Title: Christmas Beginning
Author: diehard
Rating: NC-17
Classification: MSR, Post-ep, AU (Let's assume that Mulder and Scully could actually start something good at this juncture.)
Spoilers: 'How the Ghosts Stole Christmas'
Keywords: gifts both large and small
Feedback: alvaradomccain@earthlink.net

Summary: What were those presents, and how did Christmas Day shape up for out two heroes?

beta by the lovely sallie


 

There's a heavy snow falling In D.C., the heaviest in years. Outside the apartment, thick, wet, flakes fall fast and furious; blanketing the cars, the street lights, the pavement. Hegal Place is quickly disappearing, and the world is being made into white.

Pristine and still, it's a wintry counterpoint to a few hours ago when Mulder and Scully lay bloody and dying--pseudo-shot by each other in a hallucinogenic holiday murder/suicide pact. They managed to agree that some unknown variable induced this latest episode in their pair-bonded roadshow.

Arguing about ghosts will come later.

Currently, the two of them are listening to the dust collect in Mulder's perennially cluttered apartment. They've been silent for several long minutes, and the watery, pale light of a winter dawn begins to creep across the room. They're sitting side-by-side in the hush, wrapping paper crumpled and tossed on the floor, cradling each of their gifts in their hands.

They're also both grinning and holding their breath-- one wrong word will break the spell and they both desperately want this spell to take hold. They've have both been rabidly, privately in love with each other for quite a while.

So rabidly, their personal lives contain little else but each other. So privately, in fact, that they haven't been able to bring themselves to do a damn thing about it. Mulder did manage to get out a Demerol-laced 'I love you,' a few months back, after being fished out of the Sargasso Sea. Unfortunately, he didn't have the balls to follow through, and Scully was too high-minded to take advantage of a drugged man. And maybe afraid to find out that it might not be true, once the hospital high evaporated, if she were honest with herself.

Then there's that whole business of a global conspiracy and fighting the apocalypse. Talk about limiting a person's options. Who else could they turn to but each other?

But instead of hearts and flowers and profound declarations of amor eternal, they each hoped their gift would be the requisite last piece of the puzzle. They live for code and innuendo. It's their native language.

Scully turns the object over and over in her hand. It's scrimshaw, a mermaid with two linked rings etched on her back, something New England sailors fashioned on long, difficult journeys. A seafaring man would carve figures every voyage, but only one like this one -- for the love of his life. She knows its significance, and knows he knows.

Mulder's counting on her figuring it out, and shifts so that he can look her in the eye.

"It's beautiful...My God, Mulder..."

"So, I haven't screwed up, then?" Staring her down, he's half expecting her to flinch. A lump starts to form in his throat when she doesn't, inching close to him instead. Her eyes are clear-blue, their expression as serious as a heart attack.

"No, I'd say you figured out what I wanted... wanted for a long time, actually." She rests her hand on his thigh, which seems like an intensely erotic act to both of them. "What about my present? Think it's something you'll keep around?"

Sheathed in a parchment sleeve, he carefully pulls out a leather-covered book, loosening the ties that keep it safe. It's a small, perfect tome, with handmade papers, hand-bound; it's a treasure that must be carefully opened. He understands how important the unwrapping is.

Its secret is slowly revealed--it's poetry--Shakespeare's sonnets. And the eminently practical giver has bookmarked exactly the particular sonnet she wants him to see.

"I think I need you to read this to me..." handing it back to her, waiting to see what she'll do.

Scully startles and tries to move back, maybe to gather her courage, maybe to think of a snappy rejoinder, but he won't let her get out of it. His proverbial cat's out of the bag, and even though she's let him know he wasn't insane to go for it, he wants her intentions signed, sealed, and delivered.

He takes his hand and rests his fingertips at the base of her throat, touching skin, feeling the life that pulses there. "If you read it, then I'll know for sure..."

There's no turning back, so Scully carefully places her gift on the coffee table, leans in closer to him and opens the book. She starts off wavery, her voice unsteady. "Not marble, nor the gilded monuments of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme."

