Title: Yes, Dana, There is a Santa Claus
Author: Kate L.
Written: February 2000
Rating: PG (for 2 bad words, and angst)
Category: Story, Angst
Spoilers: Christmas Carol/Emily, HTGSC, Millennium, mention of a few others that don't really matter
Keywords: none
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize is not mine. The plot and some of the relatives are. If Chris Carter wants to sue me, he won't get much, because the computer I wrote this on isn't even mine. The idea of a scrapbook also isn't mine, it belongs to Sister Fialka - it was her Xmas gift to the OBSSE Abbey, and I ripped it off. Forgive me.

Summary: This is my story of Mulder and Scully's not-so-happy holidays, and how it gets better.

Author's notes: The character of Charlie is sort of based on my uncle Nate, who is in the Coast Guard in Hawaii with his wife Ida and son Adam. I'm taking liberties because the only canon is that Scully has a nephew who loves Babe, but isn't Bill's kid. (According to my calculations, in this story Andy is 4 1/2, and Matthew is a few weeks short of two.) The rest of this is just to explain why Mulder and Scully hadn't seen each other over Christmas (from at latest the 24th, up until the 29th). And they usually have such *joyous* holidays (though anything is better than the Scully Family Xmas of '97). If it matters, I think Scully lives in Georgetown in this one.I can't remember where Mulder's father is buried, so for the purposes of this story it's on the Vineyard. And I have no idea what Jewish law dictates about that sort of thing, so ...

After we finished the LuckyBoy case, I didn't really want to start any more cases until at least after Thanksgiving. I told Mulder this, and he didn't seem to mind; he knows I like to spend time with my family when I can. I asked him what he was doing at Thanksgiving.

He looked down at his hands. "Nothing, really. Just gonna gather myself and the fishies around the Thanksgiving pizza."

His humor was totally transparent. "Do you want to come to Mom's? She'd love to have you."

"No thanks," he replied a little too quickly. "Wouldn't want to get in the way. I might go celebrate with the Gunmen or something."

I could tell he was uncomfortable with the subject, so I let it drop.

Wed. Nov. 24 1
0:08 p.m.

Charlie's plane was coming in tonight; it was already an hour late due to weather delays in the Midwest, where they had a layover. Mom and I were standing in the terminal at BWI, impatiently waiting for the passengers to come out of the jetway. Since Charlie is stationed in Hawaii with his wife and son, we hadn't seen them in about three years.

Just as the first few passengers were beginning to emerge, my cell rang.


"Hi. It's me." Mulder.

"Mulder, this isn't the greatest time."

"Why?" he asked. Then with a grin that I could hear over the airwaves, "Agent Scully, what are you wearing?"

"Not now, Mulder. I'm at the airport with my mother" (who I hoped couldn't hear Mulder,) "to meet my brother, who is just getting off the plane right now. So I'm going to hang up now, and I'll call you back later." I turned off the phone before he could protest, and turned back to my family, already wrapped in loving embraces.

I got swept up by Charlie, who put me down on my feet again to ask, "How are you Dana? It's so great to see you again!" He didn't even pause for my response before giving Mom an equally ferocious hug, so I turned to his wife Joan.

"Hello, Dana," she greeted, apparently as wary of hugs as I am. "It's so nice to see you, and it's great to spend the holidays someplace with at least a chance of snow ... Andy's been looking forward to it so much." She patted the sleeping four-year-old slung over her shoulder. "He's never had a white Christmas."

I laughed. "Well, it's only Thanksgiving, and it hasn't snowed yet. But it has gotten awfully cold."

As my family gathered all their packages and noisily left the airport, I let out a small prayer that this holiday season would be better than the previous ones.

When I called Mulder back around midnight, he said it wasn't important, and I shouldn't worry.

"You just have a good Thanksgiving, all right? I'm fine."

Like he could fool me: that's my line.

Thur. Nov. 25
2:30 p.m.

