Title: X Christmas Carol
Author: SaraJ
Written: December 2001
Rating: PG
Classification: SR Little A too
Spoilers: Hmmm, blink and you'll miss em...
Keywords: Mulder/Scully UST

Summary: On a lonely Christmas Eve, Mulder recieves some strange visitors

Disclaimer: Yes, well you all know the drill. All those who you recognize from the show do not belong to me. Which is unfortunate, because if they did, things would be looking a whole lot better.

Authors Note: Look at this. I've gone and done something so cliche, so, overused by fanfic writers of all genres...But please read anyway! Hehe. :) This idea came to me out of the blue, and in the spirit of the season, I thought it might be fun to add my own little "A Christmas Carol" version into the mix. Happy Holidays Everyone!!

Feedback: Of course!! Please send it my way!!


"Mulder, are you sure you wouldn't like to come to my mother's for Christmas?" Scully asked hopefully as she gathered her things to leave. It was the last day before their short holiday break. Scully was looking forward to the time away from work, and to seeing her younger brother and his family again. Charlie hadn't visited in so many years.

But her joy was darkened by the fact that Mulder was so adamant about being alone. It pained her to see her partner so set against living his life, choosing to spend it locked down in a basement. She'd thought maybe this year he'd say yes, and that this year she'd get to spend Christmas with all the people she loved.

"Scully, really, I appreciate the offer," he answered gently. "Really I do. Tell your mother thank you...But I just don't think it would be a good idea."

"Why not?" she prodded, but she knew the answer. It was because of Bill, her older brother. The one who hated Mulder. The one who made her partner feel like he didn't belong, when everyone else in her family accepted him with open arms.

"I don't want my presence to ruin anyone's Christmas," he said quietly, thinking specifically of her older brother, just as Scully had suspected.

"What if NOT having your presence ruins someone's Christmas," she mumbled, hoping he didn't hear her. She looked at him intently, seeing that he probably had heard. Great, she thought, I honestly didn't want to make him feel guilty...Well, at least not too guilty. But Mulder held a resolved, if a bit pained, expression and she relented. "All right, fine Mulder." She finished gathering her things. "Merry Christmas," she said, giving him one last long look.

"Merry Christmas, Scully," he nodded as she walked out the door. He sighed sadly. "Bah Humbug," he mumbled offhandedly.


So on Christmas Eve the next night, Mulder sat alone on his couch, flipping through dozens of channels playing nothing but "It's a Wonderful Life" or some other feel-good Christmas story. He stopped on one of the many versions of "A Christmas Carol" and threw the remote aside. Mulder tried to concentrate on the tired, familiar story and not think about how he could be spending the holiday with Scully. When his thoughts wandered to her, he quickly steered them away by thinking about how uncomfortable he'd probably be, or how tempted he might have been to fight with Bill; whether with words or fists was a minor detail that changed each time the thought came up.

After the first movie ended, another version of the same story came on. Mulder groaned, just his luck, he'd ended up on the channel that played the story over and over all Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Too tired to grab the remote from where he tossed it, Mulder simply leaned back and closed his eyes for a moment.

A knock on his door a moment later caught his attention. Rising, he moved to open it. Shock couldn't even describe what he felt when he saw who was standing there.

"Dad?"

"Hello, Fox," his father answered, not looking at all surprised to see his son staring at him like an open-mouthed bass. "Where are your manners, boy? Aren't you going to invite me in?"

Mulder just nodded dumbly and stepped aside. Bill Mulder moved past him into the apartment. Mulder rubbed his eyes a little...was he dreaming?

"Dad, uh...I don't want to sound, well..." Mulder faltered, "but uh...you're dead."

His father only nodded. Mulder, now very confused, continued, "So...You're a ghost then. Or," his face fell, "Am I dead?"

Bill Mulder shook his head, "No, Fox, you're not dead. You're dying."

"Oh, well, as long as I have some warning..." he quipped, trying to lighten the heavy air that had fallen over his apartment. He was what?

His father seemed to sense his unease, "Not in the physical sense," he continued. Then he held a palm to his heart, "You're dying here."

Mulder looked down at his chest, completely dumbfounded. He must be dreaming, he decided. Yes that was it, this was just some weird dream. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Fox, sit down," Bill Mulder gestured to the couch. They both sat. "I was sent here tonight to plead to you. You're following a dark and dismal path, one I wish I'd had the strength to tear myself away from. I don't want you to make the same mistakes that I did. I'm here to tell you about a second chance."