She knows he's right, she needs to do this. As she goes on, her voice becomes stronger, clearer. The sonnet pledges love, devotion, and loyalty in the face of destiny dangerous and forces cruel. War, death, despair -- none of it has the power to change the author's love. Her love.

This is what she's tried to keep secret.

She's come to the end, and lowers her voice. It's a caress, meant for him as she finally speaks the words and seals her fate.

"You live in this, and dwell in lover's eyes."

"Yes?"

She can't make out the exact color of his eyes in this early morning light, but his gaze pins her where she sits, and she feels hot and cold and so goddamn alive, she can't help trembling.

"Yes."

He can barely make out what she's saying because his heart's drumbeating has almost drowned her out. She's telling him, making sure.

"Yes."

Mulder slowly takes the book from her hands, setting it next to where she placed the scrimshaw. Then he's anything but careful, pulling her to him in a joyful, urgent, clumsy mess.


Kissing her hard, he's a man unleashed. Gripping her arms, he's trying to position himself---pulling her closer, pulling her underneath as they become one with his leather sofa. He can feel Scully lacing her fingers against the back of his head, pressing into his scalp, urging him on. His mouth eagerly explores her--lips, cheeks, jawline. Biting down on her earlobe, he feels her shudder. Hotly trailing down her neck, licking and kissing his way down, down, murmuring her name over and over-- he pulls the collar of her shirt aside so he can get at her shoulder, her collarbone.

Yanking the tail of her shirt out from the waistband of her pants, he needs to have more of her. Snaking one hand under the crisp cotton, he circles the skin of her lower back. He captures a breast with the other, his fingers swirling over a nipple. He's crazy with lust and doesn't stop until he's forced to surface for air, with her panting right along with him.

She's half lying down, half in his lap. Wrangling around Enough to capture him again, she's teasing his mouth open, nipping at him, running the tip of her tongue along the fullest part of his lower lip. She's been hungry for so long, too long to slow down.

Angling his face, she feasts on a tender spot on his neck, just below his jawline. One of her hands pushes up the back of his T-shirt and she feels the scrape of his skin underneath her nails as she rasps them up and down his spine. She can feel them breathing heavily, she's pressed so tight against him. The sound coming both of them falls somewhere between groaning and laughter.

She's aching and wet, and the world is blissfully dwindling down to what he's doing to her, the necessity of it-- sensation, pure and simple. It's quite a shock for her when the memory of today's game plan hits her full force, effectively slaking her libido.

She shifts her weight so that their hips are flush. There's incontrovertible, hard evidence of the effect she has on him, and how almost killing each other combined with six years of denial, is the world's most powerful aphrodisiac.

Mulder's still in an altered state, aware of little else except how easily his mouth is fusing to silk of her skin, the heat of her lower back against his hand spread wide, his cock pressing against her parted legs. Slowly, other sensations seep into his consciousness. One is a small hand pushing against his sternum and the other is Scully saying, "Mulder, stop."

"What...too much? Too fast?...." He gradually pulls back, rights himself and eases them both into a sitting position beside him. "Tell me..."

"Mulder..." She is completely, utterly disheveled and has never looked more radiant. She blinks slowly, trying to catch her breath..."I gotta go."

Several long second pass, arousal rapidly plummets, and familiar despair rapidly starts its descent. "Why?" He can hardly speak. Fissures in his heart are forming, breaking is just a matter of time. He squeezes his eyes shut, grimacing as he braces for impact.

As if she reads his mind, she cups his face in her hands and kisses him tenderly. "My family...the Scully clan Christmas confab." She strokes his brow with a gentle touch, "I have to go...but you better be ready for me."

His features relax, but he still doesn't open his eyes. "Ready for you, Scully?"

"As in...I'm coming back later. We have some unfinished business, if I'm not mistaken."

Relief washes over him. "I've been ready since the middle of the Clinton administration, Scully---the first one--- and have every reason to believe we can finish what we've started. And hell, yes, you're coming back, because I won't be held responsible for my actions if you don't." Opening his eyes, he gives her a broad, goofy smile, that just about dissolves all her intentions to forge onward to her mother's house.

He's achieved a quick recovery, clearly, inspiring a truly bizarre idea. She gives him the once over, contemplating the extreme possibility. "Or you could come with me."