Bill and his family had driven in this morning after visiting Tara's parents in upstate New York, where there was 18 inches of snow. The "grownups" were in the kitchen listening to Bill tell of his escapades driving through the snow. I quietly got up and wandered into the living room where Andy and Matthew were driving trucks over the rug in front of the TV. I muted the pregame show that someone had left on, and sat down with the boys.

"Aun' Dana!" lisped Matthew. He climbed into my lap and held his red fire truck in my face. "Gwamma gave me a twuck!" I smiled at him and complimented his truck as he drove it over my knees. Andy was also vrooming his truck around the legs of the coffee table.

Just then Mom called out, "Dinner!" and the boys leapt up. As I entered the dining room, Mom pulled me aside.

"Dana honey, is anything wrong? You haven't said much today."

I shrugged. "I'm OK ... I was up late last night."

It wasn't a lie, but it wasn't why I was keeping to myself. Even I didn't know that. I guess I was just feeling left out of all the family happiness, and that everyone was looking down on me for it. Like I belonged at the kids' table. I had always hated that - the humiliation of all the aunts and uncles and older cousins sitting in the dining room, while I sat at a card table in the kitchen. Because the Scully family gatherings were always so huge, Charlie and I hadn't graduated up to the dining room until I was twelve. Yet now here he was with his wife and child, chatting with the adults, while I had no one and sat next to someone else's drooling one-year-old.

A glass of wine during dinner didn't loosen my tongue, but my mind began to run wild with thoughts I'd rather keep out. *What do my brothers have that I'm so jealous of? A family? Happiness? I've never seriously tried for a family, and I've always thought I was a happy person, so what is it? Is it the Christmas blues? Memories of two years ago, with Tara bragging, and then Emily's death and my own infertility? Maybe 'D, all of the above.'*

A second glass of wine quieted those thoughts and loosened my tongue instead. We sat at the table trading stories of what had happened to us in the past year. Mom was getting involved in charity work at church; Charlie was training for a new position so he could spend less time at sea; Joan had gotten a part time job for the first time since Andy's birth; Bill and Tara were trying to renovate their house. Then someone, I don't remember who, asked me what I had done this past year. I had had just enough wine to prevent me from properly editing my adventures, and I ended up retelling the bulk of what had happened over the summer, remembering only to leave out the parts about machetes, inter- and intra-planetary conspiracies, and Fowley's death. Everyone listened eagerly, though I later wondered whether they thought I was embellishing my tale.

When I was leaving some time after eleven that night, Bill caught me in the foyer as I was shrugging on my coat.

"Dana, I know you don't want to hear this, but your job, your partner, put you in too much danger. It's going to get someone killed." I could hear him silently add, *Again.*

"Being in the Navy is a dangerous job, too," I replied angrily. "You leave your wife and son at home for weeks or months, never knowing if you'll come back. Under orders of some desk-jockey admiral who doesn't always know what's best," I stared at him for a long minute, then continued more quietly, "But you do your job because you wouldn't want to be doing anything else, and because you are protecting your country and your loved ones. That's exactly what I do. It's a dangerous, thankless job, but there's nothing else I'd rather be doing."

With that I turned and walked out the door without even saying goodbye to anyone. When I got into my car I cried on the steering wheel for a minute before sitting up and driving away. I was turning onto my street before I realized I'd left my best casserole dish in my mother's kitchen.

I was too tired to care about that; my earlier catharses had worn me out. I tossed my keys on the hall table and mechanically punched 'Play' on the answering machine on my way to the bedroom. I stopped halfway down the hall when I heard the static-y messages.

Beep, click. "Scully? You there? If you are, pick up." A pause. "Oh. I'll call back later."

Whrrr, click. "Scully, it's me - pick up." A sigh and a pause. "I need to talk to you."

Whrrr, click. "Scully?" Frustrated now, "It's - oh, never mind."