"A second chance at what?" Mulder's interest in this crazy dream was piqued.

"Life. You're wasting your life away, Fox. Living this lonely, solitary existence," the older man pleaded.

"I can't walk away from my work, Dad. That is my life...I have things to find and to finish. I can't..."

"I'm not asking you to walk away. I'm telling you stop focusing all of your attention on quests and missions. It's killing you. And if it takes you your pain will be far greater than even mine is.."

"Are you...I mean, where are you?" Mulder's face twisted into a pained grimace.

"My punishment for the life I lived is to be plagued by dreams of what could have been. I would hate to see you suffer the same fate."

"And you said I have the chance to change that?"

"Yes...You will be visited tonight, Fox. Three other spirits will come to you..."

Mulder tried to hide the wry smile. Now he got it. "Ohh, now I see where this dream is coming from...I left the TV on when I fell asleep, the movie's still playing and it must be manifesting itself in my subconscious..."

"This is no dream, Fox. You must take this seriously..."

"Uh huh, okay," Mulder nodded.

"I have to leave you now, son. Remember what I've told you." Mulder looked down for a moment, chuckling. When he looked up, his father was gone.

Mulder sprawled out on his sofa again, closing his eyes. "What a trip," he sighed. "That is the last time I buy a hot dog from that stand outside the FBI Building."


Mulder awoke to the sound of a gunshot. Bolting upright, his head whipped around frantically, his hands groped blindly for his gun. A low baritone voice chuckled, "Relax, Mr. Mulder...I know it's an unfortunate sound to hear when I arrive, but the circumstances of my death don't provide for something less severe."

Mulder looked to the voice, his eyes widening, "Deep Throat?"

His late informant smiled from his seat in Mulder's chair. "Yes. It's been a long time, Mulder. But come along, I don't have much time and there are things you need to see."

Mulder just stared at him, "You're a ghost too, huh?" he observed, remember his dream earlier.

"I am a spirit now, yes," Deep Throat nodded rising.

Mulder rose to stand with him, "The Ghost of Christmas Past, I assume," he quipped.

"You'd do well not to make so much fun, Mulder. Your situation is quite serious." Mulder didn't look convinced, but Deep Throat paid no mind. "Now come with me..."

The apartment vanished from around them and when his surroundings had cleared, Mulder found himself standing outside his childhood home in Chilmark, Massachusetts. Mulder's heart fell. He turned in the snow to see Deep Throat standing behind him.

"Why have you brought me here? There's nothing here I want to see," he snapped.

"This night isn't about what you want to see, Mulder. It's about what you need to see," Deep Throat answered calmly. He waved his hand toward the house and Mulder reluctantly went inside.

Though it was Christmas, the house showed no sign of it. Not a single holiday decoration, not even a card, graced their sight. But in the front room of the house, by the window Mulder believed his sister had disappeared out of one cold November night, was a boy staring blankly at the snow falling outside.

Mulder looked sorrowfully at the miniature version of himself. If he remembered correctly, this was Christmas of 1973, just a month after Samantha had been taken. And if he recalled correctly, it would be the first of many he spent staring out this window; until his parents split up, then he'd stare out windows in their separate houses, away from Chilmark.

Mulder recalled how hopeful he still was at this point. How certain he was that he would wake up on Christmas morning to his loud little sister's excited shrieks about Santa and presents. It hadn't happened. It still hasn't happened.

Mulder fought through the lump in his throat to speak, "I know these Christmases...I live them every year. Why have you brought me here? To torment me further?"

"No, Mulder," Deep Throat shook his head sadly. "You need to remember what you're looking for..." he gestured to the boy staring out the window. "What is he looking for?"

"My sister," Mulder said simply, his eyes teary.

"Is that all?"

Mulder looked back at his younger self. Something out the window caught his eye...It was the family across the street, welcoming more family members into the house. It looked like a television commercial, filled with hugs and smiles. Young Fox Mulder's face changed, moving from the blank stare to focus on the family. Unconsciously, older Mulder mimicked younger Mulder, their hands rising to rest gently on the glass, longing.

Mulder looked down at the younger version. "He's looking for family. That's all I ever wanted, to put my family back together again..."

"Most children do, when something like this happens."

Mulder sighed mournfully, "I've never grown up."

