Title: Yes, Fox, There Really Is a Santa
Author: Vickie Moseley
Rating: PG-13
Category: Mild humor
Written for Virtual Season 11's Winter Special.
Archive: Two weeks exclusive on VS 11's website. After that, anywhere.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, I just play with them. And I don't own Santa Claus, but I do believe!
Comments and candy canes to:

Summary: Mulder's disbelief is challenged

Thanks and Happy Holidays to all our VS artists, authors and readers. You guys are keeping the joy alive!

Upon reflection, Mulder had to admit his situation was his own fault. Remembering last year's fiasco of a Christmas Eve spent snowed-in at a crowded airport, Mulder had suggested he and Scully head out to San Diego the weekend before Christmas. Once there, Scully had offered to take Tara out shopping, with just a few days left before Christmas. Naturally, Mulder had assumed Bill would be around to keep an eye on the almost six-year-old Matthew. Just as naturally, Bill had a more pressing engagement, which included picking up Maggie at the airport, who had flown out separately to take advantage of a cheaper flight she found on the internet.

Mulder had offered to go along and help with the luggage, but Bill had quickly snuffed out that idea.

Matty tended to run off in crowds and an airport was the last place Bill wanted to take him.

"Mom's flight shouldn't be too delayed, they only got 7 inches of snow at Dulles," Bill had assured Mulder with an evil grin. "We'll be home before you know it."

That had been an hour and a half earlier and already Mulder was ready to call for back up.

"Hey, would you like me to read to you?" Mulder asked, searching the room for any diversion.

Matty gave him a look, a definite Scully genetic trait that seemed to question whether Mulder had the ability to read anything of interest. Finally, the boy hurried over to the bookshelf and picked a book from the bottom shelf, which seemed crammed full of very thin volumes.

"This one!" Matty declared as he deposited the book in Mulder's lap and climbed on the sofa next to the agent.

Mulder looked at the cover. "The Night Before Christmas," he read aloud.

Matty nodded enthusiastically.

Mulder nodded back and opened the book. "T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse," he continued, and had to bite back a grin as Matty snuggled into his side, not entirely unlike the little boy's aunt had done just a few nights before, but for much different reasons.

"We used to have mice," Matty said solemnly. "Daddy murdered 'em."

Mulder coughed, well, choked was more like it. "I'm sure he was just getting rid of mice, Matty. That doesn't qualify as 'murder'."

"Mommy said he murdered 'em. I'm glad. They ate into my box of banana bread oatmeal. Little bastards!"

Mulder choked again. "Now, I'm sure your mom doesn't want you using that word," he corrected hastily.

Matty looked up at him like he was the silliest man he'd ever seen. "Read!"

"Oh, yeah. Where was I?"

"Mice," Matty reminded.

"Oh, right...not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums - -"

"My Daddy says fairies aren't made of sugar plums," Matty advised Mulder seriously.

"I'm sure he's quite the expert on that subject," Mulder replied dryly. "Mind if I continue?"

Matty gave him a shrug and settled back into the cushions.

"...danced in their heads. Whilst Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap, had just settled our heads for a long winter's nap..."

Mulder made it through the rest of the poem by Dr. Moore without further interruption.

"And then he exclaimed, 'ere he drove out of sight, Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

"I like Santa Claus," Matty said with a yawn.

"I'm sure you do," Mulder said with a fond smile.

Matty picked up on the neutrality of the response immediately. "Don't you believe in Santa Claus, Mr. Mulder?"

Mulder flinched, first, because Matty had followed his father's orders and put 'Mr.' in front of Mulder's name, and second because the little boy was that perceptive. It was something he didn't want to get into with a child, particularly not a child who obviously still believed.

"I'm sure there is plenty of evidence to support the theory of a jolly old St. Nick," Mulder said, and bit his tongue when he realized he'd just parroted Scully's words from earlier in the week when they were discussing a particularly outlandish case. He hoped he didn't sound as condescending as his partner had when she'd said the words to him.

