Title: A Christmas Wish
Author: Laurel

Summary: A Christmas wish comes true for Alex.

Notes: Written for Ursula's Christmas challenge: one character must dress out of financial necessity, disguise or undercover work as Santa and our beloved Nick must appear in one of his incarnations.

Santa's chair sat squarely before the expensive toy store's floor to ceiling window. Early afternoon sun streamed through, muted by the darkened glass. The line of children waiting to clamber up onto his lap snaked through the first aisle with easily up to two hundred little expectant faces gazing up at the big gold chair ahead of them.

The dancing toy bears twirled beside the chair and little stars twinkled at ceiling height, lazily spinning their silver shards in the air. Beside and all around the chair, on the royal red carpeting, were gift wrapped boxes, adorable woodland animals, fake snow piled up in cloud-like bunches, cherubic angels blowing into gold trumpets and small gaily decorated Christmas trees dusted with snow.

Santa's helper, a tall elf with ears that pointed sharply into the air giving his narrow face a streamlined look, especially with the newly shorn hair style, helped the children up, depositing them in Santa's lap and handing out candy canes when they were finished whispering their Christmas wishes to the jolliest elf.

This was no ordinary Santa though and neither was the elf. They were watching the bank across the street, patiently waiting for a bank robber to hit his next target.

The saintly Santa was assistant director Walter Skinner, called into rare field duty for the case and his elf was being played by John Doggett. Mulder was nearby too, posing as a hotdog vendor. He had borrowed the cart for the week, with his assurance to the vendor that the robber would hit the bank on the busy corner, according to his expert analysis of the brash and violent robber's pattern.

He kept stamping his feet to chase away the chilly, damp December air. He was dressed appropriately for the season and circumstance in a navy pea coat, blue jeans, white fisherman's sweater with added warmth in the form of a heavy tee shirt underneath, thick soled boots, a navy wool cap covering his wayward hair, a navy scarf around his neck and matching fleece gloves. His F.B.I. issued gun was in the shoulder holster hidden by his coat and a back up piece weighed his foot down. His shield was strung around his neck. The chain was cold against his skin.

He had been on the corner selling hotdogs and cold sodas for two days now and the smell of the wieners was making him nauseous. He didn't think he'd ever eat anything shaped like a sausage again.

He looked across to where his boss and lover Walter was making jolly with their other companion John. He figured he got the better part of the deal. Sure it was a little nippy, but a hot, crowded store filled with crying children wasn't exactly his idea of a good time.

Walter scowled across the street at Fox. Sure he was in the warm store sitting on his ass all comfy and cozy in his suit and poor Fox was out on the street, on his feet, braving the cold, but he still figured that Fox had gotten the better part of the deal.

All three of them entered their spacious ranch house exhausted at the end of the day. Each took their turn grumbling about their hard day and the fact that the robber had yet to make an appearance.

"One more damned, sticky, crying kid and I'm calling it quits," Walter threatened.

"All those adorable kids asking Santa for presents? Come on, it can't be that hard," Fox teased.

John shot him a dirty look, begging him to be quiet with his crystal blue eyes.

"Now I know why animals eat their young," Walter growled.

Fox threw his head back and laughed.

"You don't know what the hell you're talking about. My kid never acted like that," John added.

Walter rubbed John's shoulder affectionately. "You don't know the half of it, Fox. Sure, sitting on my ass all day, all nice and cozy sounds great, but add five hundred crying, excited, screaming brats, two of whom puked on me, might I add, and you'd want to slit your wrists."

Fox shrugged. "If I see one more hot dog, I'll puke."

"Just make sure I don't see it or have to clean it up," John replied.

They retreated in silence to the master bedroom. Each went to their own corner to undress, folding up their costumes for the next day. Fox threw his clothes on a chair, adding a change of boxers, socks and tee shirt for tomorrow.

