Title: Who Needs Family
Part III - A New Dawn
Disclaimer: All characters in this story - other than Diane - belong to Chris Carter, 1013 and Fox
Rating: PG for language and child abuse
Thank you's: To my wonderful husband, John - my one in five billion. Also I'd like to thank everyone who has e-mailed me - thank you for your words of encouragement. I'm glad you're enjoying the story.
Summary: Mulder starts to learn he isn't alone in this world.
Note: I would love to hear any kind of comments as long as they're constructive. My e-mail address is:

Maggie Scully's Residence
Christmas Day 1997
6:00 a.m.

Maggie Scully woke up to the sounds of activity in the kitchen. It took her a minute to figure out where she was - she should have been in her own bed but realized that she had actually spent the night on the couch - well the last couple of hours anyways as she started to remember what had caused her to fall asleep on the couch. She thought about Fox and hoped that he had managed to stay asleep and decided that she would go check up on him soon.

She rubbed at her eyes as she felt the grainy feeling that was associated with too little sleep. Her body was telling her to go back to sleep but she wanted to see who was in the kitchen and what they were up to. She got up from the couch and moved into the kitchen.

She was surprised to see Dana setting the table.


Her daughter turned towards her. "Oh mom, I'm sorry - I didn't mean to wake you up so early."

"That's OK, sweetheart. Time to get up and get going with Christmas breakfast anyways. Which reminds me, Merry Christmas darling." Maggie walked over to her daughter and gave her a big hug.

"Merry Christmas, mom." Even though she reciprocated the hug the tone in her voice was not one of happiness or joy. "Though I suspect it will not be a 'merry' one this year, mom."


"I take it he's sleeping in your room."

"Yes, I put him there to give him some privacy."

Maggie noticed that coffee was made and poured herself a cup then refreshed her daughters' cup. She walked past the island in the kitchen, to the table and sat down, pulling her daughter down into the chair beside her.

"What happened yesterday while I was at the airport? When I got back with Bill and Charlie he seemed to be a bit better - I could see it in his eyes."

"I just made him feel needed."

"Needed? He knows he's needed."

"By whom?"

"I need him, mom."

"Have you ever told him that?"

"Not in those exact words."

"How would he know, then?"

"I've done things - things that should've shown him that I need him. A picture is worth a thousand words, mom."

"Yes, that is true. But a picture is not the same as actually hearing the words. People need to hear that they are loved and cared for and that they are needed by someone somewhere."

"So is that what this is all about then - being needed?"

"That has a bit to do with it, but there is so much more involved. After Fox and I went out last night we had a long talk - he's been keeping a lot bottled inside of himself for far too long. He feels guilty............."

"I know, mom - he feels guilty over what happened with his family. He thinks it's his fault that Sam was taken, that his parents didn't love him - that his family fell apart."

"Yes, he does blame himself for that but also about so many other things that have happened. He feels guilty about your abduction, your cancer, Melissa, everything that has happened to this family over the last few years. He feels it's his fault you question whether your father was proud of you. You know, he even feels guilty over my decision to take you off life support when you were returned to us. And because he blames himself for everything that has happened to us he feels he doesn't deserve our love. He loves both of us with all of his heart but he is scared to show us that love."


"He feels that whenever he loves someone, something bad is bound to happen."

"That's why," Dana whispered.


"A couple of weeks ago he went to Skinner to ask him to reassign me to another department. I just realized he was trying to protect me - protect me from himself," she whispered.

"I think you're right, sweetheart."

"Mom, if he feels this way he must really........." She couldn't finish the thought.

"Yes," Maggie finished for her. "He does hate himself. He hates himself for allowing himself to love us. For to love us, in his mind, would mean pain in one way or another for us."

"Do you think he hates himself because of Samantha?"

"Dana, he hates himself for his entire life. He hates himself for Samantha, his father, his mother, you, me............he hates himself for everything. His father taught him one thing in life really well - how to hate himself."

"Mom, we have to show him how wrong he is - he needs to learn that it's OK to love people and to show that love openly."

"I agree and I think over the last couple of days we've gotten a good start on that. The best thing that could have happened to him right now was the breakdown he had last night. He still feels these things, but at least now those feelings are in the open and we can step in and teach him new feelings. And we can get started on that today - that's why it's important for you to lighten up today and try to enjoy yourself. How do you think he will feel when he comes down and see's you moping around the house on Christmas day?"

"He'll blame himself, of course," Dana replied instantly. "I already feel a bit better knowing what the problem really is - and it's like you said now we can start to help him. I promise to try, mom, though I can't promise I might not show a bit of worry from time to time."

"And I wouldn't expect anything less, sweetheart, but I think it would do Fox a lot of good to see you with a genuine smile on your face when he comes down. And I expect that won't be till well into the afternoon so you will have plenty of time to work on that. Now how about if you start by wishing me a real Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, mom," Dana said as she leaned over to hug her mom. "I love you, mom."

"I love you, too, sweetheart. Now how about you and I get started on getting some breakfast ready for the rest of the clan."

"Are we having the usual Christmas breakfast?"

"Of course we are. Christmas wouldn't be the same if we didn't have the usual, would it?"

"What would you like me to get started on?"

"Well, the blueberries are in the fridge..................."

Maggie Scully's Kitchen
Christmas Morning
8:30 a.m.

"...........mom, these blueberry scones are wonderful," Charlie managed to say between bites of his third scone.

"Well, you need to thank Dana for the scones - she made them. And she only made a dozen, young man, so if you're still hungry you might want to try something else on the table so that the rest of us can have a go at the scones."

"Mom, you know blueberry scones are his weakness," Bill came to his younger brothers rescue, as he himself leaned over to grab his third croissant.

"You two are impossible," Tara laughed as she playfully slapped at her husbands hand. "Neither one of you have partaken of the platter of fresh fruit that mom has prepared. Bill, I know you're not a big fruit lover, but why don't you leave that croissant and have a scone. At least you'll get a little fruit into you."

"Sure," Bill agreed as he dropped the croissant back where he had found it. As he picked up the scone he winked at Charlie.

"And Charlie if you're still craving bread why don't you have a croissant," Dana said as she reached for a chunk of pineapple. She knew exactly what her two siblings were up to and decided to join in the conspiracy.

"OK," Charlie complied quickly.

"Oh brother," Maggie laughed.

"You know..........." Bill started.

"Here we go," Diane interrupted.

"............I won't be able to enjoy eating this knowing that I have basically taken it out of my brothers mouth," Bill finished. "So here, Charlie, you take it - I wouldn't want to be responsible for ruining your Christmas."

"Bill, that's so considerate of you," Dana rewarded her older brother.

"Why do we even bother," Tara asked looking at both Diane and Maggie.

"Why thank you, Bill. I was actually just thinking the same thing about this croissant - why don't you take this and we'll both enjoy our Christmas."

"Why thank you, Charlie," Bill said as he reached over to drop the scone on his brothers plate and picked up the croissant.

"Were they always like this, mom?" Diane asked of Maggie.

"Only when their father and I let them get away with it," Maggie laughed.

"Actually on a serious note, mom," Tara started. "Do you think we need to keep anything aside for Mulder? He might be hungry when he wakes up."

"You might be right," Charlie agreed with his sister-in-law. "Though I know if it had been me that was sick I don't think I could handle anything as heavy as a croissant or scone."

"You just don't want to share your scones," Diane chastised her husband jokingly.

"No, I'm serious, sweety pie."

"Actually, mom and I had already thought about that," Dana broke in. "When mom made the chocolate pudding for dessert tonight she made extra for exactly that reason. He can have a bowl of that when he wakes up."

"Won't that ruin his dessert?" Bill asked. "I mean eating it twice in one day?"

"I don't think so, sweetheart," Maggie replied. "For some reason Fox just loves my chocolate pudding. Did I ever tell you guys about the time he came over and I offered him some pudding?" When she saw them all shake their heads she continued on with the story. "Dana, I think you were away giving a lecture somewhere and he just showed up on my door step - I think he was feeling a bit lonely. I asked him if he were hungry, which he was, and I ended up making some sandwiches for him to eat. When he was finished I asked him if he wanted some chocolate pudding for dessert - I had just made some as I was having some friends over that evening. You should have seen his eyes - they just lit up. I had to go finish off the laundry so I told him to help himself. Well, he really helped himself - to the whole pot!"

"He ate the whole pot?" Tara asked wide eyed.

"Yup - the whole pot."

"Mom, he must have been sicker then a dog," Dana said.

"You could say that. Fox ended up staying the night - sick as can be. Between the appetizer, the main meal and a very different dessert I was running upstairs to check up on him. The next morning when he came downstairs you know what he asked for?"

"He asked for more chocolate pudding," Charlie laughed.

"You got it. So I don' think he'll mind eating it twice in one day," Maggie laughed.

"Hey, guys, if we're going to go to Christmas morning mass we better get moving. It's already quarter after nine," Bill reminded everyone.

"You all go, I'm going to stay behind with Fox," Maggie informed her children. "I don't want him to be by himself should he wake up."

"Mom, why don't you let me stay behind," Dana said.

"No sweetheart, I especially want you to go. Father McCue was asking about you last Sunday - said he was looking forward to seeing you again. Besides that will give me a chance to clear up these dishes and take a nice hot shower and get ready for the day. Besides I want to make a phone call to a friend and see if he would like to come over for the day."

"He?" chimed in Bill and Charlie at the same time.

"Ah, mom, isn't it a bit late to be inviting someone over for Christmas?" Tara asked. "I mean wouldn't everyone have plans already."

"If he does that's fine. But I do want to put out the invitation."

"Ahh, mom, did you say 'he'? Charlie asked

"That's what I heard," Bill muttered.

"Listen, you two, this is my home and I believe I'm old enough to invite people of the opposite sex over if I feel so inclined," Maggie put her two boys back into their places.

"Good for you, mom," Diane applauded her mother-in-law.