Matty frowned. "If you don't believe, he can't bring you presents, Mr. Mulder," he confided.

Mulder gave the boy a weak smile. "That's OK, Matty.

I have everything I want."

Tara and Scully arrived not much later and hot on their heels were Bill and Maggie. The discussion was forgotten, at least as far as Mulder was concerned.

Matty, however, couldn't seem to put the idea out of his head.

Later that night at their hotel, Scully cornered Mulder about Matty's suspicions.

"Mulder, why did you tell Matty you didn't believe in Santa Claus?" she demanded around a mouthful of toothpaste.

"I didn't say I didn't believe, Scully. I just didn't fall into the trap most adults do and assume that kids are naive enough to ignore a lie when they hear it."

"In other words, you really don't believe in Santa Claus," she said, after a rinse and spit.

"To be perfectly honest, no, I don't believe." He moved past her to take the spot at the sink and attend to his own oral hygiene. "And Scully, c'mon, you can't tell me you actually believe in Santa Claus," he accused. "Matty's not here, it's just you and me. 'Fess up!"

"Sorry, Mulder. I'm a firm believer."

He stared at her, unconvinced. He even crossed his arms.

"Mulder after all the crap we've been through, the very fact that we've lived to see another Christmas is enough to make me believe in not only a higher power, but all the higher powers you could rattle of from that photographic memory of yours. But in this particular case, I happen to have empirical proof of the existence of St. Nicholas."

"You're referring to the Bishop of the early Christian Church in Asia Minor, I'm assuming," he said dryly, still not uncrossing his arms.

"No, I'm referring to the 'chubby and plump, right jolly old elf' who crawls down chimneys. Or, in my case, comes through the front door."

"There's a story here," Mulder said firmly, backing up to sit down on his side of the bed and scooting up to rest his back against the headboard. "Tell me a bedtime story, Scully," he said in a singsong voice.

She grinned and crawled up next to him on the bed, taking his hand. "I must have been four because I wasn't in school yet."

"Early memories are the most unreliable," Mulder said pointedly.

She shot him an icy look and continued, undeterred.

"Dad was at sea that year, and that left Mom with all the Christmas preparations. There were the four of us kids and she was still buying presents for her nieces and nephews, not to mention Dad's family. To say that she had a full plate was an understatement."

"I can imagine," Mulder interjected with an affectionate smile. Maggie Scully was one of his favorite people and he didn't care who knew it.

"That was the year I wanted a Barbie. But not the blonde bombshell they were selling on television day and night. I wanted the one with red hair."

"Midge," Mulder supplied. At Scully's cocked head, he grinned. "Midge had red hair. She was Barbie's best friend. She ran around with some doof, can't recall his name, but I always assumed she had a thing for Ken." It was Scully's turn to cross her arms.

"Sam had the whole collection. Complete with 'Dream House'," he concluded.

"Well, at the ripe age of four, I just called her 'red haired Barbie' and I wanted one with all my might. But in all the excitement of Christmas, I had neglected to include that item on my wish list when Mom took us to sit on Santa's lap at the Base Christmas Party. So Mom had no idea that's what I wanted."

"And this proves the existence of Santa Claus...how?"

"Because I wrote Santa a letter and stuck it in the bushes outside our bedroom window. When I looked in the bushes a few days later, the letter was gone.

"Not only that, but on Christmas morning, there under the tree was my Midge doll and the very outfit I wanted for her."

Mulder smiled and shook his head, then pulled her into a hug. "Boy, with that kind of evidence, you should write a book," he chuckled.

"You still doubt he exists?"

"Scully, let me tell you a little story, though not nearly as sweet as yours. When I was five, I wanted to believe. But my next-door neighbor, Jimmy Galbrath, was a year older and far wiser than I. One Christmas Eve, we set up a recon mission, to detect if there really was a Santa Claus. I had a bird's eye view of his rooftop from my bedroom window just as he could see mine from his. We each stayed up all night, until our parents called us down to open presents and 'see what St. Nick' brought us. I can tell you this; there were no reindeer, no sleigh, no jolly old man in a red suit. But I still got my Flexible Flyer wooden sled I'd been begging for since Labor Day. From that day on, I understood that Santa was the magic parents want their children to have, and so they give it to them."