*What could Mulder need that would get him so frustrated? He knew I'd be out tonight.* I worriedly picked up the phone to call him back, even though it was nearly midnight. Now it was my turn to get his machine.

"Mulder, what do you need? It's 11:52 and I just got back from Mom's. I don't want to play phone tag all night. I'm going to try your cell." I hung up and dialed his cell number.

"We're sorry, the DC Cellular custo -" I hung up angry at him and got ready for bed. If he needed me that badly, I'd be sleeping right next to the phone on the nightstand.

Fri. Nov. 26
9:17 a.m.

I woke late the next morning, having neglected in my anger to set the alarm. My anger was immediately replaced by fear, with the realization that Mulder had not called me back. Fearing for his life, I dialed his cell.

"Mudder," came the reply after three rings.

"Mulder, you sound drunk."

"I am ... was. Could you whisper? My head hurts."

I lowered my voice and asked, "How much did you have to drink?"

"The boys and I went out to a sports bar - Turkey Bowl, you know. I don't remember much after the third quarter, so I think they took me home. That's where I woke up, anyway." He was mumbling the whole time, and sounded awful.

"Did you know you called me three times? It sounded urgent, but you didn't say what."

"I don't remember that."

I sighed rather loudly into the receiver and and informed him, "Mulder, I'm coming over. I'll see you in about twenty minutes, okay?"

He didn't respond, but hung up. That got me even more worried; I had this feeling that Mulder had more emotional pain than physical, and knowing him, he'd let it fester. I got there in fifteen.

Sure enough, he was half-unconscious on the couch. He seemed more lucid after I hauled him upright, so I waved a hand in front of his face and asked, "Mulder, can you hear me?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Can I have a couple aspirin, Scully? My head still hurts."

He gave a pained grin when I came back a few minutes later with two aspirin and a glass of water. "You're a saint, Scully."

I fixed my coldest glare at him and demanded, "Her Blessedness wants to know why you thought it necessary to get drunk on Thanksgiving." He had turned a way from me, and I reached out and put a hand on his arm. "Mulder," I prodded.

He didn't turn around, but he started talking. "In 1973, November 28th was Thanksgiving. It didn't really hit my parents that Samantha was gone until then, and we were hosting the big family get-together that year. So my mother was standing out on the front porch as the guests arrived. She and my father had to explain that it was all called off. Dad - my father couldn't stand it, and he went inside and brought me with him. He told me very quietly that it was my fault, and then he went in his room ... and cried. I felt like I had lost my sister and broken my father, and it was less than a year after that when they divorced. You know," he said, actually looking at me now, "they always say it's not the child's fault, but it was. It was."

He turned away again, so I got up and walked around to his end of the couch. There was a wet trail where a tear had run down his face, but he was silent. I didn't know how to comfort him; he'd ingrained this guilt into himself, into his soul.

"Mulder, you wouldn't believe me if I said it wasn't your fault ... but whatever small part *is* your fault, I forgive you for it. And wherever your sister is, I think she forgives you for it, too."

At that, he looked up at me where I was now perched on the arm of his couch. He sounded like a little boy as he asked, "Do you think so? I want to tell her I'm sorry, but I don't think she could hear me."

"Have you ever tried, Mulder? Have you ever told her?" The way his head hung told me No, and he looked so sad just then that I wanted to take him in my arms and hold him like his mother never did. "You should tell her then, Mulder. I'm sure she can hear you, wherever she is."

He glared at me and accused, "You think she's dead, don't you? You're doing the sad-parent routine: the 'she'll always be with you in your heart' shit. But I can't give up. She's my life."

I thought carefully before I made my reply. "I don't think she's dead . . . but it is likely, I can't deny that. But since you don't think she's dead, you *should* tell her that you're sorry."

I watched him as his expression suddenly changed from one of despair to one of determination. He quickly got up and headed toward his bedroom. Halfway there he turned back to me and said, "Come with me, Scully. I'm going to Massachusetts."