"Mom, is it anyone we know?" Tara asked.

"Well, Dana and Fox know him very well, and Bill has met him once. But the rest of you don't know him."

"Mom!" Dana looked at her in astonishment. "You're going to invite A.D. Skinner?"

"That's what I was thinking," she told her daughter. "Don't you think it's a good idea?"

Dana was about to reply when something made her stop and think about the last few months. Skinner had gone above and beyond the duties of a boss - he had acted more as a friend to both her and Mulder. And she knew that her mom and him had been in contact numerous times in regards to how to help Mulder in the last month and a half. "Actually mom, I think it's a pretty good idea. I also happen to know he's spending Christmas by himself. I think he would probably really enjoy coming over."

"Then it's settled," Maggie replied. "Now, everyone get moving or nobody's going to make it to mass."

With that breakfast was over.

Maggie Scully's Residence
Christmas Day
10:45 a.m.

Maggie put the finishing touches on her clean kitchen and decided it was time to check up on her sleeping guest. She tiptoed upstairs to her bedroom and knocked softly on her bedroom door. When she didn't get a response she quietly opened up the door and peeked in. To her surprise she found her bed empty. She stepped into the bedroom.

"Fox?" she called out. She looked around the room and noticed that her guests over night bag was open. She walked over to the bag, peered in and saw that the shaving kit was missing. She turned around to call out again when she noticed her guest coming out of the ensuite.

"There you are, sweetheart," she said to him.

"Mrs. Scully," he seemed startled to see her.

"I'm sorry, Fox, I didn't mean to surprise you. I just came up to see how you were doing. I was actually expecting to find you sleeping and got a little worried when I didn't find you in bed."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to alarm you," Mulder replied as he looked down at the floor.

Maggie walked over to him and lifted his chin up so that he was looking at her and not the ground. "Fox, you don't have to be sorry for going to the bathroom. Come on let's get you back into bed," she started to guide him to the bed. Once he was settled back down under the covers she sat down beside him. "How's your sleep, sweetheart?"

"It's good. I woke up with a terrible taste in my mouth so I wanted to brush my teeth," he explained his absence to her.

"Did you rinse your mouth out with mouth wash?"

"I don't have any."

"Didn't you see the mouth wash on the counter? I have a big bottle sitting right there."

"Yes, I saw it," he mumbled.

Maggie noticed that he was looking down at the blankets - he couldn't look her in the face. "Why didn't you use it, sweetheart?"

"It's not mine to use," he mumbled.

Maggie got up from the bed and went into the ensuite. When she came back to the bed she had with her the mouth wash and an empty glass. She opened up the bottle, poured the lid full of the blue liquid and handed it to her charge. "Rinse." He did as he was told. After a minute she held the glass in front of his mouth. "Spit." Again he did as he was told. She returned the rinse and the glass to the bathroom and came back to sit down on the bed beside him.

"Fox, this is my home and I make the rules. Do you agree?"

"Yes, ma'am," he mumbled.

"Do you agree that you should follow those rules?"

"Yes, ma'am," he whispered.

"Then I am going to make a brand new rule just for you." She noticed that he looked up at her in fear. "Fox, sweetheart, you haven't done anything wrong. But I want you to follow this rule to the letter. Understood?"


"Good. The new rule is that while you are here, whether it is right now or if you happen to be visiting one day, this is to be your home. And since this is your home you are to feel completely at ease and do whatever you feel like doing. So that means if you feel the need to use mouth wash, you are to come into my ensuite and use it. If you're thirsty go into the fridge and find something to drink. If you feel like watching t.v., do it. I'm not going to ask you if you need anything anymore - I expect you to help yourself to anything and everything you need. Can you follow that rule?"

He looked at her with tears in his eyes and nodded. "I've never had anybody other than Scu......Dana, look after me like this. Show me this kind of.........."he couldn't finish his thought.

"Kind of what, Fox?" Maggie knew what he wanted to say and wasn't going to let him off the hook that easily. He had to start getting use to the idea.

"..........love," he whispered.

"Get used to it, sweetheart, because you're going to see lots of it. But for now, I think you need to get some more sleep."

"Mrs. Scully, is Scu........Dana around?"

"She went to mass. She should be back in the next hour or so - would you like me to send her up to you when she's back?"

"Yes, please. I need to talk to her - I need to see her."

"I'll send her up then." She got up from the bed and pulled the blankets up to his neck. "But for now I want you to get some sleep, young man. You're falling asleep as we talk." She bent down and gave him a kiss on the top of his head. "Have a good sleep, sweetheart."

"See you later, Mrs. Scully," was the last thing he managed to mumble before he feel back to sleep.

Maggie closed the door quietly behind herself.

Maggie Scully's Residence
11:15 a.m.

She heard the phone being picked up after the third ring.


"Hello, Walter, it's Maggie. Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, Maggie. How are you doing?"

"Pretty good, though I'm feeling a bit tired - had a very late night last night with Fox."

"How is he?"

"He's very down on himself - blames himself for a lot of things he has no business blaming himself for. He broke down last night and talked to me."

"Do you think it helped him at all to talk?"

"He still has the same feelings but at least now it's out in the open and he doesn't need to carry the burden by himself. I think he will need a lot of help from all of us to be able to pull himself together again. But at least his breakdown last night allowed him to release some of the fear he's been feeling. He confirmed something for me last night."

"What's that?"

"Walter, he was feeling so low the other day that............."

"What is it, Maggie?"

".........he...........umm.........he held a............his...........weapon to his..........head."

"Oh damn.........damn, damn, damn...........how could I have been so blind?"

"We were all blind, Walter. We could all see he was depressed but were blinded by the hope that he would pull himself out of it."

"What stopped him?"

"He told me he just needed to know for sure that Dana was the only one who cared whether or not he lived or died. Walter, I can't imagine going through life thinking nobody loved me - how awful."

"Is he in the hospital?"

"No, he's sleeping up in my bedroom right now. I don't think a hospital is what he needs - he needs to be around people who love and care for him. He needs to learn that he isn't alone in this world. Actually that's why I'm calling you."

"I don't understand?"

"What are you doing today?"

(Do I hear an invitation coming up?)

"Not much really - I was planning on watching some t.v., maybe read a bit and then have some processed turkey for dinner. Why do you ask?"

"Well, like I said, I think it's important for Fox to have the people who care about him around today and that definitely includes you. Besides, I happen to have a real turkey here with real cranberry sauce and real stuffing. And as well, I would love it if you would come over and spend the day with us."

"Well, lets see.........Ebenezer Scrooge, or Maggie Scully........processed turkey, or real food..........If I'm there in the next couple of hours would that be too soon?"

"Sooner, if you can make it."

"I have one question - what's everyone wearing?

"Christmas is always casual for us Walter. But don't feel like you can't wear a suit if that's what you're more comfortable with."

"Casual sounds right up my alley. I'll see you in a while than, Maggie."

"I'm looking forward to it, Walter. See you in a while."

She heard the line go dead as she imagined her new guest starting to get ready. She smiled to herself as she started to get coffee and cake ready for her family.

Maggie Scully's Residence
12:30 p.m.

"Hey, Dana, if you put on another CD, I'll get a refill on coffee, OK?" Charlie suggested.

"Sure. Anyone have a favorite they want to listen to?"

"How about Bing Crosby's 'Merry Christmas'?" Bill suggested as he leaned forward to grab another brownie.

"That's my favorite," Tara announced.

"I know, Love, that's why I suggested it."

"Who want's more coffee?" Charlie asked as he walked in with the coffee pot.

Maggie sat back in her chair and watched her family. She could feel the effects of too little sleep the last couple of days and was quite happy to relax, observe and do nothing for the time being. She knew as soon as Walter arrived she wouldn't really get a chance to just sit back so she decided to enjoy the opportunity to do it now. She drifted in and out of conversations.

"So are you all ready for the baby?" Diane asked of her sister-in-law.

"Almost. We still need to get a crib - every time I mention it to Bill he seems to be busy with one thing or another. But I've told him next week, come hell or high water, we are going to buy a crib."

Maggie smiled to herself.

"So, sis, how's work been? Managing to keep busy?" Bill asked.

"It must feel good to be back at work again," Charlie chimed in.

"Well, it certainly feels much better than laying in a hospital bed, that's for sure."

"It's so good to have you here, Dana," Charlie said as realization hit him as to the other possible outcome that the family had been spared this time around.

"I miss her," Bill whispered.

Maggie felt the tears well up in her eyes.

"Hey, everyone, it's starting to snow," Tara announced.

"Snow always brought the child out in Missy," Charlie said out loud.

"She's with us today," Dana said softly.

Maggie noticed that the mood had become rather melancholy - this was exactly what she was hoping to avoid. "Well, I hope Walter gets here soon - I don't like the idea of anyone driving in this kind of weather - even if we are used to it."

"When did you talk to him, mom?" Dana asked.

"About an hour and a half ago. He said he'd try to be here by 1:00 - 1:30."

"Say, mom, are they showing Christmas Carol today?" Diane asked.

"I believe it's on at 3:00 this afternoon. We can all watch it together - I suspect Fox should be up by then as well."

"Have you checked up on him yet, mom?" Dana asked.

"Yes, I have. As a matter of fact he was awake and asked me to send you up when you got home from Church - but I think it might be better to wait a bit. Let him sleep a little longer."

"He asked for me?" Dana was excited with the prospect that her partner and best friend was finally recognizing her again.

"Of course he did. Which reminds me I need to tell you guys something. We had a little chat again while he was awake and I set down a rule for him that needs to be followed to the letter and I'm going to need everyone's help on this one. I expect him to treat this house as his home - which means if he wants something he is to get it himself. If he wants something to drink he is to get it himself; if he wants to get something to eat he has to get it himself. And I don't want anyone showing him where something is - let him look for it himself - that way he'll get to know the place and hopefully start to feel more at home in a relatively short period of time. If he asks for anything I expect you to treat him like a brother - tell him to get it himself. Can you help me with this?"

