Title: Before the Marvel of this Night
Author: Rachel Wilder
Written: December 2001
11 K
Spoilers: Set several months after Nothing Important Happened Today

Summary: Filled with traditions and memories of Christmas' past, Scully decorates baby Will's first tree.

Notes: Many thanks to the great beta by Gerry Hill and Michelle Kiefer. The title is inspired by a wonderful Christmas carol by
Carl Schalk. The lyrics head each section. If you want to hear the song, try this link: http://www.lammas.co.uk/marvelni.ram

Before the marvel of this night
adoring fold your wings and bow,
then tear the sky apart with light
and with your news the world endow,
proclaim the birth of Christ and peace,
that fear and death and sorrow cease.
Sing peace, sing peace, sing gift of peace,
sing peace, sing gift of peace.

I've always loved Christmas. There are so many memories of years when we would decorate the tree, waiting until my dad got home to place the angel on top. We never put the angel up until everyone was there. This year there will be no angel on my tree...my family will never be complete again without Mulder here.

There have been years that have been hard for me, especially over the past few years. Now my Christmas memories are filled with visions of Emily and her short time in my life. I've always been able to push them back into the past, but this year has been more difficult for me for so many reasons. Each weekend I have intended to go pick out a tree, to get the decorations out, but now it's Christmas Eve and only this afternoon did I finally force myself to stop at the lot down the street from my apartment and arrange for someone to deliver a tree.

I turn on the stereo while Will sits quietly in his swing. He's entranced by the twinkle of the blue, green, yellow and red lights as I put them on the tree. So many of the decorations in the box have special meaning to me...my grandmother would make one for each of us every year, until her arthritic hands could no longer put the small pieces together. My mom got started with her decorations the year Matthew was born. This year I'm putting a small drummer boy near the top...the first decoration my mother made for her.

I've decorated my apartment alone for so many years, but in some ways this year, despite the addition of baby paraphernalia, it seems so empty. Mulder's absence is palpable. Most days I can push it back, concentrate on the baby, on my work, but tonight I miss him with an ache that I feel deep in my bones.

I am so angry that he's missing out on this time in his son's life. I don't blame him. I know that he wishes it was not this way, either. Instead, I focus my anger on the people keeping us apart. Why do they hate us so much? Why do they make me fear my son, his origins? Why was I cheated out of a normal life?

I've tried to keep my fears about William to myself, but I know that Skinner and my mother are aware of my fears. I love this child more than life, but find myself holding back, afraid that he's going to be taken, that something will happen to alter his life.

I add a string of bubbler lights to the tree. We had them as a child, until my father feared that they would set the house on fire. Seeing the colored liquids bubble up and down reminds me of the comfort I always felt in my home, knowing that my parents loved each other, loved each of my brothers and sister with all of their hearts. I want that same sense of security for my child, but I fear that I won't be able to give it to him.

I can't be afraid to live my life, otherwise I might as well be dead. If I can't give my love to my child, then it would be better to not have him in my life at all.

I stop decorating the tree and turn to William. He's fallen asleep in his swing, the motor still moving him slowly back and forth. My love for him almost hurts me, it's so intense. How could I ever question his presence in my life?

I pull him from the swing and hold him close. Soft music from the stereo fills the room, "Follow the star of Bethlehem...rise up shepherd and follow."

I want to follow him, I'm just not sure where to go. It's been four months since we heard from Mulder. He promised that he would contact me, but now it's been months. I fear for him. If he is hurt or worse, how will I ever know?

I sink to the couch, still holding Will close to my breast. He smells so sweet and is so warm against my skin. He gives me such great comfort. I only hope I can give some of that back to him...comfort when he hurts, security when he's scared or in danger...a home and a family for him to grow and learn. With the baby in my arms, I lie back against the pillows and feel myself falling asleep.

Awake the sleeping world with song,
this is the day the Lord has made,
assemble here, celestial throng,
in royal splendor come arrayed.
Give earth a glimpse of heavenly bliss,
a teasing taste of what they miss.
Sing bliss, sing bliss, sing endless bliss,
sing bliss, sing endless bliss.

