Title: Winter Break
DATE: Sat, 15 Dec 2001
DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT: Gossamer
SPOILER WARNING: Ninth season
CONTENT STATEMENT: MSR
KEYWORDS: Mulder, Scully, William
DISCLAIMER: These characters do not belong to me.
NOTE: Thanks to my wonderful beta reader Sallie!
SUMMARY: Time for the semester break at Quantico.
December 21st, 2001
Dana Scully spared a cursory glance for the elderly man sitting near the Academy reception area. His blue visitor badge hung from the wide black belt of his Santa costume. His head tilted forward on his chest as he lightly dozed in the quiet of mid-afternoon.
A red sackful of goodies sat on the chair beside him, vigilantly guarded by his weathered, liver-spotted hand.
'He's early,' she thought to herself. The staff Christmas party isn't until four and her afternoon class just let out at 3:30 p.m. She's free to go now, no office hours on Friday afternoon.
William is with her mother at her apartment and she knows she'll return home to the sweet smell of sugar cookies and gingerbread men. Maggie Scully insisted on making them today with William, even though he's barely nine months old and won't remember much about anything he sees or smells around him. Scully couldn't remember that far back into her childhood, but she supposed the soothing aromas and nonstop Christmas carols would be fun for both Grandmother and grandchild.
She hoped she wouldn't come home to a cranky, overstuffed baby. Yes, her mother had raised four of her own, but still... William didn't need all that sugar in his system. Scully shook her head in amazement. 'When did I become such a fuddy duddy,' she wondered to herself. "Mom's not going to poison William," she muttered to herself as she unlocked her office door.
Scully set her briefcase down in the middle of her pristine desk. She's spent all week clearing it of administrative letters, student files, and anything else which had found its way to her ink blotter this semester. Winter break would last until the beginning of January and she was determined to enjoy her time alone with William.
She knew she'd have to spend some time with her mother, shopping and eating out at mall cafes. She'd also resigned herself to the fact that Christmas day would be spent at her Mom's house, with Bill and Charlie's families. Both siblings and their broods were flying in from California; none of them had seen the baby yet.
Thankfully, having only phone and E-mail contact had limited Bill's inquiring mind. Tara had sent her a gushing letter after the first shipment of baby pictures and Mrs. Scully had provided more every month or so. Scully was too busy with work and the baby to send them herself, but she did find the time to write Tara and Charlie's wife short notes. That was the extent of their contact during William's young life.
Until Christmas day, with the inevitable questions from big brother Bill. He would feel obligated to ask her where Fox Mulder had disappeared to this time. He would subtly remind her of the baby's illegitimacy somehow, some way. She was not looking forward to Christmas day.
She flipped open her briefcase and started loading it with unread medical journals to read at home. There were plenty to fill her idle hours when Will was asleep. His sleep patterns were much better now; she could plan on putting him to bed at ten o'clock and only getting up once, maybe twice during the night to change or feed him.
It wasn't really hunger that woke him, she knew that. Will was sensitive to his mother's changing moods and lately they had not been as joyous as the season dictated. She'd been getting up in the middle of the night, crossing to the window which gave her the best view of the moon and stars.
Sometimes she'd stand there for fifteen minutes or so--at least until Will started fussing, demanding attention with a soft whimper his mother could hear fifty feet away. She'd rescue him from his crib and rock him back to sleep, singing half-remembered lullabies unselfconsciously. Charlie had been born when she was just three and she had loved to listen to her mother's voice lulling him to sleep. Scully still hated her own voice, but William was less discriminating, falling asleep to her soft melodies.
A knock on her door. 'Who the hell is that?' she thought. All her colleagues had gone home, or so she assumed. No self-respecting Academy student was going to haunt her office this late on the Friday before Christmas.
Before she could say a word or cross the short space from desk to doorway, the hinges of the wooden threshold creaked open. Scully reached behind her back for her gun, where she always used to holster it during the work day. Naturally it wasn't there anymore. She had become more relaxed when within the confines of the Quantico complex. It was secreted in her briefcase beneath the work she was dragging home with her for the holiday.
She took two steps back, watching the entranceway as it slowly swung open. She found her voice, unnecessarily spitting out "Who's there?" as the elderly santa came into view.
He stood in the doorway, red velvet sack in hand, with very little expression in his face at all. Slowly, he brought his finger to his lips, asking for her silence. He turned toward the door slowly, turning the deadbolt lock counterclockwise.
Scully stood stock still, mesmerized by the old man's actions. She wasn't really frightened for some reason. She should have been; he was a stranger, she was unarmed, and she had no idea what was in his bag.