Deep Throat placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Come now, Mulder. There's more you need to see..."


When the fog lifted this time, Mulder looked around to see the basement office, overly cluttered and hopelessly messy. Must be before Scully arrived, Mulder thought with a small smirk. He turned to Deep Throat.

"What Christmas is this?"

His spirit could not answer though, because at that moment, "Mulder" walked into the office, looking about eight years younger than the Mulder standing with the dead informant. This younger Mulder was closely followed by...

"Reggie," Mulder whispered, seeing his former ASAC walk in after is younger self. Reggie had been one of the few people who continued to speak to him after he quit BSU for the X-Files.

"Come on, Mulder," Reggie was saying, trying hard to talk him into something. "You can't spend Christmas locked down here. I know you're not exactly feeling festive this year, what with the annulment and all..." Mulder closed his eyes. Ah yes, Christmas 1991, the year Diana left him for an assignment in Germany.

Younger Mulder smiled weakly to his friend, "Thanks Reggie. But I don't really celebrate Christmas anymore."

"There's time to change that, Mulder. My wife and I would love to have you over for dinner."

"Maybe another time."

Mulder looked down. There wouldn't be another time. He wouldn't even see Reggie until John Barnett's case came back...The case which would ultimately lead to Reggie's death.

"He was one of my few friends," Mulder said softly.

"And yet you constantly turned him away," Deep Throat continued.

"Why?"

Mulder shrugged. "Wasn't what I was looking for."

"Let's see another Christmas," Deep Throat suggested.

"Must we? I really think I've seen enough..." Mulder pleaded.

He thought he caught a smile tug the older man's lips, "Just one more Christmas..."


He found himself in much the same basement again, slightly more organized. Scully, Mulder thought hopefully. His alter ego was sitting at his desk, deep in a file.. Sure enough, his petite, red- headed partner appeared in the doorway. Her head cocked to the side, half amused, half scolding.

"Come on, Mulder. Time to go home. You're not sitting here anymore," she said and he looked up and smiled.

"You go on ahead, Scully. I won't be here much longer," his other self tried.

This younger Scully wasn't biting. "No way, Mulder. I know you, you'll sit here all night if I don't kick you out now...It's Christmas." Mulder just looked at her blankly and she sighed. "Well at least let me give you your present, since you refuse to come over for dinner..." She walked into the office, rummaging through her bag.

"Scully..." he said mock-reproachfully. "You didn't have to go to the trouble..."

Scully looked shocked at the thought. "Trouble? Mulder, you're my partner. My best friend," she looked at him softly and the older Mulder felt tears spring to his eyes. "You saved my life a month ago..." She handed him the small package in her hands.

The younger Mulder took the wrapped parcel and looked down at his shoes. Older Mulder tried not to laugh...Was he actually shuffling his feet?

"I didn't exactly save your life, Scully. They brought you back..."

"But you were the one who didn't give up on me," younger Mulder looked up again. "You brought me back."

There was a silent moment between the two. Mulder looked on from a corner, watching with rapt attention. He remembered this moment. He remembered exactly what he'd be thinking at this moment, and how he'd chickened out in the end.

"Kiss her. Kiss her," he mumbled, trying to will his other self to do what he could only think at the time. He thought he heard a small chuckle from Deep Throat behind him.

But this Mulder did the same thing he had. He cleared his throat and said, "I got something for you too..."

Scully grinned. "Another football video?" she joked.

"Nah, I save that stuff for the really important occasions," Mulder shot back. "This is just...just a little something." He handed her a small wrapped package. Scully took it carefully, like it was the most precious thing in the world.

"Thank you Mulder," she said.

Younger Mulder shook his head absently, "No, Scully...Thank you."

Older Mulder turned back to Deep Throat, tearing his eyes away from the scene. "That was probably one of the best Christmases of my life. Isn't that sad?"

"Why didn't you spend the holiday with her?"

Mulder shrugged, "Didn't really think I belonged there. I thought she'd be better off spending time with her family...away from me."

They both looked back to the younger Mulder and Scully for a moment. Then Deep Throat said softly. "My time is almost over, Mulder...I must leave you."

"But wait! I'm still not sure what I was supposed to learn..."

"This is only a piece of the puzzle, Mr. Mulder. You cannot see the whole with just a piece. It will become clearer later..." The basementwas dimming and his spirit informant was fading too. Mulder looked around frantically until...

