Title: Mulder's Creek: 06. The Gray in Red (Christmas!)
Summary: Mulder tries to convince Scully that Santa Claus is not only real, but also an alien.
Mulder puts the last pieces of his Christmas village on his dresser while Scully rips open the bag of fake snow. Tiny skaters stand frozen on a glass pond, waiting to be plugged in so they can move. Santa in his sleigh poses equally motionless in his sleigh far above the houses.
"Where's the new house?" Scully asks.
Mulder pulls a box out of the top drawer of his desk. "Right here," he says, opening the box to reveal a delicate gray church complete with tiny stain glass windows.
"Do you have any idea where your mother gets them?" Scully asks, sprinkling the snow over everything.
"I'm pretty sure she buys them at the Christmas Dove. That's where I saw them for the first time, anyway, and begged to have them."
"It's sort of a neat tradition you and your mom have, a new building every Christmas."
"Yeah, it's pretty cool that she has never forgotten a year," Mulder says, putting the church next to the post office.
Scully runs her index finger over the wire deer. "Do you realize that you just said something relatively nice about your mother?"
"Yup. I feel better now. When I came home from school a couple of days ago she was reading some stuff about babies, to help her remember what they're like, she said."
"So you don't think that there are any sinister plans for this baby, then?"
"Let's just say I'm much more hopeful than I was before," Mulder says, turning on the power strip.
"That's great to here," Scully says. "God this looks pretty." She points to the village.
As the tiny lights on the tiny trees twinkle, Mulder says, "I know."
Thursday at the Elementary School-
The teens and 3rd graders exchanged presents earlier in the session, and the inevitable “awes" over the cuteness of the obviously handmade gifts from the younger kids melted the hearts of even the hardest teen hearts. Even Krycek, who had been reluctantly drafted a few weeks earlier as a buddy as an alternative to a month's suspension for some shadowy misdeed, was moved almost to tears by the effort his little buddy put into his present. The director, aptly noticing that emotions were running, suggests a cathartic snowball fight outside.
Scully frowns a little at the suggestion, because as she told Mulder, she really doesn't like being cold and wet, but shrugs and goes with it when everyone else crows enthusiastically about the idea. After throwing on her coat, she chases after her buddy, who is much more eager to get outside.
"Doggett, I have something for you," a small voice pipes. Doggett turns to look and gets a snowball in the face for his trouble. His buddy half yells, half laughs as Doggett tries to run him down. Skinner and his buddy catch the boy and keep him from running away until Doggett can extract his revenge.
Reyes sounds very business like as she instructs Scully, Fowley and their buddies from behind the safety of their hastily built fort. "What you have to do is to pack the snow together very tightly so that it will stay together when you throw it. Watch," she says, lobbing the snowball, which hits Mulder squarely on the shoulder. Then, as he grabs an armload of snow and charges, she demonstrates the art of covering your head with your arms. She shrieks as the snow finds its way down the back of her jacket. Seeing that their leader is in peril, the three little girls charge Mulder and knock him onto his butt. He protests as they pelt him with snow, and systematically begin to bury him in it.
He turns pleading eyes on Fowley and Scully. "You aren't going to participate in this act of barbarism against a defenseless man, are you?"
"No," Fowley says.
"But we're not going to help, either," Scully says, and they walk back and start shoring up the side of the fort, leaving Mulder to the mercy of the younger girls.
Friday Capeside high-
Reyes returns from caroling at a retirement home less than five minutes after the end of the school day. The carolers are told to go to their lockers immediately, so those going home on the bus won't miss theirs. Reyes doesn't go home on the bus, but since she doesn't want to miss Fowley, either, she does dash to her locker as instructed.
She's putting her stuff in her back pack when the door behind her suddenly slams, and when she spins around, Fowley is standing in front of her, looking far less than happy.
"What's wrong?" Reyes asks.
"Oh, nothing. I just had another lovely discussion with Mr. CSM about my history grade."
"I thought you were doing ok in that class."
"I am. I want to do better than ok, though, but he won't let me do anything for extra credit over break."
"That sucks. I'm sure your grade will be fine, though."
"I'd like to think so... How was caroling?" Fowley asks.
"Um...depressing. which reminds me... Skinner and I are going with our dad to Connecticut for Christmas. We should be back on the 27th, do you mind waiting until then to exchange gifts?"
"No, that's fine. Let's get going, though, the halls seem strange with no one in them."
"It spooks you?" Reyes teases.