Taking another step back until she hit the corner of her desk, she felt calm enough to scrutinize the silent man. He was tall, as tall as Mulder. His fake white beard and costume hid everything but his wrinkled face and hands.
He seemed to be waiting for her, eyes filled with anticipation, fingers clenched anxiously around the top of his sack. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, wobbling briefly to one side, then catching his balance with all the grace of a younger man. He nervously cleared his throat but said not a word.
Cautiously stepping forward, Scully concentrated on the only feature of his face showing any emotion at all--his bright, shining eyes. His crumpled features were unrecognizable, but his eyes were the same color, the same shape...
Scully's hands flew to her face, covering her mouth as it gaped in recognition. Suddenly she was lightheaded, pulse pounding in her head, knees threatening to give way beneath her. She staggered toward the man as he rushed forward to offer her the stability of his arms.
"Oh, God. Oh, God," she exclaimed, giving in to both laughter and tears as she pulled at his latex mask.
"Ow, ow!!!" He yelped. "Whoa, let me do that!" he said, restraining her hands gently and then bringing them straight to his lips, kissing every digit while she looked on in amazement.
Mulder smiled at her and said, "Jimmy told me how to do this quickly. Just hold on."
She nodded once, still focusing on the enormity of the moment. They hadn't seen or touched one another for three months. Their last rendezvous almost ended badly and she'd told him to stay away. Evidently, he couldn't and had taken a chance on seeing her alone.
With practiced ease, he removed the yellowed skin covering his hands and dropped it to the floor. He then tore off the false santa-style beard, giving Scully a smirk as he threw that into the growing pile. He bent his head forward slightly, then pulled on something sharply, releasing the confining, disguising mask from its anchor at the nape of his neck.
Mulder was breathless by the time he got the plastic off his head, but he recovered quickly, determined to spend every second they had together in her arms. He advanced upon a still stunned Scully with predator-like grace, bringing their mouths together in a warm clash of lips and tongues. He ignored his itchy complexion, and watering eyes; all he wanted was to feel her, to kiss her all over again.
It was a little too much for her. She had to tear her mouth away and press her cheek into his chest, muttering, "A minute, give me a minute." Her fear for him would not let her completely enjoy this homecoming and she whispered, "Is this safe, do you know for sure?"
He smoothed her hair with one gentle hand as the other held her tightly around the waist. "The guys cleaned your office today and scoped out the hallways and entryway. No one will see me. All I need is a few minutes to put the mask back on. It's easier than it looks."
She dared to raise her head and look at his precious, overly ruddy face. She slid her fingers over his cheeks, her thumbs coming to rest on his crooked smile.
"You're crazy, you know that?" she said with a grin.
"It's been said before," he smirked.
"How? What about William?"
Mulder brought his hands to her cheeks and leaned forward to kiss her chastely. "It's all arranged. You'll be free by Christmas Eve to be with your Mom." He moved his lips from her jaw to her earlobe, then growled, "Until then, you're all mine."
"Oh," she whispered, before their lips met again. There was even more urgency, even more passion, now that she knew they'd have time alone. She didn't have to ask if William would be safe. She knew the guys would make sure of that.
Catching a breath, he rested his forehead against hers, and asked softly, "You're okay with this, then?"
Scully pulled away from him slightly, peering into his now serious eyes. "Yeah, if you are, I am, Mulder. I wish you could see, William, though."
He kissed her cheek tenderly and responded, "Soon, I'll be able to spend time with both of you, soon. I promise you that."
She smiled through more tears, not willing to control her emotions just yet. She'd had plenty of time to restrain her grief lately; she wasn't going to contain her joy now.
"I'm ready to go, Mulder," she said, nodding toward her briefcase.
He smiled back, then grabbed a tissue from a box on the shelf and delicately cleaned the mascara from underneath her eyes. "Now you are. Got a hand mirror?"
She produced one from her briefcase and held it steady while he reapplied the mask with ease. He must have practiced for hours, she thought. He must have thought about this for days.
Scully giggled when he had completely reapplied the makeup and beard.
Amused, he asked, "Something wrong?"
"I can't believe I fell for it. I should have known."
"I'm glad you didn't Scully. That means there's no possibility anyone else will guess either. I'm going down to the parking garage now. Comb that beautiful hair of yours and act like it's an ordinary Friday. Get into your car and go to the location the guys left on the front seat."
She stepped toward him, clutching his shoulders tightly. "Be careful, Mulder. Don't take any chances."
Mulder nodded solemnly, then stroked her cheek with his thumb. "I won't. I'll see you soon."
Scully acknowledged his words with a bob of her head and he left the office, swiftly grabbing his red santa sack from the floor.