With a start, he sat up straight on his couch. He shook his head, just a dream. This whole thing was just a dream. He rubbed his eyes vigorously for a moment. He stopped when he noticed the glow.

Opening his eyes, he saw a young red haired woman sitting in his chair, smiling at him warmly. Longer hair than Scully's, but familiar just the same.

"Melissa?" he asked incredulously.

"Hello, Fox," she smiled. "Or would you rather I call you Mulder?"

Mulder was still too dumbfounded to answer. This wasn't happening. He was not sitting in his living room talking to his partner's dead sister. "Uh, whatever, I guess. I don't..."

"Well then. Fox, come with me. It's my turn to guide you. I've been waiting a long time for this."

"You have?"

"Of course. It's about time you learned the truth," Melissa smiled that sly smile she seemed to have and held out her hand to him. "Take my hand, Fox."

He didn't know why, but he did.


The house they appeared in front of he knew quite well. Margaret Scully's. Christmas Present, he assumed. Mulder sighed.

"I don't want to be here," he said.

"You lie," Melissa answered. "But I'll overlook that for now." She paused and became serious. "We can't leave, Fox. Not until you see what you need to see."

She led him up to the house and they moved through the door inside. This was too weird, Mulder thought when he found himself on the inside. Maggie's house was warm and homey, just like it always was, but it seemed to have a little something extra at Christmas. Mulder could hear murmured voices from the dining room, and soft Christmas carols playing from the stereo nearby.

"Come on Fox, you can't learn if you stand in the doorway," Melissa urged. Mulder reluctantly followed her toward the dining room.

His first though was, Scully had a huge family. Both brothers and their wives, five children, his partner and her mother made for a large Christmas table. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, except...Mulder's eyes narrowed as she walked up behind Scully.

"She doesn't look like she's enjoying herself," Mulder commented. His eyes turned to Melissa for some sort of answer.

"She's smiling," Melissa answered.

"She's faking," Mulder said. He knew that smile. He knew the strain behind it. "What's wrong?"

"You don't know?" she asked, surprised. Mulder shook his head. Melissa's face softened. "Watch then. You may find your answers."

He turned his attention back to the table. And just in time, it looked like. He heard the younger man, Charlie he guessed, address Scully.

"So, Dana, where is this elusive partner of yours? I wanted to meet him?"

Scully shifted in her seat, "Mulder couldn't make it," she dodged quietly.

"Out hunting down more ghosts, Dana," older brother Bill snapped from further up the table. Mulder's lips tightened, as did Scully's.

"No, Bill. I don't know what he's doing this year," she finished, her voice a little sad.

"Well I don't know why you feel you need to invite him every year, if he doesn't have the decency to show up..." Bill continued.

"I invited him, Bill," Maggie said sternly.

Almost at the same time, Charlie said, "What's the matter with you Bill, you'd be grumbling if he came, now you're grumbling cause he's not here?" Charlie laughed, "There really is no pleasing you, is there?"

"The man's no good, Charlie..."

"According to you. But I think Dana knows better...And it's her decision if she..."

"That's enough," Scully snapped, surprising the whole group, including those who couldn't be seen. "Thank you Charlie for your support, but I don't need you fighting for me. And Bill, I don't know why you have such a huge problem with Mulder, but it's my life...And I don't really," she paused, looking around at the children sitting with them, "care what you think. I chose Mulder, that's all that should matter to you."

"I'm sorry Dana, but it's not," Bill shook his head.

Mulder, from his place unseen behind Scully, stood shocked. She chose him?

Scully shook her head in frustration and rose from the table. "Excuse me," she said softly, almost walking through Mulder to leave. He looked after her longingly. Moving out into the hall, he gazed ather, pacing in front of the phone. He could hear Maggie scolding from the dining room.

"I don't believe you Bill. Can't you get past this?"

"That man is dangerous. Dana doesn't need someone like that in her life," Bill protested.

"Fox is a kind man. I'll not have you insulting him in mine or Dana's presence."

"Mom!"

"Enough William!" She paused, "Now, let's get the table cleared."

Clinking and clanging followed as each Scully moved to gather his or her plates and bring them to the kitchen. Mulder watched as Maggie walked out to see Dana leaning against the wall by the phone.

"You should call him, honey," she said gently.

Scully shook her head. "No, I don't want to bother him..."