"Oh yes. You only moved here recently, but local lore has it that the high school was built on the site of a house in which two people committed suicide in on Christmas eve. Every few years someone who lingers late at school right before Christmas reports to see shadowy figures floating down the hallways."
"You're pulling my leg."
"You want to risk that?" Fowley says smiling, and then races Reyes out the door.
Scully plays with the Christmas village while Mulder finishes wrapping his last minute Christmas presents.
"Boy, you cut it to the wire."
"Yeah, I like to live dangerously."
"Why am I here?"
"Why are any of us here? Your parents loved each other very much and-"
"You know that's not what I mean!" Scully says, throwing a stuffed animal at him. "Why am I here right now? You said that you have a plan. What plan?"
He looks at her gleefully. “We're going to catch Santa this year."
Scully does not hide her dubiousness. "Mulder, Santa isn't real. Remember? They told us years ago."
"Real? What's real? I say he's as real as you or I."
"Mulder, it's statically impossible for one man to circumnavigate the entire world and leave presents for all the Christian children."
"For a man, yes, that'd be impossible. But Santa isn't a man."
"Well what is he then, a good spirit?"
"He's an alien, of course."
"Aliens have technology that we can't hope to explain or understand. If anyone can do it, it'd be an alien, particularly a gray since they are the ones most often sited in this country. And, moreover, alien abductees often report that they're missing time, so it's obvious that they also have the power to manipulate time, which negates the argument that no one could deliver all the gifts in one night."
"Also, UFO sightings are also more numerous during the month of December than any other month, which would lead one to believe that he was doing test runs before hand."
"Mulder, you're insane."
"But you're still going to help me catch him, right?"
"Well, yeah, but-"
"Great. I'll have a plan ready by Sunday night," Mulder says enthusiastically. Scully walks out of his room, shaking her head.
Saturday morning, church basement-
Fowley hands a pair of baskets to a woman and wishes her a merry Christmas. Grams says, "That's the last of the volunteers. We'll deliver this basket ourselves on the way home. Could you bring it out to the car?"
"Ok Grams," Fowley says, glancing in the basket. She notices a tiny pair of jeans and a sweater. "This family has a little kid?"
"Yes. A little boy, three years old."
"But there aren't any toys in this basket," Fowley points out, thinking of the other baskets going to families with children.
Grams shakes her head sadly. "We got the family's name at the last minute. We'd spent most of the donations already, so we were just glad to be able to make up another basket at all."
Fowley looks at the little outfit and imagines the person who'll wear them waking up Christmas morning to nothing to play with. "Grams, can we stop at a store before we drop off the basket?"
"Of course, Dear."
"Good. I need to buy a couple of things."
When they get there she picks up playdough, a coloring book and crayons, and a set of small cars, then has them wrapped. She puts them, and a box of candy canes, in the basket, and blushes a little when she notices how pleased Grams looks.
Location unknown, daytime-
Small figures scurry back and forth from what looks like a workshop to the outdoors. They are all weighted down with brightly colored packages, which they place in a cloth receptacle inside a red vehicle. Package after package is placed within, and yet the receptacle does not overflow.
The last few beings in the workshop look up from their labors in alarm as an imposing figure, resplendent in red, hurries through scowling and barking orders. He storms out to oversee what is being done at the vehicle, shakes his head impatiently, and hurries to another building.
Potter home, Sunday afternoon-
Scully struggles to get her nephew into his coat. Alexander whines, and demands that Bessie comes too. Scully silently counts to ten and reminds him that his mother isn't home. He pouts and finally allows her to get him ready. Scully wonders what on earth possessed her to agree to take him to buy a gift for Bessie, and then sledding, while Bessie shops, instead of countering with a suggestion that she entertain him at home with movies. Alexander breaks her train of thought by tugging on her hand, apparently now eager to get going.
They are only half way to the nearby store when Alexander stops walking, and raises his arms in that universal gesture of mute appeal that all toddlers use when they're tired of walking. Scully sighs and picks him up. As soon as they walk into the store he wiggles to be put down.
The boy wanders the shop in awe. It's a small country store, but big enough if you yourself are less than three feet tall. He looks up at Scully, wide-eyed, and says, "I pick?"
"Yup," Scully agrees. "Pick something nice for Mommy."
The boy screws up his face into a look of fierce concentration, and proceeds to examine everything in the store. Scully figures that since he's only two he's going to pick something that he really wants to himself, but that Bessie will be thrilled by the first present from her son anyway. So she's moderately surprised when he leads her to a selection of live plants. He points and says, "Red one, Aunt Scully. Red one for Mommy." Scully pays for the poinsettia and brings her proud nephew home to put away his gift before going sledding.
