My December : NC17 version


A Christmas Tale that starts with an accident on a lonely mountain road and humanity at its best, love caring and above all magic. 
Written especially for IMTP VS 10 website.
WARNING,  I'd Rate this a 4 for Graphic MT


Title: My December. 


My December      

Rating: NC17 Evil muse version for graphic MT and medical ickiness .  

Category: MT MSR M/S/SK friendship Angstorama & Christmas fic
Disclaimer: Season of goodwill and all that. I'm just borrowing them from CC and Fox who own them.  Il send them home full of eggnog, a bag of prezzies and full tummies.No profit Bah humbug. ;))))
Summary: Sometime after 2am, Scully succumbed to her exhaustion, watched over by the concerned brown eyes of Walter Skinner as  he sat vigil beside his two agents. Holding the hand of one as she slept,  tucked up beside Mulder on the bed, and gently bathing the fever from the other's face, with cool water.  They looked like a couple of kids, instead of two FBI agents.  He glanced at his watch and pulled his lips into a tight sad smile, as he went back to the task of bathing his injured agent.
Merry Christmas, Fox and Dana.
Special engagement for IMTP VS10, Holiday special 
My December lyrics by LINKIN PARK  
beta By Vickie Moseley and Susan Proto,  warm fuzzy christmas greetings and thanks girls. The chocholate cyber Mulders are in the post!!
Exclusive for two weeks at IMTP VS 10 then anywhere at all. 
Feeback or snowballs to above email.



This is my December,

This is my snow covered home......

These are my snow-covered trees.


Breathing. His lungs were dragging in frozen air that stabbed like a thousand burning knives. White on white, no sounds just the feel of winter white flakes stinging his cheeks. Hot air out, breathing freezing blasts back in.  The pain was overwhelming and the silence was terrifying. He could not scream. So weak.


Warm hands and fingers worried his forehead, moving slowly, patting down his body searching for something. The smell of winter air and blood. Voices came at him like distorted whispers of angels that his mind wanted to answer but his mouth wouldn't seem to work. Mouth open, freezing lungs, no sound. Cold and wet through.


Strong arms gathered him against a steel wall, with it brought the searing agony back full force along with startling snatches of an accident, the sensation of pinballing through earth, snow and tree stumps, mocking him in wintry desolation. Collision memories of slamming into something with devastating and instantly agonizing force, bleeding into his broken consciousness like a knife prying it open. Not good. 


On the move now, someone else's breathe dueling with the violent thumping of his heart. Eyes open to the sky; he saw nothing but white and the feather sting of flakes in burning eyes, his mouth, mingling with tears of pain.


Instinctively his head turned into the warm wall at his cheek, trying to become part of it. Battered limbs dangling like a rag doll on this unknown flight through the winter chill.For a second his swollen eyes caught a flash of red. A revelation shocking against the otherwise blinding white. Worried blue eyes like ice crystals that inexplicably eased his gasping breaths, a touch and everything faded into oblivion. 


Two hefty kicks and the old wood door creaked in protest, as it swung inward, revealing the best sight they could have hoped for on this horrible Christmas Eve.


"Lie him down in here quickly."  Scully's breathless plea was accompanied by a cloud of frozen mist rising above her head as Skinner jogged after her, into the first bedroom they found in the freezing deserted cabin. 


Carefully he laid his soaking limp burden down onto the bed. Immediately,finding himself unceremoniously elbowed out of the way by Scully,in full doctor mode in her haste to get to her injured partner. There was altogether too much blood for her liking, or Skinners for that matter. In Scully's medical opinion, this much blood soaking through Fox Mulder's flimsy suit jacket was not good. 


"How is he?" It was out of his mouth before he could think of anything else to say. Winded and bruised from his own flight through the woods to this welcome haven.Scully sounded breathless with worry, unable to acknowledge the blood pooling along her hairline for now. 


" I'm still looking, dammit! All this blood doesn't look good!"  Her voice snapped like a raw winter twig. Her harsh breathing filled up the room; despair mingling with the white clouds from her mouth that rose in swirls.      


The question at best was premature, he knew that as he stood feeling uncharacteristically useless, watching his flame haired agent feverishly running her hands all over every inch of Mulder's body, assessing his latest batch of injuries, desperately trying to find the source of all the blood that covered most of his torso.


Skinner spied one curiously angled ankle dangling by the end of the bed. Didn't take a doctor to imagine that Mulder would be getting steel plates and pins as part of his Christmas bounty. That's if he didn't bleed out first before he made it to the hospital.     




" I need to keep him warm. He's like a block of ice.... Sir. Blankets?" her voice was kinder this time, her eyes never leaving her patient. Her fingers were making short work of the hapless agent's sopping clothes. Galvanized into action, Skinner rifled the closets for blankets or sheets, vaguely aware that he might have bumped his own head. He wasn't usually this slow on the uptake. From rolling the car onto its roof and sliding down the bank, to locating Mulder and kicking in the door here, everything had happened so fast. All thoughts of any injuries they might have had on this god-forsaken night paled when they realized that Mulder, like Elvis had left the building, well in this case the wreck of their car. 


The sight of the fresh air windshield, the blood splatters on the dash, had them out of the car like rats deserting a sinking ship, scouring the deep woods below the bank.


And then they found him.


Mainly because the puddle of red stood out in stark contrast to the endless white. Fortunately, they'd spotted his limp body wedged upside-down against a snow-covered rock before the last gimlet slither of light vanished over the next mountain. Only Mulder could render himself trussed up like some macabre raspberry ripple snowball ... somewhere in beautiful Fuckknowswhere-Montana.  Shit. 


Crunching through waist deep snow, Mulder cradled against his chest like a lost child, Skinner had the insane urge to whistle "In the bleak midwinter". He clamped his lips firmly shut, mindful that blood covered Mulder and his own tuneless whistling did not a good idea make and Scully might well go for her gun. Thank Christ they'd found the cabin.


Hitting pay dirt, he pulled a huge pile of linens and blankets off the shelves in the second room he tried, making a mental note to himself that he should never again under any circumstances, accompany Mulder and Scully to another seminar this close to a major public holiday in dubious weather conditions, involving interstate travel through perilous mountain passes which probably only opened for 5 short months of the year; probably none of which included December.  It was asking for trouble.


Probably safer to stay in DC - At the very least, book in somewhere with excellent medical facilities, barely ditching distance away from Fox Mulder. Sadly out here, a hospital was just a castle in the air and although they'd salvaged Scully's considerable medical kit, he had a feeling that it was going to be sadly lacking.


A lot of the glass containers of things like Demerol were smashed when the car turned over or was unusable. In respect of himself,Scully would undoubtedly need a hand with Mulder and he could only hope watching those M*A*S*H reruns would come in handy.


Mulder was a magnet for this kind of shit.   Pass the eggnog, merry fucking Christmas!


" AD Skinner.... Walter?"  Scully's panic laced voice broke him out of his lamentation. She stood up when he walked back in, her teeth were chattering with a combination of fear and cold. She was nursing a bloody finger in her mouth. She moved aside so he had full view of Mulder's bloody chest, pulling back the dressing momentarily.Skinner stared dumbly through his fractured glasses,giving him twice the horror. 


The pile of blankets fell at her feet, Skinner found himself kneeling beside her at the bed placing his large warm hands over her own shaking ones, as they both contemplated the disturbed and ragged flesh in front of them. Mulder's eyes found his all of a sudden; they were huge with pain and bore deeply into his own. Oh God, he was conscious. 