Maggie saw all of her children nod their heads. Not only did Maggie have the support of her family, but Fox had the support of his new family.

Maggie Scully's Residence
1:15 p.m.

"Mom, your other guest has arrived," Tara called out to her mother-in-law.

Maggie got up out of her chair and looked outside to her driveway where she saw Walter Skinner getting out of his car carrying a paper bag. She walked through the living room entrance, through the hallway to the front door and opened it up.

"Hello, Walter - I'm so glad you finally got here. I was getting a bit worried with the snow and all." She pulled him into a welcoming hug as he got to the door.

Walter was a bit surprised with the hug and it took him a second to recover enough to give her a quick hug back. "Hi Maggie. I drove a bit slower than usual due to the snow." He started to brush the snow off of his coat and stomped his feet to try to get the snow off his shoes. Once that was done he stepped into the hallway.

Maggie excepted his coat from him and hung it up in the closet. She turned to face him and found him holding the paper bag out to her. "What's this, Walter?"

It was then that Walter had his first good look at Maggie's face. "Maggie are you all right?" he asked with concern.

"Why do you ask?" Maggie asked in confusion.

"You've got a black eye," he answered with the same concern.

"Oh that. I'm fine, Walter - I had actually forgotten all about it to tell you the truth."

"What happened?"

"Oh just a little mishap last night." Maggie noticed the look of concern was still on her guests face. "Really, Walter, I'm fine - I don't even feel it. But you still haven't answered me." Maggie pointed to the bag in his hands to remind him of her guestion and was glad to see his attention shift from her eye to his hands.

"Oh, this - I didn't have any gift to offer but thought I would bring this along to have today."

Maggie opened up the bag and pulled out a bottle of scotch. "The boy's will love you, Walter. Oh, and a bottle of wine - we can have that with dinner, if that's OK with you?"

"I brought it over for you, Maggie - you can have it anytime you wish."

"Well, dinner time it is then. Come in, Walter, and meet the family." Maggie led him into the living room. "Everyone, I would like you to meet a good friend of mine, Walter Skinner. Walter, you remember Bill - and this is his wife Tara, who is going to be making me a grandmother in the very near future. And this is my youngest son Charlie and his wife Diane."

Skinner reached out and shook hands with all of them and wished them all a Merry Christmas, which they all reciprocated back. He then turned to his agent. "Merry Christmas, Agent Scully," he said as he held out his hand to shake. Once again he was surprised as he was pulled into a hug by his subordinate.

"Merry Christmas, Sir and welcome to our home."

"Thank you. Actually, Agent Scully, I feel a bit uncomfortable being so formal with you - especially if I'm going to be calling everyone else by their first names. Since this has nothing to do with business, how about if we call each other by our first names as well?"

"I'd like that, Sir........um...........Walter," Dana corrected herself.

"Good - Dana it is," Walter smiled.

"Boys, look what Walter brought over - a bottle of Scotch," Maggie showed her kids.

"All right," Bill said with a gleam in his eyes. "The good stuff."

"Hey, Walter, if you bring that along every time you come for a visit, I'll pay for your trip over to our place," Charlie piped in.

"Hey, if it only takes a bottle of scotch to get a free trip I'll run out next week and buy a bottle," Walter laughed as he sat down in a chair by the window. "Maggie, your decorations are beautiful - you should see my place - the only reason you'd think it was a holiday is because I'm at home on a week day."

"You didn't put up any decorations, Walter?" Tara asked.

"I never was one for decorations - my ex-wife always did that sort of thing. I was always too busy with work and it just never seemed to be that important to me. Actually, the first year I was separated I surprised myself by actually missing the decorations - I even thought of putting them up."

"What stopped you?" Charlie asked.

"I was by myself - in the end I guess I just figured what's the use - no one else to see them. Not worth the trouble," Walter answered as he shrugged his shoulders.

"Walter, can we get you something to drink?" Maggie asked. "There is coffee, but we were just about ready to have a drink and bring out some treats."

"Actually, Maggie, I've had about 5 cups of coffee already today - a drink sounds great."

"Will this do?" Bill asked as he held up the bottle of scotch Walter had brought over.

"Looks good," Walter said. "Just with some ice, please."

"What about the rest of you?" Bill asked.

"Say, Dana, while Bill looks after the drinks, why don't you and I look after the treats?" Diane suggested.

"Sounds like a plan, sis," Dana replied. "Bill, I think I wouldn't mind a splash of scotch myself."

"Mom, do you by any chance have Baileys in the house?" When Diane saw her mother-in-law nod, she turned back to Bill. "I'd like some of that with ice, please, Bill."

As Bill, Dana and Diane went off to do their tasks, Walter turned to Maggie. "So was Santa good to you today, Maggie?"

"Actually, we haven't opened them up yet - as a matter of fact I just realized we haven't even put them under the tree yet. Maybe we should bring them down soon."

"Do you always wait till the afternoon to open them? I was always under the impression that everyone opened them up on Christmas morning."

"We usually do, Walter. But I wanted to wait till tonight - that way Fox will be up and you'll be around as well."

"Me?" Walter was shocked by her statement - she had said it so matter-of-factly as though they'd been doing this for years already.

"Well, of course you," Maggie scolded gently. "I happen to know Santa has a couple of little things for you under the tree - well, they will be under the tree as soon as I stop being lazy and bring the gifts down."

"Maggie, you shouldn't have............"

"I didn't, Walter. I said Santa bought a few little things - and I promised him that you would accept them without a word of fuss."

"But I can't............."

"Forget it, Walter - when mom gets that tone of voice you might as well concede defeat," Tara laughed.

"Ditto on that," Charlie said. "And you gotta believe me - I've lived my entire life with mom - I should know."

Still in shock, all Walter could do was lift both hands in a mock surrender gesture. "Well, I hope you will at least let me help you with some Christmas chores today."

"Anything you want to do is just fine with us," Bill said as he walked in holding a tray of drinks. "Isn't that right, Charlie?"

"Hey, if you want to do the dishes after dinner, who am I to stand in your way," Charlie replied laughing.

"Or for that matter............." Bill started as he handed out the drinks to everyone.

Maggie Scully's Kitchen
1:45 p.m.

"We'll be in there in minute, Bill," Diane told her brother-in-law as he walked out with the tray of drinks. "We just need to finish the treats. How's the cheese platter coming, Dana?"

"I just need to find the brie," Dana replied as she finished cutting up the aged Gouda and placed the pieces beside the Swiss Cheese.

"Well, I've just finished making the ham/pineapple and ham/pickle platter up. Do you think we should put the left over fruit platter out as well?"

"Wouldn't hurt, I guess."

"You know, Dana, I'm glad mom invited Walter over. From what I've seen so far he seems to be a nice guy."

"This is the first time I've actually associated with him in a social setting," Dana said as she opened up the fridge looking for the French Brie. "You know, up to about a couple of month's ago, I really didn't trust him very much. You wanna take this from me?" She held out the fruit platter to Diane.

"Thanks," Diane accepted the platter and started to take the saran wrap off. "Why's that?"

"Well, he did things at the office that made me doubt who's side he really was on," she said as she closed the fridge door holding the Brie in her hand.

"Who's side?"

"It's a long story, sis - there are people at the bureau who would like nothing better then to see the X-Files closed down and Mulder and I transferred to another department - actually, they would love to see Mulder out of the bureau."

Diane gasped when she heard Dana say that. "I know working for the FBI has it's dangers but I figured that would come from the outside - not from within."

"It's terrible, what they've done to him, Diane," Dana said as she could feel the tears beginning to form in her eyes. "They have totally discredited him inside the bureau - and word gets around. It's not unusual for his reputation to get to our destinations before us. Did you ever hear why I was partnered with him?" When she saw Diane shake her head, Dana explained. " I was told to debunk his work - anyway I could. They of course didn't come right out and say it, but if it meant to lye and cheat to get my work done, that's what they expected me to do. You know, the first thing he ever said to me was 'no one here but the FBI's most unwanted'. At first I thought he was being cynical but I learned quickly. I've seen people laugh at him behind his back; at meetings I've seen people openly mock him; I know of people that will see him walking down the hall and go out of their way to belittle him. You know what his nick name at the bureau is - it's 'Spooky'. They don't call him Agent Mulder - they call him 'Spooky' to his face."

"What does he do about it?"

"Nothing - he does absolutely nothing. I think he feels it's some sort of divine retribution." The tears that had been welling up were now rolling down Dana's cheeks.

"Retribution for what?" Diana asked as she handed her sister-in-law a paper napkin.

"Mom and I were talking about that this morning before you guys all came downstairs. Mulder hates himself - all the abuse he took as a child and all the abuse he takes at work - he thinks he deserves it."

"Why would he feel he deserves that?"

"He feels it's his fault that his family disintegrated - everything that has happened to our family - he feels he is responsible for that." Dana wiped savagely at the tears.

"That's ludicrous."

"I know that, you know that, everybody knows that except maybe Bill - and most importantly Mulder, himself," Dana looked at Diane and lost it. "Oh damn - he hates himself!"

Diane walked over to her immediately and pulled her into a hug. "Dana, we're just going to have show him how wrong he really is."

Just then Maggie came walking into the kitchen. "Hey, ladies, we have some very hungry...........What's wrong?"

Dana pulled herself away from Diane, took a shuddering breath and smiled sadly at her mom. "I'm just having one of those sad moments we talked about this morning, mom."

"Are you OK now, sweetheart?" Maggie asked gently.

"Yeah, I think so."

"I'm sorry, Dana," Diane began. "I didn't mean to upset you."

"You didn't upset me. As a matter of fact thank you for showing an interest in Mulder's well being. There aren't too many people that do. And with all the support in this family we'll pull Mulder through this."

