That Time Again
By Christine Leigh

Summary: Christmas 2010. Fifteenth 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. Thematically, this installment is a sequel to "Christmas Time is Here" from Christmas 2009.
Rating: G
Category: Vignette, AU
Spoilers: None.

December 2010

"This one looks good."

"You don't think it's a little excessive?"


"No, you meant to say."


"It'll take a long time to put up, Will."

"Maybe we'll have help."

Mulder grins at Will, and then they both have a good laugh, remembering the help they had with last year's tree. Mulder pulls out his wallet. "All right then. This is our tree, apparently. All 50 feet of it." In reality, about eight.

"Mom'll love it."

"Agreed." For this reason alone, the tree will be worth the effort. "Let's see how soon we can have it delivered."


"It's even bigger inside, isn't it?"

"Christmas trees always look bigger indoors than out. It's a universal invariant."

"Do we do the lights now?" Will knows this is what comes next, and that Dad really doesn't enjoy the task. Help would be good now.

"Why don't we have a snack first? I could go for a sandwich before we commence with the hard labor."

"Peanut butter and honey." Will is growing up way too fast, so his parents and grandmother say, but he's still a child when it comes to his favorite sandwich.

"Turkey for me. Let's see what we can scare up." Mulder glances at the box that holds the lights, and they then head for the kitchen.


"How you can eat that sticky stuff, still, is beyond me Will. Are you sure you don't want some turkey?"

Will nods emphatically. Definitely a no vote on the turkey. His sandwich is complete, and he moves to the table. There's nothing better than pb&h. Pb&j is fine, too, but he loves the taste of just enough honey with his peanut butter.

Mulder brings two glasses and his sandwich to the table. He goes back for milk and fills the glasses. They're set. It's a fine feast.

"Did you ever have a tree this big when you were little?"

Mulder thinks about it. They always had a good-sized one, but probably not quite this big. Of course, there came the year when there was no tree.

"No, we didn't. It was usually as high as the ceiling, but our ceiling in the living room wasn't as high as ours is here. At least, as I recall. We always had a lot of lights, though. The old-fashioned big ones, and multi-colored." Mulder missed those old lights now that he thought back on it. They had been using the mini-lights, all white, the last few years. Maybe when they upgraded to LEDs they could try colored ones. What is happening to him, he wonders, that he's getting sentimental over Christmas lights?

"Tom's dad says that big lights get too hot. They used them until two years ago."

"He's right. And they eat up the electricity." Mulder can hear his father going on about that. Still, he can smell the particular scent they gave off when mingled with pine. That and the glow they cast in the darkened room with no other lights on were the essence of Christmas when he'd been a child. It was a fairyland. This thought triggered another memory.

"When our tree was up and ready to go and the lights were turned on for the first time, it was magical. And Samantha thought so, literally. She insisted that Tinkerbell lived in the tree." He smiled, somewhat wistfully, as he shared this anecdote. Will is now the same age that Sam was when she was taken. The Tinkerbell memory was from a few years before that, but Mulder can see her, as though it had occurred yesterday, talking to Tink in the Christmas tree. One never saw Tink, but she was in residence for the duration of the season. Where did Sam think she went when it was over? Back to Neverland? In the book or in the movie? He remembers watching the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan that used to air regularly on TV, but doesn't recall if they'd gone to see the Disney film at this point. They did have the book. His mother had read it to him when he was five. She must have read it to Sam at some point.

Where did Tink go, Sam?

Where did you go?

"Your tree was enchanted."

Mulder blinked and shook himself out of his reverie. Better to be here than there. Life has brought him to a point where he can appreciate how fortunate he is, almost always. He nods in agreement with Will and makes a mental note to find a copy of the book, if they don't have one on the shelf already, to read to Kaylene.

"About finished, Mr. Sticky?" Will is actually a fairly neat eater, and there's only one small smudge of evidence to the contrary above his upper lip.

Will drains his glass. "Yep."


"Yes." Dad says he'll thank him some day for turning out well spoken. Will mostly thinks of it as a game when Dad corrects him. He received an A in spelling and grammar, though, last year.

"Time to go make some magic. Or die trying. Think the ladder will reach the top?"

"If it doesn't..." Will stops mid-sentence and thinks about it. Last year they had help when they least expected it. Where are the guys? Will really was counting on them turning up again at just the right time again. That would be now. He closes his eyes and gives a silent shout-out.

Dude, I prefer jam with my peanut butter. Langly.

"We have strawberry. I'll make you a sandwich." Will is grinning. "I knew you'd come."

Make that three sandwiches. I'll take honey on mine. Frohike.

"Three? I take it John is in the room?" Mulder queried.

Indeed, I am. Jam, please.


In the end or in the beginning, it could be either depending on who is asked, enchantment rules.

For Will, who is unique. Not only inherently, but due to his personal trio of friendly ghosts. He can't share this very special friendship with anyone other than Dad and Mom and he knows it sets him apart. But, in a good way.

For Mulder, who unlikely as it may be, some of the time misses the only life he'd known for most of his life. The fact of the guys' existence beyond the grave assimilating into the world he now inhabits has created what he's come to think of as his own perfect storm. Most days, though, the weather is fair.

For Langly, Frohike, and Byers, who get the run of two worlds. And a family in one.


"Dare we look?"

"I'll bet they did it."

The kitchen is emptied as are the plates and glasses strewn across the table. It had been quite the party.

"Okay, let's go."

The hallway between the kitchen and the living room is short, so the glow is visible almost immediately. There's something else as well. Mulder is blinking furiously now. How did they manage this?

"Dad, look."

"I see, Will." I see.

The tree is beautiful. The lights are many, and of many colors.

"It smells good. What's that?"

"Christmas, Will."


~ End ~

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This story is (c) Copyright 2010 by Christine Leigh. "The X-Files" and the characters, with the exception of Kaylene, are the property of the Fox Network and Ten-Thirteen Productions and are borrowed here without profit or intent for profit.