Maggie smiled, "I'm sure it won't be a bother to him at all." She looked at her daughter's sad face, sympathizing. "You're unhappy."

"I just wish he knew he didn't have to be alone all the time."

"Call him Dana," and Maggie left.

Scully tracked her mother's stride back into the kitchen. Releasing a breath, she picked up the phone. A few seconds later, her face fell a little but she started speaking. "Hi, Mulder, it's me...I just,I wanted to say Merry Christmas I guess...I was hoping you'd be home, but...well, could you call me at my mother's when you get this? And I have my cell on too, if you think it's too late to ring the house...I hope I'll talk to you later. Bye."

Mulder frowned. Where was he? He felt Melissa step up behind him.

"I hate seeing Dana so unhappy," she said.

"I didn't know," he answered, looking at his partner. After a moment, his eyes focused on Melissa. "I didn't know she was lonely. She has her family..."

"She wants you, is that so hard to believe?"

Mulder nodded, "Yes."

Melissa sighed sadly. "I was afraid you'd say that...If you can't let go, I fear you may never be able to change your fate. I'd hoped you'd be more convinced by now..."

"I'm still not sure what you're trying to convince me of?" he was starting to become annoyed by the run around.

"The truth Fox. You need to know why your heart continues to search for something so elusive. You need to know what it is you're searching for..."

"I know what I'm searching for. My sister. The truth..."

"The truth goes deeper than your search for your sister, Fox. You know that. But I cannot help you anymore. I leave you now in another's hands. Hopefully he can show you the path..."

"Wait, Melissa please, explain this to me?" The room was dimming again. Everything around them was fading. Melissa was fading.

"It's not for me to explain. It's something you must discover...Goodbye, Fox. I still have faith that you can find your way..."

Darkness settled around him. Mulder found himself surrounded in a blackened fog. He took a few steps forward, but couldn't tell whether he was moving in any direction at all. What the hell was he supposed to do now? He continued to move forward through the fog until, in the distance, he thought he saw a light. He chuckled, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, of course.

Mulder broke into a run toward the light. It became bigger, and just as he thought he'd reached it, everything around him changed. Mulder looked around him, stunned. He was in the hallway of his apartment.

"You have arrived," a gentle voice said from his side. Mulder whipped around to see Albert Hosteen, the Navajo Code Talker he and Scully had met all those years ago, standing next to him.

"Is this the future then," Mulder asked, guessing that this was the next and final step on his journey. Albert nodded, then pointed Mulder in the direction of his apartment. Mulder grimaced before walking through the door into his apartment. He heard voices coming from the living room and bedroom immediately.

"Put that down, man. What the hell do you think we're here for? This isn't a garage sale," a slightly slurred voice said loudly. Frohike?

"I'm only borrowing, man. It's not like he'll miss it..." a more nasal voice responded. Langly. There was a pause, then, "Why don't you lay off the sauce, huh?"

Mulder rounded the corner and saw his three friends gathered in his bedroom. Byers, ever the peacemaker, spoke, "Come on, we got what she asked for. Let's go." He lifted a stack of folders. Langly grabbed a duffel bag. Then, walking right through them, they left.

Mulder turned to Albert, "What's going on? What do they have?"

Albert didn't answer, except to say, "We must leave here now."

Grumbling, but knowing he didn't have a real choice in the matter, Mulder nodded.


The apartment disappeared and Mulder opened his eyes to find himself in a place with snow-covered ground, bare leafless, trees and no sound save for a light wind. Looking closer, Mulder's heart sank. Was there no end to the similarities?

"We're in a cemetery, Albert," he said softly. The Navajo man nodded. "So I guess that means I'm dead in this future, huh?" he tried to make it sound light but, dream or no, this was still disturbing.

"We must go this way," Albert started to lead him, but Mulder held back.

"I think I know what happens from here. I don't really want to see my own grave, thanks."

"You must follow."

Mulder's lips drew into a tight line. Slowly, he followed his Native American guide. They proceeded over a small hill and at the top, Mulder stopped, knowing their ultimate destination immediately. A lone figure stood with her back to them not far off, her bright red hair a stark contrast to the drab and colorless world around them. Scully.

They moved closer, but Mulder stopped again, not more than five feet away. He still couldn't see anything other than her back, but he knew instinctively that she was crying.

Brokenly, he turned to Albert. "How did it happen, Albert? How did I get here?"