When I wake, the CD has changed. I smile with recognition. As a child we had a stack of Christmas records that we always listened to while we decorated the tree. The year before she died, Melissa had given me a copy of the Andy Williams Christmas album to remind me.

"I'll be home for Christmas..."

I look across at the room, the lights from the tree warming the darkness around me. Atop the tree sits the angel my grandmother gave me for my confirmation. I get up from the couch, trying to not disturb Will's slumber. That year Mulder almost made me miss my family Christmas, when I went to his apartment later...I told him about the angel that year.

What if? I shake my head. It can't be. I must have put it up there without thinking. But I know that isn't possible, either. There is no way I could reach the top of this tree without the stool from my kitchen.

I carefully lay the baby in his crib and slide the door closed, feeling slightly disconcerted about the angel. I'm pretty sure I didn't put her up there, but then who would have? As the latch clicks, I feel his arms around me.

"I told you I'd let you know I was okay," he whispers into my ear.

I turn to face him. I'm not entirely sure that I'm not still asleep on the couch, dreaming of him being here. It's happened before.

I reach up to touch his face. He's thin, and a bit unkempt, but it's him. It's unbelievable.

"Is this wise?" I question.

He answers me with a kiss, pulling me close, tucking me into his body. The memories rush over me. I reach up and knit my fingers through his hair. Despite all the years we held ourselves apart, I know this man. I have never felt as safe as I do in his arms.

After a moment, I pull away, turning back to the door I have just closed. I lead him into the dark room where our son sleeps. I watch as he carefully approaches the crib. I know he will be shocked...babies change so quickly when they're little.

"He's so big," Mulder whispers, turning back to look at me.

I nod, tears now flowing down my cheeks. I dreamed of his return, but I never knew what it would feel like.

"Can you stay?" I choke out. I was the one who told him to go, but I'm not sure I can ask him to leave again, whatever the consequences.

He pauses and then shakes his head, his face crumpling as he looks first at me, then our son. I don't know where he's been or what it took to come back to us, but clearly it has cost him a great deal.

"Then we leave together," I answer.

He shakes his head, "No, Scully, I can't. I can't risk that."

He reaches down and touches Will's face, his hands, his legs. He straightens the blanket and turns to me. I follow as he heads back into the living room.

I have so many questions. Where has he been? What has he found out? I try to collate in my mind what I know, but there are no answers, even after all this time.

Sitting down on the couch, he reaches for me again, running his fingers down my cheek and then kissing me again. I would love to just lie here in his arms, but I'm too unsettled. I pull away.

"I won't ask you to go again. We need you and you need us, that much is clear."

I'm shocked to hear the words come from my mouth. I've never been comfortable sharing my feelings, making demands of Mulder, or anyone else. I've always been the person who went along...the person who was always fine when asked. Perhaps motherhood is making me more assertive.

"You don't want to be where I've been. I sure as hell don't want you or Will there."

The sharpness of his tone catches me off guard. The CD has ended and the only sound left in the room is the sound of our breathing. More than ever, I believe that he's here before me, in the flesh.

I lay my head on his chest and listen to his heart beat. He is a living force. He strokes my hair as I begin to softly cry. After a moment he lifts my face up and his eyes, dark and passionate, lock onto mine.

"We'll work something out," he says, his fingers trailing down the side of my face. It's as if he's trying to memorize every inch of me.

We'll work it out? Is he insane? I can't live like this any longer, always on the edge. I need some assurances and I need them now.

"We'll find an answer, Scully. I love you and Will too much to be separated from you. We will find a way. I know that from the bottom of my heart."

He pulls me close, almost squeezing me, desperate even to hold me. Finally his arms relax and once again we sleep.

The love that we have always known,
our constant joy and endless light,
now to the love-less world be shown,
now break upon its deathly night.
Into one song compress the love
that rules our universe above.
Sing love, sing love, sing God is love,
sing love, sing God is love.

Will's cries wake me up early Christmas morning. Mulder is gone again...in my heart I knew he would be. But, I know he'll be back.


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