"What's in Massachusetts that's so important?" I asked. I had just realized he was going on another of his spontaneous adventures, but at least I wasn't getting ditched this time.

"My parents had a grave, a memorial, erected for Sam about a year after she disappeared, in the same graveyard as my father. I'm going there to tell her I'm sorry." *In case she isn't still alive.* I could hear the words he didn't say.

Nov. 27
7:15 a.m.

Mulder poked his head through the connecting door of our motel into my room and asked whether I was ready to go.

"Yeah, just a minute. Did you get me my coffee?"

"Yep. In the car."

He was silent and distracted the rest of our journey, only nodding his head in reply to my questions. When the ferry docked he broke the silence by asking me to drive.

"Sure, but you'll have to give me directions. I haven't been here in years." Maybe I could get him to say something, enough to let me figure out what he was thinking.

"I hate to admit this Scully, but I've never been there. When my parents had the ceremony, I made them leave me home; I've never been there. You were the one who went to my father's funeral," he said quietly.

I was shocked. "You've never been to your father or sister's grave?" He'd been with me to Missy's grave a few times, and had taken it in stride, as if he'd had experience visiting family members' graves.

We did find the graveyard after not too long, and the caretaker directed us to the Mulder family plot. A mildewing white marble angel pirouetted under a tree, atop a base inscribed, "Samantha Mulder, 1965 - 1973." Mulder stared at it for a minute, then leaned down and tenderly kissed the top of the angel's head. He crouched in front of the stone statue for quite some time, silent, before he reached up and grabbed my hand, pulling me down next to him.

Finally a strangled voice came out of the man next to me. "Damn. Scully, what do I say? Sam means everything to me; I've spent my life looking for her, but now that I'm here, what do I say? What's wrong with me?" And then he started crying on my shoulder, beginning his sobbing monologue.

"Scully, I know you know how important she is to me, but lately my quest has been taking me everywhere but to find my sister. The harder I look, the less I know. And sometimes a little voice gets in my head - that little nagging one, you know how it is - and says that I should just give up, I'll never find her, just accept that she's dead. But I can't let myself give up, because my search has been the driving force in my life so long that sometimes I think if I gave up my life would be meaningless. And I *have* learned so much, even if it's not about my sister, that it's all been worth it, because it helped so many others, especially you. For a while, just after we became partners, I tried to make you the replacement for Sam, so I wouldn't need her any more and could give up safely, but I still needed her, and it really didn't work after I fell in love with you. But then all the things I've learned after that only confused me about what happened. I know that the world will end with bees on a three-day weekend, but I don't know what happened on that one night in Massachusetts, and I was there. Sometimes I think Sam hates me for that, that I've forgotten. But I know she would hate me even more for giving up. My quest is so dangerous, Scully, and I've hurt so many people, especially you, and it hurts me, too. It's just all the more reason to give up. And no one but you ever tells me to keep going, everyone thinks I'm crazy for doing this, and I think they're right." He ran out of breath and stopped. What was I supposed to say to that?

"Don't give up, Mulder," I whispered. "We both have our quests. Mine got knocked flat on its back this summer in Africa. That ... artifact . . . made me question what I believe, and the evidence that made me believe it. And you know how important evidence is to me." I laughed humorlessly. "Your quest started me on mine; if you gave up not only would you be lost, but so would I. Between the two of us we know so much we can find Samantha if only we don't give up." I never really thought we ever would find Samantha, maybe just evidence indicating what happened, but I couldn't let my partner give up hope. Hope is so much more important than likelihood.

"Don't let me give up, Scully. Remind me every day, and beat me into shape if need be. Sam will be our muse, to whom we dedicate and ask for blessing. 'Sing in me, muse, and through me tell the story of a man and his quest for the truth ... '" We sat silently by the angel, our muse, and wept.

Dec. 11
3:47 p.m.