She looked at him and shook her head. "This is obviously a question of faith," she concluded, arms crossed.

"And we rarely agree on that topic," he noted.

She sighed and then leaned over and gave him a kiss.

"That's all right, Mulder. Santa has a way of making believers out of everyone."

He didn't have time to ponder that thought because she was already busy removing his shirt and his mind was quick to switch gears.

Two days later
December 23

Three women sat at the kitchen table, all with worried expressions.

"I've even looked online, Dana. It is not to be found!" Tara exclaimed woefully.

"How about that big shopping mall downtown?" Maggie suggested. "Don't they have a 'Legoland' store?"

"They do, Mom. We've been there," Scully said with a frown. "Apparently, the one Lego set that Matty wants is the one that's completely sold out."

"The manufacturer," Maggie offered. "Surely they can tell you the names of other dealers."

"Tried them. They were caught totally unawares.

That new cartoon of dinosaurs just really ratcheted up the interest. It wasn't even in their quarterly reports as a potential big seller. They admitted to me on the phone that they were caught with their pants down on this one. It's a total sellout."

"Just like those stupid Cabbage Patch dolls," Maggie muttered, shaking her head. "Or that crazy Midge doll," she added, more to herself than to anyone else.

At that moment, Mulder breezed in, carrying a load of groceries. "They were out of the stick cinnamon in the jars, Tara. I had to buy two little bags."

Tara hopped up from the table and searched through the plastic sacks he'd just placed on the counter.

"The fact you found any is a miracle, Mulder!

Thanks, these will do fine. But I didn't give you enough money."

He gave her a disgusted look and shook her head.

"Tara, you're feeding us, don't sweat it. It wasn't that much." He looked around to his partner and her mother. "Did I miss something. Everyone OK? Nobody got sick, did they?"

Maggie looked up, startled, and then smiled broadly at him. "No, Fox, nothing so dire. We just can't seem to find the one toy Matty really wants for Christmas."

Mulder nodded in understanding. "No chance of a substitution?"

"You've talked to him, Mulder. What do you think?" Scully asked. "We can't find the Lego Dinosaur set."

"He's mentioned it about a hundred times in the last few days," Mulder agreed. "No way will that one get by with a substitute. You can't find it anywhere? How about the net?"

Scully raised an eyebrow and he immediately recognized his mistake at underestimating their search. "Sorry, I should have known better," he apologized.

"He'll just have to be disappointed this year," Tara said sadly.

"Oh, sweetie, he's getting so many other nice things," Maggie tried to reassure her. "I'm sure by the time he's got all his presents opened and around him, he'll never miss that set."

Tara looked unconvinced, but gave Maggie a weak smile and a nod. "Well, I better get dinner started."

"I'll give you a hand," Scully offered, but Mulder grabbed her arm.

"I was hoping we could get out this afternoon, see the sights," he said. He gave his partner a look that said 'just go along with me' and reluctantly, she did.

"Oh, all right. Uh, we'll do clean up detail tonight, Tara," she promised.

Tara was still distracted by her failure at shopping to give it a second thought. "Sure, that would be great," she said flatly.

"Where are we going?" Scully asked when they got outside.

"We're going to find that dinosaur set, or come home on our shields," Mulder informed her.

Scully frowned and caught his arm. "Why? Mulder, it's just one toy."

Mulder shook his head and clasped his hand over hers where it rested on his forearm. "He's a believer, Scully. Maybe we don't share the same object of belief, but I don't want him to be disappointed."

"He's Bill's son," Scully pointed out with a smirk.

"So maybe I can score points with the next generation of Scullys," Mulder said with a grin. "C'mon. We're FBI agents. We track down mutant sewer monsters on a daily basis. How hard can it be to find one toy in a nation filled with strip malls?" He pulled out his cell phone and started to dial.

