Mulder moved over to give Beth a hand up the steps as MJ ran past them. Frohike was behind her, carrying Louise. “I don’t think they’re slick, but no need to take chances.”
“Thanks. It’s so good to be out.” Beth gave Mulder a hug.
“Boy is that the truth,” Mulder returned the hug.
They stood on the porch for a moment, just looking up at the blue sky. Frohike passed them with a wink for Mulder, getting Louise inside and out of the chill. “You know, even knowing what the children can do, I doubted we would ever see this again.”
“I know,” he squeezed her shoulder.
“It’s the wrong time of year, but I was thinking about that first return of the sun we celebrated. Remember, Katy was just a baby and Scully was recovering.”
“I didn’t even think about that this year,” his voice had a hint of guilt in it.
“It wasn’t a good time, Mulder. We couldn’t have taken the babies out in that. Since we kind of do our own thing here, we could celebrate any time.”
He grinned. “We could, couldn’t we?”
“I think we deserve it.”
He laughed out loud then. “Even the birds?”
“We’re less likely to freak this time. Okay, maybe not everything, but a big celebration sounds good to me. And it would be a good opportunity for everyone to meet Samantha.”
“I like it.” He held the door and let her precede him into the clinic, but his mind had gone back to that first celebration.
Both Kevin and Walter looked up as the door opened and Mulder joined them. Kevin turned to Walter. “He’s got an idea,” he said with a sigh.
“Hey, I’m not that bad,” Mulder spoke defensively.
“Yeah, he does,” Walter agreed with Kevin and they both turned back to Mulder who just glared at them for a long moment.
“Okay, but I think it’s a good one,” he finally admitted, and continued without giving them time to give him any more grief. “According to the calendar, we’ve missed Thanksgiving, and I think Maggie’s the only one up here who would really celebrate Christmas, but I think we should do something, have a party, whatever.”
Walter looked over at Kevin again and nodded. “Not bad.”
“Yeah, there’s a lot to celebrate this year. If you don’t want to call it Christmas, we could call it Solstice. They’ve been celebrating the return of the sun for a long time,” Kevin offered.
“Yeah, and if we combine all the celebrations into one big one we could cover everyone,” Walter agreed.
Mulder took his seat, smiling. Let them make fun of his ideas; this one seemed to have caught on pretty quick.
“What did you do for Christmas when you were a kid, Mulder?” Skinner looked over at him.
“That’s when Mom became her most Jewish. In fact that’s about the only time she was Jewish,” he grimaced. “But multiple days of presents went over pretty well with us as kids. After Samantha . . . we didn’t really do anything. I think Dad put up a tree the next year, but he may have just been trying to get Mom’s goat, snap her back to herself.”
“Did it work?”
Mulder shook his head. “But I want it to be different for Katy. Solstice sounds good to me and everyone can celebrate and be thankful at the same time.”
“Muldermas?” Kevin grinned.
Mulder rolled his eyes, but Skinner nodded with a grin. “Works for me.”
“Shit,” Mulder muttered and turned to his log books.
“Wait a minute, Mulder. We need to decide on some stuff. I like your idea. Do we put up a tree?”
“Uh, I hadn’t gotten that far, but, yeah I think it would be kind of nice. Would we offend anyone?”
“Well you’re the only Jewish person, you offended?” Skinner responded.
“Definitely not; besides didn’t Christians borrow the tree idea and the Yule log from the Druids? We always had a tree when I was a kid. Didn’t always have a lot under it, but Mom did her best. I think it would be cool for Katy to have a tree for her first Muldermas.”
“You’re not really going to do that to me, are you?” Mulder’s voice was close to a whine.
Both of the other men nodded, grinning.
“I know there’re a couple of frozen turkeys in storage. Any cranberries in inventory? I have no doubt that Frohike can come up with some sort of stuffing. We won’t have a lot of fresh stuff, but we can come up with a good menu,” Walter offered.
“Which means we need to get the ladies involved. Not to be sexist, but of the male cooks around here, only Frohike really rings my chimes. Now Mary has been known to whip up some impressive stuff from meager ingredients,” Kevin agreed, their regular work forgotten for now.
Mulder nodded. “That’s one Ph.D. we still need around here. Say, when is the solstice?”