Scully had already started an IV and cut off most of his clothes. Quickly, they covered his body with all the blankets, mindful to leave the considerably open chest wound exposed and away from irritating fibers, except for surgical dressing. They wrapped a smaller blanket around his head like a turban to help him retain body heat. He was clenching his teeth and muttering incoherently under his breath.    


" Holy hell! Mulder, You never do anything the easy way. Do you? "  Skinner couldn't quite work the grimace out of his face, knowing how much pain and trouble Mulder was in.  


Scully swallowed her fear and became all business like, except from the comforting noises she made to Mulder, too quiet for Skinner to really hear. He knew she was unaware that he knew they'd become intimate and it was a recent thing. What a shitty deal, their first Christmas too.  


"It's freezing in here.I need hot water and I'm going to need a hand removing. ...This."  She gestured to the hideous foreign body half embedded diagonally across Mulder's left breast. Skinner nodded. Inwardly cursing that Mulder was again suffering like this.


Somewhere during his Olga Korbut Swallow dive down the snowy bank, Mulder had touched down on a coiled length of rusty, but lethal looking razor wire which had eaten into his chest like a ravenous dog, pushed in further and further as his body rolled down the white abyss, until it possessed his flesh with dozens of tearing metallic teeth. It was wedged in a good few inches below his left nipple, the hideous barbs disappearing into a large bloody hole, with the rest of its blood drenched length protruding at either end like two spiked alien caterpillars. Bloodied pieces of his dress shirt poked up through the carnage like a blossoming flower, another potentially lethal source of infection. 


The AD had seen injuries like this in Nam a lifetime ago, but it still chilled him to imagine this stuff twisted and entwined, tearing, desiccating Mulder's flesh like a ripe tomato. Hopefully his ribs had got in the way of more serious internal damage to heart or lungs. Even so he had to be in incredible pain.


"Look what Santa... brought me this year. I must have been naughty, ...either that he got mixed up with Halloween... decided I deserved the trick."  Mulder spluttered weakly.


" Maybe close, Mulder, it was a huge deer that careened across the path of our car. Faulty seatbelt failed and the impact of the crash threw you out the car. I'm going to sue the ass off the rental company. Your head especially lost an argument with the windshield. Take it easy,don't fidget. I don't want this thing shifting, doing any more damage."  Scully muttered as she hauled her medical bag up and began ferreting through it. At least some of it was intact.


" Frigging Rudolf, ...always hated him. The CSM among his species..So cold, Scully...tired,.... I could go to sleep now."


"No you can't. Sorry, Mulder, you have a concussion."


"What will... you do if I do?"


"Il have to slap you," Skinner smiled, but it didn't quite reach his eyes.


Mulder grimaced, and coughed, drawing blood on his bottom lip. "Other people have notches on their... beds. I just get concussions...OW!!"  

He almost flew off the bed as Scully's fingers began to probe the wound again. She'd hooked one of those big eye magnifiers over her glasses and looked unnerving. "Jesus what the hell is that. Scully?" he gazed down at what looked like hamburger but was a gaping rip in his chest. Seeing it truly for the first time.


"Razor wire, the nastiest I've ever seen.It's got to come out. Now." Scully implored,locking eyes with her boss momentarily before turning her attention back to Mulder. Again he nodded dumbly. Her hands were already unrolling the bag of scalpels and piles of bandages beside Mulder's arm as it lay on the bed. Chest heaving in agony, Mulder was staring most unhappily at her hands and the sharp implements she was prepping.




"Shssshhhh. I'll get it out, Mulder, just hang in there. It's going to be okay. Just need to get this stuff ready." 


" You're not. ...Carving the Christmas goose, you know..." he whimpered.


" Shut up, Mulder."  


"There's no power" Skinner frowned, noting that her voice held more confidence than her eyes. Both their eyes drew to the fireplace in the bedroom. "Thought that was too much to hope for. House and Cell phones don't work either. I guess it's a universal constant that mountains equal, no damn signal." 


" Figures. Do we have any wood? Can we light a fire? He probably bled less because his body was chilled but he's dangerously close to hypothermia.". 


"Saw a load of logs out by the fire in the lounge. I'll get both fires going. I'll check on the food situation too. Doubt we will find anything befitting the festive season but there might be something. Call me when you're ready for...." He couldn't bear to look at Mulder's fearful expression just then.  


"Firelighters are in my medical kit, sir. There are also some candles. We're going to loose the light here soon and need to see what I'm doing here.  "


" Well prepared, Agent." Back in two, and it's Walter, Scully. Considering the circumstances and its Christmas, we can dispense with standing on ceremony."  He gave her a grim smile as he left to get wood.


"Ho ho fucking ho." Mulder squeaked, grinding his fists into the mattress.Scully leaned in pressing her lips to his brow. 


"Sorry baby. I'll make you feel better real soon okay?" he looked unutterably miserable and sweat was pouring down his face.


" Sculleeeee, it was our first Christmas...you know... I wanted it to be perfect, now you can't even see your family." He'd been secretly looking forward to some judicious, eggnog induced Maggie Scully fussing. Not to mention a yuletide nosh up par excellence, which had been hinted at during previous family functions, after they safely offloaded Big brother Bill, quite aside from some of the spicy suggestions Scully herself had made for the season of all things merry. Bring it on.


" Shhhh don't fret. I know sweetheart. But I'm here with you, right where I want to be. I'm just glad you're alive. The only thing I want from Santa is for you to be in a nice warm, hospital bed, on plenty of joy drops that give you that goofy leer and makes your hair stand up in that cute way, with your body free of nasty foreign objects,Okay? Besides," she grinned suggestively, "You know you always get presents in hospital." 


Scully's fingers were running through his sweat soaked hair,doing her best to soothe. His sighs were punctuated with gasps of pain. Scully produced a stethoscope out of her bag of tricks; She warmed it with a lingering kiss before placing it against the bare skin of his chest, much to Mulder's wide eyed chagrin. The tiniest smile wobbled at the corner of his lips at the gesture.



" Sure, I remember... when I was 7, I had my tonsils out... and was in over ..Christmas.The beastly Santa that came to see us smelled suspiciously.... like..."  Mulder audibly groaned at the vivid image pulled from his eidetic memory. " Formaldehyde and the combined jockstraps of the.. Washington Redskins and.... gave me an "Operation" game. Now that was a ....low blow, even for Santa. I never did feel the same about Christmas after that."   Mulder's shaky hand latched onto Scully's nearest fingers and held tight. " Guess you could always be my present and get in the bed with me. Disturb my blood pressure a little. That new satin black teddy would be nice... " 


Scully's eyebrow did a Spock-esque maneuver.  How he could manage to leer like that through the excruciating pain he was in, was anyone's guess.


"You're just plain disturbed period, Mulder. Nothing to joke about when I've got my work cut out maintaining your pressure now. " She knew the frequency of his joking was testimony to how scared he was. She rolled her eyes against the threatening tears, moving her stethoscope over his heart, listening.


Blue eyes locked on hazel, little flecks still rose up as he smiled weakly at her,like tiny little gold snowflakes.His pulse was becoming increasingly rapid and frightening. She didn't think he had any idea how serious this could get. He'd become blasé about injuries over the years, his tendency to push himself despite all, not withstanding.


