'Tis the Season (PG-13)

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Mulder looked up as Danny hurried into the room.  "You ready?"


Mulder chuckled and nodded, headed toward the coat rack.  "Make sure you bundle up, we're going to be outside for awhile."


"Not that long," Danny said, grinning.


"To find the perfect tree?"


"I already know where it is."


Scully joined them with Katy in her arms.  "Are you going out now?"


"Yep, apparently Danny has found the perfect tree.  We hardy men are going to chop it down, drag it home and let the women decorate it."


"'Let' the women, uh huh," Scully cut her eyes at him then looked at Katy in her arms.  "You got that, right?  We women are in charge of decorating.  Wait until your Grammy hears that."


Mulder gave a fake grimace.  "We better make our escape, son, she's gonna rat us out to Maggie."  Both kids laughed and he took his baby girl into his arms.  "You'll protect me, won't you, Baby?"  He cuddled her for a minute, then returned her to Scully.  "I'm told we won't be that long."


"I do know he was out scouting earlier, so you may be right.  Stay bundled up, we don't need anyone getting sick at Christmas."




Mulder had the axe over his shoulder and let Danny lead the way.  "Should I admit it's nice that it's just us here for a few weeks?"


Danny looked up and nodded.  "I like what we're doing and the other kids are learning really fast, but it is nice to have just family here."


"You don't mind that Bill and Tara and Matt aren't coming?"


Danny shook his head.  "I like Matt, he's really coming along, but Uncle Bill is still . . . "


"Yeah, I know."


Danny grinned up at him and kept walking.  He was growing like a weed and had been such a great help with the students they had brought out here so far.  And he and Matt had done a great job of recruiting for the camp.  They had gone into this naively, but so far it had worked.  The kids that had gone through had all had the aptitude, to a greater or lesser degree, and being treated as adults with information this sensitive had matured them even more.




Mulder and Danny loaded the tree onto the sled and pulled it back to the house.  Danny had been right, it was a perfect tree.


Danny was huffing ever so slightly when they reached the back door, but hiding it manfully.  He found a bucket and filled it with water to store the tree in until they were ready to take it inside.  Then stomping their boots to remove as much mud as possible they stepped into the utility room.  They were removing their boots when Katy found them. 


"I'm gonna get you!" Danny pretended to grab for her with his pine rosin coated hands and she squealed and raced back to the safety of Scully's leg.


"Don't you touch anything!" Scully called from the kitchen and Mulder laughed, turning the hot water on at the utility sink.  By the time they had gotten their hands mostly clean, Katy had disappeared from the kitchen.


"Would you please check on her, Danny?  I'm making hot chocolate for my intrepid tree warriors."


"Great!  Do we have those little marshmallows?"


"Sure do."


He took off to look for his little sister, though both Mulder and Scully knew he already knew exactly where she was and what she was doing.  They were used to that, but he still went through the motions, as much to give them time alone as anything else.  Mulder took advantage of it, pulling her against him and instead of kissing her, pressed his cold nose into her neck.  She pulled away, swatting him and shivering.


Danny and Katy came into the kitchen then and Scully looked over.  Her smile faded when she saw the pacifier in Katy's mouth.  "Did you give her that?"


"No, she already had it when I found her."


"I had it up on a shelf, she couldn't have reached it."


"Scully," Mulder stepped closer.  "You know this one doesn't have to - "


She looked exasperated at him, then turned back to Katy.  "You know we're going to leave the pacifier under the tree for Santa and he'll leave an extra present under the tree.  Okay?  You're a big girl now and you don't need a pacifier."


Katy nodded, but didn't take the offending object out of her mouth.  Mulder leaned toward Scully.  "Bah, humbug," he whispered and she glared at him.


Mulder picked Katy up.  "So what extra present are you asking Santa for in exchange for your pappy?"


She smiled at him and for an instant he saw a pink dollhouse that had been advertised on TV extensively for the past few weeks.  He buried deep the thought that the dollhouse was already hidden out in the dormitory, waiting for Christmas morning.


They took seats around the kitchen table, Danny describing chopping down the tree to a grinning Scully.  Katy's little marshmallows were aligned on the tray of the highchair, since they wouldn't easily go through the lip of a sippy cup and she was smashing one into the plastic.