"So that Bill can deck the halls with my sorry ass? I don't think your mother would approve."

"No, I don't suppose she would," she sighs. The image of her brother glaring at the two of them across the holiday dinner table is enough to snap her back to reality. "I really do have to go..."

"Then you go, Scully." He gets up slowly and helps her to her feet. "I'll be here, you know me."

"This doesn't feel right, Mulder." She's torn, the weight of it makes her bow her head, tense under his touch.

"You being with your family is exactly the right thing," he leans in and whispers in her ear. "Go. Make merry. Then get yourself back here---I'm not done unwrapping my Christmas present." That's the exactly the right response, he sees her relax and the beginnings of a smile.

"Only if I can get my hands on the rest of mine."

"My, my, Agent Scully, there's an image that'll keep my interest today. I think I can accommodate that request."


He's standing against the doorjamb of his bathroom, with his arms folded across his chest, watching Scully finish pulling herself together. Standing at his sink, her hair's combed, her face's washed, and makeup applied. She finishes putting on her lipstick, noting his surveillance with a sidelong glance.

"Mulder...are you finding all this fascinating?" She gives him a little smirk, and turns away to blot her lips with a tissue.

"Riveting, actually." He closes the distance between them surprising her as she turns around. Before she can say a word, he's cradling her face with both hands.

"I'll be careful," he promises, placing a tiny kiss on the corner of her mouth, the tip of her nose, her temples. "Stay."

"I can't." She looks up at him, feeling like they've wasted too much time and promises herself he won't ever have to ask her that again.

"I know, I thought I should still ask."

"Why?"

"Just making sure I'll get lucky tonight."

Now they're both laughing and he goes to the foyer and retrieves her coat. She makes her way from bathroom and meets him at the door. Slipping it on, she's ready, and he holds open the door. He's still watching her every move, but she doesn't mind it.

"Mulder, can I ask you for something?"

"Anything...Everything."

The look from those eyes could sear the clothes right off her back, and for a split second, she loses her train of thought. She rallies, and gives him a wicked look of her own.

"Eggnog."

"I'm sorry...you want what?" He likes the cagey flirtation. Scully's trying her hand at a little gamesmanship, and he decides to play along.

"Your heard me. Eggnog. Real. I'll be back by seven. Have it here. I'll bring the Bushmills." And with that, she makes her exit, and Mulder shuts the door.


The weather's cleared and it's sunny--everything's blanketed in smooth, shimmering white. The roads were navigable--thankfully, plows had been out during the night, and she'd made decent time getting to Anapolis. It's a little after eight a.m., by the time Scully's knocking on her mother's door. It takes some juggling, what with the enormous armful of gifts. She's Auntie Day as well as a daughter, sister and noticeably single sister-in-law.

"Honey, is that you under all those presents?" Maggie opens the door and ushers her daughter inside. She lets her deposit all the gifts underneath the tree before she wraps her arms around her. There's a balsam fir, huge and glittery, with presents stacked knee-high around it. The house is redolent with holiday smells--pine, cinnamon, and cloves; Scully thinks she can also make out the scent of coffee and bacon.

"Sweetheart, I was beginning to get worried... you know everything starts around here as soon as it's daylight. We've already done the first round of gifts." Maggie searches Scully's face for signs of trouble, and sees only happiness. She has an idea why, but decides to say nothing.

Scully starts to explain, "Mom, I told you when I called about Midnight Mass...I had to meet Mulder..." She feels sheepish, partially because she's missed services, partially because of arriving late, and mostly because she's convinced her mother has intuited the monumental shift in her personal life.

Bill and toddling Matthew have emerged from the kitchen. Tara stayed behind, putting the last touches on breakfast. "Brat! Finally...nice of you to stop by. I heard that last bit. What did that sorry SOB of a partner have you doing?"

Scully steps out of her mother's embrace, "Merry Christmas, to you, too." Kneeling down, she holds out her arms and her nephew waddles into her open arms.

"Hey, little plum...miss your Auntie Day, did 'ya?" She refuses to look at her brother, and busies herself with counting Matthew's fingers and toes.