Scully got into her car and glanced over at the road map on the passenger seat. A route had been traced in red for her to follow, with a small Post-it note marking her destination. She sat quietly, staring at the instructions, debating her next move.
She couldn't live like this anymore, hanging onto each rare and precious visit from Mulder until he emerged from isolation once again. This weekend's rendezvous would be longer than any of the other ones, but sorely lacking in what Scully really wanted. Mulder needed to see Will; they needed to spend time as a family.
She pulled out her cell phone and started dialing.
"What do you mean she's delayed?!" Mulder hissed into his phone. He paced angrily in front of the motel room in rural Virginia.
"Calm down, Mulder. Our eyes and ears are everywhere, you know that," Frohike assured him over the line.
"Why won't you just tell me what's going on? We had every detail of this weekend planned and now I don't know where Scully is or why her phone's out-of-service. Would you care to give me a freaking clue, Melvin?!"
"All I can say is she's safe and she'll be there soon. Don't leave, stop drawing attention to yourself, man."
"What? You can see me?" Mulder wondered, scanning the asphalt parking lot for a VW bus. The sun was setting in the East and five o'clock had come and gone already. He hadn't panicked about Scully's tardiness until now, and now he was furious.
"I'm out of range at the moment, for safety's sake, but I have a good idea what your demeanor's like when you're mad as hell, Mulder. Go wear out the carpeting inside the room, friend. It's bought and paid for."
"Frohike, if you don't tell me right now where the hell she is--"
Mulder doubled over in agony. This was too much stress, even for an old danger addict like himself. For the first time in his life he'd had to conceal the amount of antacid and pain pills he'd been popping on a regular basis. It wasn't only that he was getting older, there was so much more at stake now.
"Mulder? You there?" Frohike's voice squealed from the phone.
Mulder took several deep breaths, then uncurled his torso, trying to stand straight and tall again. His eyes darted left and right, wary of any undue attention. Satisfied that no one was interested in his existence, he brought the cell phone back to his ear.
"Hey, man! Don't do that! Agent Scully is going to send me to kingdom come if I lose track of you!"
"I'm okay now." Mulder used his thumb and forefinger to massage his temples, feeling a killer headache coming on. "Just give me a hint, Frohike. That's all I need."
"All right... Plan B," Frohike responded.
"Plan B," Mulder parroted flatly.
"Uh huh. And that's all I'm saying for now, monster boy. Get your ass in the motel room."
Mulder closed his eyes tightly, thoroughly frustrated with his friends and Scully. If she had wanted to alter their plans, why hadn't she said so up in her office? Dammit, why hadn't she just gone with the program?
He got the motel room key out of his pocket and let himself in. Twilight was descending on the parking lot and there was no point standing outside in the cold. Mulder flipped on the television at a low volume and sat down in the naugahyde chair.
An hour later, he was startled by a soft knock at the door. Oddly enough, he'd dozed off in the uncomfortable chair. The stress and lack of sleep the previous night had finally gotten to him.
On the other side of the door stood Scully, William cradled in her arms. She smiled broadly and said quietly, "Merry Christmas, Dad."
Mulder smiled back and pulled both of them into a bear hug for two. William protested just a bit, and his father backed off a little, then bent down to kiss his soft baby forehead.
"Why don't you hold him a minute?" Scully said, passing him to Mulder easily. She turned to close the still open door and secure the dead bolt.
Mulder's hands were full of baby, a much larger one than he'd held months before. William gurgled and cooed at his Dad, somehow sensing this infrequent visitor was someone he should know. Mulder grinned at him, and allowed him to grasp his forefinger with his little fist.
"He always knows you," Scully said with wonder.
"Poor kid. You should be teaching him to be wary of crazy people, Scully," he quipped.
The adrenaline was wearing off and Mulder was suddenly very tired. He didn't want to explain to Scully why he felt slightly dizzy. He knew it was nothing; exhaustion and relief were combining to zap him of all his energy.
"Take him?" he asked quietly, passing her the baby.
He leaned down and kissed her on the lips. "Sit down, Scully. I'll get your things from the car."
She nodded and chose the same chair he'd been sleeping in before. Mulder helped her settle William in her lap, then remove her coat. He unlocked the door and went out to the car, his equilibrium returning with a dose of fresh, cold air.
Mulder was curious about the change in plans. She'd taken a huge risk going back for William and they both knew it. The guys wouldn't have allowed her to do so without taking any and all precautions, but he knew the consequences of a slip up.
As he gathered up her things, a large brown envelope caught his eye. It was labelled 'Plan B,' and he was tempted to open it on the spot. He suppressed the impulse and dragged all the luggage and baby paraphernalia to the motel door.