"And not only this family, but Walter is there as well," Maggie reminded her daughter.

"Yes - he certainly has proven himself to me. Actually, he's been a Godsend to both me and Mulder over the last couple of months. He was there for Mulder when I was in the hospital and he's been there for me with Mulder's depression. I'm really glad you invited him over, mom, he really deserves to be here."

"Look Dana, it's quarter after two - why don't you go upstairs to see if Fox is awake. I'm sure he must be ready for something to eat. Diane and I will take out the food, OK?"

"You don't need to tell me twice, mom. I've been dying to go up there all day. Diane, thank you for listening. I really appreciate all the support everyone has shown."

"What's family for?" Diane smiled at her. "Go on, go wake him up. It's time for him to start learning what a wonderful man he really is."

"I might suggest you go rinse your face before you go into him, sweetheart," Maggie said.

"I will," Dana promised as she turned and walked up the staircase from the kitchen.

"Well, we better start bringing the food into the living room before we have a riot on our hands, darling," Maggie said to Diane. She picked up the cheese platter and walked into the living room followed by her daughter who was carrying the fruit and meat platters.

"FOOD!" Bill and Charlie yelled out together as they both dove for the platters.

"What, you guys haven't eaten for the last week or something,"Walter laughed as he got up to take the platter from Maggie and placed it on the table.

"Bill, sit back and behave yourself," Tara admonished her husband.

"You too," Diane warned her husband.

"It's Christmas - what do you expect?" Charlie defended himself and his older brother.

"Everything OK? I was starting to get a bit worried," Tara asked her sister-in-law.

"Yeah, where's Dana?" Bill asked.

"Everything is fine and Dana has gone up to wake up Fox - it's time he came down and joined the celebration," Maggie explained.

"Oh," was Bill's response. (Ingredients to ruining Christmas - Fox Mulder.)

"Come on, Walter, help yourself. Before you know it Fox will be down here and then between him, Bill and Charlie there won't be much food left for anyone else."

"So Tara, when are you expecting.............." Walter began as he reached over to grab a piece of ham and pickle.

Maggie Scully's Bedroom
2:20 p.m.

Scully tapped lightly on the door and waited for a response. When she got none, she opened up the door and looked in. When she saw that her partner and best friend was still sound asleep she tiptoed to the bed and looked down at him. She started to relax visibly as she saw how peaceful he looked - he was obviously having a dreamless sleep - the first in she didn't know how long. She started to feel guilty about waking him up - he needed to sleep. Mind you he had already been sleeping for over 11 hours and she had needs herself - such as seeing that he was OK. She decided she was going to be selfish and let her needs out weigh his. She gently put her hand on his shoulder and shook him.

"Hey, sleepyhead, wake up," she gently chided him.

He started to stir as she continued her shaking. "Come on, partner, open up those hazel eyes of yours."

Mulder took in a deep breath and opened up his eyes as he had been asked to. As soon as he saw who was standing beside him he smiled. "Hey," he said.

"Hey, yourself," she smiled. "It's about time."

"Why, what time is it?" he asked.

"Well, it's almost 2:30, but that isn't what I meant."

"I don't understand," he said as he pulled himself up.

Scully arranged his pillows behind his back so that he could sit back comfortably. "What I meant was, it's about time you smiled again. I haven't seen you smile for far too long and it does my heart good to see a genuine smile on your face."

"I can't be held responsible for my reaction to waking up and finding you standing beside me. Can I help it if you make me smile?"

"I was starting to wonder about that - about what kind of affect I was having on you."

"Scully, never wonder about that - you've always been special to me. You're my one and only."

"Then why the silent treatment the last couple of months? Why couldn't you talk to me? Why couldn't you let me help you?" She noticed the look of nervousness that crossed over his features - the way he was biting the lower part of his mouth, the downcast eyes, the fingers that were all of a sudden interested in the quilt that covered the bed. She reached over him and propped up the extra pillows on the other side of the bed then pushed him gently to the other side of the bed and sat down beside him. She grabbed hold of his one of his hands and held it in her own two hands.

"Come on, Mulder," she gently pushed him. "Spill the beans."

"I can't, Scully," he whispered.

"Why not?"

"Because if I do tell you I'm afraid you'll see the light and agree with me."

"Mulder, you've been trying to get me to agree with you for the last 4 years - I would think you'd be happy if I saw the light," she said teasingly, trying to lighten the atmosphere a bit.

"I'm scared, Scully - I'm scared I'd loose you."

"You're never going to loose me, partner, no matter what."

"You don't understand, Scully."

"Well, then, help me to understand - I want to understand," she tried to encourage her friend.

"Scully, I deserve to loose you," Mulder whispered as tears began to form and slide down his face. "You don't deserve me - you deserve so much better."

Scully pulled her partner into a hug so that his head was cradled in her chest. "Don't you think it should be my decision as to who I deserve or don't deserve," she asked him gently.

"Mom and dad knew it - Bill knows it - everyone at the office knows it - why can't you see it?" he cried.

"See what, Mulder?"

"I'm no good - I'm a looser."

Scully pulled him out of the hug and placed her hands firmly on his face and made him look up into her face. "I don't ever want to hear you say that again, Mulder, - you are not a looser."

"But I am," he cried as he tried to get free from her grip.

Scully held on tightly and pulled him back into a hug - she let him cry for a few minutes. "Mulder, why would you feel that way about yourself?" she finally asked. "Is it because your mom and dad didn't know how to cope with the lose of their daughter so instead they took their anger out on their remaining child; is it because your dad drowned himself in liquor and when he was in a stupor he would beat the shit out of you and make you feel useless and unworthy; is it because your mom was too much of a coward to try to stop him; is it because they made you feel unloved and unwanted; is it because they blamed you for the marriage breakdown."

"All I.......ev.......ever wanted...........wa........was for them......to............to show.......
me that..........th........they lo...........loved me," he cried out.

"I know that, sweetheart, I know that. But don't you see - it was always their problem, not yours. They were the ones that didn't know how to handle the situation and they took it out on you. What they did to you was never, never, your fault. Do you believe me?"

"It's hard, Scully," he whimpered.

"I know - something that's been pounded into you for your entire life is always hard to break. But we need to work on getting your self-esteem up and we're going to work on that together. You're not in this alone, partner - you're going to get a lot of help."

Scully let him lay there for a few minutes as he tried to regain some control. She finally heard him taking a shuddering breath.

"Scully..........." he whispered.


"Scully...........I............I held a..............a............a gun to my.............my head a few days ago."

"Oh Mulder," she gasped quietly as she hugged her friend even tighter. It took her a minute to compose herself enough to ask him "What stopped you?"

Her shock seemed to give him a little more strength. "I was sitting there, my finger on the trigger when all of a sudden I found myself thinking of your mom. Of all the kindness and tenderness she had shown me over the last couple of years. I guess I just had to know."

"You had to know if there was someone out there other than myself that loved you - that cared whether you lived or died." It was more of a statement than a guestion.

"Yes," he whispered.


"I don't deserve it," was his whispered reply.

Scully sighed sadly. "But do you know?"


"At this point, Mulder, that's the important thing. Now we need to work on you realizing that you deserve that love. Thank you, Mulder."

"For what?" he sounded confused.

"For sharing with me - for letting me know your thoughts, your feelings. Next time, though, I want you to share with me right away. That's what I'm here for, partner."

"Please, Scully, I need your help. I'm a selfish bastard for saying this but please don't ever leave me. I need you."

"I'm right here, partner - we're going to work on this together."

They sat silently for a few minutes - Mulder in the comfort of his partners friendship and love and Scully in the comfort of her friends trust.

After a few minutes they were interrupted as Mulder's stomach growled loudly. Scully laughed out loud while Mulder's face turned crimson red. "Excuse me," he said.

"Well, Mulder, I must say you certainly know how to end a conversation."

"You can't say I'm predictable," he defended himself. "I guess I'm kind of hungry."

"Tell you what," Scully said. "Why don't you take a shower and shave yourself - I'll lay some clean clothing out for you and then we'll go downstairs and see the family. I believe mom made some extra chocolate pudding for you.........."

"Chocolate pudding? Skip the shower, let's go."

"No way, buddy. Shave, shower then pudding," Scully growled happily. It was so good to see her friend looking so eager about something.

"Ahhhh Scullyyyyyyyyy..............."

"Shower - Now!" She pointed in the direction of the ensuite.

"Can't even do what I want to do on Christmas Day," he playfully grumbled as he made his way to the bathroom. Before he went through the door he turned towards his best friend. "Hey, Scully."

"Yeah, G-man,"

"Thank you and Merry Christmas."

"Your welcome and Merry Christmas yourself, partner." She watched him disappear into the ensuite and started to count silently to herself.

(One, two, three, four................)

"Hey, Scully, is there a towel I can use?"

"Under the sink and there should be soap and shampoo in the shower."

She heard a garbled "thanks" as his head disappeared. She walked over to his over night bag and started to pull out some clothes - a pair of boxers, clean socks and a tee-shirt. She had a look at his jeans, which were relatively clean. (He'll probably want to wear a suit today because he figures he is a guest and it's Christmas, but he's got to start learning that he's with family. Besides, we all changed after mass and even Walter came in a pair of jeans and a shirt. He certainly won't feel out of place, that's for sure. Besides, I know he happens to be a lot more comfortable in jeans and a.................)

Scully's thoughts were interrupted by a soft knock on the bedroom door. She walked over and opened the door to find her mom and Walter standing behind her. Both of their arms filled with wrapped presents.

"Hey, mom, see you already have Walter working for his dinner," she chuckled.

"I've been here less than two hours and I already feel like a slave," Walter joined in the fun.

"Oh hush, both of you," Maggie scolded happily. "You two make it sound like I'm running a work factory. And besides," she continued as she turned to Walter. "I believe you volunteered to help me bring down the gifts." It did Maggie good to hear her daughter joining in on some good natured bantering. "Is Fox awake, honey?"