"Who are you calling?" she asked as they both got into the car.

"The experts in toys," he replied and turned his attention to the phone. "Yeah, Byers, it's me. I have a job for you guys, I think it's right up your alley."

Fourteen toy stores in all the San Diego metro area and five phone calls later, they had yet to hear a good word.

"Not even on Ebay?" Mulder whined. "No, I don't think they have a thousand bucks in the bank somewhere, Langly. That's totally out of line for a kids' toy at Christmas. Yeah, I agree. No, thanks, and thank the other two. I appreciate it. No, I won't count this against your 'case solved' ratio," he added with a chuckle.

He'd no sooner disconnected that call when Scully's cell phone chirped. "Yes sir. No luck? How about your contact in New York? No luck there, either?

No, sir, I don't think we need to tax the Bureau resources any further on this. Yeah, I will. Thanks for trying, sir." She closed down her cell phone and sat next to her partner, looking equally dejected.

"Skinner's a bust."

"So are the boys. Nothing. That rotten toy set doesn't seem to exist on the North American continent!" Mulder proclaimed angrily.

Scully rubbed his arm. "C'mon, it's getting late and we promised Tara we'd be over for dinner by 6."

He took her hand and kissed it lightly. "I just really wanted to find that for him."

Dinner was a lively time, with Matty chatting non-stop about all the dinosaurs he intended to make with his new Lego set when he got it. Tara and Bill tried unsuccessfully to steer his attention toward other subjects, but the young boy was not to be swayed.

After dinner, Mulder was helping Scully do the dishes when his cell phone rang.

"Byers, what have you got for me?" Mulder ended up walking out the back door and into the yard to get better reception. Scully finished up the dishes and was about to join him when he came back inside.

"The guys have a lead," he said quietly.

"On a set? A new one?" Scully asked, biting her lip.

"Yeah, only one hitch: it's in Oakland."

Scully scowled. "Oakland? That's 700 miles away!

Mulder, there's no way we can get something shipped quickly to arrive tomorrow night! Not at this late hour," she said, glancing down at her watch.

"I know. That's why I'm going to drive up and get it," he said firmly.

"Are you nuts! We can't just disappear for, what, 15 hours to go pick up a toy! Mom and Tara are counting on me to help finish wrapping the presents, and Tara's having the Open House tomorrow night, I can't just leave..."

"Scully, you don't have to go!" he interrupted her tirade. "I'll go. If I drop you off at the motel and leave now, I could be up there before daybreak.

"The owner has it on reserve for me, so I'll pick it up when the store opens at 8 and hightail it back down here. I should be back in time for the Open House and no one has to be the wiser."

"Where are you runnin' off to now," came a voice from behind them. Mulder cringed and didn't move, but Scully turned to confront her older brother.

"For your information, Mulder has found that Lego set Matty has been talking about. But it's in Oakland. He's planning on driving up there tonight, picking it up when the store opens and driving back. So just lay off, Bill," she warned.

"No shit, you found one of those sets?" Bill directed his question to Mulder.

Mulder nodded. "It's an independent toy dealer. He has one set, reserved just for me."

"I don't work tomorrow," Bill said, thinking aloud. "I'll go pick it up."

"Bill, the guy won't hand it over to anyone but me. He's a bit, um, well, on the paranoid side. He'll be expecting me, I have to show him identification to get the set."

Bill rolled his eyes and muttered a mild curse. "So we both go. That way you don't have to drive 16 hours straight and I can make sure you get that toy back here in time."

Mulder looked dubious and Scully looked concerned. "C'mon, it's a better plan than letting ER-boy here go by himself!" Bill pointed out with a sneer.

Mulder looked over at Scully, who looked over at her brother. "I'm not so sure of that," she said, frowning.

"Let's do it," Mulder said finally. "If we get started right now, we might even be able to catch a few winks when we get back."

Bill hurried out of the kitchen to let Tara in on the plan while Mulder and Scully waited by the door.

"You will be careful," Scully informed Mulder in no uncertain terms as they waited for Bill.