It was only when they submerged themselves into the hot, bubbling water of the oversized tub that they all relaxed and crowded close to each other. The steaming water worked to relax them body and mind, along with the eucalyptus and rosemary oil to soothe the headaches they could all feel coming on.

They closed their eyes and pressed closer so that they touched, silky thighs and arms slick with oil rubbing easily against each other. Walter, in the middle, put a muscular arm around each man and hugged them tightly. Silently they communed in the water, erasing the stresses of the day in a froth of bubbles, forgiving each other's moods in the hot, cleansing water.

They gave a sigh of contentment in unison and the two men book-ending Walter sank a little lower, grinning mischievously. They each grabbed hold of Walter's thick cock that was slowly filling and hardening.

"Up periscope," Fox whispered and lowered his head.

The fourth day of the case had all three of them fidgeting nervously. Fox was a little worried now about his analytic skills. It was time for the robber to strike again. If nothing happened within the next couple of days, they might just be ordered to pull out. John had consoled him that morning over breakfast that there was still plenty of time for the perpetrator to strike. Walter agreed with John. With Christmas just around the corner, people were withdrawing large amounts of money to do their shopping and shop patrons were depositing huge sums, sometimes several times a day. It was prime season for stealing.

The day was bright, the sun shining fiercely on the pavement drying the sidewalk at Mulder's feet and melting the snow banks. Business was brisk at his hot dog stand. Walter and John were having a good day as well, the misbehavior of yesterday's children forgotten as a new line of smiling, excited faces looked up at them.

Walter would check on John's mood from time to time, wondering how his lover was affected by the steady stream of children, after losing his own golden-haired son. Although John's heart ached at the sight of the beautiful boys and girls he was glad he could give them a little joy, something he didn't often get to do in his job.

The little boy in front of them played with a yo-yo as they walked down the sidewalk. He expertly coaxed the neon orange toy to do every trick he knew. His mother kept a careful watch on him, steering him clear of pedestrians bustling around the trio with their bundles piled high in their arms. Alex and Lisa walked side by side but not arm in arm. Although the petite single mom had cast an interested eye in the bachelor's direction he had gently let her down. She had responded in kind, "the cute ones are always married or gay," but they remained friends and he became a surrogate father figure of sorts to her son, David.

He really didn't do much. Just hung out with mother and son on occasion, did little errands for his neighbor, babysat David once in a while to give Lisa some time with her friends or just to take in the odd movie on her own. He usually took David to the arcade, spent a quiet evening in his or David's apartment helping with home work and a treat of television and popcorn or practicing his swing at the baseball diamond in the local park.

They passed the toy store as they window-shopped. Lisa lingered, but David passed by, not even bothering to look. Alex stayed behind him. That was all Lisa needed--her son wandering off or disappearing.

"Hey wait up. Come here," she called.

David sighed and turned around, dutifully returning to his mother's side. "You can't afford anything here, mom."

"Looking is free."

"Whatever." He scuffed his shoes against the pavement.

Alex got the message and steered him inside. "Who knows? Maybe Santa will bring you something."

"There's no such person," he muttered.

"How do you know that?" he challenged.

"Because mom is Santa."

Alex shrugged, unable to argue further.

They entered the busy store, drawn into the vortex of excited kids. David's mood lightened only slightly while he walked slowly up and down every single aisle. The most his mom could afford was a miniature matchbox car, a pack of playing cards or a tiny stuffed animal from the expensive merchandise. That didn't keep him from playing and wishing though.

Alex figured he just might play Santa this year. He'd never been around kids much, but David was a good, responsible boy and he deserved a nice holiday even if he was too old to believe. He knew that a couple of presents wouldn't solve his entire life but it would make the holidays a little sweeter.

Lisa managed to drag her son to see Santa. He called Alex over. "I'm only going to see Santa if Alex does." He crossed his arms as if for emphasis.

Alex rolled his eyes. "Please kid, I'm like three decades over the limit."

"Too bad. Those are my terms."

Alex considered. David was stubborn. Figures, he was a Taurus. Lisa was giving him a puppy dog look while trying desperately not to laugh.

