Co-authored with Mary Kate
Written December 1995
Synopsis: A holly jolly Christmas it is not when Mulder and Scully are snowed in together.
Disclaimer: The characters you recognize belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, and Fox Television. No infringement is intended.
“How high would you say the ceiling to my apartment is?”
Fox Mulder frowned, thinking about the question. “About . . . nine and a half feet?”
“Okay, good. How does an eight-foot tree sound?”
Dana Scully folded her arms across her chest and sighed, her breath coming out a white and smoky blur in front of her face. “And just what does that mean?”
“Well, look at it this way. You are a single woman of thirty-something who’s buying an eight-foot pine tree to put in her apartment for three more days. You’re barely over five feet tall! No one will see it, the only presents under it will be your own–”
“–and Clyde’s,” she interrupted.
Always thinking of that dog. “And Clyde’s,” he corrected swiftly.
“I’ll leave the tree up until New Year’s, when you’ll help me take it down.”
“Oh, joy . . . ”
The two agents were standing in Fred’s Tree Lot, examining the remaining pines. They had just spent two hours at an FBI Christmas party and were still wearing their formal outfits, covered by large parkas to protect them from the whipping wind and the lightly falling snow.
Mulder shivered as Scully studied more trees. The wind chill factor must have been two million below zero, and here he was, standing out in the freezing cold wearing a tuxedo and a cold weather jacket that went down to his knees. Of course Scully was colder.
Her knees were shaking, legs covered only by pantyhose. She was wearing a maroon velvet dress that almost went down to her knees. Over it she wore a fur jacket, the hood pulled over her head, protecting her hair.
He had just decided that they should forget the tree and go out for some hot chocolate when she and a man came over to him. The man was carrying a large tree. “Where do you want this?”
Scully frowned. “Well, we don’t have a pickup . . . ”
Mulder almost choked when he realized that they had come in his Ford Taurus, the one he had just had cleaned only yesterday from the last adventure they had undertaken for the FBI. “Gee, don’t you think that tree is a little bit big?”
She glanced at it suspiciously. “It’s only six feet tall. If I get a chair, I can reach the top.”
“No, no . . . width, Scully, width.”
That did seem to be a problem. She suddenly came up with an idea. “We’ll just lay it on the roof!”
He rolled his eyes. “Why don’t we just get a different one? One that’s tied up already.”
She stood akimbo and glared at him. “I. Want. This. Tree,” she growled. Then she turned to the man with the tree, who looked rather scared. “Do you have a pickup we could borrow?”
“Right in back,” he answered quickly. “I’ll get it ready.”
She rubbed her gloved hands together as he walked off. “Good.”
As it just so happened, Scully rode in the pickup with the man, and Mulder drove his car. He felt strange because he was following a tree. The pine Scully had chosen took up the entire back end of the truck, so all Mulder could see was a huge tree in front of him on the road. A few of the needles and once an entire limb landed on the windshield, and he was forced to use the wipers to get it off.
When they reached her apartment, the man didn’t wait for a tip; he put the tree on the ground and drove off quickly. That left the two agents to figure out a way to get the tree in the building.
“What now?” Mulder asked, shivering next to Scully.
“We have to get it inside.”
“No kidding. How?”
“I don’t know. Backwards, maybe, so we don’t break the branches?”
He neglected to tell her that half of the tree had landed on his car as he grabbed the trunk and headed into the building backwards. She supported the rest of it, and they finally got it through.
“Okay . . . ” he began. “Now into your apartment.”
“Shouldn’t be hard. Do the same thing.”
He grabbed the trunk again and, once she had opened it, pushed through the door. He stepped on something, and that something yelped loudly.
Scully gasped and dropped her half of the tree. “Oh, Clyde!” she cried, picking up the fluffy, little pooch that had ran out of the apartment to her whining. “Poor baby!”
Mulder, inside the apartment, was struggling. The tree had suddenly gotten very heavy. “Scully,” he groaned, feeling his grasp weaken. “Help . . . ” He released the trunk, and it landed on the floor with a loud thump.
Scully, in the hallway holding the dog, glared at him. “Why did you drop the tree?”
“I didn’t drop it! You dropped it, which caused a chain reaction.”
“Mulder, I’m out here, nursing Clyde. You nearly broke his little feet.”
“How was I supposed to know he’d walk underneath me?”
“Hey!” a neighbor yelled from the hallway. “Keep it down on here, will ya?”
“Sorry,” Scully apologized softly, setting Clyde on the floor and picking up her half. “Come on, Mulder.”
He grabbed the trunk, grumbling to himself, and dragged it inside.