"Yes, I woke him up. We were just sitting up here talking - actually having a conversation between the two of us - I don't think we've done that in weeks. It's terrible what he's going through - I know it's Christmas, Mom, but I wish his dad was still alive - than I could kill him myself." She waited for her mom to admonish her for such thoughts, but what came instead surprised her.

"Sweetheart, I had the exact same thought last night."

"Dana, how are you doing?" Walter asked gently.

"I'm doing OK, Walter. I know there is still a long way to go but for now I'm just thankful that he is talking to me again. And it did my heart a lot of good to see him smile and act like himself - I told him you had made extra chocolate pudding just for him, Mom."

"Well that must have gotten some reaction from him," Maggie laughed.

"Does 'little boy routine' mean anything to you, mom?" Dana laughed along. "I practically had to drag him into the ensuite to get him to take a shower."

"Now that sounds like the Fox Mulder I know," Maggie smiled.

"Uhm, excuse me, chocolate pudding?" asked a confused Walter.

"I'll tell you on the way down, Walter," Maggie assured him. She turned back to her daughter. "Sweetheart, would you mind taking the top package from me? I wanted to give this to Fox before he gets dressed. It's just a little something I picked up for him."

Dana lifted the top package off. "Feels strangely like clothing," she said as she raised her eyebrows. "Thanks, mom." Dana leaned over to place a kiss on her mom's cheek.

"Sounds like he's finished with his shower, so we'll let you two alone. Come on Walter, lets get these packages downstairs before my arms fall off."

"Work, work, work," Walter complained good naturedly as he followed his host down the hallway.

"We'll be down in a couple of minutes,"Scully laughed after them as she closed the door behind her. She walked back to the bed and laid the package down just as her partner came out of the bathroom wearing a towel around his waist.

"Wow, that was a great shower. Thanks for laying out some clothes for me," Mulder said as he noticed the pile of clean clothing. "Uhm, Scully, you didn't happen to bring along a suit for me, did you?"

(Do I know this man, or what?!)

"Nope," Scully answered matter-of-factly. "You look more relaxed in jeans and a tee-shirt." She noticed his face fall a bit. "Besides, Mulder, we're all wearing casual clothing. What's Christmas if you can't be relaxed." Before he could respond she brought his attention to the wrapped package. "Mom asked me to give this to you before you got dressed - and if you can't guess what it is by that then you should seriously consider handing in your badge, partner."

"Scully, your mom shouldn't have done this," Mulder sighed quietly.

"Don't tell me, tell her. Though I suspect you'll have just as much trouble convincing her of that as you would have trying to convince me. Go on, G-man, grab your clothes and get dressed."

While he was dressing in the ensuite Scully made up the bed. Mulder asked what she'd been doing all day and as she answered she realized she needed to tell him that their boss was downstairs and would be staying for Christmas dinner. Mulder was surprised by that piece of information but didn't say too much. Finally, Mulder appeared from the ensuite and the two of them started to find their way downstairs.

Maggie Scully's Kitchen
3:15 p.m.

Tara walked into the kitchen and found her husband standing by the window looking outside to the back yard. She went to stand beside him and put her arm around his waist. She noticed it was still snowing - the back yard looked so peaceful. Everything was white - the tree's, the fence, the bird feeder, the ground, the porch that overlooked the yard. Even the back alley was quite - everybody was in their own little worlds behind their own walls. From the living room she could hear the ghost of Jacob Marley explaining his presence to his old partner Ebeneezer Scrooge. She sighed in contentment.

That is until she glanced up into her husbands face - then the contentment was replaced by anxiety. Bill's face was contorted in anger - she could see the clenching of the teeth, the downward curve of the eyebrows, the anger in his eyes.

"You're missing A Christmas Carol," she said gently hoping that would be enough to douse the flames for now.

Bill grunted.

(Quess not!)

"Bill, what's wrong?" (Like I can't figure this one out.)

"I don't think it would be wise for me to answer that question here," he growled.

"What do you mean 'here'?" Tara was confused.

"Well, you know, it being Grand Central for the Fox Mulder fan club," Bill spat out.

(Oh boy, here we go.)

"Why do you dislike him so much?"

"What?" Bill managed to choke out in surprise. "How can you ask me that question? You know what he's done to this family - we've talked about this before."

"Actually, it was more like an argument then a talk if I remember correctly. I happen to like Fox Mulder and I think everyone would agree with me when I say I believe him to be a good man."

"How could you possible know that - yesterday was the first time you've ever laid your eyes on him?" Bill spat out at his wife.

"First of all I would appreciate it if you would keep your voice down - you don't need to ruin everyone's Christmas. Maybe yesterday was the first time I met him, but you know I do happen to speak to mom once in awhile over the phone. She has nothing but good things to say about him - and mom isn't the type to lie. And mom has been saying for the last few years how much happier Dana seems - he makes your sister happy, Bill, what's wrong with that?"

"Oh really? Yeah, I see what you mean - Dana hasn't been able to stand still because she's so happy - and that smile, boy I wish she'd do something other than smile all the time," Bill growled sarcastically.

"Bill, she's been worried about him - wouldn't you be worried about me if I was depressed?"

"You know, Tara, you wouldn't be backing him up like this if it had been you sitting on the couch at 3:30 this morning holding your mom because she was crying."

"Mom was crying not because of him but for him."

"How would you know?"

"Because I know mom," Tara answered.

"Better than me I suppose," Bill threw back at her.

"Oh good grief, Bill," Tara sighed.

Bill was ready to say something else when he noticed his wife become very pale and starting to sway. He grabbed hold of her arm and with his other hand he pulled out a chair from the table and set her down in it gently. He ran to the sink and got a glass of water. He took it over to her.

"Here, sweetheart, drink some water," he directed her as he held up the glass to her mouth. He waited for a couple of minutes to make sure she was OK. "I'm sorry, Tara, I didn't mean to upset you like that."

"Oh Bill, I do love you so much, but sometimes you can be so exasperating," she gently chided her husband.

"I can't help how I feel, sweetheart," Bill responded quietly.

"Will you do me a favor?"

"I'd do anything for you, you know that."

"Please, when Mulder comes down apologize for last night and be civil towards him. Please?" Tara pleaded.

"For you, love, and only for you." Bill looked at his wife with concern still written all over his features. "Feeling any better?"

"I'm fine, sweetheart, I just got a little dizzy," Tara reassured him. "Come here, you big lug and give me a hug." Bill leaned into his wife's open arms realizing once again that this amazing woman really did love him.

Maggie Scully's Living Room
3:30 p.m.

"Hey, look who decided to join the land-of-the-awake, finally," Charlie said as he noticed both Dana and Mulder at the bottom of the staircase. He got up from his chair and went to meet them with his hand extended. "Merry Christmas, Mulder."

A.D. Skinner crawled out from underneath the Christmas tree where he had been arranging the gifts with Maggie when he heard Charlie's greeting. He wanted - no make that needed - to see how his agent was doing. As Mulder walked through the room accepting and giving Christmas wishes Skinner watched him like a hawk.

(He looks much better than the last time I saw him, though he looks as though he could use some more sleep, but at least he's shaved and clean. He seems a bit ill-at-ease, but shit, if I had had a breakdown last night in someone's home I guess I would be ill-at-ease as well. Look at that hug he's giving Maggie - the look of gratitude -no, love - in his eyes. I don't know exactly what went on between them but it certainly seems to have done wonders for him. He's smiling, conversing, interacting................)

"Merry Christmas, Sir."

"Merry Christmas, Agent Mulder," Skinner replied as he accepted his agents handshake.

(He certainly sounding more like himself, though if that handshake was any indication he still needs to get lots of rest. Though by the way Scully is staying right beside him and watching him I suspect that shouldn't be too much of a problem. Actually he's doing much better than I have any right to expect. Whoa - hold the cream - did I just hear him say he's hungry? And he's now arguing with Scully on what kind of coffee to drink - regular or decaf. Give it up, Mulder, you know she's going to win. Come on, give in graciously - be glad she's allowing you chocolate pudding and not stuffing yogurt down your throat.)

Maggie looked over at Walter as she heard the deep sigh of relief. She managed to catch his eyes - they both smiled at each other. It was good to hear the two friends arguing again.

Maggie Scully's Kitchen
3:45 p.m.

".............ahh, come on, Scully, just one cup of regular - that's all I'm asking."

"No, Mulder............"

"Is my sister throwing her weight around again?" the voice interrupted the two friends.

Scully noticed Mulder tense up immediately at the sound of her older brother and a look of fear pass over his features. She grabbed his hand in support and she felt the squeeze of gratitude from him. As she watched Bill walk towards them she felt and heard the deep sigh from Mulder.

"Bill.............."she growled warningly.

"Dana, please, I need to say something to Mulder and it isn't exactly easy so if you could please be quite for a minute I'd appreciate it."

"Look, Bill, I'm not looking to start any trouble," Mulder managed to say.

"Good, because I'm not looking for trouble myself - at least not today, I'm not. Look, I just wanted to apologize for last night - what I did was way out of line - I lost my temper. I ........."

"Bill................" Mulder tried to interrupt.

"Mulder, my brother is trying to apologize - let him eat crow," Scully said quietly.
"You deserve this apology, Mulder, even if you don't think so."


"Shut up, Mulder," Bill said angrily. As soon as the words came out Bill realized the reaction he would get so he held up his two hands palms out in an indication that he didn't want to fight. "Sorry. Now back to the original apology - I saw your hand connect with my mom's eye and I lost my temper. I shouldn't have done what I did and I hope you can forgive me."

"That was nice of you, Bill, but I'd like to know what you meant when you said you weren't looking for trouble today," Scully grilled her brother.

"What does it sound like I mean?" Bill growled right back at her.

"You just can't do it, can you?" Scully spat out.

"What the hell do you want from me, Dana?"