"All right, but if you tell anybody about this, there will be hell to pay." He joined the line trying to look dignified as he stood tall amidst the children and their mothers.

David pushed him forward when they were at the velvet rope dividing the crowd from Santa's chair. Alex reluctantly stepped forward, his feet dragging, a blush coloring his cheek, as he made his way up the steps to the red-carpeted stand.

He looked down at his feet, up at the starry ceiling, at the elf's green pointy shoes, anywhere but the faces of Santa and his elf. In doing so he missed Walter's brown eyes widening in amazement and John Doggett's startled blue eyes and thin-lipped smirk.

"Well you're quite big for a little boy," Walter chortled, trying desperately to disguise his voice. "Ho, ho, ho, would you like to sit on Santa's lap?"

"Whatever," Alex mumbled.

"Well, come on then little boy," he replied cheerfully, hoping that Alex wasn't too heavy. Both John and Fox were tall but lean men. He was used to their weight on his lap and happily bore it but Alex was more muscular.

He gingerly sat down, rigidly keeping his butt on the edge of the man's knees. He was so close to the edge of Santa's lap that he was in danger of falling off. Walter pulled him firmly closer.

The kids in the line began laughing and exclaiming their surprise at seeing an adult man on Santa's lap. With one quick cutting glare from Alex's eyes, the laughter died down and the children cowered at their mothers' sides. He turned back to Santa, all innocent and shy.

The fluffy white beard puffed against Alex's cheek as Santa's warm breath blew it against his face. He dared a peek. His warm brown eyes twinkled above rosy cheeks. The eyebrows were swept up and temporarily dyed a silvery white to match his beard and the curly hair poking out from under his hat.

"So what would you like for Christmas?"

Alex thought for a few minutes. "I don't really know." He could have asked for his arm back or a reasonable facsimile but he knew no one short of the healers could give him such a thing. Why bother even asking? He had everything he could want: money, his health and sanity, a couple of close friends that he could trust, a neighbor that let him play responsible adult with her sweet son, his freedom.

Alex shrugged. "There's nothing I really need. The one thing I want you can't give me." He indicated his new, lightweight prosthetic arm.

Walter nodded. "Sorry, boy. You're right. I can't give you that back."

"There is one thing I'd really like to have," he said slowly.

"Go on."

"It sounds dumb."

"I'll be the judge of that. Have you been naughty or nice?"

"A little of both but mostly I've done good things. Some people think I did a lot of bad things and it's true, I did hurt a few people but in retrospect it was mostly good," he whispered.

Walter weighed the many key pieces of information Alex had provided anonymously, including the data needed to bring down the last remaining members of the consortium, avert the alien colonization and the piece de resistance, take down Spender himself. It was probably all in a day's work for the enigmatic spy.

He nodded his agreement. "What would you like?"

"A family. Someone to love me," he replied softly.

Walter regarded him for a moment, taking in the bent head, the way the sun shone brilliantly on the dark hair, the light blush on his cheekbones, the lowered eyes, the clenched hand on his denim clad knee.

"I thought perhaps the pretty lady and the boy were with you."

Alex looked at Lisa and David. "No they're just friends."

"I'll see what I can do," he replied seriously.

Alex looked at him. The brown eyes looked sincere and for a moment he believed.

"Thanks. Sorry I took up so much time."

"That's quite all right. Merry Christmas little boy," he boomed.

Alex cocked his head. Funny but that voice sounded vaguely familiar.

Before he left Santa poked around in his pocket and pulled out a small sculpted piece from a Christmas village. He handed it to Alex. It was an old fashioned bakery complete with cooling pies on a rack, the door open in invitation.

He accepted the candy cane held out to him by the elf. He took it quickly and mumbled a thanks. He didn't look the man in the face.

As soon as he stepped aside Lisa nudged her son up the stairs.