Leary Home, later that afternoon-
Mulder watches anxiously for a delivery truck. Though he did joke with Scully about living dangerously, he was worried that this last gift, her gift, wouldn't come on time. The shipping company promised a Sunday delivery, but as the day wears on he becomes more convinced that they are not going to show up.
Just as he is about to lose hope, the delivery truck pulls into the driveway. He bounds down the stairs two at a time, and makes it to the door before the driver has the chance to knock. "Hi, sign here please," The man says, handing Mulder a clipboard, then trades him the package for it. “Thanks. You have a merry Christmas."
"You too," Mulder says, then turns to go back inside. He's barely in the door when the phone rings. He grabs it, cutting off its shrill cry mid-ring. “Hello?" he says, juggling the box from arm to arm before putting it down.
"Hey, this is Scully."
"You said you'd have a planned a way for us to carry out that insanity by tonight. If you still want to go through with it, that is."
"Of course I do!" Mulder says, sounding indignant.
"So, what's the plan, then?"
"Well... I gave it some thought, and I realized we have to do this at your house."
"My house? Why?" Scully asks.
"Because of Alexander. Santa stopped delivering presents to my house years ago, but he'll be coming to your house because your nephew is a believer."
"There's almost a logic to that...will your parents object?"
"No, I'll tell them I plan to go to a late service with you, like always, and then 'forget' how late it's getting when we exchange gifts."
"We're still going to the service for real though, right? Bessie would be mad if I didn't."
"Of course. And it's perfect because it's so late we won't have to wait long afterwards for Santa to show up."
"Whatever Mulder," Scully says, sighing. "See you tomorrow night."
Christmas Eve day, McPhee home-
Skinner finishes packing and brings his suitcase out to the car. Reyes is running from window to window, prompting Skinner to stop her and ask what she's doing.
"I'm making sure all the windows are locked."
"Of the few crimes committed in Capeside, breaking and entering is too mundane to rank."
Reyes looks sheepish. “So maybe I should call Kersh and tell him not to drive by the house when we're gone?"
“Actually, don't call him," Skinner says.
"Oh, I think that Doggett would appreciate extra time that Kersh has to spend on pointless things this week."
"You know, I think you're right," Reyes says, smiling.
Skinner is about to help Reyes bring out the presents they're taking with them, when Mr. McPhee comes down with his own suitcase in hand. "You kids all set to go?"
"Yes, Dad," they say in unison.
"Good. Your grandmother is expecting us there by dinner, and if we leave now we should make it. She sounded thrilled that we'll be seeing her."
Reyes and Skinner exchange a guilty look. “Maybe we can invite her to come up here for Easter," Reyes suggests.
"That'd be nice," Mr. McPhee agrees. "Let's hit the road."
Skinner settles himself into the back seat, because Reyes gets carsick in back, and thinks about seeing his mother for the first time in six months.
Dusk, somewhere in Capeside-
Doggett rustles his booklet of Christmas carols and shuffles his feet until they begin walking again. He purposely bumps into his sister and whispers, "Why haven't we found a way to get out of this yet?"
"I don't think there is a way out," Gretchen whispers back. "Our family was put under a curse- freezing out butts off singing to people who wish we wouldn't atones for the sins committed by our ancestors."
"Are we descendants of Hitler?" Doggett asks.
"Not that I know of. We're not at all German."
"Then who could have been so evil as to warrant such a punishment on us? I didn't even get to see my girlfriend before she left," Doggett complains.
"I don't know who it was, little brother. Look on the bright side, only eight more houses, then Mom and Dad will feel enough pity about our cold-induced whines to let us go home."
"Joy. Then onto arguments and alcohol abuse."
"It wouldn't be Christmas without them," Gretechen says, her voice totally devoid of irony. Doggett shrugs and looks for lyrics to 'We Three Kings.'
6pm near the high school-
Fowley and Spender are walking back to her house. Spender grabs her arm when she slips on ice. She mumbles her thanks and nod when he warns her to be more careful.
"It was nice of your parents to invite me over for dinner," she tells him.
"I'm just glad they're back from New Mexico. They were gone for months."
"My parents are spending their vacation in the Caribbean. Not that I'd have seen them even if they had stayed home."
"It must be rough to go without seeing them for so long," Spender says sympathetically.
“Not really. To tell the truth, I much prefer living with Grams over how life was the last year or so with my parents."