"Scully, please," Mulder implored quietly to her. When he had her attention he continued. "Scully, I don't want to be the cause of an argument between you and your brother on Christmas Day. Just leave it be - please - for me?"

"I'm sorry, Mulder," Scully apologized to her friend.

"Thank you," Mulder breathed in relief. He turned Bill. "And thank you, too, Bill, I appreciate that."

"Yeah, right," Bill growled as he brushed past him to escape into the living room.


"Scully," Mulder moaned.

"Well, he is," Scully muttered.

"Scully, if I asked a favor from you, would you do it?"

"Of course I would," she assured him.

"Then will you please let it ride this time? I don't want anything to ruin Christmas Day for your mom, OK? Please be civil towards him, for me?"

"Only for you, partner, only for you," Scully assured him.

"Thank you." He decided it was time to change the subject. "Now, where does your mom keep the coffee?"

"The decaf is in the top freezer of the fridge."


Maggie Scully's Living room
5:45 p.m.

The rest of the afternoon had been spent in quiet, comfortable conversations. The t.v. had been kept on but nobody seemed to notice it as everyone seemed quiet happy just talking and nibbling. Even Mulder had partaken a bit in the conversations throwing in his two cents every once in awhile. The conversations had ranged from baby talk, to best desserts everyone had ever eaten (Maggie's chocolate pudding was the best of all of them, Mulder had declared), to the snow that was still steadily falling (Charlie enjoyed standing outside in the evening under a lamp post as he thought the snow looked like paratroopers falling from the sky), to all the hand made ornaments hanging in the tree which the family had made together through out the years.

It was now dark and a few lights were turned on and the Christmas candles were lit. Maggie had turned on the lights of the tree and Bill had started the fire place. All in all it was very cozy in the living room and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

About 15 minutes ago Maggie had declared dinner would be ready in about 45 minutes and had enlisted the aid of almost everyone to help her. Bill was given the job of carving the turkey up; Dana and Charlie were put in charge of cleaning up the table in the living room, doing the dishes and setting the table; Tara and Diane were in the kitchen helping Maggie with the rest of dinner. Walter and Mulder had offered their services, but Maggie had noticed that Mulder looked a bit tired from the visiting and she figured that Walter would probably like to talk to Mulder in private so she had declined their offer - however their services would probably be appreciated after dinner.

So Skinner and Mulder found themselves in relative privacy in the living room.

"So, Mulder, did you get your way?"


"Regular or decaf?"

"Decaf - and on top of that I wasn't even allowed to have a second helping of the pudding." He was pouting. "And Scully will probably watch me like a hawk during dinner - don't eat that, take more of this which will invariably turn out to be vegetables, I won't be allowed to have a glass of wine."

"Tell you what - I'll be in your corner," Skinner laughed.

"Thank you, Sir, I appreciate that."

"Though she only does it because she cares." Skinner noticed his companion shrug his shoulders in a noncommittal sort of way. "And she's not the only one," he added quietly.

Mulder looked at his boss and nodded slowly. "It's hard, Sir."

"You won't be going through this alone - you know that, don't you?" Skinner noticed Mulders eyes beginning to water. "What's wrong?"

"You're the third person to tell me that in the last 24 hours," Mulder answered quietly. "Sir, there's something you need to know."

"I know," Skinner told him.


"Maggie told me this morning when she phoned me. Does Scully know - if not she deserves to know, Mulder."

"I told her earlier this afternoon."

"You know, Mulder, if you'd gone through with it you would have left a gaping hole in our lives. You might not want to admit it to yourself yet but there are people that care about you." He saw Mulder purse his lips together in a vain attempt to keep his emotions at bay. "Thank you - thank you for sharing with me."

"You're also the third person to tell me that," Mulder said quietly.

"Get used to it, Mulder - there are people that care about you."

"Sir, I want to thank you for everything you did to help me - I couldn't see it earlier on but I can see it now. The care and concern you showed - making me write daily reports, making me eat my meals with Scully, threatening me with a hospital stay, getting angry when I didn't meet my deadlines - thank you."

"That's what friends do for each other, Mulder - they care about each other." He saw the look of shock on Mulder's face. "Yes, Mulder, surprise, surprise, but I do consider you a friend - and a good one at that. Which kind of brings me to another point that I've been bringing up all afternoon but which you seem to want to ignore."


"That's it."

"I don't understand." Mulder was confused.

"Mulder, I've asked you I don't know how many times to call me Walter - yet you seem intent not to. We're not at the office - I think it would be OK for you to call me by my first name. Dana doesn't seem to have a problem with it."

Mulder looked away from his boss. "I can't," he whispered.

"I'm sorry, I didn't hear what you said."

"I can't call you be your first name, Sir," he said just as quietly, but this time he had turned his face towards his boss.

"Why not?"

"I gotta go to the bathroom," Mulder said quickly as he started to get up.

Skinner grabbed hold of his arm and pulled him back down. "Fox, why can't you call me by my first name?" he asked gently.

"Sir, I respect you too much," Mulder whispered.

Skinner sat in shocked silence - he had not expected to hear that.

"You see, Sir, through out my life there have not been too many people that I have found that deserved to be respected - as a matter of fact until now there were only two other people - Mrs. Scully and Scully. I know I've made you angry on many occasions with my I-know-I'm-going-to-be-stepping-on-somebody's-toe's-if-I-do- this-but-I-don't-give-a-damn attitude and you always end up chewing me out, suspending me or worse giving me desk duty................." He looked up at this and noticed his boss smiling softly. "..............but no matter what I did your trust in me never wavered. You always show me a confidence and a faith that I have never received from anyone else. So you see, Sir, in my books you've earned the respect and for me to start calling you by your first name I would feel like I was belittling you and I could never do that to you, Sir."

"Wow," Skinner said as he cleared his throat. "That was quite a speech."

"It's the truth, Sir," Mulder whispered.

"Thank you, Agent Mulder. But I want you to realize that you yourself have earned my confidence and faith. Sure you piss me off sometimes - well, OK lot's of times -" this time it was Mulder's turn to smile softly - ".............and I know I've come down hard on you quite often but I know deep down when you do get me angry it's usually because you've gone out on limb to find the truth. Mulder, I don't know if you know this about yourself but I see in you a powerful commitment to help other people even if it means putting yourself in jeopardy."

"That's my job, Sir."

"Don't give me that shit, Mulder," Skinner admonished him. "That may be what the other agents think but with you it's different. It's inside of you, Mulder - you're not there to just help the victims, but you're in there trying to figure out the criminals - why they became who they became - you're trying to help everyone out. You have a very special gift inside yourself - but you have to learn to except that gift for yourself as well."


"You need to learn how to help yourself out, Mulder. You need to find a way to deal with all that unnecessary guilt your carrying around."

Mulder opened up his mouth to say something but before he could Skinner held up a finger. "Don't even say it, Mulder - you are carrying a lot of unnecessary guilt. You can't blame yourself for everything that happens in this world - sometimes things happen just because they happen."


"How what?"

"How do I deal with it? How do I get rid of it, Sir? I'm so tired of feeling this way - I want to feel good - I want to feel happy. But I don't know how and that scares me, Sir."

"It's not an overnight cure, Mulder - it's going to take time. But the first thing you have to learn to except is that there are people around that care about you - I mean just look at what you're wearing - a brand new pair of jeans, new T-shirt, a beautiful red shirt - you think Maggie would go out and buy that for any Tom, Dick or Harry - or in your case Fox."

Mulder smiled out right at that one.

"It's good to see you smile, Mulder. And another thing that will help you is if you remember that the people that care about you are there to help you. Anytime you need to talk about anything I'm just a phone call away. Even if you just want to bullshit give me a call - I'd love to go for a beer with you sometime."

"Thank you, Sir - I'm sure I'll be taking you up on your offer more times than you'll enjoy."

"Good, because I meant every word of it."

"I know that, Sir."

Just then Scully came walking into the living room. "It's so quiet in here - I thought the two of you had fallen asleep."

"No, Scully, we're just two friends sitting here shooting the breeze," Mulder smiled quietly at her.

"Yeah, Mulder just gave me some great fire power to use against him."

Skinner took a minute to look at his two agents - one was looking confused while the other looked curious.

"Apparently, Agent Mulder here hates desk duty more then suspension. I'll have to remember that." Skinner had the cat-that-ate-the-canary grin on his face.

"Oh no," Mulder moaned. "Why did I have to open my mouth? You wouldn't really do that to me, would you?"

Scully started to laugh as Skinner just sat there and continued to smile.

Christmas Dinner
7:30 p.m.

"................Mulder, you want some more wine?" Bill asked as he tipped the bottle towards Mulder's glass.

"Thanks Bill," Mulder answered.

"Mulder, that's your second glass................" Scully started to warn her partner.

"Yeah, I know what you mean, Dana," Skinner interrupted her. "I'm already starting my third glass - drink up, Mulder and catch up to the rest of us."

"Walter, that's not what I meant and you know it," Dana said as she noticed Mulder sitting beside her smiling gleefully. "All I'm trying to say, Mulder, is that you haven't been eating on a regular basis for some time and I think you need to becareful of what you take in."

"And I agree with you, Scully," Mulder told her as he picked up his glass of wine and took a sip. "That's why it's only my second glass. Besides, look at my plate, it's all clean - I ate everything YOU put on it, which by the way was far too many vegetables for my liking and not enough turkey and stuffing!"

"Here you go, sweetheart," Maggie said as she handed him the platter of turkey. "There's still plenty of both - help yourself."


"Thank you, Mrs. Scully."

Mulder looked over at his partner and realized that she was feeling picked on and was not very happy about it. "Scully, please - it's Christmas. I love turkey and stuffing - and like I said I was good and ate all my vegetables. Please?"

"Oh come on, sis............."

"Let him have some more................"

"Go on, Dana..............."

"Sweetheart, it's Christmas.............."