"I know I wanted you studying my naked body on a cold winter night, over some mulled wine and devilishly placed mistletoe. ...But this wasn't quite what I had in mind. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. HUMBUG!  ... Much as I love the guy, Scully, Walter Skinner definitely wasn't in my plans. Talk about a ménage et toi....I don't even want to think..... about my blue balls.... Guess my new Wranglers are.. ruined, huh? " He wheezed. Scully tried hard not to smile. He was chattier than a wind up "Love me doll" when he was using humor as a pain diversion. Mulder's eyes wandered to the fireplace. " At least there's somewhere to hang a stocking. Do you think Santa will mind if its blood stained, and leave me some good pain drugs?"


"Shhh, he'll hear you...."


"Who Santa? "


" No his Baldship next door, you crazy fool."  She noted with alarm that he was as ashen as the snowstorm outside.


"Baldship? Did you just say Baldship, Scully?  Dear diary... today my heart leapt when my sexy ...red headed.... goddess called our.... boss an inappropriate...."


"..I know I heard it! " she indicated the stethoscope still attached to his chest. "Shut up Mulder, I heard your heart leap. It isn't making pleasing sounds right now. Just focus on breathing, will you?"  He was deteriorating. It was time for that chat soon. One he would hate.


Mulder eyes were full of pain and love. "Crazy for you." the last coming out as a pained whisper. He was tiring and she had to keep him awake. Where the hell was Skinner with the wood? For the first time she felt her own fatigue creeping in. She sighed, knowing there would be no rest when she had to take care of Mulder, no matter how crappy she felt herself. She wondered idly if His Baldship had found anything to sooth her caffeine depletion. Mulder wasn't the only one who needed to stay awake.


She didn't think The AD was in much better shape either. Surviving a car crash didn't bring out the best in people as a rule. Especially not on Christmas Eve, stuck in the middle of an icy cabin with one of them bleeding like a stuck pig and needing an orthopedic surgeon's skills, stat. Not to mention, no way of contacting or reaching civilization. Mulder was in grave risk of infection and blood loss trauma. She also had no way of knowing if the wire had cut through into his lungs, or worse his heart.


His ribs were definitely broken. At least two as best she could tell. She was also worried about the black shadow that covered half his forehead and God forbid... other internal injuries sustained in the crash and subsequent time hurtling down a wooded embankment.


Scully stroked the fine fair hairs on his arm, poking underneath the blanket, before she donned the fresh rubber gloves she would need for the procedure. She also produced a couple of lengths of soft binding and a stitching kit.


Mulder's internal shit -hitting- the- fan, radar was starting to stoke up nicely. His eyes were little globes of pain blown up into truly huge hazel saucers that made heart skip with empathy. 


Oh Jesus. Mulder...


Mulder noted that Scully had the same strange constipated look on her face that she reserved for telling him something he wasn't going to like at all. Worse right now because he existed in a winter wonderland of white-hot pain.


His eyes fell on the bindings she was absently screwing into her palms,and then to her eyes, then back to the bindings. The penny dropped as surely as his helpless body had,down the embankment from hell. 




"Please tell me you are going to knock me out for this." Scully was shaking her head; his heart lurched painfully, feeling the bite of metal scoring his ribs.  He pulled his best-beaten spaniel look that he'd thought worthy of an Oscar. To his horror, a single tear slid like a dewdrop down her face. It was then he noticed the blood at the edge of her hair for the first time. He was gasping now. Suddenly he felt like every, meal he'd ever consumed were fighting on mass for an exodus up and out,of biblical proportions. 


Scully watched his Adam's apple jump about like a Christmas Robin. He lifted a shaky finger to her scalp touching her gently where it hurt. His eyes full of pain.


"...Scully you're hurt. God...you're scaring me. Talk to me partner." At least that's what he would of said if he could've forced enough air over his vocal chords to form words; instead several pitifully distressed squeaks were all he could manage.


"You have a concussion, Mulder. I have very little equipment up to a job such as this and I need to monitor you carefully. I can't afford to suppress any symptoms you may have. I'm sorry." Her hand folded over his and squeezed, he gave the tiniest squeeze back. His eyes full of fearful terror and misgiving of what she was proposing, and heart aching with worry the way seeing blood on her, never failed to haunt him. Somehow her image blurred for a few seconds, as his did for her.


"Can't you give it... a quick tug and get it free?" Even to his own pain weakened voice that sounded a stupidly unfeasible suggestion.


Predictably she shook her head again,just as Walter came back in the room, with armfuls of wood. The warm blast of heat that wafted in with him and the pleasant smell of burning pine logs came as silent but welcome confirmation that he had finally got the other fire going.


He repeated the ritual and brought the fire to life in the bedroom hearth, then glanced tentatively at Mulder and Scully before lighting a dozen or so candles, placing them all round the room. Mulder swallowed, thinking if he weren't in pain, he could appreciate that he was in some quaint fairy grotto. The warmth and light from the roaring open fire adding to the effect that was now serenely bouncing off of Skin man's chrome framed glasses.


Yeah very frigging Christmassy, Walter. Nice effect.


Mulder idly wondered if in unlikely event of them getting a visit from Ole Saint Nick, he would surely burn his ass on the flames and curse Skinner to the Nine kingdoms. He digressed uncomfortably, tuning out Scully's doctor jargon over his pain.It was probably more likely they would find Krycek turning up to screw thing up even more, adding his own evil brand of festive jollies to the day's already disastrous proceedings. At least they could hope he might utilize the chimney to make his grand entrance. It would be worth the pain it would cause him to laugh right now, to see that supercilious bastard's smugness wiped off his face.


"You know I need to get this out. Its rusty and its sharp, it has many barbs going in different directions. Thank God I nagged you about keeping your tetanus shots up to date, but I can't just yank it out. It's worked its way around inside like a snake. I'm trying to get it out with minimum blood loss. You've already lost enough as it is." 


Scully was fiddling with some sort of oxygen mask, testing it. He nodded, eyes forgiving but so scared. His vivid imagination helpfully supplying new depths of agony, picturing what she'd have to do to extricate this thing invading his chest, on top of the crippling pain he was already suffering.


"  ... Hold you down while I debride the wound and stitch... ... Mulder are you listening to me? Dammit this is important."  His eyes and ears were too busy elsewhere. He looked pointedly at the way she was fastening the thick lengths of surgical webbing, first to one, then his other wrist. She pulled them as tight as she could without cutting off his circulation. If he hadn't had been trying not to hyperventilate, he would have laughed. The fire, the candles, Scully tying up his wrists, as he lay there naked. It was curiously kinky like something from one of those videos that weren't his. Mulder's lungs tied themselves in painful heaving knots the moment Skinner moved ominously back into view. Close enough to profile what aftershave he used.




The AD for some uncomfortable reason of his own, gave him a rueful smile, 


"You look a bit like Carmen Miranda with your head in that blanket, Mulder. " 


Was that supposed to distract him? How humorous. Boy,he was dating himself with that wiseass crack, Mulder thought madly. The absurdity not lost on him, despite the waves of sheer fright and agony pouring over him like grim death.


One day in the fullness of time my esteemed boss, I may find you blindingly funny. Not today. All I want to do now, in the midst of this, in the midst of watching you and Scully grab an arm each and begin binding each wrist to the head rail of the bed, all I feel like doing is letting a really loud girlie scream rip your eardrums to sheds.


"With or without the bananas?" Did that idiotic comment come from his mouth?


Scully was giving him an apologetic look again, this time with eyebrow.