"Bill, aren't you glad to see your sister?" Maggie chides her eldest and doesn't break eye contact with him.

"Yeah, mom, I am. C'mon, brat...get over here and let me give you a hug." Bill swallows his temper, and waits for his stubborn sister to acknowledge him.

Scully scoops up Matthew, holding him with one arm on her hip, and walks over to her brother. Slipping the other one around Bill's waist, she whispers in his ear as he leans down, "Truce?"

He nods and pulls back, seeing the smile on her face and her pleading eyes. "Yeah, Day. Love you, too. Take off your coat and stay awhile."

Maggie leaves the two of them to help Tara set the table.


Breakfast's finished, and for the last few hours, the family's been camped out in the living room, opening the last of the presents and reliving Christmases past. Scully's pleased with the response to her choices--Irish wool sweaters for everyone, tickets to the ballet for her mother, spa day for Tara, a first edition book on naval history for Bill, and for Matthew, enough educational toys to stock a pre-school. She wonders when she'll be able to make time to enjoy her gifts--the music of Satie and Chopin, and Acqua de Parma bath salts and lotion. For a second, she luxuriates in the mental image of someone in particular drizzling scented water between her shoulder blades, smoothing lotion down the curve of her spine, and forces herself to shift gears.

The telephone rings, and there's joking and yelling and clambering to see who'll speak first, when Maggie informs the group that the caller is none other than Charlie--stationed aboard the U.S.S. Derringer, in the South China Sea. Using his natural charisma and gift of gab, he managed to get himself patched to a land line. Scully's the first to talk, and she's full of teasing and sisterly advice. She wishes that he was here for so many reasons, not the least of which is that she could always be honest with him about what was going on in her life. She thinks he'd like Mulder, they're both a pain in the ass in the same way--charming, and relentless when they go after something.

As Bill, Tara, and Maggie take their turns, she climbs into her mother's overstuffed wing chair, and coaxes Matthew onto her lap, ostensibly to see if he's ready for a nap. Scully holds him close, and starts humming and rocking him gently. She breathes in his sweet-powder-baby smell, and wonders what he dreams about. Trying to stifle a yawn, she feels her own exhaustion finally catch up to her. Soon, the two of the them are out cold.

Something stirring rouses her, and it's her mother taking Matthew from her arms. She places him tenderly in his playpen, covering her big boy with his quilt.

Scully gets to her feet and rubs her eyes. "Hmmm.... Sorry, Mom. I must've dozed off." She has no idea how long she's been asleep, but she assumes it's been awhile.

"It's OK, sweetie," Maggie whispers. "Looks like the two of you could do with a nap."

"No, really, I'm fine." Looking around the room, she notices Bill and Tara are nowhere to be found. "Where are...?"

"I sent them to get some last-minute things for dinner. I've got most of the preparation done, and we'll be ready to eat at three." She takes her daughter by the shoulders, "You, daughter of mine, are marching right to the guest room, where you are going to get some rest."

"But Mom..." Scully's attempt at protest are cut off.

" 'But Mom' nothing...You, in bed, that's an order, understood? I've got Tara to help me with getting things ready and Bill can keep an eye on Matt. Now, move it."

They both laugh softly as Scully lets herself be steered to bed.

She undresses and lays her clothes carefully on the chair next to the dresser. A quick shower is a must-have. Damp and drowsy afterward, she crawls between thick quilts and flannel sheets, thinking about scrimshaw and sonnets before sleep finds her.


Standing rib roast with a crown of rosemary, twice-baked potatoes, roasted vegetables, wilted spinach--Maggie Scully has done her usual Christmas turn. Bill brought a lovely Merlot, and there was toasting to family and health and happiness. When Maggie wished for each of her children their heart's desire, she couldn't help but notice her daughter smiling to herself as she sipped her wine.

A buche noel is waiting on a sideboard still untouched, and there's coffee, but everyone's too stuffed to indulge at the moment. Scully's shooing everyone else into the living room, clearing off the remains of dinner. Once back in the kitchen, she feels a twinge of guilt when she imagines what Mulder's day was like.