Scully looked around the table as everyone backed up her friend. She started to smile. "Only if I get the drumstick."

Mulder picked up the leg and placed it on her plate, then proceeded to fill his plate with turkey and stuffing. He accepted the cranberry sauce from Charlie and put a blob of it on his plate followed by gravy all over the turkey. He next accepted the mashed potatoes that Skinner passed over to him and put a nice healthy scoop beside the stuffing, followed by more gravy. He decided to really impress Scully and reached for the brussel sprouts and added a few to his plate. He looked down at his plate, sighed in contentment, took a sip of wine and reached for his fork. Just as he was about to take a bite of turkey he came to the realization that everyone at the table was starring at him.

"What?" he asked suspiciously.

"That's your second plate," Tara informed him.

"And..............." Mulder prompted.

"That's a lot of food for a second plate," Diane chimed in.


"Yeah, you got to start watching yourself, Mulder - I noticed you put on some weight since the last time I saw you," Bill put his two cents in.


"Yeah, mom should have bought your jeans one size larger," Charlie said.


Skinner, Maggie and Scully burst out laughing at the look of shock on Mulder's face. Maggie was the first one to catch her breath.

"Fox, they're pulling your leg, sweetheart. It's just that all they've ever heard from Dana regarding your eating habits was how little you generally do eat. It's just a surprise to see how much you're eating tonight."

"Did I take too much?"

"Mulder, it was a joke - don't worry about it," Scully reassured him.

"Are you sure?"

"Mulder - EAT!"

As Mulder started to eat Skinner couldn't help but throw one more punch in.

"Are you really going to eat ALL of that!"

20 minutes later.................

(I can't believe I just ate all that food.......man, I'm stuffed.........I wonder if there's any turkey left.............what am I thinking..........I can't remember the last time I had such a feast............I can't remember the last time I had so many people around me in a social gathering..........Scully looks so happy talking to Tara - something about a playpen that Tara wants to buy..........I'm glad she has a good female friend she can talk to about those kinds of things.......maybe someday I'll have a good male friend that I can talk to..........yeah, right.......well, Skinner did make the offer..........there he is helping Maggie in the kitchen - they're off in their own world right now - maybe I should be helping them out......they seem quite happy to be by themselves for the moment - I don't want to butt in........mind you Bill doesn't seem to have a problem with it.........he is her son.........if I ever interrupted mom or dad it usually ended up in pain.......anything I ever did ended up in pain........I tried so hard to be good - to be the son dad wanted........nothing was ever good enough for him........Mr. and Mrs. Scully were wonderful parents..........look at how their kids turned out - even Bill isn't too bad when he's actually trying..........their Christmas' were always happy days, filled with laughter, happiness ............my Christmas' were spent in pain and fear........in lonliness.........in quite..........it's so noisy here........eveyone's talking.......dishes being rinsed and put in the dishwasher........chairs being scrapped back and forth.........water running.........coffee being made..........can someone please turn off that Christmas music............this place if full of life......I've got to get out of here.......I don't belong here - I don't deserve this......)

Skinner turned towards the sound of the back door opening and closing softly - he went to the kitchen window and looked out to see his agent lean against the railing of the balcony. He started towards the door but was stopped by the soft touch of a hand on his shoulder. He turned to look into Maggie's eyes - he nodded and went back to rinsing the dishes.

No one else seemed to notice the back door being opened and closed for a second time.

Maggie caught her breath as she looked at the scene in front of her - she knew it had been snowing steadily now for hours but it had never occurred to her exactly how much snow had fallen. There must be at least 2 or 3 feet of snow lying on the ground - and it was cold. She looked at her thermometer - minus 10 - she involuntarily shuddered. She crossed her arms in front of her chest and walked to the lonely figure on her balcony.

"Fox," she called out quietly, so as not to startle him.

Mulder turned his face towards her voice. "Hi, Mrs. Scully."

"It's cold out here, sweetheart - if you're planning to spend some time out here you should put on a coat - or at least button up the top of your shirt."

"I just wanted to get a breath of fresh air," he told her.

"Of course you did," she replied as she walked over to him. She turned him around so that he was facing her and she buttoned up the shirt for him. She also took a second to brush off the snow that had accumulated on his head, then joined him leaning against the railing.

They stood silently for a few minutes - just looking out over the back yard. It was absolutely silent - not a sound was heard.

Maggie shuddered - Mulder noticed and put his arm around her and started to rub. "You're cold - you should go inside."

"Not until you've talked."

Mulder turned his face away from her. "I don't know what you mean - I came out here........."

"I already heard the lie, Fox, now I want to hear the truth."

He was about to argue when he realized how futile that would be. "I feel strange," he said truthfully.


"When we were in the kitchen after dinner, I was looking around at everyone - the conversations, you and A.D. Skinner, Diane and Charlie cleaning the table off - I saw how you gave Bill a kiss on the cheek and I felt so distant. It felt like I was going to suffocate - I had to get out."

"So you came outside."

He nodded in confirmation.

"And how do you feel now?"

"It's not what I expected - maybe hoped for." Unconsciously he pulled Maggie closer to himself.

"Hoped for?"

"I was looking for quiet."

"Do you want me to leave you alone?"

"No! That's not what I meant at all."

"That's what I thought," Maggie said gently as she heard the fear in his voice. She was relieved to see the angst leave his features. "But I don't understand, Fox - it's pretty quiet out here, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is - it's serene, tranquil, calm, still." He paused for a minute before finishing off. "It's nonviolent," he whispered.

Maggie's heart stopped at those last two words. "Fox, what do you mean 'nonviolent'? What kind of quiet were you searching for when you came out here?"

"The kind I'm used to - the kind I didn't find out here - the kind that would've made me feel at home," was his whispered answer. He could feel the tears begin forming in his eyes. Before Maggie could ask him to elaborate he continued on. "The kind that comes with humiliation, guilt, pain, fear, loneliness - the kind that I've lived with for my entire life. I remember after every beating dad would throw me in my room - let me sit there for a couple of days by myself. It was so quiet during those times - I came to appreciate that quietness, because it meant dad would leave me alone for awhile. When the quite was broken it would be dad coming to take me to the hospital so that I could get fixed up - get ready for the next beating." By this time he was crying silently - he felt himself being pulled into Maggie's comforting embrace.

"Oh sweetheart, how could you possible hope to find that kind of quiet again?"

"It's the only one I know," he whispered.

"Fox, I'm going to ask you a question and I want you answer me immediately - don't think about it - just the first answer that pops into your head. OK?"

Mulder nodded.

"Fox, would you rather experience the quiet you grew up with or this new quiet?"

Without thinking he answered. "The new quiet."

"So this is an area we need to work on, isn't it? What is it that you like about this quiet?"

He thought for a moment. "It's peaceful."

"Good. So what we need to do is teach you how to look for this peacefulness in everyday life - that way when you need some quiet time you'll know where to go for it. That peacefulness comes in many forms, Fox - it could be sitting in a park listening to life; it could mean laying on the grass looking up at the clouds in the sky; it could mean sitting in your office with the lights turned off; it could mean going for a walk with someone you love; it could mean taking a nap in the afternoon whether you're tired or not - it comes in so many different forms, Fox, and you need to find it for yourself. But you know we need to take a couple of other lessons away from this conversation. You said that you felt distant in the kitchen - like what was happening there was alien to you - oh, and yes the pun was intended." Maggie smiled triumphantly as she noticed Mulder smiling. "So what do we need to work on there?"

Mulder thought for a moment. "I guess I need to learn what it means to be part of a family."

"Give the man a cigar," Maggie ribbed easily. She turned serious. "And Fox, being part of a family means that you speak your mind - you've got to learn that your thoughts and feeling are just as important as anyone else's. Don't keep things inside of yourself - you've got so many people who want to help you."

"I love you, Mrs. Scully," he whispered as he pulled her into a hug.

"And I love you, sweetheart," she said hugging him right back. "So what do you say - want to start learning what it means to be part of a family?"

"Yeah, I do," he answered. "Besides, it bloody cold out here," he said as a shiver ran through his body.

"Can't argue with that. Besides, I think I better go relieve poor Walter - I'm sure by now his hands are probably like prunes," Maggie laughed.

Mulder got an idea. "Hey, Mrs. Scully, any chance of getting a picture of that........"

Christmas Day
Maggie Scully's Living Room
9:30 p.m.

"Hey, partner," Scully used her elbow to get Mulder's attention away from the conversation he was having with Tara.
"Hey, Scully."

"I could use your help for a couple of minutes, if you don't mind."

"Sure - your wish is my command, my lady."

"I'm about coffee'd out for the evening - how about you and I take orders and get some drinks happening and then I think it's time to open some gifts."

"Uhm, sure. Actually there's something I want to talk to you about anyways."

"What's that?"

"Come on let's take the orders first - it can wait till we're in the kitchen."

Realizing that what ever he wanted to talk about was something he only wanted to discuss with her, Scully nodded in exceptance. She took one side of the room while Mulder started on the other side.

"Uh, Mrs. Scully, sorry to interrupt you, but Scull............Dana and I were wondering if we could pour you a drink of something."

"That's sounds wonderful, Fox - how about a Bailey's with ice. Then I think we should start to open up the gifts."

"That's what Scul.......Dana was saying as well. Sir, what can I get for you?"

"Actually, I'm OK, Mulder. I still need to drive home tonight and with all the snow that has fallen and is still falling I think I'd better start heading for home soon."

"You can't leave yet, Walter, we still have to open gifts; besides there is far too much snow on the roads for you to be driving tonight. I think it would be a wise idea for you to stay here tonight."

"Maggie, I can't impose myself like that on you. Besides, it's looks to me as though you have a full house as it is. I think it would be better for me to just go home."



"Uhm, Sir, when Mrs. Scully makes up her mind about something the best thing to do is give in graciously."

"And you learned this first hand, Mulder?"