It was the bondage nightmare from hell. He'd seen this one of the Sci-Fi channel. "Talons of Wang Chang".."Fu Manchu" or whatever the hell crappy torture flick, he and Scully had snuggled into watch on a Friday night, after a hard weeks slog over pizza and beer.


His stomach suddenly did an unnatural roll and without ceremony, he lurched over the AD's side of the bed and blew chunks all over his patent $200 Italian mules.


Merry Christmas sir.


"Awww Jesus!!!  Choked Skinner as he lamely attempted to shift his burly self out the firing line, but to no avail.


The gift that goes on giving, Mulder thought breathlessly as his stomach contents rebelled again, This time getting Walter S's dress pants. He shoots he scores. Howzat for a bonus?


"Bucket coming, Mulder." Scully sympathetically cooed in his ear. Something that looked like a waste paper bin suddenly became clear and present through the spots dancing before his eyes. Twisting against his bonds felt horrible as his poor insides tried for a hatrick, this time actually hitting the object Scully held under his chin.




He felt like the spiky monster had dug in even deeper during his body's haste to disgorge itself. Breathe, breathe, breathe, went over and over in his head like a mantra. Still,he'd solved the mystery of what he could get his AD for Christmas, Should he actually survive this.


"Scullee, don't do this please." He beseeched into warm fingers that were bathing his sweaty face. She caught his eyes with her own, their beautiful blue depths communicating, regret, compassion, and empathy and above all love.


She knew how much he hated this loss of control. Skinner large hands were sliding around his collarbone from the right, gently pressing down, and his left hand held fast to his upper left chest, centering over his sternum. Mulder was shocked realizing that he was stuck fast.


"Mulder listen to me. I need you to keep very still for this. I don't want to hurt or injure you any more than I have too. If you squirm around..."


"Don't tie me or hold me down... I can do still. VERY STILL. I could earn big bucks as a store dummy... even have the clothes for it." 


His voice, though emphatic, was barely a scared whisper that he hated himself for. Scully stroked his hair from his face, his lover, gently morphing into cool controlled Doctor Scully right before his eyes. The transition made him want to cry.He blinked back-threatened tears, looking off to the side and catching the AD's apologetically serious look. He must have been burning some real calories maintaining that expression.


"You're gonna just love this aren't you?...It's your revenge for all those ...expense reports you had to chew over..and could never make sense of..." Walter's mouth crinkled sheepishly. He looked distinctly like he was suppressing the urge to fart or puke. Neither option was a comfort. Slowly he found Scully's eyes again. "Any other time this might have an anomalous appeal, Scully...please?"


Out of all his known panic faces, this was definitely a new one.


"No, G-Man, this is going to be a bitch to get out. These things will cut through you like butter if I slip or you jog me. I need to gently prize the barbs away one at a time. For that I have to cut around, and then lift individual pieces. Its not just one strait piece of wire, its wound treble. It's going to be tricky enough to cut this out of you without cutting my own fingers to ribbons. I have clippers to cut each piece I free. With the best will power in the world, Mulder, you won't be able to cope with that.You're not superhuman and this is going to hurt like the devil as it is. I can't give you anything but oxygen, so we need to hold you down. You're also getting a fever, so I want to get this done as expediently and as cleanly as possible. Left to your own devices, you wont be able to withstand what I'm going to have to do to you, even though I know you'd try your best to keep still. In no time you'd be wriggling like soapy frogs in a bucket."


The word bucket made Mulder's stomach twinge horribly and brought with it an unbidden image of Skinner's puke soaked mules. It was all he could do to stop the mad laughter that stuck in his throat. Scully pushed all the blankets away from his torso. Despite that warmth from the fire, it was still freezing, or was that just fear?


"Its going to get a lot worse before it gets better partner, so if Walter's ready we can get started. The sooner this thing is out the better."  Mulder hissed as he felt the bite of cold iodine wash on his chest and all around the wound. Eyes blanching at the sight of the industrial strength wire cutters that also appeared by her instrument collection. Skinner held on tighter. Perhaps Dear Walter could go do something else... like go find the previous occupants porn collection. That way he'd have something to read while he convalesced.


"Okay Scully, perhaps.... when you're done, I can put it on my.... wall as a piece of..Modern art."  He spluttered, voice tiny in defeat. Trying hard not to think about sharp scalpels pulling his flesh apart.


"It would certainly be a conversation piece, Mulder." She smiled kindly popping an oxygen mask over his face. "There isn't much of this so its just short blasts to take the edge off. Deep breathes. You know the drill."  


Mulder sucked in the oxygen until he felt lightheaded, and she removed it again. He did know the drill all right, but that normally entailed some nice liquid bliss to knock him out, before people started slicing and dicing. Neither did he like to dwell on the fact that Scully was used to using her deft cutting skills on the grateful dead.


Having meatball surgery on Hicksville Mountain without being nicely anesthetized, when he would rather be creatively expressing himself with Scully some place cozy, was not his idea of Christmas Nirvana. Shit. His face became a mask of impassiveness but his eyes were windows to primal fear.


"Scully? Is this the part where you tell me to lie back and think big beautiful, Christmas thoughts and if I'm a good boy, you'll give me a Popsicle after?"


"Think big beautiful, Christmas thoughts, Mulder."  She gave him her best kilowatt smile. " I don't know about a Popsicle, you can have a little sterile water for breakfast."  He watched her take a shuddering breath.




"Afraid so, G-man" She tried to access his readiness for this, scalpel poised above the jagged wound, too aware that her head felt two sizes too large and her hands were shaking.


This was by far the most harrowing thing she'd ever had to do him. No way could she fail. His screams were going to tear her up as surely as that hideous nemesis embedded in his chest was doing to him. She cursed litterbugs to hell for all eternity. Deep breath, she inwardly commanded herself.




"Yeah, Mulder"


"I just want to make this crystal... clear that I hate...this."  


"I know baby," her fingers worrying his hair again.


Scully tried to look at his face and not at Skinner holding Mulder's heaving chest in an iron Grip. A myriad of unspoken emotions flashed between them when their eyes locked again.


 'I trust you, I need you, I love you...please help me...' 


Those came through louder and clearer than all the others combined. Despite the AD's presence, Scully leaned over,lifted the mask and captured Mulder's trembling lips with her own. Her smiling eyes reached right into his heart. It was all he needed to know.Something inside him tumbled at an odd angle,making his gasp.Hazel depths of hurt caught her eyes in silent communication again.  


'I love you.'


'I know.'


It was an old joke between them. In the many faces of their perils or fears, he was always Harrison Ford to her Carrie Fisher.


"Why, Doctor Scully, .....I do believe... you ...are getting, emotionally involved with your patient." Mulder's quip, had Skinner trying hard not to smirk; instead he seemed to be finding the patterns in the flames most interesting.


"I've got a gag if it will help, might take the edge off."  Skinner offered quietly. A hand with the gag appeared in front of his face.  "Open wide and say aahhh, Mulder," He added gruffly. 


When the AD went hunting for wood, he'd picked up a chubby branch, and anticipated it might be useful; cutting it down into something that Mulder could bite on. His Agent frowned at him and looked at it. What a cool idea, he mused, thinking it might be a better alternative to gnawing off Skinner's arm while he shrieked like a banshee. 


"Hey, It's the thought that counts. Son." 


"Just don't kiss me,Walter,once you've shut me up."  


" No kiss ...but I'll just savor the moment".