"You are here because you could not stop," the older man spoke slowly, his voice holding the same air of wisdom it always had. "Your heart would not find peace. It continued to search the stars for answers."

"I died for my quest?"

Albert nodded, then turned his head toward Scully. Mulder followed his gaze. "She mourns for you," he added. "But she is angry."

"Why?" he asked, thinking he probably didn't want to know, but knowing that he had to.

"Angry because she could not stop you. Angry because she feels that she was not enough for you."

Mulder faced Albert again shaking his head fiercely. "No. No, she can't think that," he said, almost desperately. "She has to know I'd choose her over the X-Files in a heartbeat. If she asked, I'd..." he stopped, then looked to the mourning woman again. After a moment, "she would never ask, though," he shook his head.

Slowly, hesitantly, he walked the rest of the way to her, wishing he could talk to her, tell her the things that would allay her doubts and fears. But he knew she would not here him, not in this dream.

When Mulder moved to stand beside her, what he saw shocked him so deeply, he staggered back a few paces. Scully, his Scully, stood by his grave, a tissue and a red rose clutched in her cold white hands. She was dressed in black, but no color, no matter how slimming, could hide the prominent bulge of her stomach.

His Scully was pregnant.

Mulder recovered enough to walk around to stand in front of her, his eyes wide and wild. "Albert," he croaked. "Albert, she's..."

The older man stood next to him, nodding. "Yes. She carries your child within her."

Mulder felt tears sting his eyes and he looked to his guide imploringly. "Please...tell me I didn't abandon her. Tell me I didn't know..."

Albert looked sad, "These things I cannot tell you. I can only show you the result..."

"Can I change these things? Can I un-write this future?"

The Navajo nodded, "You must follow the path your heart leads you on. If you listen to it now, it will not lead you astray..."

Mulder was about to answer when Scully moved past them. She placed a soft kiss on the petals of the rose she carried, then laid it on his gravestone.

"Merry Christmas, Mulder," she whispered softly. Her hand caressed her large stomach, "We miss you."

As she walked away, Mulder looked despairingly after her. "I don't want to leave her this way," he stated. "I want to be with her."

He thought he saw the old man smile. "These are things only you can change. You must decide what is important, and focus on what the spirits have blessed you with."

Mulder had a revelation, "That's what this was all about...Me not being grateful for everything I've been blessed with? Not realizing..." Mulder stopped, seeing in his mind that little boy staring out the window at a happy family. All of the sudden, he knew. "Not realizing...I already have what I've been looking for," he finished, his eyes glassy with wonder.

Now he knew Albert smiled, "Yes."

"I want to go home now." And as soon as he said the words, Mulder found himself falling, falling until...

In a tangle of limbs, Mulder hit the floor of his apartment, wedging himself into the space between his couch and coffee table, and jarring himself out of the bizarre dream. Running his hands over his face and shaking his head vigorously, Mulder tried to wake himself up.

After a moment, he came to his senses, his dream still active in his mind. He felt renewed. He felt inspired. He felt...panicked. He had to see Scully. He had to tell her about his experience, and all the things he'd kept from he for so long. He checked his watch. Almost ten on Christmas Day. She'd be awake, but she'd be at her mother's. Running around in a daze, he showered and dressed. He'd go to Margaret's house, surprise her. Yes, that was it. God, he hoped she be glad to see him. He hoped it wouldn't be an intrusion.

Smiling, Mulder was halfway out the door when he stopped and snapped his fingers. Of course, he thought, he'd forgotten to give her her present. He grabbed the wrapped package from his bedroom and hurried out the door.


Once he arrived at Mrs. Scully's house, the incredible high Mulder experienced had worn off some. Now he was just nervous. Anxiously, he rang the doorbell, bouncing slightly on the balls of his feet as he waited for someone to answer.

The door opened with a swoosh, followed by a woman's laughter. Mulder's head whipped forward and he smiled nervously at Margaret Scully.

"Fox," she exclaimed in surprise. "My goodness, you did come! This is wonderful. Dana said you had plans..."

"Uh," he shuffled his feet. "Yeah, well, I..."

But he didn't get to finish because Maggie ushered him in the door and started to remove his coat. "Well the good thing is you're here to celebrate with us. Dana will be so surprised..."