After our little pilgrimage, December went along without a hitch. For a while I was worried about Mulder's mental state after his breakdown, but he behaved himself properly, just as before. I began preparations for Christmas, writing cards, shopping, and buying a small tree. The Bureau was remarkably nice in not assigning any cases out of town, though for a while I feared it might mean we'd be out watching lights in the sky on Christmas - and I don't mean the Star of Bethlehem. Instead we got refreshingly mundane work, a welcome break from the growing holiday rush.

That afternoon my Mom called, and it was my turn to be miserable for the holidays again.

"Bill wants to know if you're coming to San Diego. He wanted me to ask, because of ... last time. Don't come if you don't want to, Dana, but I'm going."

"Umm ... I hadn't really thought about it, Mom. Let me think, and I'll call you back tonight, OK?"

I didn't want to go, but I had to be polite about it. I knew that Bill would decide to stop being his usual annoying, controlling self and try to be sympathetic, which would probably be even more annoying. And it would be a reminder of events I didn't want to torture myself with. I had accepted Emily's place in my life, but I was still afraid that Christmas in San Diego would bring back the pain. I wanted to have a happy Christmas with no unhappy reminders and no relatives being careful of me. That, I could find at home.

I called her back. "Mom, I'm sorry but I don't think I'll be going out to San Diego this year."

She sounded disappointed even though I think she had expected it. "Fine, dear, but I hope you can find something to do with friends, because I'll be staying out until January 2nd. I don't want you to mope at home by yourself."

"I won't, Mom. I'm sure a friend or two will be having a party. I'll be fine." What did she expect me to be doing, lying on the couch sobbing over a picture of Emily? I only have one picture of Emily, and I had to steal it from official evidence. But I didn't have any close friends, especially of the type who'd throw parties. Mulder would sit at home, or maybe get drunk like at the last holiday, or maybe drag me out to another haunted house. That had been a pathetic excuse to drag me there: true love and suicide pacts are not my idea of holiday fun. He had just been bored and lonely.

I could find something to do at Christmas. Sure I could.

Dec. 24
11:21 p.m.

Well, I hadn't found any parties, but Battlestar Galactica was on. Somehow, it just wasn't the same.


"Hi, it's me. How's your Christmas Eve going?"

"Two words: 'Battlestar Galactica.'"

"Huh." A pause, "Me, too. We're pathetic."

"Ah, yes, but Miss Pathetic finished her cards, had everything mailed last week, and is eating a plate of cookies with pink frosting. And let me guess, Mr. Pathetic sent cards to people who might notice, but was disappointed to find that the Post Office had already closed, and never mailed anything, and he's eating the cookies I sent him."

"No, I sent out my packages yesterday at the mailbox at work, because I was out of stamps. So my Christmas cards are postmarked 'FBI Office Mail Service.' But I did get them sent. Oh, look, Scully, this is the good part."

After some space battle with bad special effects I continued, "So what are you getting from Santa this year? Were you a good boy?"

"Dunno about Santa, but I think my mother sent me socks again. I guess Santa doesn't like little boys who spend their summer institutionalized and screaming. What about you?"

"I already opened a couple. Santa got me gift certificates. So thoughtful. I did get a really cute little clayey, gluey, painty, unidentified craft project from my nephew, though. It had lots of glitter, too."

"I need a nephew to send me cute stuff. Can I borrow yours?" He added a yawn.

"Then where would I get *my* messy crafts? Go to bed now, Mulder, or Santa won't come."

"Merry Christmas, Scully."

"You, too." We really made a sad pair, but patheticness loves company. God bless us every one.

This was becoming one downright depressing Christmas. Two years ago was better than this; on that Christmas I had the joy of discovering a child, even if the season did end tragically. Now I was stuck at home remembering lost loved ones and watching Battlestar Galactica - definitely not in the Christmas spirit.

Just then my phone rang again; it was Charlie.

"Hi, Dana. I'm surprised you're still up. How late is it there?"