Mulder grinned stupidly at him and duly obeyed, clamping his teeth down on the firm dowel, the bitter pinesap tastes almost making him gag. His eyes shifted between Scully, who's mouth turned up in a sad smile, and his boss, before fixing them to a stain on the ceiling.


Somehow he realized that immersing his brain in the intricacies of the latest LGM conspiracy theory just wasn't going to cut it for this. Sorry guys.


Calling on Hypnosis 101, what there was of it left from his psychology training, Mulder forced his breathing under control, and took himself off to a little safe place in his brain, like a rabbit down a hole, where he hoped this wouldn't touch him. Much. Bloody crescents formed as his fists dug fingers deeply into his palms. He bit down so hard his jaws trembled.  


It was far worse than Scully could have ever thought possible. The gag lasted all of two minutes after she made the first incision to remove the wire. Mulder's face was portrait of agony, as all became too much for him, the gag went flying across the room like a dart and he howled for the first time like all the devils in hell, nearly bursting all their eardrums.  


Finally his screams exhausted down into wracking sobs he couldn't stop. The agent's traumatized heart was pounding so hard against Skinner's palms it was painful. If it was possible, Skinner held him tighter, muttering any comforting assurances he could muster.


Visions of dying soldiers shattered by grenades or bullets, bled into the PTSD he still suffered from time to time and fast-forwarded in Mulder's bugged out eyes, liquidized pools of pain as he fought for breath.


Restraining Mulderlike this took him back to another time. One he didn't want to revisit.


At some point, Mulder had bitten right through his bottom lip and the smell of blood pervaded the whole room. It was slick all over the bed on Scully's side. On her hands. Skinner didn't have to look at Scully who was trying fight back floods of tears that threatened to block the vision of her scalpel, deep inside Mulder's open chest.


 It was constant cut, pare and lift, cut, pare and lift, a laboriously slow and hideous procedure that threatened to kill Mulder from shock as much as anything else. To cap it all, it was soon apparent that the center of the wire had pushed through between his broken ribs and had narrowly missed the lungs and main arteries to the heart, and indeed his heart itself. It was hairsbreadths from touching it, or maybe it had even grazed it, she couldn't be 100% sure without an ultrasound, so she had to be ruthless and quick to get that out of his chest without him nudging it in any further and killing him.


Mulder regularly drifted in and out of oblivion when the pain became too acute, despite her worry that he should be awake, she managed to work better while he was out of it. She was glad he had some respite if only for a little while.When he was awake he was almost delirious with pain.


An hour later and she was still trying to get the last of it free with the tweezers. It was too blood slick and awkward to snag and it kept slipping away. She cursed over and over as it seemed to push back in deeper each time with each attempt;each spasming breath Mulder lungs took. She had a job to tamp down the panic that she'd never get it out. No. She had to. Failure wasn't in her vocabulary.


Shit. Fuck


Ahab's daughter had long since replaced the cool Dr Scully, FBI agent.


Mulder was screaming in earnest now, punctuated by long streams of creative obscenities that Scully knew would have made her father blush, and more than one plea for her to shoot him. Wrists raw from twisting them within his bonds, he was keeping still, some how, even though the urge to arch off the bed was so acute, he kept graying out.


"Sculleeeee!...Hurts,...OH GOD!"  


Scully never wanted to hear her name cried out that way ever again. It was hard to concentrate through his deafening wail. He could no more help it than he could draw breath; raw instinct had him shaking beneath her like an earthquake. She was gasping for air herself as she narrowly avoided stabbing his lung with the scalpel, the terror of that close call, had her desperately trying to still her hand, she gasped with the shock of what she'd almost done, feeling tremors all up her arm.


She was hurting him and he was crying for her stop but she had to keep going.She was pleading with God now, praying, willing Mulder's frantic heart to hold out and for the strength for all of them to make it through this. She was dead on her feet and her knees were numb from kneeling for hours by his bed. Mulder shuddered in his personal hell, almost jolting her arm again.


"Keep him still! For Gods sake,keep him still!" Scully railed as she fought for her own control and sanity. "I'm almost there now, Mulder. I'm almost there.." she sighed,sniffing back tears, exhaustion creeping in fast. "Just hang on for me baby. Hang on."


Skinner forced eye contact with Mulder and grabbed his sweat soaked face. Mulder tried to pull away, half crazy with pain, the AD terrified that he'd hare out when they were so close to getting this over with. Fear made him ruthless with younger man.


"Mulder, c'mon now look at me, son, look at me and focus!" he barked in his best AD voice of authority. It was a long shot this would work with Mulder's but it was worth a go, if he could calm his subordinate.


"Nnnggaaa..get.off me you...son of a..bitch!"   Skinner grabbed his chin again and forced him to look in his eyes.


" Agent Mulder,look at me now. Focus on my face. I'm not taking no for an answer. Come on you can do this. Scully's almost through, Just hold on,Okay son? Keep it together ... just a few more moments....  You can't pass out Agent, that's an order. God help me, I'll take the price of those mules out of your paycheck if you do.Focus and breathe,come on just breathe, think of nothing else. I got you. She's almost finished, just a few moments then you can rest. Just let her finish, its going to be okay. Just keep still. You can scream at me, rail at me if it helps. I know your hurting, Mulder, but just keep still. Okay. Sorry son , its got to come out, just hold on okay? You're doing so great. We're almost there." 


Mulder's screams tore from his throat like an unstoppable maelstrom of raw pain,the intensity of which chilled Skinner to the core.


"No!! lemme go...Scullleee!!"  He cried out like a skinned animal and Scully hated herself all over again.


"Mulder. You're doing great honey, just hang in there I'm almost done. I can see it now, just a little more, just a little...okay, okay ...I got it, pulling it out now. Its coming.... easy Mulder, easy. Don't move, don't even breath, I don't want to drop this..." Scully was holding her breath along with Mulder and the AD. Suddenly the offending final piece of wire eased out of the wound, tightly gripped in the tweezers. "There its is. There you are you ugly fucker!  Oh my god..." Scully, dropped it all in a large dish and blew out that breath she'd been holding. "I got it....  Jesus. I got the fucker. Mulder?" 


She held it up jubilantly again with the tweezers so he could see it. Tears streamed down his face and he nodded, relief pouring off him in waves, Still fighting for breath,he felt her hands in his hair now, stroking, soothing over and over and kissing him. Blood all over both of them, his face and hair. God she couldn't stop kissing him.


"God Mulder,its okay now,its going to be okay. Just rest for a little while, G-man. You've earned it. You're ok,, Mulder. Just a few things to take care of and you'll be more comfortable in a bit,I promise.He's okay," she grinned breathlessly at their boss who was still holding his agent for dear life, sweat pouring off his face.


Finally he let go as Scully stood and stretched her stiff neck and back with a pleasing crack of relief. It had taken close to two hours, Mulder admirably holding himself awake for part of the time, for some of it he'd been almost catatonic,hiding himself away in a little portion of his mind,detached from the trauma his physical self was undergoing.


Must have taken a Herculean effort until the pain just became too much. The last few moments when he'd been lucid again had been the worst she could've imagined; Scully's eyes fell on Mulder's blood soaked chest still heaving for breath, more blood running down his side into the bed, reminding her that she still had to clean and stitch him. He'd need internal stitches too. Oh God. She was so tired. She guessed they all were.


"How is he doing, Scully?"