"Scully, it's not like we're doing any 'funky poaching' here," he huffed. "It's more like a college road trip."

"I saw that movie, Mulder, and you're not making any points with me by bringing that up," she said, arms crossing her chest. "I want you to get that toy, but I want you both back here, safe and sound, tomorrow evening."

"I'll even be a good boy at Midnight Mass tomorrow night," he promised, two-fingered salute held high.

"I'll be the one asleep on your shoulder."

"Dana, you can drive your rental back to the hotel, we'll take my car," Bill announced when he joined them. "Got your cell phone, Mulder?"

"Fully charged," Mulder said, patting his inside jacket pocket.

"So is mine. Let's lock and load," Bill said firmly and Mulder followed him out the door, after stealing a kiss from Scully.

Mulder used his insomnia as an excuse to take the first shift driving. He was a little concerned that Bill would want to take this opportunity to rag on him about what a horrible partner he was and how he was ruining Scully's life, but he lucked out. By the time they hit the first interchange on the I-5, Bill had the seat fully reclined in the big SUV and was sawing logs and remained that way until the northern side of Orange County. When Bill took the wheel, Mulder politely returned the favor.

The sun was just peeking over the mountains when they pulled into the parking lot of the little strip mall in Oakland. The toy story, aptly named 'North Pole, Limited' was on the far corner of the mall and Mulder noted that it was an hour and a half until they opened. A Denny's shared the parking lot and Bill pulled the big car over to a spot near the restaurant's door.

Over bacon, eggs, hash browns, pancakes and coffee, Bill couldn't hold his curiosity any longer.

"So, you're doing this to score points with my mom, right?" he asked, pouring half the carafe of maple syrup on his short stack of pancakes.

"Nope. I don't need points with your mom. She likes me already." Mulder held back a smirk when Bill snorted his disbelief. "If you really want to know why I'm doing this, Bill, I'll tell you. I just don't want Matty to be disappointed this early in life."

Bill looked Mulder over hard, as if seeing him for the first time. Then he picked up a packet of sweetener and dumped it in his coffee. "Well, thanks," he said grudgingly.

"Hey, Bill, if it had been a present for you, I wouldn't have crossed the street. Does that make you feel better?" Mulder asked innocently.

Bill let a full-fledged smile crack his face. "Yeah, well, I didn't even go that far, Mulder. I didn't get you a damned thing."

Mulder happily returned the grin. "Then we're even," he said and both men went back to their breakfast.

It was eight o'clock on the dot when they pulled the car back over to the toy store. A little man who was a dead ringer for Bob Newhart was unlocking the door.

He was dressed in a bright green suit with a jaunty pointed hat perched on his head. His gold frame glasses just barely hugged the end of his pug nose.

"Gentlemen, may I be of assistance?" he asked formally.

"I believe you have a package for me. Fox Mulder," Mulder said, pulling out his FBI wallet and showing his identification.

The older man took the wallet reverently and studied the picture, then the man standing before him. "Oh, we've been waiting a long time to meet you, Agent Mulder," he said happily. He handed Mulder back his wallet and stuck out his own hand. "Maurice Selves, at your service!"

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Selves. You've been a subscriber to the Lone Gunman long?" Mulder asked congenially.

"Oh, yes. You might say we were the very first subscribers," the old man replied with a gleam in his eye, "firm believers, yes indeed. Now, I know you gentlemen are in a hurry. We can't disappoint little Matthew, can we?" He nodded at them both as he took his leave to go to the back of the store and behind a bright green and red curtain.

"Boy, this guy really takes this stuff seriously," Bill muttered, looking around. The toy store was filled with toys, and was decorated right out of a gingerbread house cookbook. Bill touched a giant swirled lollipop near the door. "It's even sticky!" he proclaimed.

"Yeah, and you want to know how it got sticky?" Mulder asked. Bill turned slightly green and backed away. "I didn't' think so," Mulder grumbled.

Maurice returned with a good-sized package and handed it to Mulder with a smile. "Will that be cash or charge and would you like to have it gift-wrapped?"