She never let herself think about him on the holidays before, telling herself there had to be some part of her life that was sacrosanct, untouchable by him. But after Antarctica, that need has been slowly eroding. Folding the dishtowel, her thoughts drift to eggnog and good Irish whiskey, the the feel of her partner's mouth on hers, and she remembers there's still some gifts that need to be opened. Checking her watch, she sees it's almost five-- there's one last thing she need to do before she leaves.


Scully's sitting in the quiet, perched on the edge of her mother's bed. On her lap is a weathered photo album, opened to pictures of her and Missy. There's one she needs to find, has to see. It's the two of them, the Christmas before she was killed. They're standing in front of the tree and Missy's behind her, arms wrapped around her little sister's waist, head poking above her shoulders. They're both mugging for the camera, sticking their tongues out, going all out for effect. As soon as the flash went off, Missy tickled her until she was howling with laughter.

She tenderly strokes the image of her sister's face. "Well, Ms. Missy, it's been a rough year. But there's one recent development that should make you happy. Finally took your advice." Smiling, she remembers her sister daring her to 'go get that beautiful tortured soul and cure what ails him.' Suddenly, senses there's someone behind her. Turning around, she sees it's Bill.

"Mom's reading to Matt and Tara's watching 'It's A Wonderful Life." He comes over and sits next to Scully. "Wanted some time with her too, huh?"

Scully doesn't say anything, but carefully presses down the corners of the picture so that it's secure.

Bill's voice is soft, much softer than Scully is used to. "I don't blame you for what happened, I don't..."

Scully slowly closes the album, and sets it next to her, and slides closer to her brother. "I know..."

Bill cuts her off, still almost whispering, but there's vehemence fueling his words. "I blame him. For all of it... Missy...what happened to you...that prick partner of yours is the cause of it all."

Her spine stiffens at the words, and anger tightens her jaw, makes the pulse in her temples throb. She turns so she's facing him--when she speaks, her words are clipped, and her voice ices over. "Shut up, Bill."

He starts to respond, but she holds up her hand and keeps going, insistent on making her point. She can feel herself trembling--something's snapped, a line's been crossed and there's no going back. "Don't...don't ever say that again, not to me, not to anyone in this family. He's fought the people who are responsible for what we've had to endure...He's had losses you couldn't begin to understand."

Bill can't take it, can't believe he's hearing this. "You love him, don't you?"

"He's my friend, my partner..."

"Cut the crap, Day. Do you hear how you sound when you talk about him? You should listen to yourself sometime... I know he's in love with you. I saw how he looked at you when you were sick..."

"What I feel about him is my business. And if you ever attack him again, I will not be a part of your life."

"What in the hell are you saying?" He's getting incrementally louder now, despite trying to keep himself in check, trying not to lose it. "You'd turn your back on us? Mom? Charlie? Tara and Matt?"

Scully's lowered her voice, and leans in to make her point. "Not them. Just you."

"You don't mean that." This response has caught him totally off-guard. He never meant for it to go this far. He loves his family, his sisters, especially--but Bill Scully has always needed the simple answer. Fox Mulder was the simplest answer to the loss and grief his family's suffered.

"I've never been more serious in my life." There's nothing but an expression of steely resolve in his sister's eyes.

No one says anything for what seems like a long, long time.

"Just tell me one thing, Day. Is he worth it?"

Scully exhales a long sigh, "Yes."

"I don't know if I'll ever be okay with this." He feels tired, and sad, and swears to himself that he'll never understand what his beautiful, brilliant sister sees in that morose, crusading sonovabitch. But he loves her enough to suck it up and keep his mouth shut.

"But you'll try, right?" She gets up and kisses him on the cheek.

"Just promise me we'll never have to have a Hallmark moment."

"I guarantee you, no one's expecting that..."

That gets a laugh from both of them.

Checking her watch, she sees it's about five. She picks up the album and gives it to him, gently resting a hand over his as he goes to take it.

"I should get going...We're good?"

"Yeah...yeah, we're good. Merry Christmas, Brat."

"Merry Christmas, big brother."

Scully turns and walks away, leaving Bill and Melissa some time alone together.