Skinner was standing and straitening his own back while he watched her moving the stethoscope against Mulder's chest again, listening intently. The younger man still heaved for breath, bound arms so still now after so much struggling, his eyes looking lovingly at Scully. The AD winced, his wrists looked chaffed and raw, a testament to how powerful and desperate his pain had made him. Scully flicked her eyes up to his momentarily.


"Hanging in there. Just so glad we got it all out of him. Just taking 5 sir, before..."


Skinner gave her a wan smile watching the shadows from the fire and candle light dance over her face. They both felt good that Mulder was calm again but he balked at the thought that the poor guy still needed stitching up and any rest he was having was going to be short-lived, until Scully finished. Hell, they all needed a break before the inevitable second stage of purgatory began again. He wasn't sure he could take much more, let alone the nightmare Mulder was going through.


A lesser man would have crumbled but Mulder had held himself admirably,facing down the entire trauma,only haring out completely when his considerable pain threshold finally gave up and disintegrated. He had to admit he had a new found respect for Mulder, seeing such fortitude in his agent, but at the same time, it left him feeling that Mulder was spookier than ever.


All his own years in the hell of Vietnam, he'd never see anyone so strong in the face of such torment and pain, Mulder had more courage than he previously given him credit for and that had always been considerable.


"Erratic heart beat still but that's to be expected." Scully was saying  "His lungs are okay but a little wet sounding. I need to sort out his leg and bind his ribs. He should feel much more comfortable then,until we can get him to a hospital." When, she left unsaid,her free hand continuously stroking Mulder's hair while she took his vitals. "There's a lot of deep soft tissue and muscle damage to his chest and some broken ribs. Nothing major compromised, thank god, but infection and pneumonia are still something we have to be vigilant about. I'm going to need some more pillows or blankets to prop him up with. I have to watch him very closely."


"I can watch him if you want to sleep tonight. You're hurt yourself, Dana and your dead on your feet. I can always..."


"No." she cut him off,eyes flashing protectively in Mulder's direction. "With due respect, Walter, he needs my trained medical eye, if he deteriorates in the night with shock or infection then its best I spot it as quickly as I can and deal with it. I'll crash later but right now..." her eyes fell lovingly on her patient's sleepy face. " I'm not going to be able to sleep with him like this anyway. I could use some coffee though. Please tell me you found some something out there."  Her eyes glittered hopefully despite her tired pale face.


"I found something, if you can call it coffee. There's some tinned food, some of it is well...odd. But I'll see if I can come up with something. Necessity is the mother of invention. I thought I saw some camping equipment in one of the kitchen closets. Might be able to boil up some water on a stove or something. Failing that, the fireplace has a hook where I can hang the kettle. I should have done it before but there was too much going on with Mulder. I'm going to get that started and then get some air"


"I'll love you forever if you bring me coffee sir, ...I mean, Walter. I'm going to need warm water to bathe him with..and some ice or something for his head...and mine."  


"Hey, she's spoken for..."   Mulder's voice, strained and wheezy from screaming, startled them both. He'd appeared to be asleep. Both Skinner and Scully stifled a laugh, Scully gently ruffling Mulder's hair.


" Better believe it Mister, she whispered to only to him  and smiled at his sleepy eyes, before turning to her boss  " Take a break, Walter, I think you've earned it. Beyond the call of duty and all that, Mulder and I will okay alone for a few minutes."


" I'll be back shortly with the water....er I was going to hike back to the car, I'll see if I can salvage anything else useful, or try and flag down someone who can get us help or back to civilization. The storms worse though. I'll go first light, it will be easier and safer. Don't expect anyone will be fool enough to be driving out tonight, but in the morning I might find other cabins with phones or power. I suspect now a search will have got underway, but hell its Christmas, and they'll be less manpower out looking. I think most people will be at home with their families."


Scully nodded, a sad wistful expression on her face. At least Mulder was alive, probably the best present she could have hoped for under the circumstances. They had each other. Tonight that was enough.


" I'm just grateful for this cabin,if this hadn't been so close by..." Skinner nodded, sucking in a tired breath.   


"I think this was a our Christmas gift,Scully. A place of shelter and safety, even if it is lacking in more modern conveniences.  "


" A true miracle sir, our lives and this place. Just here when we needed it the most. The fire and the candles, its not home, but it is Christmassy. Really pretty, Walter. Thank you. If Mulder wasn't...if he ...hadn't.." several lumps got caught in her throat  and Scully prayed she wouldn't embarrass herself. The days events were catching up with her , adrenalin fading fast and all the unshed tears threatened to run down her face like an avalanche of fear, relief and stress of the close call they had all just come through.


Mulder wasn't out of the woods yet and that terrified her more than anything. She sent up a silent prayer of thanks for her strength that had seen her through these last desperate hours, for Mulder to be out of pain and her faith that they could all be at home very soon with their families, choking back the silent sob that formed over her heart with the unbidden image of her mother's worried face that her only surviving daughter and partner again were missing, when they should have been celebrating the joy of Christmas, instead ruining the occasion with worry and dread for that knock on the door. "...This would have been perfect" she barely whispered.


"Il get that coffee. Holler if you need me, Dana." Scully sniffed, and forced a smile. 


"..Yeah."  Skinner locked eyes with her for a second or two longer that he intended. Wanting to tell her that she and Mulder felt like the only family he'd had in a while now. His jaw muscle twitched under the urge to impart that to her, but part of him thought better of it. He left them to their privacy. 


Scully rechecked his dressing and the open wound underneath, then scooted up the bed, taking care not to jolt him. Mulder felt her hair tickle his face. One warm arm slid ever so carefully around and under his back so his head rested against her shoulder while her other hand worked at the knots binding his wrists.


He leaned into her warmth as she undid them one at a time,releasing them with great tenderness, pressing warm lips to the poor tortured skin on each with barest pressure in a gesture that shouted,'I'm sorry.' Pain still held him in a vice like grip but it seemed less now. He was sweat drenched and frightened, his chest tight and throbbing but the depth of love in Scully eyes as she looked at him, made up for all that.


"Hey, G -man, you with me, you okay?" Lips against his sweat drenched forehead, warm breath and a feeling of her pushing his hair back. " Your poor head, we'll get some ice on that. "


"..Yeah. " A faint smile on the corner of his lips. A pale shadow of his usual goofy morning grin.


" I'm so sorry, baby. I'm sorry I had to put you through that."  Any more stroking and he'd purr like a cat, despite the agony.


"S'alright, Scully. Had to be done.... Was I a complete asshole?"


" You don't remember any of that, do you?"


" Thankfully not much, although...Scully, did I puke on Skinner? Please tell me I didn't...It's vague. I..."


" I think you owe him a new pair of loafers and suit pants. Don't worry; I guess he'll think of a good penance."  She couldn't quite hide the amusement in her voice as her lips brushed his temple again. "And you asked me to shoot you once or twice."  Mulder closed his eyes in a painful grimace, knowing he'd put her through hell. Again. When was she going to get a break with him? When he looked in her eyes again, he could see the unshed tears that refused to fall and felt like seven kinds of heel.   


"...And you're hurt, Scully. Are you okay? "   His fingers shakily reached out for hers, they met, joined and entwined.


"I'm fine Mulder."  Her eyes softened as at the crease of worry on his face, she kissed his shoulder and put her forehead to his. " Really. I'm tired, but I'm okay. You came off worse than all of us put together..um.." 


Mulder's heartbeat began to thump unhappily at something in her hesitation to go on. She was playing with the hair at the nape of his neck. Nervous breathe in his ear. Suddenly he felt his brain catch up. 




