know enough to give you a ring."

Scully gave him a sidelong glance as she circled the tree inspecting it. "Would I get to pick it out?" She stood with her hands on her hips, head tilted, staring. Mulder wasn't quite sure if it was him or the tree that she was so ruthlessly appraising.

Scully smiled and nodded slowly. She had obviously made a decision, but Mulder wasn't sure about what. "Don't you trust me to pick out the right one Scully? After all, picking out an engagement ring can't be any harder than finding the right Christmas tree." He had placed the tree on the ground and was tugging it towards the car.

Scully didn't answer. She was too busy trying to catch the attention of the attendant so she could pay. Mulder smiled over the roof of the car as he watched his partner negotiate an acceptable price for the tree. Satisfied she would do a better job than he could, Mulder concentrated on securing the tree to the car.

Scully sighed. "Not that far over to the left Mulder. . . wait, now it looks like it's going to fall over." She was standing halfway across the living room watching as Mulder adjusted the tree.

"If you think you could do a better job at this, be my guest." Mulder's voice was muffled by his location on his back under the tree. Scully ignored his comment. "That's much closer Mulder. Just a little bit more." Mulder grunted as he attempted to move the tree another inch. "We would need a new place."

Mulder was concentrating so hard on securing the tree that he had barely realized that she had changed subjects again. He turned his head towards her. "You would have to give up your apartment."

Turning his attention back to the trunk, Mulder winced as a pine needle scraped his nose. "That won't be a problem Scully. I spend about 99 percent of my time over here anyway. My apartment is just a glorified storage unit."

"Mulder. . ." Scully's body tensed. "Mulder, I think the tree is going to . . ."

"Fall?" Mulder lay beneath the tree spitting out needles.

Mulder sat back on the sofa with his feet up, watching Scully as she decorated the tree. "Are you sure you don't want me to help you?"

Scully looked over her shoulder at him. "I think you've helped quite enough for one day Mulder, besides you need to keep the ice on your head for another 15 minutes."

"Are you saying that it's my fault that the tree tipped over?" Mulder shifted his ice pack to his other hand.

"Well, if you'd been paying more attention to what you were doing Mulder. . . There, let's see if these lights will actually work." Scully walked around to the back of the tree, and stooping plugged the lights in.


She unplugged them and plugged them in again.

Still nothing.

Mulder chuckled when he heard her swear quietly under her breath. Maybe Scully was a master at getting trees into their holders, but apparently she was a novice at lights.

Mulder stood up and walked over to where Scully was jamming the plug into the wall. He bent down and took the plug out of her hand. "I don't suppose I could talk you into making some hot chocolate while I work on these lights."

Scully got up and smiled at him and gently touched the small bump on his forehead. She pulled his head down so she could kiss it. "I am sorry about your head Mulder."

Mulder shrugged it off and watched her walk into the kitchen before turning his attention to the lights. Scully took the kettle out and rummaged through kitchen for mugs. "We could get a house you know Mulder."

Mulder shook his head and smiled. He found it fascinating the way that Scully chose to discuss the subject of their getting married. "We could definitely afford it now." He chuckled to himself thinking about how happy Kersh had been when he fired him, and how annoyed he was at having to hire Mulder, frequently, to consult on the more difficult cases. It would have been much more economical to keep Mulder than to pay his consulting fees.

Scully returned to the living room carrying two steaming mugs of hot chocolate, just as Mulder plugged in the lights. They lit and basked the room with their warm light.

"How did you fix them so quickly Mulder?" Scully handed him his mug and took a sip from her own.

"It was only a loose connection." He put down his mug and headed over to the box of decorations. "Star on first or last?" He turned the delicate china star over in his hands, remembering that Scully had told him it had been a gift from her father.

Scully took the star from him and placed it gently on the table. "Everyone knows the star goes on last. When was the last time you did this?" She handed him some glass ornaments and took a couple herself.

Mulder's face darkened a bit. "Not since before Samantha was taken."

Scully placed her ornaments on the tree and walked up behind where Mulder was hanging his. She wrapped her arms around him and put her cheek on his back. "I'm sorry Mulder. If this is too hard for you. . ."

Mulder turned around and hugged her close. "Scully the whole time I was gone. The whole time they were doing all those tests on me, one thought kept me from loosing my sanity. One thought kept them from beating me. Do you know what that one thought was?" When he felt her shake her head against his chest he pulled back so he could look at her. "It was you. I promised myself that if I ever got back to you, I would take the time to appreciate and enjoy life with you. I wasted so much time and energy trying to fix the past when I should have been enjoying the present. I want to do this Scully. I want to create wonderful memories with you and my son."

He kissed her, and Scully found herself wrapping her arms around his neck pulling him in closer. When they parted, Mulder kissed her on the forehead and nodded his head towards the boxes still full of ornaments. "Come on Scully, you can hang all the low ones."

Even Scully had to admit that the tree was beautiful. Mulder had surprised her with his talent for tree decorating. She snuggled a little closer to him. "You still haven't actually asked me Mulder."

Mulder pulled back a bit and smiled down at her. "Are you trying to tell me that the ever logical, ever practical Dana Katherine Scully is actually a romantic at heart?" Scully blushed, something that never failed to tug at Mulder's heart. "I thought for sure you would want to analyze, dissect it, and analyze it some more before you could make your decision." Scully poked him, hating how well he knew her.