“Lift your end up, Scully.”
“You see, Mulder, there’s this thing called ‘height difference.’ You are six feet, I am five two. Ergo, when I hold it up as far as I can, it does not meet your standards. Got it?”
He made a whistling sound. “Okay, okay.” He lowered the trunk to reach her height limitations. “What put you in a bad mood?”
They had entered the apartment. “You.” She dropped the tree in the middle of the living room. “I’m trying to get in the holiday mood here, which is pretty hard to do considering all that happened this year, and you keep ruining it.”
Mulder was instantly contrite. “I’m sorry, Scully. It’s just that… well, after Samantha disappeared Christmas wasn’t special anymore. I know this means a lot to you. I’ll try to be better, I swear.”
Oh God, not the puppy dog look. It always made her cave in. Scully gave her partner a smile. “Thanks Mulder. Why don’t you stay a bit and help me put up the tree?” Seeing his hesitation she added an incentive. “I’ll make you coffee, just the way you like it – with a shot of Baileys.”
“Oh, you Irish know how to make a good liquor.” He looked around. “Where did Clyde go?”
“Don’t know.” Scully looked around. “Clyde?” No answer. “Mulder, why’s the door open?”
“Well, it would be kind of hard to close it when you are carrying a tree.” He realized his mistake. “You don’t think…”
“Yes, I do.” She grabbed her coat. “That dog just made a break for it. Come on, Mulder, we have a dog-search to conduct.”
They made their way outside. It seemed as if the temperature had dropped another ten degrees, as well as wind picking up and the snow increasing. Willing himself to make an effort for Scully’s sake, he looked around. “Where do you think he would go?”
“He likes those bushes over there.” She pointed to a scratchy looking bush, near the building.
“You’re not asking me…”
She gave him The Look. “You lose my dog, you crawl on the ground.”
Scully watched as Mulder lowered himself on the white earth. He tried to ignore the cold wetness seeping through his coat and pants, but with no avail. When I find that dog, he’s dead. He called back to his partner. “I know I said I would be good, Scully, but this is really pushing my holiday spirit.”
A voice traveled to his ear. “Just do it, Mulder.”
He groaned. Not only was he cold and soaked, the bush was actually more painful than it looked. Every movement caused the prickly needles to pierce his skin, creating pain in places he never knew about. “Clyde?” He finally crawled into the little space that looked like the dog’s nesting area. No dog. Great. Just great. Mulder slowly crawled backwards out of the bush. “No Clyde there, Scully.” He straightened, trying to brush the ever present needles off his coat.
Scully was distraught. “Where do you think he went?”
To hell. Mulder bit back the caustic remark and put his arm around her. “I’m sure he’s fine, Scully. Why don’t we go inside and dry ourselves off? Then we can look later on.”
“Okay.” They walked back to her apartment, arm in arm.
“Clyde!” The door opened to reveal a warm, dry, comfortable pooch sitting on the settee, looking at the two humans who entered his domain. Scully rushed to give her pet a hug, while Mulder plotted his revenge against the pet.
Oh, someday soon, my four legged friend. You’ve gone too far this time. He watched as owner and dog shared a heartfelt reunion, then interrupted with a loud “Ahem.”
“What is it, Mulder?” Scully was still coddling the dog in her arms.
“Could you help me out here? I’m kind of dripping, while feeling pneumonia setting in.”
“Sorry.” She carefully set the canine on the ground and took the wet coat from her partner. “Would you like me to dry your clothes? I think I have a pair of jeans and a Tee shirt you left over here the last time. Go and take a hot shower and everything will be ready when you get out.”
“Thanks.” In the bathroom he stripped, passing the clothes out to his awaiting partner. The scalding hot water did much to ward off the chill in his bones (and remove the needles lodged in his skin), although the shot of Baileys would be the final touch to warm his body. He stepped from the shower to find his clothes folded neatly on the counter. Dressing quickly, he exited the bathroom to meet Scully in the kitchen.
“Okay, Scully, I’m ready for my coffee now.” He sat at the counter, looking like a child waiting for Santa. Hearing the yapping at his feet, Mulder kicked the dog. Feelings hurt, Clyde skulked out of the room.
“Here we go.” Scully had also changed. Like Mulder, she too dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, although he didn’t seem to have the oversized pink fuzz bunny slippers. “Interesting choice of footwear, Scully. Why don’t you wear them to the office?”
“Hey, be quiet. These are really warm and comfortable. Want to try them on?”
He looked up from his coffee cup and grimaced. “I don’t really think that pink is my color.”