She makes a quick check in the living room, finding Tara and Matthew conked out on the sofa. Planting soft kisses on both of them, she grabs her coat and her presents, getting herself ready for the drive back to D.C. Making her way into the kitchen, she sees her mother's pulled the remains of today's feast out of the fridge, and is busily wrapping up two heaping plates of food with tin foil.

"Mom, what's this for?" This is way too much food for her alone.

Without looking up, Maggie answers as if the answer was obvious, "Honey, this is for you and Fox...for later."

"What are you talking about? I never said I was seeing Mulder tonight."

"No, you didn't...But you are, aren't you?"

"I don't know what you're talking about." Scully feels herself blush and starts fidgeting with the buttons on the cuffs of her shirt.

Maggie hands her a large paper bag. "Here, hold this open, let's put your things on the bottom, then the food on top." She can see she's hit the nail on the head, as she places everything safely inside. "You know something, Dana?"

"What's that, Mom?"

"Of all the kids, Bill and Missy could always get one over on me....Charlie, every once in a while. But you were, and still are, a really horrible liar...Never could fool me... Tell Fox I said hello and wish him a happy holiday."

She kisses her mother's cheek, "I love you, mom."


It seems more than slightly surreal, but here she is, standing at Mulder's door. She's set the land speed record for the Baltimore to D.C. commute, even managing to swing by her place. Dashing inside, she stripped off her clothes, shimmied into fresh bra and panties, tossed on jeans and a low-cut, gray sweater with buttons up the front. Snagging the bottle of Bushmills she'd bought months ago for some hoped-for, future special occasion, she was back in the car and on her way to Hegal Place in record time.

Bottle in one hand and bag of goodies in the other, she consolidates her bounty and knocks on the door. Mulder flings it open and ushers her inside. Taking the bag from her, he duly notes the whiskey resting right on top, and sets it gingerly on the floor.

Freshly shaved and showered, his hair's still wet and spiky, and he's sporting a grin wide enough to split his face. Wearing a white dress shirt, black slacks, he's barefoot.

"You're here...," He helps her off with her jacket, hangs it on the hook on the wall. The sweater she's wearing definitely scores some points, judging by the appreciative nod he's giving her.

"I am." Her hair's windblown, and as she tries to finger comb it, he stops her, smoothing the strands back into place himself.

"No cold feet, then." He catches her eye and waits to see what she says.

"Nope, but it looks like you might be getting some."

He wants to run with the unintentional double entendre, but doesn't. "I was just finishing getting dressed...Wait here, I'll be done in a sec."

She stops him before he can go any where. "No, don't... Let me join you," and kicks off her boots. She's a good three inches shorter now. She wiggles her bare toes against the ridges in the hardwood floor; she didn't bother to put on any socks in her rush to get here.

"I like how you think." Mulder pulls her to him in a loose embrace, and stoops down to confide in her ear.

"I've been a busy boy while you've been gone. Wanna see what I've been up to?"

"Do I have a choice?" she teases.

"Scully, you wound me, and no, you don't. But before my most excellent handiwork is revealed, Let me put this stuff away." He eases away and picks up the bag, heading for the kitchen. Over his shoulder he yells, "Don't move....Stay right there!"

Carefully taking everything out of the bag, Mulder sets it all on his kitchen counter. He puts the plates in the fridge after sneaking a good look, checks out the CD's, and promises himself as soon as possible to help his partner reinvent bath time with the rest of what must be her Christmas gifts. Tucking the bottle of whiskey under his arm, he's heading back like a man with a purpose.

She dutifully stays glued to the spot until he comes back. As soon as he's in her line of sight, she starts tapping her foot and motioning him over, all mock impatience. He lopes over, slips behind her and cover her eyes with his hands. "Start walking," nudging her forward with his hip, bumping into her, as they shuffle across the floor.

"Where are you taking me, and what is this surprise you've hatched?"

"Shhhhh...too much talking."

Getting her to the final destination is no mean feat, given Scully's giggling, squirming and fidgeting. Mulder keeps the prisoner under control, her eyes covered and pressed flush against his chest. He makes sure they twist and turn their way through the apartment, partially to throw her off, and because he's enjoying the hell out of her rubbing up against him.