"Hi. It's about 11:30. What's up? - it's a bit late for Merry-Christmas calls, as you just said."

"Andy wants to talk to you. He's afraid that Santa won't see how good he's been, or know where he is - the usual kid questions. I told him that Aunt Dana in the FBI knows all about how to do things like find people ... could you reassure him? He didn't really believe me."

"Sure, Charlie," I laughed. "Put him on."

"Aunt Dana?" squeaked a little voice.

"Hi, Andy. Your dad told me you had questions about Santa. What do you need to know?"

"Daddy says Santa knows everything you do all year. But what about all the things I didn't tell people about, or where Santa can't see me? Dad says he's got elves, too," came the tiny voice.

"Well, I know Santa does background checks."

"Background checks?"

"Yeah. I did those for a while. That's where he gets all sorts of documents like report cards, or he calls parents and aunts and uncles to ask them whether you were good or bad. He lets the elves do background checks sometimes since there are so many kids. The elves also look into your windows and see what you're doing." I wondered what I was getting into with this. Half of it I was making up and half I was remembering from my own childhood. I hoped I didn't say something wrong and make him think I was lying, or ruin his faith in Santa Claus.

"Really? But how do they hear what I'm doing?" He sounded as if he believed me, to my immense relief.

"Sure. The elves also have surveillance gear to listen to you with, like hidden microphones and phone taps." I was really getting into this now. "Then the elves tell Santa what they hear, and Santa decides what to give you."

"Oh. But how does Santa know what to get me if my letter doesn't get there? There aren't any roads at the North Pole for the mailman. Do they fly the letters in?"

"I don't think there are any airports there, either, honey. But remember, the elves hear you all the time, so they listen when you tell your parents what you want. Santa also sends elves to the post office to make sure he gets all the letters." I smiled; I wished I could do things like this more often.

"Gosh, Santa's got a lot of elves. He needs some to make toys, and some at the post office, and some to watch all the kids. Oh yeah, and how does Santa get to all the houses? Mom says he comes exactly at midnight, and that's why I have to be in bed, or he won't come."

"Well, Andy, the world has different time zones. That's why it's about 7 o'clock at your house, while it's almost midnight here. Santa only has to do one time zone at a time that way, and he's very fast. Also, three-fourths of the world is covered with water, so there's nobody there that he has to deliver to. See?" I was so proud of myself.

"Wow, that's cool!" I could imagine his eyes sparkling. "How do you know all this?"

Now this was a stumper. Did I dare tell him that Santa trained at the FBI? "I'll tell you a secret, OK? It's top-secret - promise not to tell?"

"Cross my heart, Aunt Dana."

"Last year, Santa sent some of his elves to Quantico, where they train FBI agents. The elves learned how to do things like phone taps, background checks, and peeking in windows."

"Did you see them? And the reindeer?"

"No, the reindeer had to stay at the North Pole because they didn't like the heat in Virginia. But I did see an elf."

"Neato!" Ah, youthful exuberance. "Dad says I have to get off the phone now."

"That sounds like a good idea. It's almost midnight here, so I have to go to bed so Santa will come. Merry Christmas, Andy."

"Merry Christmas. Bye!" he squealed.

As I hung up I wondered, *Was I ever that young and trusting? Just this once, I'll go to bed now, and maybe Santa will come with something for me.*

Dec. 25
7:32 a.m.

I miss childhood. I sat in bed for ten minutes wondering whether I should have gotten out of bed earlier. When I was six Bill made us get up at four, because it was technically the morning and he wanted to open presents. I remember wearing myself out by the time we got to Aunt Mabel's and sleeping on her couch. When *I* was ten I set a trap for Santa Claus, to see if he really did exist (see, I was the skeptic even then). Unfortunately, I don't remember whether I caught anything. This Christmas I sat there wondering whether I should have set my alarm early and woken up shrieking for joy. But why bother? No parents here to wake up. And worse yet, Santa isn't usually generous to thirty-five-year-old women who spend their lives disproving the existence of such supernatural phenomena as old men squeezing down chimneys (hmm ... Santa Tooms?)