When he came through the door she was still sitting still, William's head in one hand. She was speaking to him softly, Mulder could barely make out the words. He did catch a few of them, 'trip,' and 'home.' What was she telling him now?
He dropped his burdens unceremoniously beside the bed, anxious to return to his family. He knelt down in front of Scully, wrapping his arms around her waist and dipping his head very close to William. She smiled and freed one hand to comb Mulder's hair off his forehead. It was so much longer now that he didn't have to work at the FBI, she thought idly.
"Beautiful," he said, tracing the baby's cheeks with his thumb. "He's looking more and more like his mother."
"And father," she added.
"What a shame," he joked. She laughed, knowing she'd never be able to put an end to his self-deprecating humor.
Several minutes passed as they all caught their breath and recovered from the busy, emotionally-charged day. Mulder could tell Scully was tired, not quite ready to sleep, but in need of some quiet time on a comfortable bed. He didn't want to press her about 'Plan B,' but he needed to know if they were going to stay at the motel very long.
He rose on his knees and caressed her face with one hand. "Scully, I know you're tired, but--"
She interrupted him, bringing one hand to his lips. "You need to know. I need to tell you. This is it, Mulder. Plan B."
"Which is?" he asked with a befuddled look.
"We're coming with you this time, Mulder. I've been ready to go and the guys had everything set up for us."
"Oh, Scully, I don't know about this--" he protested, shaking his head.
She smiled and tilted her head to one side. "I knew you'd say that, but it's too late to go back now. Frohike has already used a bogus credit card to make reservations for a family of three to leave the country tomorrow morning."
"We're not. We're not going on that plane. It's just a distraction to throw anyone off our scent. Even if we've been followed here, which I really doubt, the guys have something up their sleeve. They'll be calling us before dawn, if we don't call them first."
Mulder grimaced and rubbed his forehead with one hand, confirming the observation she'd made earlier.
"You've been having headaches."
He dropped his hand and closed his eyes, knowing she wouldn't buy his denial this time. "Yeah."
Stroking his temple gently, she told him, "When we get to Canada, we can see a doctor, Mulder. You haven't seen anyone for nine months, have you?"
Mulder smirked, "Nah, I haven't needed any pre-natal care, Scully."
She gave him an exasperated look and closed her eyes. "Right."
"Come on, let's get you both comfortable on the bed," he said, before she could continue.
He stood up before her, then offered to take William with outstretched hands. Scully nodded and carefully passed their son between them. She followed them to the bed and started unpacking the few things she'd need to change him.
"Do you want a towel?" he asked.
"Sure, that's a good idea."
Mulder took a quick look at the man in the bathroom mirror, the one who was about to risk everything to smuggle his family out of the country. He somehow didn't feel up to the task, but apparently Scully did, and maybe that was all that mattered.
He sat on the edge of the bed, watching her change William's diaper. It was such a mundane task, one he'd been deprived of since he'd left DC. He'd never strayed far from the area, but he hadn't thought it safe to visit very often. He mulled the great risk they were taking, even now. He wasn't sure they should be spending the night in this place.
"Scully?" he finally asked.
"Are you sure?"
She turned so he could see the determination in her eyes. "Yes. We're not spending another holiday apart, Mulder."
"She knows. I didn't see her this afternoon, but she knows. Byers picked up the baby and met me. That's what took us so long. You probably don't recognize the car outside because I switched off with him after dark. It's not much of a ruse but he drove my car to Georgetown, parked it in front of the building, and was picked up by Langly. By that time, if someone had been following me they would have been pissed to see him emerge from the car."
"What about now? Shouldn't we leave now?" he asked.
She shrugged. "We'll be leaving before dawn. Maybe you should lie down. I will too, once I get William comfortable."
He rose from his spot on the bed and took her into his arms, kissing the crown of her head and enjoying the way their bodies fit so well together. He felt much more confident now; her calm optimism was contagious. Whatever happened from this day forward they would be together.
Without a word, he pulled the bedcovers down so she could slide underneath. She quickly pulled off her shoes but kept her street clothes on. There was no point in undressing if they would be up before dawn. Once she was comfortable, he gently picked up William from the middle of the big bed and handed him to her.
She patted the bed beside them and he removed his sneakers and settled in beside them. It was doubtful he could sleep but he knew she wouldn't be pleased if he didn't try. He snuggled closer to them both, threading his right arm beneath her shoulder.
His left hand caressed the baby's head as he dropped a good night kiss on Scully's lips. They were together tonight; did he dare ask for more?
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