Finally, he positions her in just the right spot and stops moving. Standing on the threshold of his bedroom, it's time to see if all his hard work pays off.

"You're making me crazy!" she pleads.

"The very words I long to hear...."

"Mulder!"

"Okay, if you insist....One....Two....Three," whipping away his hands with a flourish.

Scully's mouth drops open and she's silent and stunned.

The ceiling is strung completely from front to back with tiny, twinkling lights. Mulder's hung the stars for her.

Sitting on the dresser, next to a couple of coffee mugs, is an ice-bucket holding two quarts of Bluebell Farms Best Ultra Rich Eggnog. Next to it is a tiny Norfolk pine, tiny red circles hanging from its branches.

"Not what you expected?"

"More...she murmurs, "It's so much more..."

Walking to the dresser, he sets down the bottle, and beckons her with a crook of her finger. In an instant she's there, pulling him down to her level and kissing him slowly, over and over, not planning on stopping until he's been properly thanked.

He could take her to bed right now, peel off their clothes and dive into her body, but he wants her to have everything, including the memory of a night of celebration. So he stops her with gentle brush of his fingertips against her lips.

"I'm not finished yet." She smiles up at him, daring him to explain.

"Neither am I, Scully, but there's a tree requiring your inspection, and I believe there's also eggnog as per your request."

"And then?"

"I'm sure we can come up with something....You look thirsty." He leads her to the edge of the bed, and she climbs in, piles the pillows against the head board and settles back, preparing to be waited upon.

While he pours some of Bluebell's finest and Bushmills, she takes a closer look at the little evergreen and its decorations. The ornaments--there's something oddly familiar about them--cherry-red, round, with a hole in the middle. It dawns on her what, in fact, they are.

"Mulder...those ornaments...are they...?"

He was wondering how long it would take her to figure it out. "Lifesavers."

"But, Mulder, there's got to be dozens hung on there." This is not the oddest thing she's seen in six years, but it's one of the most inspired. His Q rating is skyrocketing, and she has every intention of spending the remainder of the night making him a happy, happy man.

"Seven dozen, for the record...Let's just say that convenience stores in Alexandria in the last twelve hours have experienced record sales of a certain candy. Strung 'em myself, with my own thread, I might add."

She imagines him driving around his neighborhood, hitting one 7-11 after another, a man on a mission. Then carefully stringing each one, setting them in place amongst the branches. The tree...there's something about the tree, too. She knows the florists were all closed today. She starts to ask him something, when he climbs into bed next to her, a mug in each hand, hands her one, and makes a toast.

"Cheers."

She clinks her drink to his, "Cheers."

Recognition hits her. "The lobby at the Bureau...you didn't..."

He tries look as bland and innocent as possible. "What?"

"You stole a tree from the holiday display!" Not really shocked, she's looking forward to hearing how he'll explain this latest transgression.

"I have every reason to believe that certain flora at headquarters may have been contaminated with ectoplasmic residue. I explained to the guard on duty that I would have to take a sample for spectrographic analysis. I'm holding it here, for safekeeping, until the lab opens tomorrow."

"Mulder, that is quite possibly your personal best as far as b.s. is concerned."

With that, Scully lifts her drink and takes a hefty swig, and keeps drinking until there's not a drop left. Mulder follows suit behind her. It's rich, sweet, and laced with enough liquor to give each of them a jump start on a nice buzz.

Taking the mugs, he places them on the nightstand. She's slid down so that she can get a better look at her home-strung heaven on the ceiling. He tucks a pillow underneath her head, grabs one for himself, and the two of them lay side by side staring upward. Placing her hand on his chest, they label the constellations in the stillness that surrounds them.

"Cassiopeia," he insists.

"Ursa Major." she parries.

"Ursa Minor." He'll offer a compromise to keep the peace.

"Frohike?" She's trying to figure out where he got Italian lights on a major holiday, with all the hardware stores closed.

"He owed me a favor."

"Mulder..." Desire is blooming inside her, and she knows what should happen next. She wants to stop talking about the stars, she wants him.

"Yeah, Scully..."

"Make love to me..."