Which is a perfect example of how messed-up and un-childlike my life is, and how much I needed coffee just then.

When I went through the living room to the kitchen, though, there was an extra box under the tree, with a shiny red bow. I turned back to look at it - it had no tag, but it must have been for me. Maybe the tag fell off. I shrugged and went to turn on the coffee pot.

I opened a few presents from family after breakfast, then went to Mass. (I swear, I am not a Christmas-and-Easter Catholic. Really.) When I got back, the little box was still watching me, following me with invisible eyes as I went through the house. Finally I gave in.

But first, I had to shake it. One must always shake presents of unknown origin (unless they are postmarked from rural Montana). It sounded like tissue paper, that ubiquitous evil stuffing that inevitably hangs around in little pieces under the sofa cushions almost as long as the tinsel in the rug.

It was a photo album, with fancy lettering on the front that said "Dana Scully's Scrapbook." I opened it and flipped through, finding photos that shouldn't have been there. Not that they were improper, but that whoever made this (and I had no idea who it was) couldn't have had access to them. There were ones of me at work, at home, with family. Pictures from my childhood, and of friends, family, and loved ones. There were pictures that were taken from impossible angles, pictures especially of me and Mulder at times I knew no one else was there, or at least at the angle the picture was taken from. It was more like snapshots of my memory, taken from an angle so that I was in the picture as well, so I could see myself as others saw me. It was amazing to see how I had changed through the years, especially when I saw shots of me with awful hair and beige suits. There were also a few objects, mementos stuck in the pockets between the photos ... a plane ticket to Bellefleur, Oregon ... a photo of a "tooth" ... a pressed flower, possibly from one of my numerous hospital stays ... quite a few touching little artifacts.

But who could it be from? Somehow I knew it wasn't a stalker; many of the pictures weren't of me, and many were of my childhood. A stalker certainly wouldn't give me the photos, and they weren't obsessive. In fact, it seemed as if someone had chosen the images with great care, picking the turning points and important memories of my life. It must have been a family member.

During the afternoon I fielded Merry-Christmas phone calls from most of the far-flung Scully clan. I made it a point to ask each of them, but none took credit for the beautiful scrapbook. It remained a mystery.

Or maybe, was it a miracle? Not all the photos were of happy moments, but it still touched my heart, and was obviously meant to do so. A gift from old St. Nick, to give hope to my dreary holiday season? Maybe there really is a Santa Claus.

Jan. 2
7:29 p.m.

I loaded Mom's luggage into my trunk and opened the passenger door for her. I didn't want to stand in the cold, dark parking garage any longer than I had to.

"Thanks so much for picking me up, Dana," she said as she got in. "I hope it wasn't any trouble for you."

"Oh, no trouble at all. Besides, I know how tiring it is to travel, then stand next to the car while the world's slowest man takes half an hour to put your one suitcase in the ugly little rental car." I replied.

She laughed. "I assume you're referring to your partner? How is he, by the way?"

"He's fine. We spent New Year's Eve together, on a case. We managed to spend midnight in the emergency room." *Necking. But Mom doesn't need to know that.*

"I hope you weren't hurt. I guess you missed all the fun."

"I wasn't hurt. But I was a bit afraid that the Y2K bug would knock out power to the hospital and we'd get trapped alone in the elevator." *Oh, no! Whatever shall we do to pass the time until we're rescued, Mulder?* I tried to repress my errant train of thought - best not to think of certain things while driving. "We were fine, though, no problems."

"Good. Fox is such a nice man. Have you ever thought about ... "

End Note: Bwahahaha, I shall leave off there. Please forgive the cliched ending, I wanted *some* humor. *PLEASE* send something to say how you liked it. I live for mail. This turned out to be about 6000 words, 42K, 10 pages: the longest thing I've ever written.

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