Alex felt deflated after he left the store. The contagious excitement of the children and the rush of adrenaline as embarrassment nearly overtook his courage were replaced by a feeling of immense loneliness. His mood dropped further when he realized that his Christmas wish had no viable way to come true.

He surveyed his empty apartment. It was as comfortable as he could make it with his limited decorating abilities. Lisa had helped him pick out some colorful throw pillows and a soft fleece blanket that he would cuddle in when he read his books by the lamplight. He also had several family photos in silver frames, cheap paintings he had purchased at the flea market, woven throw rugs and he had painted some bare wooden shelves to be used as bookcases.

He pulled out the village piece and studied it. The roof was covered with little peaks of snow. The windows were frothy white, presumably from steam. The door was slightly ajar and revealed shelves that were filled with cupcakes, pies and cakes. Several children crowded around the wide window and a couple in stiff starched holiday finery were about to step inside.

He boiled some water for tea, took out some ginger snap cookies that had at least a festive air about them, put on Handel's Messiah and relaxed on the couch, letting the music soothe him.

Alex unfolded the morning paper as he sat down to breakfast. One hand absently reached for his cereal bowl as he read the headlines. The morning station's mix of classical music was cheerful but he wasn't in a holiday mood. At least it was soothing. He read the biggest headline, "Santa and his elves foil daring daylight robbery."

He began to read about the robber's crime spree and the ingenius way the F.B.I. had set up the sting and captured the suspect. He stared hard at the picture of Santa sprinting across the street in late afternoon rush hour traffic, a lethal gun in his hand. He was closely followed by a lean man wearing ridiculous shoes, tights and a peaked cap. Two uniformed cops were behind a squad car, their guns drawn. Another dark clad figure was apprehending the suspect. His face was in profile but it was clearly Mulder. He studied the undercover agents again and gasped when he recognized them. His spoon clattered against the side of the coffee cup, his breakfast forgotten.

It didn't take long to find him. He hadn't exactly hidden even though he had reverted from Krycek to his correct birth name. He lived in an apartment in a nondescript building in a slightly seedy area of town. The brick building was well kept and clean if a little run down. He could have afforded bigger and better but it reminded him of his parents' home when he was a kid.

Walter and his lovers had made a decision. It wasn't made in haste but it was spurred by Alex's sudden and unexpected reappearance. He knocked on the door and waited for a reply.

Alex peeked through the peephole. Walter was standing there dressed in a heavy sweater, dark wool coat and dress slacks. He opened the door, leaving the chain on so that only a sliver of his body and his suspicious face showed through the space.

"What do you want?"

"I need to ask you something."

"Congratulations on the bust. What's the question?"

"I can't ask you here. I need you to come with me and bring the village piece I gave you."

Walter's eyes twinkled with mirth remembering Alex's obvious discomfort the day before. Alex bent his head down. Walter was left with the vision of pale skin touched by a pink blush and the lush sweep of eyelashes hiding his eyes.


"You'll see."

"Why? Official business?"

"In a way."

Alex was too tired to argue. He tried to remember his lawyer's phone number as he grabbed his coat from the hall closet.

The ride was silent but not unpleasantly so. Walter switched the station to jazz. They were playing Christmas music but the jazz flavor gave it a fresh sound, a cheerful raucous noise that lifted the songs above department store pap sung by music stars anxious to cash in on the holiday.

Alex relaxed though he was still wary of Walter's intentions. What on earth could they want of him now, after all he'd done for them? He hadn't even so much as jay walked. The frown line increased above his nose as they turned away from D.C.'s direction. He was further puzzled when they entered a lushly landscaped gated community. The flowers were brown and faded now, stems without petals, though a few sturdy rose bushes still held a few tightly curled buds that would never bloom. Snow covered the lawns and shrubbery and dusted the tops of picket fences.

Walter turned into his wide driveway and motioned Alex out of the car once he'd parked in the double garage. Alex reluctantly followed him into the house.