Bill stepped up to the counter, pulling out his wallet. "Good deed finished, Mulder. Now it's my turn. And yes, I'd like that gift-wrapped. Can you sign the tag 'To Matty, From Santa Claus'?"

"Oh, yes. I have power of attorney," Maurice said with a grin and a wink.

When the toy had been wrapped and the bill paid, Mulder and Bill headed out to the car. The sky looked gloomy. "We better move it. We might hit some rain on the way back," Bill commented.

Seven and a half hours later, it wasn't rain that hit them. It was traffic. Bill glared down at the clock on the dashboard, which glared back at him an angry, digital 3:30 p.m. "Where the hell did all this traffic come from?" he demanded.

Mulder had his ear tuned to the all news station they'd found on the radio. "It's a jack-knifed semi about three miles ahead," he said glumly. "They're suggesting alternate routes."

"Well, it's a damned good thing I ate breakfast, or this would turn into the 'Donner Party' real fast," Bill growled. "So what's an alternate route? I promised Tara we'd be back by 5 and that's in only two and a half hours. Back roads take longer than the interstate."

"Have you got a map in this tank?" Mulder sneered as he pulled open the glove box. He finally found a rather worn map of California. "How old is this thing?" he asked as he gingerly unfolded it to keep from ripping it more than it was already.

"Who the hell cares? It's not like they change 'em that often. It'll get us home. Just find a road that doesn't go through every podunk farm town."

Mulder had a brief flash of his conversation with Maggie exactly one year before and shuddered. She told him of a Christmas Eve long past and a family lost on back roads. Like father, like son. But this time, Mulder would be navigating and hopefully, would manage to get them to their appointed destination in time.

Two Hours Later

"Son of a Bitch!" Bill howled as he looked at the flat spare tire lying on the ground before him.

"What asshole would sell a car with a flat spare?" he demanded.

Mulder was crouched just a few feet away loosening lugnuts on the flattened rear passenger tire. "I told you, we should just call a tow truck," Mulder gasped out as the lugnut refused to budge.

"It's Christmas eve, for Chrissakes, dumbshit! A tow truck tonight would cost a fortune," Bill growled.

He looked up and down the lonely two-lane road. Not a house in sight. "I better call Tara."

"Do you even know where we are?" Mulder asked, giving up on the lugnut and rising to his feet.

"We're...south of Los Angeles," Bill guessed, continuing to dial.

"And west of Las Vegas and east of the ocean, that tells us nothing!" Mulder grumbled. He leaned against the car, resisting the urge to kick the shit out of the side panel. "I've always thought your sister had a good sense of direction. Oh, wait, that's on your mother's side. Guess you missed out on that gene, huh, Bill?" he taunted.

"Honey, it's me," Bill said into the phone, ignoring Mulder's swipe. "Yeah, well, we might be a little late. OK, yeah, we're sort of lost and we have a flat. The spare's flat, too. Tara, why would I check that, we just bought the damned car three months ago?" He walked down the road several feet so that Mulder wasn't privy to the rest of the conversation.

Mulder shook his head and looked down at both flat tires. Only to him, disasters of this magnitude only seemed to happen to Fox Mulder. "No good deed goes unpunished," he muttered to himself.

The crunch of gravel on the road behind caused him to spin around. A cherry red Mercedes convertible was slowing to a stop just a couple of yards from their stranded SUV. While Mulder watched, an elderly gentleman with a flowing white beard and mane of hair stepped out of the convertible and walked toward him.

"You boys seem to be in a bit of a jam," the older man said cheerfully. "Can I lend a hand?"

Mulder looked at the man, who had to be seventy if he was a day and cringed. "Our spare is flat," he said, not wanted to insult the gentleman by pointing out that he was probably too old to be changing tires on deserted highways.

"Does it have a hole, or just need air?" the man asked as he surveyed the tire iron and the spare lying on the ground near Mulder's feet.

"I think it's just out of air. It's a new car," Mulder replied with a shrug.