"I think I hear the truck," Scully looked up.  "Guys, can you help bring everything in?  Mom was going to finish up all the grocery shopping because they're calling for some weather.  And no peeking inside of anything!"


Danny and Mulder both grinned but headed to the back porch to put their boots back on.  Walter already had his arms full and Danny held the door for him as Mulder continued on to the truck.  "Let me get that."  He took a box from Maggie's arms and she smiled at him.


"I may have gone overboard, but we can freeze anything we don't need.  I'm just not used to the winters up here and I didn't want to be snowed in and not able to fix you a traditional meal."


"Hey, you don't hear me complaining!  Get on inside, the temperature's dropping."


Danny was beside him now and he loaded the boy's arms, then filled his own.  Walter was already returning to help them.


Maggie let herself in and watched as Scully shook her head at the sheer amount of food.  "Mom!  There's only the six of us."


"Some of us are still growing."


"Mulder's definitely going to be growing after this and that's not necessarily a good thing.  We won't even discuss my thighs, thank you."


Maggie chuckled and unzipped her coat, exposing a small bag.  "I need to hide this.  I couldn't resist."


"What?"  Scully glanced toward the door, then stood next to her mother, shielding her slightly from prying eyes. 


Maggie opened the bag and Scully laughed out loud.  "Where did you . . . come in here."  She led her mother to the dining room and pulled the green plush alien from the bag.  The large eyes glowed in the dark.


"It's for Fox's stocking.  I can't put it in yet, so I need to hide it somewhere safe.  I guess I'll keep it in my room."


"He's going to love it.  I have a feeling those eyes will be waking me up in the night for a long time."


Maggie chuckled and tucked the bag back inside her coat, then headed for the stairs.


Scully heard another load land on the counter and hurried back to the kitchen.  "You better not have anything else to bring inside.  We'll be storing food in the dorm next."


"No, that's everything.  And here's the mail."  Walter drew a bundle from under his arm.  "Looks like some Christmas cards."


Danny reached for the envelopes.


"Be careful you don't tear any return addresses," Scully warned and allowed Danny to open the cards as she sifted through the other mail.


"These are from some of the kids!" Danny exclaimed.  "Look, Stan sent this one."  He  held up a picture of Santa resting in a recliner, a reindeer sneaking cookies off of a tray on the arm of his chair.




Walter helped them get the tree into the stand and steady.  The lights had been de-tangled earlier and tested for burnt out bulbs, so he and Mulder helped Danny string them around the tree.  Katy watched with bright eyes, somehow the pacifier back in her mouth.  Mulder handed her one of the non-breakable ornaments and she hung it solemnly on a lower bough to Maggie and Scully's applause.


They weren't quite finished when Danny looked over toward the front window.  "It's snowing!"


All eyes turned to the window and sure enough, large white flakes were dancing crazily in front of the light marking the beginning of the driveway.  "My goodness, it's coming down," Maggie watched mesmerized.  "I'm glad you decided to move back to the house.  The dorm might be quite a hike in this."


"Too much electricity to use for just one person," Walter said.  "Besides, it can get lonely out there."


"It can get loud here," Scully commented as the kids jumped around in front of the window.  Walter only laughed, not worried about the noise.


After assuring the kids that the snow would still be there in the morning and they could play in it then, they got them off to bed.  Only one extra story was necessary, then they returned to the downstairs and Mulder pulled Scully into his lap as they sat looking at the tree.  Maggie had put on a Christmas CD and the music played softly in the background.


"Think Santa will be good to you?" Mulder nuzzled Scully's ear.  Though his words were innocent enough, he watched the color rise in her cheeks and knew that she had skimmed his thoughts. 


Yes, time was moving, but now so were they and with the help of the young people they had trained and would train soon, there was a chance, a good chance, that things could work out.  There was still a little time and they would use it to their advantage.


Scully kissed him lightly on the lips.  "Yes, we will."  She rose then and held out her hand.  He followed her up the stairs.



Merry Christmas



In addition to a child or baby character your story should include:
√ someone quoting a single line from a holiday song or movie
√ a stuffed alien
√ Christmas stockings
√ a baby's pacifier
√ a letter or card


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Mulder, Scully, the Lone Gunman and Skinner all belong to Chris Carter, 10-13 and Fox. No infringement intended.