"You're not finished?.... Scully....?" he felt her long sigh against his face.


"No, No I'm not, sweetheart. Here's the deal..."  She felt a tightening in her stomach as she watched the fresh anxiety pass like dull clouds over his eyes. Her arms tightened around him as if trying to soften the blow he knew was coming. He wanted nothing more at his point to disappear into her skin and never venture out again, heart pounding so fast, it made him lightheaded and sick. Despite the warmth of her body so close to him, ice ran riot in his veins. " Mulder, honey, I'm sorry. I know you're hurting, but I'm going need to bathe you and clean you up a little, then I need to do a bit of needlecraft on that wound.  Walter should be back with warm water shortly then I can start. Just rest up a little, I'm so sorry, we all needed to catch our breath. God this is so hard.."


Mulder felt the first warm tears fall on his bare shoulder. She startled when she found his fingers worrying her cheeks, trying to catch them before they fell. Several more streamed down her face at the unconditional forgiveness in his eyes., the tiny smile of affection  that meant more to her than anything right now. She was going to have to cause him pain again, and he was giving her permission in that gentle beautiful face. She couldn't have loved him more at that moment.


"You untied my arms, I...I "


" I can't see...that again, Mulder. Seeing you like that...I know...I know you shouldn't be unconscious, god knows this goes against all I was trained for, all of this.... But I..... since you were passing in and out while I was removing the wire, I guess.... it's a moot point. If you feel you can't...then you can let go. Do what you need to get through this, even if it means you pass out." She couldn't finish. His fingers stroked hers,brought them slowly to his lips and kissed them.


" Shhh,its okay. I'll be fine. Just hope your needlework's better than your cooking." He caught her eyes with a hint of a smile. He felt exhausted, nauseous and not ready face this again, he shuddered at the thought of more pain, but he could see what this was doing to her,ripping her soul apart. She sniffed back her tears and wiped her eyes.


" I'll remember that while I'm tiptoeing across your pectorals. Besides, you said you liked my cooking." Fever filled eyes beamed at her, then closed. He wasn't going to stay the course. Not this time. She squeezed his hand."I'll be as quick as I can and very very gentle okay?"  he nodded almost imperceptibly into the warm haven of her shoulder. If they got out of this, he'd make Christmas up to her and make it one to remember.


"Love you Scully." He was crying in earnest now. Fear warring with his concern for her. 


"Love you too, so much...I'm sorry. Make it up to you soon,G-man." She kissed both his eyelids and rubbed his cheek. He nodded, eyes closed, mentally calling on all his strength to stop himself flying apart.


Walter soon returned with ice and warm water. Mulder finally let oblivion take him just as his tortured brain cells registered the smell of coffee. He never even stirred by the time Scully inserted the first needle through his devastated flesh and lay deathly pale and still, 200 or so inner, and outer stitches later. 


They couldn't wake him.They didn't have the heart,to try. They let him be and felt some kind of comfort at least that he wasn't awake for this. The rattle increasing in his lungs was frightening confirmation that he had contracted pneumonia, his struggles for breath and fever burning brightly hours later, turning his skin to a furnace. Her fear for his life increased ten fold. Without proper antibiotics and more surgery.... 


 Scully cried again as she worked while Skinner kept her supplied with coffee and much needed moral support. A joke when things got too hard to see what she was doing in front of her, to bring her back, a comforting warm hand on her shoulder to let her know that she wasn't in this alone. In the space of a tragic few short hours her boss had been replaced but a welcome but unexpected friend. She thanked God again for the 100th time that night.


Somehow Scully held herself up long enough to bathe Mulder, stitch and strap up both ribs and ankle. Mulder stirred in fever dreams, soft flickers from the fire giving him a child like, peaceful look, so different from one convulsed in such pain earlier. 


Sometime after 2am, Scully finally succumbed to her exhaustion, watched over by the concerned brown eyes of Walter Skinner as he sat vigil beside his two agents; holding the hand of one as she slept, tucked up beside Mulder on the bed, and gently bathing the fever from the other's face, with cool water. They looked like a couple of kids, instead of two FBI agents. 


He glanced at his watch and pulled his lips into a tight sad smile, as he went back to the vital task of bathing his injured agent.


Merry Christmas, Fox and Dana.


Eventually the cabin in the mountains fell as silent as the snow falling outside, except for the crack popping of the waning fire and the occasional murmurs of pain from Mulder as he fought demons in his troubled sleep. None of them saw the door slowly open, the multi-colored lights that bounced off the cabin windows and the light flurries of blizzard flakes swirling through to the living room and around the night visitor as he made his entrance from the wintry night, patting the snow from clothes and beard, the thud of his boots as he stamped off the snow.


 "Oh my" he chuckled to himself gruffly, peeping round the door to the bedroom. Eyes twinkling like candle flickers.


The old man sucked on his beloved pipe, savoring the rich aroma as he took in his unexpected guests. A bald man with glasses, kind of authoritarian looking, stocky. A petite red headed beauty, who on closer inspection had her arm possessively around the waist of the younger, dark haired man in the bed covered only by blankets. He looked like a boy, eyes closed tight against unknown pain, dark lashes forming crescent smudges under his eyes.


"Tsk tsk tsk", the sound almost silent like falling flakes, muffled by his substantial beard. Oh dear.


As he moved closer still, he peered right down into his face, noting the sweat soaked hair, feeling heat,distress, watching intently as soft moans spilled from his lips. The sweat that poured down his face and gave the young man's chest a glowing sheen in the dying candlelight, spoke of acute sickness.


His chest rose and fell in erratic, painful looking spasms and he could see his pulse jumping in his pale neck like it wanted to escape. There was something in the air tonight beside the smell of candle wax, the ever-pleasing aroma of burning logs. He sniffed the air, Blood tainted through all the other smells and his eyes fell back to the young man, sorrow in his gaze.


Then his eyes fell on the dressings and various blood stained blankets at his feet and around the bed. The man's huge girth swelled with empathy.


Poor handsome Laddie, you've had a rough night haven't you.


He slowly put a finger out to touch him, and then withdrew as if burned. He was close enough to hear the frantic beat of his heart. Pursing his lips, he closed his eyes for a second, listening to the sounds of life now filling the cabin, this troubled room, before shaking his head. Slowly and silently he closed the door leaving them all to their sleep. It had been a long night. 


An old man sat by the fire in his favorite chair, smoking a pipe and rocking gently while the blizzard outside raged against the Blue Mountains, thinking it was good to be home,but he was deeply troubled; his thoughts returning time after time to the sick man who burned in fitful sleep in his bed tonight.


So long since anyone had come to call, so long since anyone had really needed him. Not his family, he had trouble picturing them now. Not The Great Malls of America, too old they'd said, too eccentric. Too generous and not enough profit. They'd let him go with a kindly but insincere handshake, after all those years of faithful service. It was his joy to give, much better than receiving and he was so lonely. This was the worse time of year to be alone, even for him. He'd come home to lick his wounds. 


He missed the children, their laughter, their joy & honesty, their ability to see magic in every living thing, uncomplicated by the doubts and skepticism that the passage of time brought to their hearts too soon. They'd made him soar and gave him a chance to fly. He was old, old and obsolete like many of his predecessors before him. The children believed in him once too, that made him picture the face of the young man, the face of a believer, of magical things. The others and the tell tale signs of exhaustion and struggle etched in their faces, the real powerful magic that was the love that bound the trio together, that made them fight for his life. To give their all for the one who had fallen. 