"Detroit! No body pays attention to craftsmanship anymore," the old man said with a shake of his head.

"Well, I guess it's a good thing I came along. I have an air pump in my trunk. Keep it for my recumbent bicycle. We can have you two fellas back on the road in no time!" He clapped his hands once, gave Mulder a congenial wink of his eye and headed back to his car.

"We either start walking to a town or I start calling around for a divorce lawyer," Bill griped as he walked up next to Mulder. "Who's the old guy?"

"Don't know. He just stopped to help. He says he has a hand pump in his trunk."

"Hot damn!" Bill exclaimed. "Shit, Mulder, our luck is turning!"

The old man was good to his word and in a matter of a few minutes, the spare was inflated and the flat changed out. Bill tossed the flat in the trunk of his car while Mulder started to pull out his wallet.

The old man caught his hand and shook his head.

"No need, son. Consider it an early Christmas present. Now, you two better get on the road. You have an early Christmas roll call and Matty's been waiting months for that set."

Mulder looked up to shake the old man's hand and blinked. The man and his convertible were gone.

"Um, Bill," Mulder said shakily.

"Grab that tire iron, will ya? We gotta get movin'!"

"Bill, did you see where the old man went?"

Bill looked up and around the side of the car. "It's Christmas Eve, Mulder. He probably had places he needed to be."

Mulder frowned, walked over to where the convertible had been sitting, and kicked at the rocks on the side of the road. Something shiny caught his eye. He stooped to pick it up and saw it was a gold button, embossed with the letters S. C.

It was getting close to eleven o'clock when they pulled into Bill and Tara's driveway. Scully ran up to the car, pulled Mulder out before he could reach for the door handle and kissed him for all he was worth. When they broke the kiss, she led him into the house and kissed him again for good measure.

"Not that I'm objecting, but Scully, you act like I was gone for months!" he exclaimed happily. "What gives?"

"Mulder, when Tara got that call from Bill, we were sure you guys would be stuck out there all night!

I'm just happy you made it home, and in one piece," she told him. "And with the toy," she added as they watched Bill deposit the brightly colored package under the tree.

"Yeah, about the toy," Mulder mused, but before he could finish his thought Scully was pulling him out the door to the car so they could leave for Midnight Mass.

It wasn't until after church, when they were back at their hotel, that Mulder got a chance to tell Scully his suspicions.

"OK, so the owner of the toy store was named Elf?"

"No, Selves, Scully, with two 's'es. And he just looked, well, elfish. Not to mention that crack about having the power of attorney to sign for Santa Claus."

"I'm pretty sure that was just a joke, Mulder," she said with a grin.

"But what about the old guy who helped us on the road?"

"So you think Santa traded in his sleigh for a Benz?" Scully asked with a gleam in her eye.

"Scully, the button I found said S. C. I think that pretty much narrows down the list of possible owners," he said, crossing his arms. "Besides, he knew about Matty and the dinosaur set. I know I never mentioned anything about it, but he did. How could he know about it if he wasn't the Big Guy himself?"

"But Mulder, if it was Santa Claus, why didn't he just deliver the Lego set for Matty to Bill's house tonight? Why make you go through all that trouble?"

"He didn't make us go through all that trouble, Scully - we did! We're the ones who decided to call all over creation to find a toy at a store 700 miles away. We're the ones who decided to get off the interstate and get lost. We're even the ones to run over that barbwire on the road and puncture the tire! It wasn't like any of that was his idea. But when we were stranded and couldn't complete our mission, his mission, really, he came to our aid!"

Scully blinked and then smiled broadly. "So, now you believe in Santa Claus, too?" she asked sweetly.

"How could I not, Scully? He got me exactly what I wanted!"

"We haven't opened a single present," she pointed out.

"True, but what I want isn't wrapped in foil with ribbons," he said, enfolding her in soft embrace.

"What I want for Christmas is right here, in my arms."

She tilted her head to kiss him tenderly on the mouth. "Then we both got what we wanted for Christmas."

The end.

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