Christmas Time Is Here
By Christine Leigh
Summary: Christmas 2009. Twelfth in a series of vignettes centering around Mulder and Will that may also be read as a stand-alone. The series starts approximately two years after the end of the show.
Category: Vignette, AU
"A little more to the left."
The smaller hand pushes. The larger one turns the screw. There are audible sighs from both the bodies splayed across the living room floor. It is a typical scene for this project, but Mulder can't help wondering that if the aliens are out there and taking it in, if they wouldn't turn right around and call off the invasion, seeing that the humans are doing just fine with the self- torture. Why is it that in movies and TV that Christmas trees get put up in a matter of hours or even minutes? Why can't he and Will leave the room during the commercial and come back to a fully decked tree? Why hadn't he taken the man at the lot up on his offer to deliver and set up the tree?
"Oh, you can let go now."
Mulder stood up. Will rolled over onto his back.
"It looks straight from here." This is the first year Will has helped Dad with the tree. Last year Mom had helped. But it hadn't been as big a tree since they were going to San Diego for Christmas. This year everyone is coming here for Christmas Eve and Day. Mom's very happy about that. Dad is, too, but mostly he says he's happy for hotels. Will isn't supposed to repeat that in front of Mom. Dad says it's their time-honored seasonal conspiracy. Will is glad, though, that Grandma will be staying with them in the one room available at the Mulder Inn.
"It looks good from here. I think phase two can commence." Mulder motions to the box of lights sitting on the couch. "Master Untangler, you're on."
Will grins. He gets to sit for a while now. The light strings that are always put away in some semblance of order, mysteriously, do not stay that way during their eleven-month break. He starts to work on one while Dad goes to the kitchen. Soon, he has two unraveled.
Mulder returns with a bottle of tea and a can of soda and sits down on the floor. He hands Will the soda.
"I think a short break is in order."
"Why do these get so messed up?"
Mulder shakes his head. "One of life's great mysteries." Will takes a drink from his can. Soda is only a sometime thing in his diet. Mom says water or juice is better, and Dad says that his tea is good, but Will has tried that and doesn't like it at all.
"Have we ever had a tree so big?"
"Not since we had you and Kaylene. Once, your mom had one that was almost this tall in her apartment. She got it into the stand and put on the lights all by herself."
Will thinks about that. He knows that Mom loves Christmas. Later she'll do most of the decorating of the tree. "Did you help her put on the ornaments?"
"Yes." It had been their first Christmas together since becoming lovers, the beginning of the path that led to today.
"I'm glad we'll be home for Christmas. Tom can come over before we have to go back to school. And maybe the guys will visit."
The guys. What other eight-year-old has three ghosts for pals? Frohike is the most consistent visitor, but all three still show up. There is no pattern, but they had not visited while the Mulders were in San Diego last year.
"Here's to hoping that they do." Mulder lifts his bottle and toasts the air.
"Tom wants a night vision camcorder for Christmas. And a telescope like mine."
"Will Santa be delivering, do you think?"
There is an unmistakable note in Will's voice. It says that Santa is fine for Kaylene, but that he, Will, has been enlightened. The truth is out there. Mulder and Scully had both almost choked on their coffee the morning two months ago when Will had actually said these words at the breakfast table. The fact that Will is getting older far too fast saddens Mulder some, but he is also getting a kick out of being able to talk his son on a more adult level. It's been quite a ride, this parenthood thing.
"Okay, got it. Do you think Tom will get both items?"
"He's seen the camcorder. It's behind the boxes with the summer clothes in the basement."
"That's no fun." But Mulder said this with a smile. That was one thing he had never managed to do as a child. He'd tried, but Samantha had been the better detective. She'd found her Barbie doll two weeks before Christmas and had hardly been able to keep her hands off of it until then. He wonders if Will has been investigating.
"Will, I hope there are going to be surprises under the tree for you on Christmas morning."
Will is suddenly very intent on returning to his untangling, and an enigmatic smile that makes Mulder want to hug the boy forever is the only response he receives.
It's time to return to work. Lights!
"Will, I think there's a special place somewhere in the universe for people who put lights on trees and willingly come back to do it another year."
"It'll make Mom happy to come home and see the lights all on."
"That's the saving grace of the project."
"We need magic, like in Mary Poppins." Will snapped his fingers. Kaylene loves Mary Poppins. It's on a regular loop in the DVD player.
"Wouldn't that be nice?"
"You know what? We forgot the water."
Mulder frowns. This happens every year. It seems that the struggle to get a tree into its stand obliterates the obvious fact that after this is accomplished that the stand should be filled with water. He lets go of the first string of lights that he has started to put on the tree.
"Let's go fill a bucket."
They head outdoors to the backyard and grab one of Scully's gardening buckets. It hasn't snowed today, but it is in the forecast, and it's near freezing outside.
"I think Frosty and his friends will be back by tomorrow, Will."
"Mom wants it to snow on Christmas for Matthew. She says he's never seen a white Christmas."
"I think it'll happen. Here we go. Just hold it like that under the spout."
They fill the bucket about three-quarters of the way and return indoors. When they enter the living room, their mouths both drop open. Standing where they left all eight feet of it, is their Christmas tree. It is covered, top to bottom, in lights. Fully and completely, the lights are on the tree.
"Maybe we should go back out and come in again."
They do this. They return. It is all still there. Father and son sit down next to the empty box on the couch. They just stare for a few minutes. What else is there to do?
Aren't you forgetting something?
Will gets it first. Now, everything is all right. In fact, everything is great. He nudges his father, pointing toward the bucket. Mulder is just seconds behind his son in understanding. Then, he grins, his heart uniquely warmed. He gets up and pours some water into the stand of the tree.
"Well, thanks, guys."
"Dad, I told you. And they came early."
"And will return, hopefully."
"They will, Dad. I'm sure."
"Yeah, I think so."
"Look. It's snowing."
Mulder looks toward the window at the falling flakes. And then at the beautiful tree. And, lastly, at his most wonderful gift of all, ever.
"Will, I think Christmas time is here."
"It's been here for a long time."
Mulder grins. "If you say so."
Dude. He's you.
~ End ~
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This story is (c) Copyright 2009 by Christine Leigh. "The X-Files" and the characters of Mulder, Scully, and William are the property of the Fox Network and Ten-Thirteen Productions and are borrowed here without profit or intent for profit.