written for Haven's 2004 Ornament This challege

Title: A Tree Underground

Author: Neoxphile

Timeline: Christmas 2001

Disclaimer: The characters belong to Chris Carter, Iím just dusting them off.

Archive: link only

Summary: Itís not much of a tree


If Iím perfectly honest with you and myself both, itís not much of a tree. Youíve seen the Charlie Brown tree in that Christmas special, right? Iím sure you have, even I did once when I was trying to block out the noise. Well, that tree, as small and bent as it was, puts this one to shame.

Iím not complaining, mind you. In a way this tree is fairly special since you rarely find trees under the ground. All this sand, Iím surprised he didnít come back with a cactus. He joked about that, but not out loud. Even though there are few thoughts of his I donít overhear Ė not that I want to Ė it came as a surprise when he brought the thing down here wearing a slightly apologetic, slightly proud look on his face. I told him it was great, since thatís what he really wanted to hear. But not from me, of course.

The problem came when he asked me about traditions, and wanted to know how Iíd decorated trees in the past so he could venture out again, even though itís dangerous, to try to replicate past holiday cheer. I thought a little, then offered the fact that one year, amongst my friends at the school, weíd strung snowflakes cut from white paper. I know he expected me to say more, but there isnít really more.

I was only eight when they came for me, and told me that I was special. Like all kids that age, I didnít want to leave my parents, but my parents let me go, thinking it would be good for me. Youíll be famous, youíll be richÖwhat parent doesnít dream that for their child? Itís funny, but every night Iíd cry myself to sleep, wishing that I could stop pretending to be this big deal, never-lose prodigy, but now, I canít even remember exactly what they looked like. I know they both had dark hair, and I think my dad wore glasses. Sometimes I wonder about them, hoping theyíre not dead, but they could be. For all I know, they were killed around the time they drilled that hole in my head, and Agent Scully told me sheíd get them, but didnít. If she could have, she would have, and since she didnítÖ.I just hope it didnít hurt too much.

Maybe we celebrated Christmas when I was a little boy, I really donít remember now. Every time I try to imagine a tree, the ornaments turn into chess pieces, and I stop imagining because it makes me think of manipulating, having been manipulated, and being a pawn in sinister games.

I think maybe Mulder can read minds too, because as I stood there, and these things ran through my mind, he smiled. A real smile, not like the sad ones he isnít even aware of when heís thinking of Agent Scully and their baby, and said " Thatís good enough, Gibson. Paper snowflakes are enough."

But itís not enough. Enough would be him going home and spending time with his son, instead of a boy his relationship to is shared experience and shared fear instead of shared blood, and enough would be me seeing my folks again to ask them if we had any traditions before I was taken away from them; enough would be an escape from walls of sand I keep dreaming are going to fall and crush us both under their weight.

A tree under ground decorated with paper snowflakesÖ I know it means something, but Iím not sure what.

The end

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