“I guess that means I have to return your Christmas present, then. Okay, Mulder, finish getting liquored up, and then you are going to help me put up the tree. You promised.”
He groaned. “Yes, I remember.” Mulder finished the last drop of brown liquid and followed Scully to the living room. “Where do you want to put it?”
“In the window.” Living in the first apartment on the second floor, everyone would have the opportunity to see tree. Unfortunately, there was a couch in front of the window.
“You don’t want to move that, do you?”
“Well, we’ll have to put the tree there.” She went over to the sofa and picked up and edge. “Ready?”
The two moved the couch to the other wall and set the tree stand in front of the window. Gently they set the tree into the red and green stand. Mulder held the tree while Scully screwed the pins into the trunk. Finished, they stood back to look at their creation.
“It’s crooked,” Mulder pronounced.
“No it’s not.”
“Yes it is. Loosen the screw while I fix it.”
He stared at her. “I went outside, looking for a dog that was inside, and crawled in the snow under a bush. I don’t think a Christmas tree indoors is that much trouble.”
“Okay.” She pulled the screw out, feeling Mulder pushing the tree to the right. The pin was replaced and she straightened. “Now it’s crooked.”
He gazed at the tree. “Yep, you’re right.”
After three more tries they both agreed that a slanted tree was better than none at all. Looking at his watch Mulder sighed. “After midnight. Sorry, Scully, gotta go. I hear Showtime is holding a ‘Red Shoe Diaries’ marathon.”
“I know how important that is. Help me decorate tomorrow?” she asked as she showed him out.
“Sure.” The two stopped at the outside door. The weather had gotten progressively worse, reaching the point where the road and Mulder’s car could not be seen. At least ten inches of snow covered the ground (if there was one). Mulder gulped. “Scully, we have a problem.”
The two of them retreated to her apartment and shut the door. Scully went up to the window where the tree was and looked through the branches. “I can’t believe we didn’t notice it.”
Well, it’s obvious why we didn’t! The damn tree covers the entire window. “Of all the stupid times not to set my stupid VCR.”
Both pairs of eyes turned to Scully’s nice home entertainment center sitting by the fireplace. The whole batch of blank video tapes lined the side of the cabinet with the glass door. The TV Guide sitting on the coffee table let Scully read what was on the channels that she had–which was every channel the cable company had, as well.
They raced to the television set. He jumped over the couch, and she ran around it. Clyde hopped onto the coffee table and barked ferociously at Mulder, who froze in place, as Scully snatched the remote control and blocked the VCR.
“Oh, Scully, please . . . ”
“I won’t let you watch that in my house,” she told him. “What we need to watch is . . . good, quality, family entertainment.”
He gulped. That didn’t sound good. “I’d let my kids watch ‘Red Shoe Diaries’.”
Clyde turned to her and sat on the table. Mulder flopped down on the couch, glaring at the dog. She slid a video into the VCR and pressed play. It was black and white, and there was a large bell ringing. He frowned. “This isn’t Disney.”
She frowned and headed into the kitchen.
“Hey, Scully, you’re going to watch this, too, or I’ll turn on Showtime.”
“I’ll be there once I finish making popcorn.”
“Scully!” he yelled when he saw the title. “You’re going to make me watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’?”
“It’s a wonderful movie.” She grinned, carrying a beer to him.
“Not funny.” He took the beer gratefully. Clyde jumped to him and sniffed at the can. Mulder looked to make sure Scully was safely in the kitchen, then dumped some into the palm of his hand and let the little pooch lap it up. “There you go, dog. Drink and be merry.” He laughed, taking a drink from the can.
Clyde thought the liquid tasted funny but drank it anyway. When he was finished, he headed for Scully’s bedroom, feeling slightly dizzy.
Mulder watched the Pomeranian stagger into Scully’s room and laughed loudly. Scully came into the living room with the bowl of buttered popcorn. “You’re not even watching the movie.”
“You’re right; I’m not.” He gave her a sorry look. “I will now, okay?”
She smiled sweetly. “Hmm . . . what’s that smell?”
A big pile of bull sh . . . “Maybe your dog threw up.”
She frowned. “Where is Clyde, anyway?”
“He’ll find his way here. Now be quiet so I can watch this movie.”
She allowed him to put his arm around her, but she was still wondering what was wrong.
She soon found out. Clyde came out of the bedroom an hour later and vomited all over Mulder’s feet. Then the dog passed out. She couldn’t figure out what was wrong.
Nearly crying, she picked up the unconscious pup and set him gently on her pillow. She sniffled. “If it wasn’t storming, I’d take him to the vet to see what’s wrong.”