Maggie all but pushed him through the house into the living room. He could hear people talking and laughing, and the unmistakable sound of children running around with new toys. He didn't see Scully when he entered the living room, but everyone there noticed him immediately. Maggie beamed as she came to stand beside him, and he had to admit that he felt more at ease when she placed a comforting hand on his back.

"What is this!" Bill cried, naturally the first to speak. "Mom?"

But Maggie pretended not to notice her son's harsh tone, "We have another guest for Christmas...Fox," she gestured to the young man and woman he didn't recognize, "this is Charlie and his wife Susan. And you remember Tara...and Bill."

"Yeah," Mulder answered, as Charlie rose to shake his hand. "Nice to meet you, Charlie."

"Nice to met you too, uh, Mulder. Dana says you don't care much for your first name, even though I know Mom uses it," the younger Scully smiled.

Mulder chuckled, a little embarrassed. "Well, your Mom has special privileges."

Maggie smiled and patted him on the back before moving away. "Now, where is Dana..."

As if on cue, Scully came out of the kitchen, her faced showed confusion. "What's going on out..." she stopped when she saw Mulder in the living room entrance. "Mulder?"

He tried not to shuffle his feet again, "Uh, Merry Christmas Scully."

She stood across the room for a moment, still looking stunned to see him. Then, with a chuckle and a shake of her head, she crossed to him and hugged him tight. "I'm so glad you came...What changed your mind?"

He held her close and answered softly, "Just had a change of heart." She pulled back to give him a curious smile, but didn't press him for more. He'd tell her later, when they were alone.

It wasn't until around sunset that Mulder finally had a chance to talk to Scully alone. They grabbed jackets and stole outside to the back porch, watching the various Scully children chase each other in a snowball fight. Mulder was reminded of his dream, of Scully pregnant. Could it really happen?

"So Mulder," she asked, interrupting his musing, "What brought about this change of heart?"

"Well I had an interesting dream last night...Very Dickens-esque. It just made me realize how much I did want to be here and spend Christmas with you."

She smiled. "Well I'm glad. It wouldn't have been right without you."

He gazed at her softly, his own smile forming. After a moment, he swallowed, "Uh, I have your present...I forgot to give it to you before..." He reached into his jacket pocket for the small box.

Scully stopped him, "Oh wait!" she got up and rushed inside. A minute later, she came back out, her own wrapped box in her hands. She was smiling brightly as she handed it to him. "This one's for you."

He took the box slowly and set it on his lap. Scully sat back down next to him and he handed her the gift he brought. She took it carefully, probably knowing from its small size what it had to be.

He smiled, "Open it."

She unwrapped the gift carefully, discovering the jewelers box underneath. Taking a breath, she lifted the lid. After a second, "Oh, Mulder..." she gingerly lifted the bracelet from its bed. It was a ring of sapphires, interwoven together by bands of silver and gold. It looked antique, but that only added to its beauty.

Mulder took the bracelet from her, clasping it around her left wrist. "It was my grandmother's," he explained. "I found it when I was going through some of my father's things...I want you to have it. The sapphires reminded me of your eyes," he stumbled.

Scully looked at him tearfully. "It's beautiful...Thank you so much Mulder."

He just nodded and looked at her for a long time. But then she cleared her throat, "You still have to open yours," she smiled.

Mulder turned to his box. Tearing the paper off, he was greeted with a plain white shirt box. He lifted the lid slowly. Inside were two items, nestled in a bed of tissue paper and bubble wrap. The larger item was a little antique telescope and the second, the smaller gift, was a compass.

"Scully..." he started, at a loss for words.

"At first, I didn't know what to get you, but when I saw these..." she paused, touching the telescope in his hands. "This is for when you need to search the stars," she said, giving him a thoughtful look. "It's so you know how much I admire your passion and your search for Truth..."

"And the compass?"

She caught his eyes, and held them intensely. "So you can always find your way home."

He nodded before resting the two items carefully back in their box. Setting it aside, he turned to her. His hand lifted to caress her cheek and she leaned into him slightly. They held their gazes for an eternity. Then his head dipped and hers tilted up to his, where their lips met in a soft but deep kiss. Scully pulled herself closer to him, her arms wrapping around his neck and his ran gently through her hair. They were unhurried and unaware of anything but the feel of each other.

When the kiss ended, Mulder brushed her hair back from her face once more before looking into her darkened blue eyes.

"I am home," he said earnestly and she smiled brightly.

THE END

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