“Um, good question. Brittany will know. I’ll check with her,” Kevin offered.
“Brittany?” Mulder asked.
“Yeah, she’s into that. She’s never mentioned it to you?”
“I guess I’ve never talked religion with anyone here.”
“Me neither, but she and I were working in the greenhouse and she was talking about the best times to plant things according to the moon.”
“Well whatever she’s doing it seems to work. We’re lucky to have her.”
Walter nodded, agreeing with Mulder. “I’ll talk with Maggie at lunch.”
Mulder hurried to the house at lunch. He didn’t have time for a long lunch but he wanted to check in on his girls. Yes, he knew Scully was growing healthy again. She could stay awake for hours at the time now, but she seemed to eat better when he was there, or maybe he forced it more. She’d lost her baby weight even before she’d gotten ill, so yes, he made a point to see that she ate enough - in his opinion. A holiday meal with everyone would be good for her.
When he opened the door, she looked up from her place on the couch and smiled at him. He almost forgot to close the door in his desire to hold her, only nodding at Mary. She smiled indulgently as he moved toward Scully. Reading his mind, Scully smiled and started to rise as he hurried to lose his coat.
“Stay there. Katy asleep?”
“Yes, for about two more minutes.”
“Mmm, think I’ll take advantage of that.” His lips cut off whatever her response would have been and he molded her to his body.
Katy’s cry pulled them apart. She wasn’t crying like he had thought babies did, just letting them know she wanted someone to come get her. He chuckled as Scully rested her head on his chest. “I think she’s jealous.”
“Of me or you?” Mulder asked as he let her move away from him.
“Of me. You belong to her, I just supply food,” she responded watching him head for the bedroom.
After he settled Katy on the couch, he turned to the kitchen to greet Mary. He stirred the stew she had been heating and tried not to sigh. Venison and turnip; who would have thought? Yeah, a big family dinner would be more than welcome.
Mary begged off eating with them, giving Scully and Katy hugs before taking off. They sat at the table, Katy at the head in her highchair, presiding over the meal like the princess she was, accepting spoonfuls of food from both parents.
“Oh, I meant to tell you, we’re thinking of having a Winter Solstice dinner.”
“Way ahead of you, Mulder. We’re already talking decorations. Jerry said he’d find a tree and - “
“Wait a minute. We just talked about it this morning.”
“Right, almost four hours ago.”
He rolled his eyes and looked over at Katy who laughed at his expression.
“Anyway, we’re going to make decorations, string some popcorn and - “
“Hold it, I don’t want you to overdo.”
Her eyes narrowed as she met his look. “Don’t even go - “
“Look at her, Katy. Healthy, ready to kick my ass again. And she thinks I’d settle for anything less.”
She was shaking her head then. “Don’t say ‘a-s-s’ in front of Katy.”
“What, you think she can’t spell? Now she’s dissin’ you too, Katy m’love.” The little girl looked between the two of them and then laughed out loud.
The main room of the clinic was beginning to look like Christmas or Solstice or whatever you wanted to call it. Jerry had ‘volunteered’ Langly, Byers and Charlie’s sons to help him with the Yule log and tree. The tree was being kept under wraps until the actual Solstice on the 21st, but other things were appearing.
Todd had found Christmas decorations in the attic of his house. That made sense; the Carruthers’ had lived here year round, like Brittany. The ladies were also making decorations from all kinds of ideas, mostly at his house so Scully could participate. Mulder made a point of not laughing at the Martha Stewart-ness of the whole thing.
Katy watched them, her eyes taking in everything. The boys were enjoying it, but having a baby was making everyone try just a little harder. No, she wouldn’t remember it, but they would.
The morning of December 21 dawned clear and cold. An unexpected snow had covered the grass and dusted the limbs of trees, but walking was no problem. Mulder bundled up Katy, then helped Scully with her clothing. She waited on the couch as he donned his coat.
She looked up, startled by the knock at the door, and smiled when Kevin entered. “Hi, thought I’d see if you needed any help.”
“We’re fine - “ she started, but Mulder nodded.
“Sure can. You take Katy and I’ll take Scully.”
“You’ll do what?” she stared at Mulder.