Mulder grabbed the hand mid-poke and brought it up to his lips. Turning it upward, he kissed her palm, keeping his eyes on hers. She shuddered slightly at the contact, and Mulder smiled as he bent towards her and gently touched her lips with his. He broke the kiss and tilted his head slightly as he looked at her.

"What is it Scully?" Scully avoided his gaze her interest now on a small speck of dust on the floor. She hated how easily Mulder knew when something was bothering her. "You wouldn't mind adopting?" Her voice meek.

"Adopting? Of course not Scully, but I was hoping that since you and I managed to pull off one miracle . . ." Scully cut him off, her face now wearing, as Mulder called it, her 'doctor look.' "Mulder, neither of us truly understands the circumstances behind my first pregnancy. I was, frankly, too scared to look very closely."

Mulder silenced her by putting a finger to her lips. He shook his head at her and smiled. "Scully, after all this time I would think you would be more open to extreme possibilities. Besides, Mulder Jr. here," he glanced down briefly at his crotch "likes to think that he had a little something to do with it."

Scully snorted. "Mulder . . ." She stopped when Mulder stood up and reached down to pick her up. "Mulder, what do you think you're doing?" She sounded annoyed but Mulder ignored her, picking her up with ease and slinging her over his shoulder. "It seems that you need a bit more convincing Agent Scully. I have a couple of things in mind that I can guarantee will have you screaming 'yes' in no time."

Scully squirmed in his grasp but Mulder noticed that she wasn't fighting too hard--just hard enough to keep up appearances. "Mulder, my mother will be here in less than an hour with William."

Mulder said nothing as he walked into the bedroom and unceremoniously dumped her on the bed. "Then I guess we better hurry."

Mulder walked into the apartment and immediately heard Scully's voice. Judging by what she was saying, she wasn't speaking to William, but on the phone with her friend Ellen. Clutching a small paper bag in his hand, he hung up his coat and waited for her to finish talking. Although he was eager to speak to her, he paused and leaned against the doorframe, watching her in silence.

"Ellen, I haven't really given it much thought one way or another. If I change my name would Mulder have to call me 'Mulder' instead of 'Scully'?"

Mulder chuckled to himself. "Of course it would be much easier on William if both of his parents have the same last name." Scully laughed in response to something Ellen said. "You're right, it *would* piss Bill off. I don't think he has forgiven me for getting engaged over Christmas yet."

At that Mulder walked up to Scully and wrapped his arms around her. He began to nibble on her neck, attempting to distract her enough to end her phone call. Scully gave him a feeble poke but did little to break his embrace.

"Listen Ellen, Mulder just got back so I'd better go. Let's get together soon and talk wedding, okay?"

Scully hung up the phone and spun around to face Mulder. She went up on tip-toe to give him a kiss, expecting him to take advantage of the fact that William was napping. Mulder ignored her not-so-subtle hint, instead taking a box out of the paper bag and waving it in her face.

"What's that?" Scully looked at the box and then at Mulder.

"It's a pregnancy test Scully. Surely you learned about them in med school?"

Scully glared at him and raised both eyebrows. "I know what it is Mulder. What I don't know is why you're waving it around in my face."

"Come on Scully, don't play dumb. It doesn't suit you. You know you haven't been yourself for the past few weeks."

"I have so been my normal self Mulder." Scully walked away from him desperately trying to figure out a way out of this conversation.

"Are you telling me Scully, that puking your brains out several times a day, feeling dizzy and avoiding all contact with fried foods is normal for you?" He came up behind her and spun her until she faced him. The mere mention of fried food had made her a bit green around the edges and he shook his head and smiled at her. "Add those symptoms to the fact that you are more than two weeks late. . ."

Scully mumbled something about him minding his own business as he thrust the package into her hand. He looked at her expectantly. Scully opened her mouth then shut it, not quite sure what to say at first. "Mulder, you know my cycles have been off ever since my abduction. Just because I am a little late doesn't mean I'm pregnant." She began to shift her weight from one foot to another, uncomfortable with the entire situation.

Mulder took her by both shoulders forcing her to look at him. "Scully, you have been as regular as clockwork since I returned," He stopped when he saw the look on her face. It was a mixture of anger and anticipation. "Please, Scully will you do it for me and my pathetic overactive imagination?"

Scully glared at him a bit longer and pulled back. Waving the box in his face, she turned towards the bathroom. She said nothing as she entered but stopped in her tracks when it appeared that Mulder was going to follow her in. "Mulder, I think I can pee on a stick without you watching me."

Mulder looked at her sheepishly. "Sorry." He closed the door and went back out to the living room to wait. From what he had read on the back of the box, the test results would be almost instantaneous, but for him it seemed to take forever. He tensed at the sound of the toilet flushing, wondering why Scully had yet to come out.

She was taking forever. Did that mean good news or bad? Just when Mulder decided to break down the bathroom door, Scully came out. Her eyes were huge and brimming with tears. Mulder's heart broke at the sight, and he immediately berated himself for putting her in this situation.

"Scully, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have made you take the test." He held her close and felt the dampness through his shirt. They stayed like that for a few moments while Scully pulled herself together. "Mulder, will you do something for me?"

Mulder pulled back and looked down at her, dreading her request but unable to deny it. "Anything Scully, anything."

Scully looked at him with eyes that threatened tears again. "If it's a girl, can we name her 'Melissa'?"

The End

Author's notes: The elements required for this story were:
Reuniting with William/or William never was adopted.
Lovemaking between Mulder and Scully (implied)
Shopping for a Christmas tree
Mulder dealing with his abduction or Mulder was never abducted

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