"Yes, Sir, I did."

"Good, then maybe Maggie can teach me how she does it so that I can rein you in once in awhile."

"I stepped into that one, didn't I?"

"Yup, you sure did, Agent Mulder. But seriously, Maggie where would you put me?"

"Well, Fox will sleep down here on the couch and the couch in the den can be made into a bed. And I'm sure we can come up with a set of pajama's for you from some where."

"You're right, Mulder, I might as well give in graciously. Thank you, Maggie, I accept your kind invitation. I must say it is a relief to know I won't have to drive in this weather."

"So, Sir, can I get you a drink?"

"Sure, why not. I'd love another scotch if there's any left."

"Fox, I believe we bought a bottle yesterday - open that one up."

"Yes, ma'am."

Mulder walked into the kitchen to find his partner taking glasses down from the cupboard. He walked over to the liquor cabinet and pulled out what was in there.
He grabbed a glass from Scully and proceeded to pour scotch into it, followed by some ice.

"Could you pass me the sherry? Thank you - so, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?"

"Actually it's kind of silly - just forget I said anything."

"Uh uh, G-Man, you're not getting out of it that easy. Come on, if you were willing to tell me that you wanted to talk then it must be something that's bothering you to a degree. Spill the beans, partner."

"Scully, I feel awkward."

"Why? Could you pass me the red wine?"

"Here you go. It's just that we're going to be opening presents in the next couple of minutes."


"Any glasses left for Bailey's?"

"I think you might need to grab one from the dishwasher and wash it."


"But you were going to tell me why you feel the way you do."

"It's just that I feel kind of bad."

"Why would you feel bad?"

"Scully, I know your mom has presents under the tree for me - and I suspect you bought me something as well."

"Isn't that what you do for people you love?"

"Of course it is. It's just that..........."

"Come on, Mulder, spill the beans."

"I don't have anything for you or your mom. With you in the hospital, trying to find a cure and how I've been feeling lately, I just never got around to buying anything. I feel bad because I have nothing to show how much I care for either one of you. And I kind of wish I had something for Skinner as well - he gave me his friendship today and I wish I had something to give back to him, ya know. And the rest of your family have been so nice to me - I mean even Bill has been trying - you gotta give him credit for that, Scully."

"I want you to listen to me, Mulder. You don't need to give gifts to show how much you care for somebody. I mean look at mom and Skinner - other than the clothing mom gave you, have either one of you given you anything material - anything physical that you can touch and say 'this was a gift'?"


"Would you say that in the last few weeks they have given you nothing?"

"No, I can't say that, because it's not true."

"What have they given you, partner?"

"Love, friendship, hope, trust - the three of you have given me my life back - a purpose to live on."

"You've given something to us as well - you've opened yourself up to us - you've let us in, Mulder. Do you really believe that if you had pulled the trigger we would all be celebrating Christmas as though nothing had happened? You just said that we've given you your life back - well you know what? You have given your life back to us - that's the best gift you could ever have given to any of us. Come here, G-Man, so that I can give you a hug."

The two partners stood in the kitchen for a few minutes just relishing in each other's love.

"Hey, you two, what's taking so............is something wrong?"

"Mulder was just lamenting the fact that he hasn't any gifts to give us, mom. But I explained to him that he's given us everything we ever would want from him."

"Well, not quite............."


"Tell me what you want, Mrs. Scully - I promise it's yours."

"You both hit the nail on the head. It's my name."

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Scully, but I'm not following you - your name?"

"You're always calling me 'Mrs. Scully'."

"But that's your name."

"Maybe to an outsider, Fox, but not to a member of my brood."


"Fox, my kids call me 'mom'."

"I think you've just been adopted, Mulder."

"Just? Fox, I've considered you a son since Dana's abduction. I'm just sorry it took me so long to tell you."

"I..........I don't...........I don't know what................to say."

"Yes, you do, sweetheart."

"I.........I love you...........mom."

"I love you, son."

Christmas Day
Maggie Scully's Living Room
11:20 p.m.

Maggie sighed in contentment as she looked around the room at all of her children. Tara was admiring the crib that Bill had bought on his last visit and had left at her place as a gift for his wife. Bill was reading the back cover of the latest Tom Clancy novel that Maggie had bought for him - she knew he wouldn't begin reading it till he was back on his ship - he had always said reading was the only form of entertainment that helped him escape from the loneliness of being away from his family. Charlie was taking pleasure in the 7 video boxed set of James Bond films that Dana had bought for him - Maggie couldn't count the number of times she would find her two youngest children up in the middle of night enjoying a Bond film together. Of course she had to act the part of a stern mom during those times, but secretly it made her smile to see her two youngest getting along so well. Diane was already planning recipes to try out her new up-to-date baking machinery which she had received from Bill and Tara.

Maggie looked over to her daughter and smiled gently. Dana was sitting on the couch taking everything in the same as she was, not bothering to admire any of her gifts. Maggie noticed she was sitting as still as possible as she didn't want to disturb her partner who had fallen asleep on the couch next to her with his head on her shoulder.

"Looks like we have a sleepy head on our hands," Maggie said softly as she tried to stifle a yawn herself.

"Two sleepy heads," Dana chided her mom gently. "You must be tired yourself, mom - you haven't exactly been getting much sleep the last couple of days."

"What can I say - I had to look after one of my kids," Maggie replied as she looked at Fox affectionately. Wanting to get the topic off of herself, Maggie turned to Walter. "Walter, how do you like your gifts?"

"I don't know what to say - I'm blown away by this entire day, Maggie. I can't remember the last time I felt like I belonged in a family."

"You'll love the knitted socks, Walter," Bill broke in. "Mom always knits socks for us at Christmas - they'll keep your feet nice and warm on nights like this."

"I love the colors, mom," Charlie said as he looked at the different shades of gray and blue his mom had used for his socks.

"Walter, what's your favorite gift?" Dana asked.

"I really like the gloves you gave me, Maggie, but if I have to pick a favorite it would be the desk plaque," he answered as he broke into a hundred watt smile. "I'm sure I'm going to get lots of use out of it." He picked it up and read it again:

"I saw it in the store and I couldn't resist," Maggie laughed. "From what I've heard a certain agent under your command - who will remain nameless - needs to be reminded of that once in awhile."

"Well, I plan to place it right at the top of my desk in the middle so whenever the nameless agent walks in, it'll be the first thing the agent see's. And if that still doesn't do the trick, I'll use it as a club," Walter laughed.

As everyone joined in on the chuckle the nameless agent took that as his cue to wake up. As he yawned and stretched, Mulder asked "what's so funny?"

"We were just discussing Walter's favorite gift," Scully informed her best friend. "Which apparently can also be used as a torture device."

"Oh please," Mulder moaned as he noticed the plaque in his boss' hands. "Desk duty isn't enough?"

"Fox, sweetheart, how do like the portable CD player?" Maggie asked.

"It's beautiful, Mrs. Scu...........mom - but you really shouldn't have - it's too much," Mulder replied.

"Nonsense, Fox. Besides, Dana told me you always like to go for a run and I figured this could keep you company."

"Well, it certainly will."

"Maggie, how about you?" Walter asked. "What's your favorite gift?"

"Well, that's easy, - having my whole family around me today. What else could a mom ask for on Christmas Day. And that includes you, Walter." Maggie noticed that last comment made her guest blush. "Dana, honey, you haven't told us your favorite gift."

"That's easy too, mom," Dana replied as she looked over to her partner who was fighting a loosing battle with sleep. He still had his head on her shoulder, but she didn't mind at all.

"Hmmm, what's that, Scully?" Mulder mumbled.

"Nothing, sleepy head," she replied affectionately. "I think you need to get to bed, G-man."

"I think we need to all get to bed," Charlie stated as he noticed his own beloved fighting the same battle with the eyelids.

"Say, does anyone have an extra pair of pajama's they could loan Walter?" Maggie asked.

"I think I have an extra pair upstairs that might fit you, Walter," Charlie responded. "I'll get Diane settled in for the night and then bring them down. Good night everyone."

Mulder started to mumble on Scully's shoulder. "I don't ..........want.........to............
be the...........reason.........." He didn't complete his thought as he fell asleep.

"I think Charlie was right - it's time for bed for everyone. I for one am exhausted. Come on, Walter, you can help me set up your bed in the den."

As Bill and Tara made their way upstairs and Maggie and Walter left for the den, Scully found herself alone with her partner. She gently removed herself from Mulder and made her way upstairs. She was back down again in 2 minutes with the sleeping bag, pillows and a pair of pajama's for Mulder.

"Come on, partner," she gently woke him up.

"What's wrong?" Mulder mumbled sleepily.

"Nothing, but it's time to go to bed."

"But I was already sleeping," Mulder complained.

"Come on, let's make you comfortable."

Five minutes later, Mulder was laying inside the sleeping bag. Scully leaned down and gave him a kiss on the forehead. "Good night, G-man." She walked towards the hallway but stopped when she heard him call out to him. She turned around to find her best friend propped up on his elbow. "Yes?"

"Thank you, Scully - thank you for everything."

Scully walked back to her partner and pushed him back down gently. "You're welcome, Mulder. Get some sleep - and no nightmares, you hear!"

"Yes, ma'am," he mumbled as he fell back to sleep.

"Is he asleep?" Maggie asked from the doorway.

Dana turned towards her mom. "Yes." She walked over to Maggie and gave her a big hug.

"What's that for?"

"For being my mom."

"Go on to bed, sweetheart, - I'll turn off the lights."

Maggie watched her daughter go upstairs then went around the living room turning off the lights. Once the lights were done, she walked over the couch and looked down at her young charge. She bent down and gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek.

"Good night, son."

"Love you, mom," Mulder mumbled sleepily.

"I love you too, Fox. I'll see you in the morning, sweetheart."

And with that Maggie walked out of the living room, turned off the hallway light and went upstairs.