It was warm and cozy with a fire built up in the living room. The huge Christmas tree caught his eye and he ignored the verbal tour that Walter gave him of the house, from the spacious kitchen complete with island to the custom made bed that filled half the space of the huge master bedroom. Alex looked at the blinking lights. There must have been about five or six strings of them. He saw the care with which the decorations had been hung and the presents wrapped and deposited underneath. He shut out Walter rattling on about the sunken den and the leather sofa that Fox sunk into like a pasha. He cared not one bit about the big screen television or the Jacuzzi though it sounded awfully nice. He had his eyes on the tree and the little Christmas village arranged on the side table and two welcoming faces that stood at either end of the mantle.

The village had to have been complete. It completely filled the table with all manner of buildings from a church to a library. Plastic trees and tufts of cotton and domestic animals were all arranged just so around the miniature town. There was even a replica model-T car parked there.

Mulder and Doggett looked at him calmly. Mulder wasn't screaming or accusing and Doggett looked merely amused instead of the usual cold glare directed at him.

He took out the piece Walter had given him. "I guess you want this back."

"Put it with the rest."

Alex found a spot for the bakery. Mulder came closer and picked up a plastic golden lab and placed him close to the kids at the window. He fluffed up a piece of the fake snow and stretched it out to wrap around the little building.

"This okay?"

Alex shrugged. "It's your display."


"That's what I said, yours."

Fox gave Walter a secret smile. "So you haven't asked him yet. You have incredible patience."

"Ask me what? You have nothing on me. This is violating my rights."

"You won't even own up to helping us?" Doggett asked.

Alex gave him a blank look.

Doggett shrugged.

"Told you," Fox said.

"So what do you guys want?"

Walter walked straight up to him. "We want you to spend Christmas with us. And New Year's Eve and every single day before, in between and after that."

Alex frowned. His green eyes wavered every so slightly, taking in the serious faces of Walter and his lovers stationed behind him. In the bright light of the sun he appeared on the verge of tears.

"That's not a very amusing joke."

He turned on his heel, intent on leaving but realizing all at once that he had no vehicle. He dipped into his pocket, relieved to find some money. There would be enough for a bus at least.

Walter's hand stopped his as he twisted the doorknob.

"Remember what you asked me for in the toy store?"

Alex sighed loudly. "It didn't mean anything."

"Of course it did. We're just asking for you to give us a chance at that family you wanted. Why don't you at least try? It won't cost you anything."

"It would cost me everything," Alex replied softly. He let his forehead fall against the heavy wooden door. The bright afternoon sun had warmed the wood. It was comforting against his skin. He wouldn't turn around no matter how much Walter gently tried to pull his body around. He wouldn't let anyone much less these three see his tears.

Walter gave up and instead hugged him from behind. He snuggled into Alex's stiff, resisting body and nuzzled into his neck.

"Why are you doing this?"

"Because we want you with us. We care for you Alex and we missed you terribly."

Alex trembled as his crying increased. He didn't make any noise. Walter's hands traveled upwards and fumbled around when he reached his face. Tear tracks were brushed away gently with his thumbs. Alex sniffed and rubbed his face and leaned back into Walter's embrace.

Walter turned him around and kissed him when the trembling subsided.

To Alex it felt like being devoured, possessed. It made him think of Rhett Butler's advice about being kissed often and by someone who knows how.

He was breathless when they separated and he mourned the loss of those strong arms steadying him. Fox and John held up sprigs of mistletoe above their heads playfully.

"You don't need that," he scoffed.

Fox crooked a finger as doubts assailed Alex's face. He took a deep breath and left Walter reluctantly. But Walter followed. With every tentative step Alex's fears of rejection were revealed.

Fox took him into his arms for a hot, wet kiss, then pushed him towards John who was waiting patiently and then to Walter again until he was feverish with arousal, his hair was rumpled from caressing fingers stroking the silky short strands and his lips were red and swollen.

All three of them hugged him tightly. He didn't want to ever leave and haltingly told them so.

"Welcome home and Merry Christmas," Walter whispered.

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