Title: Yes, Erin, There is a Santa Claus
Author: D. K. Scully
Erin Series
Written: January 1996
Disclaimer: The characters of Scully, Mulder, Meg Scully, etc, belong lock, stock and plastic storage container to Fox Network, 10-13 Productions and the wonderfully generous Chris Carter. Thanks go to RaEnright for allowing me the use of Erin and crew -- it was a blast!!! No infringement is meant -- merely a Happy New year!

WARNING: The following story does contain M/S romance, though you must draw your own conclusion...It /could be/ a /What if...?/ story...You have been warned!!

Summary: Mulder is spending the holiday with the Scully clan. Erin, being her meddling self, happens to walk into Scully's room and finds the partners in a compromising situation. Is it what she thinks?

Night had settled around the Scully home, the only lights within emanating from the small, strung lights wrapped around the Christmas tree, and the bluish glow of the television. Looking around the room, Mulder tried to recognize the faces in the dim light. On the far side of the room, seated by either side of the fireplace were Kev and Elise. Elise had been complaining the entire day about being cold. Now, she sat next to the crackling fire, wrapped in a woven throw, and watching the television.

Kev sat with his feet propped on a stool, comfortable in his flannel shirt, jeans, and socks.

"I love this part," came Erin's voice. She and Alex were stretched out across the living room floor, their attentions wrapt in this presentation of /It's a Wonderful Life/. They had spent the afternoon tromping through the woods behind the house, and still looked it. Their clothes were smeared with dried mud; Meg had forced them to take their hiking boots off in the tiled kitchen in order to keep the mud off of the carpet. Mulder shook his head. How they could stay this interested in a film after seeing it /that/ many times, was beyond even him.

Mike tossed a glance at his daughter. "Erin, hush," he said.

Somehow, despite what he might try, she still managed to interfere where she was not necessarily wanted. Even he and Meg Scully had not been immune to Erin's matchmaking efforts over her Thanksgiving holidays. Mulder couldn't help but think that Erin had started something over that long weekend; Mike sat on the loveseat with Meg, his arm around her shoulders.

Sighing, Mulder popped another sunflower seed into his mouth, sucking the salt off of the hull before cracking it with his teeth. He removed the hull, tossing it into the small papercup near by, and ate the seed. As he cracked another seed, Scully looked up from her seat on the floor, her back against the base of the couch Mulder was lounging on. "Mulder," she hissed, "stop that."

"Stop what?" he regarded her with his most innocent expression.

She only continued to glare at him, her eyebrow raised. "Oh, you mean the sunflower seeds?"

"Yes, Mulder, the sunflower seeds."

"The first time that I start to eat something healthy and you want me to stop," Mulder commented, a twinkle in his eyes. "I tell you, Scully, I'm really getting some mixed signals."

Scully opened her mouth to comment, then thought better of it.

Without another comment, she turned her attention back to the movie. Mulder popped another sunflower seed into his mouth and cracked it open.

"Mulder!" Scully had whipped her head back around to face him, speaking to him in a hissing whisper.

He pointed the open end of the bag toward her. "Want one?"

She only glared in return, seeing the humor in his eyes. /He's enjoying this, damn him/, she thought. "You should know that paybacks are Hell, Mulder."

"Are they? I guess we'll just have to see what your devious mind comes up with, won't we?" With this, he turned his attention back to the film, muching on his sunflower seeds.


"You crashing for the night, Erin?" Mike looked to his daughter as the credits for the movie rolled up the screen. He knew for a fact she had been up and about by six that morning, unusual for her.

Erin stood and stretched, shaking her head and yawning. "Not yet, Da," she answered. "Alex has a few books about the Old Hollywood days I want to look at."

"Fine, but don't be too late. I get the feeling that Sean will get us all up a little early in the morning," Mike said. Erin crossed the room and pecked him on the cheek. "See you in the morning."

"Lights out by 1 a.m. around here, guys," Kev said. "Santa has to get his work done sometime, right?"

Alex rolled his eyes, passing a glance to Erin. "Yeah, right," he said. "Good night, guys." He turned and crossed to the stairs to his room, Erin following behind.

Standing, Mike gave a stretched, the mirror image of Kev as he did the same. "I think I am going to turn in also," he said.

"From all Kev's told me, I expect Sean to be toddling about by five in the morning."

Elise smiled. "If we're lucky, he'll sleep until seven."

"I, for one, would like to get some sleep before Mrs. Scully comes in and knits up the raveled sleeve of care," Mulder said. He sat up on the couch, closing the bag of sunflower seeds he had been careful not to spill.

"Getting poetic in your weariness, Mulder?" Scully said.

Mulder allowed a slight smile. "Didn't you know? Most best-selling authors do their best work in the late hours of night?"