"I bet you clashed with them a lot back then- What's that?" Spender asks, pointing to a second story window in the high school.
“I guess it's..." Fowley trails off when she really looks and sees what looks like a white figure pass by the window. "Oh, it can't be." Her eyes get wider when a second figure trails after it.
"Can't be what?" Spender asks, sounding equally alarmed.
"I told Reyes a story a couple of days ago. Supposedly the high school was built on the site of a pair of suicides. You must have heard that story." She pauses when Spender nods. "It can't be anything but a story, right?"
"It has to be. There are no such thing as-" Spender and Fowley freeze when they hear an unearthly scream float down from the school. Then they turn and run all the way to Fowley's house.
Two minutes later, inside the high school-
“That makes eight!" Frohike exclaims happily as he rewinds the tape.
"This is even better than last year," Langly says. "I'm glad we finally figure out how to run the ghosts along a track. It freaks people out more that they move so smoothly."
Byers resets the ghosts, and watches for more people. He calls to the others "Does anyone know exactly why the historical society has paid us to do this for the past three years?"
"Nope, I'm just glad they paid cash," Forhike says.
"You two never pay attention. It's not the 'historical society' officially, just one member of it. It's her theory that the Christmas Ghosts will gain notoriety and protect this school as a historical site when and if someone tries to demolish it to build a new school," Langly explains.
"But there aren't any real ghosts, right?" Byers asks, sounding a little worried. Langly shrugs.
11:45 pm, Potter home-
Bessie carries her sleeping son up to bed and hisses at Scully and Mulder that she will skin them alive if they wake him up. They nod seriously, and promise they won't. Scully taps her on the shoulder.
"Bessie, you look really tired. I know where you left the presents 'from Santa' do you want Mulder and I to put them out for you so you can go to bed now too?"
At first Bessie smiles, but then she looks suspicious. "What's the catch?"
"Can we have chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast?" Scully coaxes.
"Ok, you've got a deal. Good night. And Mulder? Please don't walk home without a flash light this time. Your mom was quite upset the last time, as I recall," Bessie says, walking up the stairs.
"I'll bring it with me," Mulder whispers. "Merry Christmas." Bessie nods and disappears up stairs.
Scully walks over to a latched closet and hands Mulder several packages. "Put them in front, that's how Bessie mentioned she was going to do it." Mulder brings them over to the tree and begins artfully arranging them.
He picks one up and reads the label. "Hey, this one is addressed to you."
"I know. Bessie told him that all good kids get presents, and since I'm not an adult yet..." Scully shrugs helplessly.
"She also lets him think you're good?" Mulder asks, and ducks in case Scully punches him.
Instead she just mutters. "One of these days..."
While Mulder puts out the rest of the gifts, Scully hangs the already full stockings on the mantle. "I wonder what Bessie bought herself for her stocking."
"What do you mean?" Mulder asks.
"Well, since Brody isn't here..." She stops and pulls a small package out of her pocket to put in it. "There. Now at least one thing in it will be a surprise for her."
"Make that two," Mulder says, handing her another tiny package. "My mom thought of that too."
"Now what do we do?" Scully asks.
"Now we hid behind the couch and wait."
"For how long?" she asks with a bit of a whine in her voice.
"Not long, I'm sure. Maybe we'll hear him and see the sleigh too."
"Oh boy," Scully says, trying to find a comfortable spot behind the couch. Finally she reaches over the back of the couch and drags all the pillows down to them. "No sense sitting on the hard floor." Mulder tries not to laugh.
11:55 Capeside high school-
Byers is gathering up the ghosts when he thinks he hears something behind him. "Langly? Forhike? Was that you?" Then he looks out the window and sees the other two boys lugging out the sound equipment out to the van. It must have been all in my mind, he tells himself.
He starts carrying the ghosts again when he hears the same noise. "This isn't funny," he says to no one in particular. A little louder he says, "If there's someone here, come out now." the noise repeats for a third time, and this time he's finally able to place the sound- it's a door opening slightly.
Clutching the ghosts to his chest, he decides that he has to investigate. Since they are the only ones who are supposed to be there, it's their duty to report any intruders to the police. He walks down the moonlit hallway until he comes to a door that's open slightly. He steels himself than rips the door open. The door hits the wall with a bang because he opens it too quickly, and he almost jumps out of his skin at the sound. There's no one there.
"Hey Byers, where are you?" Frohike calls as he and Langly come down the hall.
"What are you doing in here?" Langly asks, poking his head into the room.