Mulder felt miserable. He probably killed the damn dog. “Um, Scully . . . I know what’s wrong.”
She turned to him, her eyes red. “What happened?”
“Well, I gave him some of my beer and . . . I guess he got a little drunk.”
Mulder could never have prepared for Scully’s next move. The last thing he saw before blacking out was her fist coming into contact with his face.
A faint humming of ‘Silent Night’ woke Mulder from his sleep. That, glass breaking, and Scully saying every colorful word in the book.
“Damn bulb. Didn’t like it anyway,” he heard Scully mutter.
The light that was shining on his face suddenly vanished. He opened his eyes to see Scully standing over him.
“Oh, you’re up.” She stepped on his hand as she started for the kitchen, and he grunted.
“Scully!” he spattered, sitting up, wincing when unbearable pain shot through his head. “You’re violent this evening.”
“Violent? And you wonder why. You get my dog drunk, make my tree incredibly crooked, and drive me insane with your constant whining for your porno flicks.” She peered down at him after returning. “And it isn’t ‘evening’ any more. It’s seven a.m.”
“Where have I been?”
“Sleeping on my living room floor, that’s where.” She stepped on his hand again, and he grabbed her ankle, bringing her crashing into his lap.
“Just what is your problem? Okay, so I never should’ve given Clyde some beer, but he should’ve come when he was called instead of making me crawl around under a damn bush.”
She just blinked at him and stood up. “There’s some eggnog and gingerbread if you want some.”
“Ooh, the five star breakfast.” He stood up slowly. “How’s the weather?”
“You’re still stuck here, if that’s what you mean.”
“No, I just want to know if I’m . . . ” His voice lowered. ” . . . still stuck here. Hmm.” He dipped his finger in the frosting. “What are you doing, making Christmas cookies?”
“Close. A gingerbread house.” She hung a few more icicles on a branch. “You can help if you want.”
“How’s Clyde?” he asked a while later, once he had found the egg nog.
“Suffering from the doggie equivalent of a hangover.”
He took a sip of the beverage and raised his eyebrows. “What did you put in this–whiskey, brandy, or wine?”
“D. All of the above.”
He sighed. “That’s not good. No wonder it tastes so funny.” He took a gulp anyway.
“Well, you have to be thinking on my level. I figured that this storm isn’t going to let up any time soon, and it struck me that I’d be cooped up with you . . . hence I put a hell of a lot of booze in the eggnog.” She hung a bulb on one of the branches, and it fell off, landing on the floor with a crash. “Son of a bitch!”
Mulder chuckled and went over to her. “See why my floors are carpeted?” He took another bulb and hung it up. It stayed there. “Be gentle.”
Together, they decorated the tree and were done by 8:30. At that time, Scully checked on Clyde while Mulder channel-surfed.
She came into the living room, Clyde in her arms. “What is it?”
“‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ is on! I love this movie.”
“Why–because you starred in it?”
He paid her no mind as he began to speak along with the movie. “‘The Grinch hated Christmas, the whole Christmas season. No, please don’t ask why, no one quite knows the reason. It could be perhaps that his shoes were too tight. It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right. But I think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.'”
Scully chuckled, sitting next to him. “Well, Mulder, you’re either into porno or cartoons.”
“Ever seen a porno cartoon?”
“No. And I don’t want to either.”
Clyde merely yawned.
The half hour was up, and they sat back and smiled. “Okay, you were right Mulder. It was a great cartoon.”
That’s not even the best one. Too bad that ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ isn’t on.”
“I can’t get the show on TV, but I can bring the music to you.” She walked over to the stereo, selecting a CD and placing it in the player. Almost immediately the music of Vince Girabaldi and Schroeder floated throughout the living room.
“What do you want to do next?” It was only nine in the morning, and already Mulder was bored.
“No way. You’ve seen my apartment.”
“Wrap Christmas presents?”
“I don’t have any to wrap.”
“Well, you can help me wrap mine.” Scully disappeared for a minute, then returned with three bags full of presents and wrapping paper galore. “I hope you’re good at this.”
“Yeah, sure.” How hard can it be?
One hour later, Mulder found out how hard.
“What?” he exclaimed innocently, holding out the wrapped package. “You don’t like it?”
“Where’s the paper?” The Snoopy Sno-Cone machine she had bought for her niece Sally looked God Awful. Paper stuck haphazardly across the box gave an illusion of “wrapped” but not enough of one.
“It was too short, and I didn’t feel like wasting it, so I…”
Scully groaned, putting her head in her hands. “Did you do all the presents like this?”