“I’ll carry you to the clinic.” He shook his head when she opened her mouth to protest. “You have a limited amount of energy. Why waste it walking over there?” he asked reasonably.
“What about your leg?”
“My doctor declared it well.”
She looked over at Kevin, but he was obviously on Mulder’s side. His grin proved that. He took Katy into his arms and she beamed at him, nestling her head against his chest.
Scully shook her head, but gave in. She was weak, but she wanted to do this. Mulder winked at her as he took her into his arms. Mirroring Katy, she rested her head against him.
The two men took their girls out, and Scully shut the door behind them. Once on the porch of the clinic, Mulder set Scully on her feet; she smiled up at him. He was letting her walk into the house on her own.
Almost everyone else was already there and delighted to see her. She hadn’t been there since her illness. Embarrassed, she took a seat of honor in the living room. Immediately people began bringing her food, drinks, and the decorations they were working on.
“Please, let me do something,” she begged.
Maggie took a seat beside her and patted her hand. “Most everything is done, except decorating the tree. When Katy goes down for her nap we’ll take care of that.”
Scully sighed and leaned back. They were going to protect her from everything and with Mulder in the lead, she’d have to just capitulate.
She smiled as Beth and Walter played with Katy. Mulder watched her discretely, gauging her weariness, as he helped move tables and set up for the dinner. When he saw her smile wane, he moved to her.
“Time for my girls to take naps,” he said, gathering her into his arms without waiting for her argument. Beth followed him with Katy.
“Mulder - “
“Shh,” he cuddled her against him and took her into her office. He settled her on the couch and tucked her in while Beth changed Katy and lay her on a pallet beside the couch. Scully’s eyes were already closing and Mulder chastised himself for waiting so long.
Beth caught his expression and squeezed his arm. “She’s doing well and I can see that she’s enjoying this.”
“I just don’t want her to have a set back.”
“With you looking after her, that’s not going to happen, Mulder. Come on, Jerry has taken the others to get the tree. We need to get the space ready for it.”
Mulder was amazed at that tree. It had to be over 9 feet tall and he just wasn’t going to ask how they had gotten it home.
It was now secured in its stand and Will was on the ladder hanging decorations near the top. The smell of roast turkey was teasing everyone’s appetite as they worked.
Katy didn’t cry out when she woke, but Mulder knew and headed for the office to get her before she could wake Scully.
Katy had rolled onto her stomach and up onto her knees. She’d be crawling in no time, he realized. She looked up at him and smiled. He picked her up and started for the door.
“I’m awake,” Scully said before he could reach it.
He turned back. “Did I wake you?”
“No, I was just lying here. I knew you’d know when Katy woke up.”
“Did you get enough rest?”
“Mulder, stop fussing, please.”
He started to speak, then stopped. She and Beth were right, she was being looked after and she needed this. He winked at her. “I’ll be right back.”
“No, I’ll come with you.” She rose and her eyebrow kept his mouth shut for a change. She took his arm and they returned to the main room.
She stopped at the sight of the tree. “Oh my god.” It was huge and beautiful. She looked around the room. They had scrambled to get all of this done while she and the baby slept. Katy turned in Mulder’s arms and her eyes grew huge. She reached for the tree and Walter moved over to take Scully’s arm. Mulder stepped closer to let Katy touch some of the shining decorations.
As though waiting for her touch, three birds erupted from the tree and took flight around the room.
Mulder ducked instinctively, but Katy reached for them, laughing. Pandemonium broke out as people ducked, reached for or swatted at the birds. “Cover the food!” He heard Maggie yell.
He searched immediately for Scully and saw Walter settle her on the couch. She was laughing too and he relaxed at the sight.
“Everyone calm down!” Walter’s marine voice boomed. “If we settle, maybe they will.”
The level of noise immediately dropped, but the boys and Katy were still laughing. They did quit jumping up trying to reach the frantic birds.
“Walter, we can’t eat until those birds are out of here. How in the world did we do all of that decorating without disturbing them?” Maggie shook her head in dismay.
“I know. Let’s give them a minute, then we’ll see what we can do.” He looked over at Mulder helplessly.
Mulder couldn’t help it; he chuckled as he sat Katy on the floor at Scully’s feet. He squeezed Scully’s fingers lightly and headed over to Walter.