"As it turns out, nothing. I thought I heard something, but the room's empty."
"You're just letting yourself get spooked," Frohike observes. "You do that a lot."
"I do not!" Byers says defensively.
"Yes you do. Remember when we were in the woods Halloween night? You were sure you heard something then too."
"I did hear something! It was Fowley with a broken ankle!"
"Ok, so one thing you heard that night turned out to actually-" Frohike stops when Langly elbows him in the ribs. "Hey! That hurts."
"Shut up and look over there!" Langly says. They all turn to look at the window. A vapory figure smiles at them, and holds out its arm for another approaching figure that's not ten feet from the trio.
The three boys shriek and run out of the school as fast as they can. When they're safely in the car Byers finally dares to look up at the window. He nearly faints when the pair of apparitions waves to him.
12:30 am Potter home-
Scully is nearly asleep, and leaning heavily against her favorite couch pillow. She yawns and reaches over the couch back, feeling around for the throw that's on the cushions. Mulder's not sure if he should laugh or try to keep her awake. Just as she drags the throw over to their side, they hear something from the vicinity of the fire place. As she wraps herself in the blanket she tries to place the sound, it sounds like hail.
Mulder puts his finger to his lip, and kneels so he can just barely see over the back of the couch. Scully crouches next to him, eager to see what is making his eyes so wide. She peers up and sees a figure standing by the fireplace, brushing the soot off his clothes. He is large, and the red coat he wears does nothing to disguise that, nor do the red pants. His black boots and wide belt are out of the Clement's poem, as is the red cap on his head. In fact, Scully thinks, if it wasn't for the gray skin and the enormous almond shaped eyes, she would have thought that the poem was an autobiographical piece.
The creature puts out his finger, and startles them both by making the pattern the lights on the tree blinked in change. A noise, something like a laugh, comes out of its mouth. It continues its work, and puts even more presents under the tree. Then, as suddenly as it came, it goes to the fireplace and begins to disappear up it. Mulder jumps to his feet and grabs Scully's arm, then pulled her out the door. She winces, then relaxes when the door doesn't slam behind them.
Mulder points up in the sky, and Scully blinks, and rubs her eyes. The sleigh is just pulling away from the roof of the house, and small green creatures, very much like reindeer because of the horns, soar high into the sky. "Do you see it? Do you see it?" Mulder asks her excitedly.
"I see something," Scully admits. They watch until the sight fades from the view completely, leaving only the dark star-speckled sky to look at.
As soon as they are back inside, Scully disappears to her room to fetch Mulder's present. He takes the opportunity to retrieve her gift from where Bessie had let him hid it earlier in the night.
Scully gives him her gift first, and she's tickled by how young and excited he looks as he tears off the wrapper. "Hey! I can't believe you found this!" he exclaims, looking down at Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials. "Every bookstore I looked in told me it is out of print."
"It is," Scully says. "But one of Bessie's friends works in a rare books store and reserved a copy for me when one came in during a bookstore liquidation."
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Mulder says, all smiles.
"Maybe you can look our friend up," Scully suggests.
"I will, but later on. You need to open this first," Mulder says, handing her his box.
Mulder watches impatiently as Scully carefully unwraps his gift to her. He is nearly to the stage of wiggling when she at last lifts the top off the box and looks in.
"Oh Mulder," she says, sounding awe stricken. She lifts out a blue teddy bear wearing a Santa hat. "I've never had a Vermont Teddy Bear before."
He shifts from one foot to the other. "We've been friends forever, so I wanted to give you something that would be guaranteed for the rest of your life. He's called 'Blue Christmas' and I think that if I spent one without you I would be blue, too." Scully smiles and gives him a quick hug.
After a cup of hot chocolate, with candy canes stuck in them of course, Mulder decides that he has to go home before his parents worry. Scully suggests he go out the back door because it's less likely to slam than the front. He nods and checks for his flashlight.
As he's about to go out the door Scully looks up and makes a quick decision. "Wait a second," she says, and puts her hands on both his shoulders. She pushes herself up on her tippy toes and softly kisses the corner of his mouth.
He looks both pleased and startled, so she points to the mistletoe that Bessie must have hung in the doorway. "It's the rule, you know," she says in way of an explanation. He nods wordlessly. "Merry Christmas Mulder."
Mulder walks home, flashlight in hand, smile on face, whistling Joy To The World for company.
This Episode of Mulder's Creek included music from :
Sponge ("Christmas Day")
Stay tuned for scenes from the next Mulder's Creek
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