"Same to be said of all government conspirators." Grimacing, Scully stood from her seated position, regretting the action immediately. "Ugh," she said. "My legs went to sleep on me."

"Not in pins and needles yet, is it, sis?" Kev asked, a mischievous smile across his lips. "I mean, I'm sure old Mulder here would be happy to carry you if need be."

Dana tossed "the look" to her brother. "I /think/ I can manage, Kev. Thanks for the advice, though." She stretched her legs, then arms, then back. "Well, I'm turning in, too. Good night, all."

"Night, Dana. Night, Fox," Meg said. "Pleasant dreams."

"Night, Mom." With this, Dana headed up the stairs to her room, and Fox to his. Within another few moments, the Christmas tree and television had been turned off, nothing stirring -- not even the proverbial mouse.

In the silence, Scully heard the door slide open slowly, followed by the quiet sound of sock- feet across the thick carpet of the corridor. The steps continued closer, padding down the carpeted stairs. They slowed as they reached the last four or five steps, then stopped all together.

"Have you ever just wanted to sit in the dark in front of a brightly lit Christmas tree, Mulder?" she asked without turning.

"Just sit in the silence and think about nothing?"

The sock-feet padded across the floor, and Scully felt a strong squeeze on her right shoulder. Sean's Santa Claus gifts were displayed before the tree: a bicycle with training wheels; nine-inch GI Joes and accessories; and a Batcave with all the bells and whistles. From the kitchen, the aroma of the Christmas turkey wafted into the living room. All the elements of a perfect Christmas, save two things, Mulder thought. Scully's hand closed over his. Captain Scully and Melissa.

"Something tells me you've been thinking about more than nothing," he said gently. A silent moment passed. "They are here, Scully. Maybe not physically, but they are here."

Closing her eyes, Scully allowed a small tear to roll down her cheek, dropping to her thick terry cloth robe. Somehow he had read her mind, knew what she had been thinking about. She nodded. "I know. It just doesn't seem fair, Mulder."

"Scully, if life were fair, Samantha would be here celebrating Christmas with the rest of us, and my father would be spending Christmas alone at the Vineyards." Mulder wanted to flinch, but grimaced instead. He'd let too much of his hurt through, allowed too much of the sadness to creep into his voice...and Scully heard it.

"You're right, Mulder," she said. Her grip on his hand tightened slightly. "But they're here, too."

With Scully's hand holding his, Mulder rounded the end of the couchm putting an arm around her as he seated himself next to her. He pulled her to him. For a long time they sat; her head resting on his chest, his arm around her, their hands locked. They eyes watched the brightly lit tree, bathing half the room in dim light, even in the dark. Wrapped packages waited under the tree, trimmed in ribbons and bows; the bicycle sat immobile, waiting to be discovered later that morning. And atop the tree, a porcelain angel sat, watching....

Opening her eyes, Meg looked to the digital display on the clock.

Three forty on the button, she thought, tossing back the covers. Years of Christmas cooking had set her internal alarm for this odd schedule. She grabbed her robe from the foot of the bed, slipping into it.

As she dashed across the room to the door she glanced at the mirror and stopped. Unfamiliar eyes seemed to stare back from the reflection -- eyes of sadness and grief. Meg shook her head. The tears had stopped long ago, leaving behind only emptiness.

Melissa was lost now, and Ahab was absent again.

This Christmas has been different, she reflected, stepping into the corridor. No stories for three small children by the fire; no debates between Missy and Dana about auras and crystals. She smiled wistfully. And no ship-to-shore calls from Captain Scully.

The family was handling it well, Christmas without them. Bill, Jr would at least be home tomorrow, his tour in the Pacific finally over.

But Dana...she was having a hard time. She still blamed herself. Meg shook her head as she peered in on little Sean, then smiled.

That daughter of hers took after her father: thick-skulled. It would take a while but -- with Mulder's help, she suspected -- the wounds would heal. Reaching the base of the stairs Meg slowed, then stopped. She could see the back of a brown-haired head on the sofa, tilted painfully to the right, an arm extending almost the length of the sofa itself.

Strung across the arm were locks of short, red hair. Dana's hair.

Meg stepped to her left, then took a few steps closer. The lighting of the Christmas tree bathed their sleeping features in odd color combinations, offsetting the shadows. They were at peace these two, finally. It was a shame to wake them.

"Dana, honey," Meg said softly. "Fox, why don't you two turn in? It's after three in the morning."

Sleepily, Dana nodded and rose. "Thanks, Mom." She kissed her on the cheek, then took Mulder by the hand. He rose reluctantly, stretching, rolling his head over his shoulders. "Come on, Mulder."

"Good night, Mrs. Scully," Mulder yawned.