“Any suggestions?” Walter asked when he, Charlie and Kevin joined him. His glare didn’t do anything to wipe the smile from Charlie’s face.
“Well,” Kevin started, “we could - “
Everyone went silent as the birds settled on the chandelier above the tree, then one at a time, they gently glided down and hopped around in front of the baby. Katy smiled and babbled at them as the rest of the room just stood there watching.
Walter and Charlie exchanged dumbfounded looks, but Kevin smiled. “I think we could get them now, if we coordinate.”
“I don’t want them hurt,” Mulder said quickly.
“Agreed. If we drop the tablecloth over them, we can keep it loose and take them outside.”
Even as they watched, one of the birds moved forward and perched on Katy’s hand. Mulder saw Scully tense, but he shook his head when she looked up at him. They weren’t hurting Katy, and didn’t seem to be afraid of her. He felt Kevin touch his elbow and took the corner of the tablecloth he held.
They carefully covered the birds, and Katy, which caused her to laugh again and then gently gathered the birds into the folds. They didn’t panic or try to escape, simply waiting for their release. Mulder and Kevin carried them to the front door and as Charlie held it open for them, stepped outside.
The birds flew off without a backward glance, unharmed.
“Do I want to know what just happened?” Charlie looked between the two of them.
“If I ever figure it out, I’ll get back to you,” Mulder replied as Kevin grinned.
When they turned back Katy was in Scully’s lap, cuddling up against her.
Walter cleared his throat. “Uh, are you warm enough?”
She smiled up at him. “I’m fine, Walter, thank you.”
At her words, everyone seemed to relax and conversation started up again. Maggie was watching Katy, a concerned look on her face, but the others seemed to have shoved it aside.
Sam and Will handled out the presents that had been quickly assembled or found, then hurried to open their own. Jerry had found some fishing equipment for Sam and archery for Will, along with the promise of lessons for the bow for both of them.
Mulder stood behind Scully watching, his hand lightly on her shoulder. He took the teasing of the name for this new holiday with good grace. Kevin was on the floor with Katy who was watching everything and chewing on her new plastic rings, found and cleaned.
“Where did that come from?” Mulder was staring at the toy.
Kevin answered him. “Your attic.”
“It was Samantha’s,” Mulder said quietly. “I thought I recognized it, but - “
“A gift from her aunt,” Scully squeezed his hand.
He gave her a small smile. “You need to eat a little.”
“Mulder, are you okay?”
“I’m good. You’re right; it’s a gift from her aunt.” He leaned over and kissed her, then headed for the table to bring her a snack.
Brittany walked past him and he stopped her. “Is this kosher?”
She grinned. “Kosher?”
“You know, giving gifts at Solstice?”
“Oh, of course. People have celebrated this way for centuries. It’s one of the things priests borrowed from us. And now, well, it’s a different world. We’re not alone on the planet, so all bets are off. But you know I’m not nearly as . . . scared as I was now that we have the little one. I don’t know whether it’s because we have a next generation or because she’s yours and Scully’s, but it feels right. And after today’s ‘fun’ . . .”
Mulder blinked at that. He hadn’t had many real conversations with Brittany; he’d have to change that. He looked around the room. She was right. He had feared and dreaded what had happened for such a long time, and look what it had done for him. Family, a mother and a father, a younger brother and nephews, friends . . . Katy, their miracle baby, and the most important thing of all, Scully.
He felt Scully’s hand on his and looked down. She smiled and squeezed his hand. Yes, he had Scully. Now it was time to eat.
Her hand on his shoulder brought him back to the present. “Penny for your thoughts?”
He grinned. “They’re worth their weight in gold, woman.” He drew her next to him and stole a kiss.
“Umm, having Frohike here does this for you?” she teased.
“Don’t you go dissing my relationship with ‘Hickey. Actually, Beth brought up an idea. It’s late for Solstice this year, but the sun’s back. I think we’re due for a par-tay.”
“A Muldermas celebration! You’re right, that’s just what we need.”
“Will you not call it that,” he hissed too late. He watched heads come up from all over the room. He saw the grins growing and knew the idea had caught on. Hopefully the kids could keep the wild life outside this time . . .
Very Merry Whatever You Celebrate!! Just be safe and happy -
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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.