The old man scratched his craggy white beard.  That young man in his room needed him. It hit him like the light from the brightest star in the galaxy.He had so few gifts left before.. 


But this, this he could give, some how he just knew that this was right. For the first time in many years he let the warmth from the fire seep into his tired old bones as he rose from his favorite old chair, his only friend for a long time. With renewed purpose he moved silently back to the bedroom, the lines and crinkles of too many unkind years melting from his face like snow flakes, his eyes shone and cheeks glowed beneath his mane of white beard for the first time in as long as he could remember.


No worthier souls than these.


Something cool and wet eased across the fire of his forehead, rousing him finally from his fevered dreams. He opened his eyes, expecting to find Scully's loveing hands bathing him with ice water but the ones he was seeing were rough and calloused. He and delirium were old buddies and deep down he knew he had to be it its grip, but never before had he woken like this to find Scully at least 300 pounds overweight and sporting a craggy white beard and nose hair. His mouth opened in hazy wonder and somewhere along the way he thought he'd pass out again. He squinted in the flickering flame light, a grin slowly spreading until it blew up a riot in his eyes. 


"Aren't you Kenny Rodgers?"  Mulder's midnight Samaritan grinned wickedly and put a finger to his lips.


"Shhhhhhhh ..."  


"...Who are you?" 


Kenny, or whoever he was, now seemed to be bathed in his own multi colored light source that spread to envelop Mulder with tiny warm pinpricks all over his body that seemed to reach right inside him, easing the pain, the fire of infection, the thunder in his head.  


"Do you believe,son? I feel it strong inside you. Don't ever let that go. "


"I....I.....want to ..."  he was too hypnotized by the sights and sensations that held him in a some kind of suspension and were physically healing him from the inside out,to form any kind of  coherent sentence. It was the most amazing feeling he could ever remember. Like love, like pure energy, so intense he wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. He nodded finally; feeling dizzy as this light entity surrounded and engulfed him, bathed him in some kind of microcosm of pure peace and contentment. The last thing that registered before his heavy eyelids closed was a soothing voice full of joyful laughter.  "Believe..."


" ...When you were seven, Fox Mulder.... that was an imposter ...I'm the real deal." 






"Get way from him, NOW"


Scully pointed her Sig at the beefy old guy hovering over Mulder's body. Wide eyed and voice shaky from disturbed sleep and fright, she became the epitome of a professional FBI agent. Skinner by her side in an instant, following suit with his own sig.  The old guy smiled, a gentle smile on his face a thousand years old. The bubble that held Mulder grew outwards to envelope them both and the last thing they remembered was the soft laughter and sound of snow falling against the window. A far away voice echoed all around them.


"Merry Christmas. ...  It's a time for miracles...choose your dearest wish..Its magic if you believe...."



Mulder rolled over, feeling another warm body, he leaned into it,stretching and spooning with a contented sigh. Strawberry shampoo reached into his lungs as he buried his nose in her hair and breathed her in. A smile crept over his face as he snuggled to enjoy the contact with her skin and slid an arm around her waist. She stirred just a little leaning back into him and making that little noise that drove him crazy. Mulder's tongue made tentative little swirls over her earlobe, delighted when she shuddered. So content, he could stay here all day just basking in this love so new and largely unexplored.


Tap tap tap    There its was again. He wasn't imagining it.


One eye opened lazily at the shy knock on the door.  It opened just a crack to reveal the delightedly grinning countenance of Margaret Scully. She was bouncing in the doorway like an overly excited Doberman, Bill's baby son, Matthew bouncing along with her on her arm, wearing a funny little Santa hat with a glowing bobble on top, Charlie's four year old daughter Lauren, hiding halfway behind her legs hugging what looked like an new dolly.


Scully, now wide awake, emerged from the warm cocoon, otherwise known as Mulder and peered, nonchalantly over the covers, pulled up tight to hide both their present nakedness. She practiced grinning innocently like the good catholic daughter she was,despite their current dubious positions, not that her mother noticed one iota in her current state of Christmassy exuberance. Mulder got a sudden urge to poke his head down the blanket and study his chest. He noticed Scully looking too. A few seconds later he shrugged.


Scully glanced at him, faint smile on her lips. She could almost hear Mulder's considerable brain going through its machinations, trying to equate this scenario coupled with fragments of screeching tires, copious blood, Mulderscreams and a laughing old man. It tickled the parts of their consciousness that they couldn't quite fathom, no matter how they tried to work it out.


"Dana, Fox, Merry Christmas.  Darlings what a wonderful surprise. I never heard you come in. I'm so pleased you decided to come early. Come on, we're just about to open the presents."  She bounced a bit more. If that was possible  "So sneaky of you. Not that I mind of course. Just so happy you decide to share your first Christmas with us all as a family. I've warned Bill, that under pain of death he will have to behave. I've even invited that lovely boss of yours, Mr. Skinner. Can't have that lovely man lonely at Christmas can we? Hope you don't mind.  Ooh, this is going to be as the best Christmas ever." 


The door snicked shut and soon the sound of Christmas carols wafted up from downstairs along with various pleasing smells of Christmas dinner, "...Ah, Scully?".


Blue eyes met hazel in joint utter stupefaction. Mulder was grinning,not uncharacteristically like an idiot.Scully shook her head, her smile lightening his heart. She looked as confused as he was. He shrugged, the movement baring his deliciously inviting chest. She couldn't pull her eyes away.


"Do you believe, Scully?"  Scully's finger found itself trailing to a point on his left chest, expecting to find...something. When she looked up all she saw was the love he'd carried there in his hazel depths for more years than she could remember. Her constant. Her touchstone. How she loved him. He leaned down and kissed her. 


"What happened Mulder?" that was his Scully, logical as ever.  The bottom lip came out in a bemused pout. "I..."


"Ummm? Dunno, Scully. Guess it's a kind magic...if you believe."  His hazel eyes twinkled with an unknown knowledge.


"Do you?"


" I.. believe in love, in us  and that you will be there for me no matter what. " he kissed her tenderly. " Merry Christmas, baby," he broke away breathless. Watching her fingers as they settled over his heart, stroking.


"Something.... Happened...I" 


" Lets just believe, go join the others. It's our first Christmas. C'mon. The thought of your, mom's Christmas dinner is getting me hungry."


"Not the only thing you're hungry for I bet, Okay, ...okay. Merry Christmas Mulder, I love you."


" Love you , Scully. Il make you believe that later...after Billy's gone home."


"Gonna hold you to that G -man.."


Mulder looked out the window into Margaret Scully's back garden. The day had been perfect as any he could have imagined. It was about love, family; acceptance and being together, even Billy had called a truce. Another man slid into the refection behind him, watching the tree lights flick on and off.




"Yes sir?"


"Why do I get the feeling...."


"I know, ...I know sir, its something. I...had this feeling all day..." He looked at the stars and saw them move all of a sudden as if they were dancing just for him. "Sir...Walter...? "


Scully walked out to join them at the back door,smiling as only happy scully could, her arms sliding around both their waists. She planted a kiss on both their cheeks.


"Yeah, Mulder?"


" Nothing I'm just ...well ...feels like we have been given a wonderful gift. I ..er can't explain. "


"Know what I think, Mulder?"


"It's a kind of magic."   They all said in unison.


"If you believe..." Mulder voiced drifted into the night. 


The old man took a bow. His last gift gratefully received.   



The End.