"Good night." Meg said. She watched as Dana led Fox upstairs,

holding his hand. Time heals old wounds, she thought, and those two need all the time they can get. A wistful smile crept over her lips and into her eyes as she switched out the lights, then headed for the kitchen to tend to Christmas dinner...

Closing yet another of Alex's books, Erin looked to the clock.

"Alex! It's already almost four in the morning! I told Da I would be in bed hours ago!"

"What do you want to do?" Alex took the book from her, placing back onto it shelf. "I mean, we can try and get you back into your room, but I don't know how heavily your Cousin Fox sleeps."

"Pretty lightly," Erin admitted. She sighed, shrugging. "I don't have any choice but to risk it. Sean will have the whole house awake in a little while, and I need to be where I can be found."

"Why do I always feel like we should be part of a Mission: Impossible episode?" Alex commented. Crossing to his door, he clicked off the light. "No light on in Fox's room, which means he is probably asleep. We'll have to be quiet."

Noiselessly, he turned the knob and opened the door, allowing Erin to tip toe into Mulder's room, and stood watching her from the doorframe. He watched in horror as she suddenly walked quickly across the room and clicked on the light....on an empty room.

"What the...?" Erin said. She looked at the clock on the bedside table. "After four a.m. and Fox isn't here?"

Alex tossed a glance to the outside window. "There's a light on in the kitchen," he said. "He's probably down there munching on Christmas dinner."

Erin gave an exasperated expression. "Of course that's where he is," she said. "Simply because I was hoping he was in your Aunt Dana's room." Shaking her head, she switched out the light once again. "Night, Alex. See you breakfast."

"Night, Erin."

"I wanna ride my bike!" Sean called amidst the bustle of the Scully Christmas morning. True to form, he had wakened Kev and Elise,insisting on going downstairs at about six thirty. And, instead of waking the rest of the crew, they had allowed Sean to see his Santa gifts and unwrap his packages later, when the others were awake for breakfast.

Kev glanced at his watch, his own impatience growing. It was now nine and he wanted to get the show on the road. He looked over the back of the couch, seeing Meg, Erin, Elise, and Mike scurrying between the kitchen and the dining room, carrying food, glasses, and silverware to the seven place settings. "Are you sure I can't do anything to help out?" he called.

"No!" came the firm response from Elise. "The last time you helped, we ended up with eggs on the carpet!"

Meg entered the living room from the kitchen, looking around absently. "Erin, would you please go upstairs and wake our three sleeping beauties?" she asked. "They should be well rested enough to join the rest of us."

"Sure thing," Erin said. She placed the flatware she was carrying onto the table and trapsed up the stairs. Stopping before Mulder's door, she knocked. "Fox, breakfast time! We have plenty of greasy bacon and eggs for you!"

Hearing only silence, she opened the door and entered the room.

Not a thing had been disturbed since her trip through five hours earlier. Her eyes wide, she rushed to Alex's door. "Alex! Alex! Get up! I've got proof there /is/ a Santa Claus!"

Startled, Alex regarded her with a puzzled expression, slipping into a thick sweatshirt. It was apparent that he had just gotten out of the shower -- and had not yet ventured out from his corner of the house. "What do you mean?"

Erin grabbed him by the sleeve, dragging him into Fox's room.

"Notice anything?"

"Yeah, he didn't make up the bed this morning," Alex commented.

Looking closer, he allowed his chin to drop. "You don't think...?"

"I wanna go find out!" Grabbing him by the sleeve, Erin dragged him out of the room and down the corridor. She knocked on Dana's bedroom door. "Dana? You awake?..Dana?"

Holding her breath, Erin watched the doorknob turn and the door slowly open, holding her in suspense. Dana Scully was standing before her, clad in a white terry cloth robe, her cross necklace still visible. "What is it, Erin?"

"Meg sent me up to tell you breakfast is ready," Erin answered.

"And Kev is getting pretty impatient."

"Scully, do you happen to -- " Suddenly, Mulder entered view of the open door, stopping midsentence. He was wearing his black sweatpants, sans shirt, his hair rumpled, his eyes still not quite focused; Erin knew he had not been awake long.

Scully cleared her throat. "We'll be down in a few minutes, Erin," she said, rather pointedly. Her tone seemed to tell her, "Not one word."

Fighting back a grin, Erin nodded. She grabbed a very stunned Alex by the sleeve, dragging him downstairs. Once there, she allowed her grin to spread. "I did it!" she said to Alex.

Kev watched as Erin and Alex trampled down the stairs, seeing the two of them grinning. "Am I missing something? You two look like a pair of cheshire cats."

Erin exchanged a glance with Alex. "Oh nothing, Kev. Just proof that there /is/ a Santa Claus."

The End

And that is that. Hope you enjoyed it! :)

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