These are four words he'll remember above all others.


She's still on her back, and he props up her with more pillows--her smile blazes in the flicker of their private starlight.

"Hey," he whispers, lowering himself onto her. "Time to tell Santa if you've been naughty or nice."

His brain spins with scent of her, warm and musky, skin dappled and alive as shadows dance over her. These are pieces of her he'll carry in his heart until the last of time slips away.

They start laughing, and she looks like a woman who has gotten everything she ever wanted. Scully pulls his head down, and presses her face into the curve of his neck and brushes her lips, dry and warm, in the notch above his collar bone again, and again.

All the urgency of the early morning is gone, as they free each other from their clothes. Mulder's rolled onto his back, and pulled Scully on top, so that she's straddling him. The light from above dots her pale skin as he slowly unbuttons her sweater. As each button's undone, he lingers, drawing down his fingers against each newly revealed spot. Finally, the sweater's unbuttoned and hanging loosely from her shoulders. His hands stroke both breasts, swirling over the lacy fabric, his fingers closing tightly over her tightening nipples. Her eyes partially close against the sensation.

Capturing his hands, she kisses his fingertips. "Not fair," she says, shaking her head. "Your shirt's gotta go."

Scully's deft hands unbutton the front of his shirt. Pushing aside the cool cotton, she leans down and kisses the smooth plane of his chest, hears his heart beat, kisses it again. Then she takes each arm, unbuttons the cuff and presses her mouth to his pulse, "Mine," is all she says. As soon as the word escapes, Mulder's arms swoop around her tightly, pulling the front of her body against him. Then their mouths plunder one another until they're both wound tight and breathless. Soon they're a tangle of arms and legs, their hands fumbling at zippers, pushing down the rest of their clothes until the offending garments are completely off and shoved aside.

Lying face to face, he almost can't believe this is finally happening, finally real. He takes her hand, wrapping it around the hard length of his shaft. Dragging the tip of her thumb up and down, she cradles his thrusts, closing her palm around him. Her fingers circle the head of his cock, feather light at first, then more deeply, as he moans in her ear. Drawing a deep uneven breath, he shudders out, "Only you."

Rolling underneath him, she wraps a hand around the back of his head, bowing his body toward to hers. His hand stroke the length of her thighs, up and down, in a slow torture. Parting her legs for him, reaching for him, she begins to slip his cock inside her. She's molten honey, tightening around him as he inches down, down, down---until he's buried inside her. Angling himself, rubbing against her clit, it's going to happen soon--they're trembling--they're edging toward a supernova. Then it hits, hits hard, expands, contracts, rolls in on itself and the universe condenses to this room, the fused knot of their bodies.

They're heaven, they're a world being born.


She sits up and reaches for the covers. Mulder only lets her go for a second, though. Grabbing her and the comforter, he cocoons the two of them in a jumble of bedding and post-coital bliss. Arms and legs wrapped around her, he announces, "I'm not letting you out of this bed."

She's wriggling against him, scooting up so that she can look him the eye. This is not an unpleasant experience for either of them.

"Ever?"

"Not in the foreseeable future."

"We have jobs, you know..." She starts to run her fingers through his hair.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it." He feels his body relax into the warmth of the bed and her body.

"I brought food."

"Partake of love's food with me."

"Oh, brother."

"Not the response I was looking for, Scully." He tries to stifle a yawn unsuccessfully.

"Mulder, when's the last time you slept?"

"I'll sleep later...this elf's gonna rock your world." His eyes slip shut, he can't help it. Blinking slowly, he tries to rouse himself. He's been up for 48 hours, he's pushing forty, and just had the first orgasm-- with a partner--in years.

Scully croons in his ear, low and hypnotic. "Mulder... listen to me...Time to close your eyes..." For once, he does what he's told.

"Scully..." Her name's a slurred whisper.

"Shhhhhh." Soon the shallow pull of his breath tells her he's on his way to surveilling St. Nick in his dreams. Kissing him softly, she settles down, ready to join him.

FIN


This is dedicated to author extraordinaire, jenna, whose brilliant story, 'The Stars Are Not Wanted,' is filed under 'Love's Object Lesson. '

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