“Okay, get out.” He started to say something but she kept on talking. “I am going to finish the wrapping. Go and do something constructive. Leave before I have to use bodily force.”
“You already have,” Mulder replied, rubbing his jaw. He cleared the doorway before the crushed gift wrap hit him.
As soon as he left the room, he felt sorry. This year was rough on both of them, losing family members that meant so much. Even though her pain was greater, she was going out of her way to make his holiday a good one. Monday he was joining the rest of Scully’s family in Norfolk to celebrate Christmas. The least he could do was try to do the same for his friend.
He decided his course of action would be to make lunch. Refrigerator bare of all food, he looked outside. It’s not snowing that hard. Pulling on his coat and putting Clyde’s leash on, Mulder yelled a hasty goodbye to Scully and headed out to the convenience store three blocks away.
A door opened and then a crash. “Damn, damn, DAMN!” The little dog raced into the apartment as Mulder dropped the packages. “Scully!”
“What?” She raced to the foyer, only to be confronted by a dripping Mulder picking up the dropped bags.
“I could use some help here.”
Scully stopped laughing long enough to pick up a bag. “Where did you go? I thought you were just taking Clyde for a walk.”
Shaking his head from the offensive snow he answered. “Seven-Eleven on Maple Drive. Funny how many people you meet in a 24 hour convenience store during the middle of a blizzard.”
They entered the kitchen, both dropping the bags on the counter. Mulder took off his coat, trying to warm himself in front of the space heater. “This doesn’t work.”
“Oh, really? That kind of quick thinking must be inane only to geniuses.” Seeing how much he looked like a drowned rat, Mulder’s partner took pity on him. “I dried your clothes from last night. You can take another shower, put those clothes on, and I’ll dry this outfit.”
“A tuxedo, Scully? Don’t you think I’ll be a little overdressed for the occasion?” Even as he said so he was shrugging out of the sweatshirt and heading for the bathroom.
“Silly rabbit.” Scully put away the food he had bought. Non-alcoholic champagne, international creamers, Ruffles, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Spaghetti O’s. “Unfortunately, this is the best that 7-11 has to offer.” Making sure the clothes were placed inside the bathroom (trying hard not to peek), Scully lit the fireplace and sat there, listening to the soothing music.
She heard Mulder sitting down next to her. “Very nice, Scully. This will really take the chill off.”
She turned to face him. “What were your Christmases like when you were a kid, Mulder?”
He stared into the flames. “Before Samantha died, they were great. We would go to my grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve and exchange presents. You know, the boring ones – underwear, socks, sweaters. Then we would get the toys on Christmas Day. Dad would play football with me in the backyard, snow or not, while Samantha and Mom started dinner. It was just the four of us. After the abduction, nothing was the same. Dad had to go away on Christmas, and my grandmother passed away. We still had presents and Christmas dinner, but not like it had been. There was no joy anymore.”
“There were six of us. Everybody would come over Christmas Eve and we would have a big party. Then at eleven o’clock we headed over to Saint Joseph’s for midnight mass. We lit candles and sang carols. When we arrived home we would open up our gifts and on Christmas we would go to my aunt and uncle’s.”
“That’s nice.” Mulder suddenly had a need to be honest with his friend. “Sometimes I wish I had your family.”
“You are part of the family, Mulder,” she smiled, then became grim. “Can I ask you a question, Mulder?”
“Do you believe in God?”
“That was out of the blue. Anyway,” he thought for a moment. “I believe in a higher power. I don’t know whether it is God, or E.T., Barney, or what. My family was never religious.”
“Mine was. I attended religion classes every year until eighth grade. I made my confirmation, and even became a Eucharist minister. I don’t know what happened to me, Mulder. I believed so strongly. Then I entered medical school and the FBI. So many things tested my beliefs. I saw deaths, horrible murders, what happened to myself and Missy, all those x-files. No humane God could ever do that to the world.”
She looked so lost, helpless even. “What about your experiences with Kevin Kryder?”
“I felt something I hadn’t in a long time. No matter what you say Mulder, it was a miracle. God chose me to protect Kevin, who was a messenger for Him. Finally some good was done in the world. Kevin was saved.”
“I don’t understand, Scully. Do you believe now?”
“I don’t know!” She was softly crying, her dilemma understandable. “I want to, I do. I don’t know if I have the faith anymore.”
Mulder leaned over and enveloped his partner in his arms. “Once you finish your search for the truth, Dana, you’ll know. You’ll know.” They sat there silently, drawing strength from each other.
End of Part 1