Title:       An X-mas Story
Author:      Lynn Gregg
Date:        1996
Rating:      PG-13
Code:        SR
Keywords:    Mulder/Scully romance
Summary:     A dangerous plant leads to romantic complications in the agents'
             relationship.
Spoilers:    Nada!

Note:        I wrote this thing in December of 1996, before I owned a computer
             or even knew of this wonderful fanfiction subculture. Imagine my 
             joy at discovering I was *not* just a solitary loony practicing my
             obsessive vice in secret! Anyway, this one got lost in the shuffle
             and only just now resurfaced. So, happy late holidays--and on with 
             the show!

**************
An X-mas Story
by Lynn Gregg
**************


     

     "...It's an interesting theory, Mulder, but do you really believe a lack
of impulse control is the only thing that separates the average person from 
the sociopath? That conclusion seems a little too facile to me."

     Typing in the last few words of her report, Dana Scully saved the
document and shoved the keyboard aside with a sigh of satisfaction. The
holidays were enough of a strain without the added pressures of an unfinished
investigation looming overhead, and she was immensely glad that they had
brought this particularly bizarre and disturbing case to an end.

     'Twas the night before Christmas; and the only creatures stirring in 
Scully's apartment were herself and her partner, Fox Mulder. The hour had grown
late as the pair struggled to wrap up the final details of the case; beyond the
frost-scummed window a bitter wind howled, driving thick snowflakes in a
swirling storm. It sparkled beneath the streetlights like a rain of gems,
working a kind of magic on the Capitol city and its environs. Even the pragmatic
Scully wasn't entirely immune to the "White Christmas" mystique; leaning her
elbows on the desktop, propping her chin in her hands, she peered out the window
at the winter wonderland unfolding without. The beauty and charm of it aside,
she was also thinking how glad she was she didn't have to drive home in it.

     "Do you have any booze in here, Scully?" Mulder's voice floated out to her
from the kitchen, breaking her reverie. "It's almost midnight and we are
officially off the clock. Time to start celebrating."

     "There's half a pint of bourbon in the cabinet over the sink. I got it to
go with that carton of eggnog."

     A brief interval followed, wherein could be heard the slamming of cabinet
doors and the rattling of sundry kitchen apparatuses; then Mulder reappeared in
the living room with a brimming glass in each hand, one of which he presented to
his partner. "You weren't saving this for anything, were you?"

     "I was, actually." Scully accepted the glass and savored a long draught.
Grinning up at him, she added, "But I can get more."

     Settling onto the sofa, Mulder patted the seat beside him invitingly,
waiting until she had joined him to continue his earlier discourse. "In answer
to your question...You're absolutely right--that *is* a facile diagnosis, and of
course there are numerous other factors involved. But at the core of the
sociopathic personality is the utter lack of ability, or even desire, to control
the impulses. These are people who have taken Aleister Crowley's famous dictum
to absurd extremes."

     "Aleister Crowley's...?"

     "'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,'" Mulder quoted. "Think
of it: impulse control is the glue that holds so-called 'civilized' society
together. It is only the largely self-imposed restrictions people place upon
their behavior that prevents utter chaos, utter anarchy."

     "Then you believe that adherence to a strict set of personal and societal
mores is essential to the preservation of civilization?" To hear such conformist
sentiments issuing forth from her maverick associate surprised Scully. "But
wouldn't that be impossible--and to an extent also undesirable? Certainly much
of the progess humanity has made owes itself to people's unwillingness to so
strictly regiment their behavior and actions according to externally-imposed
parameters."

     Now it was Mulder's turn to express surprise. "Am I hearing this right? You,
of all people, coming down on the side of spontaneity and impulsiveness? I must've
mixed the eggnog too strong."

     "I'm often spontaneous and impulsive," Scully assured him dryly. "At least
once a week I find myself having to reinvent Bureau protocol to get your ass out
of whatever sling you've landed it in." She gave him a measuring, sidelong glance.
"Why? Are you implying that I'm rigid?"

     "Oh, no, not at all. A bit repressed, perhaps, but not--"

     "*Repressed*?" The word burst out of her in a tone midway between anger and
amusement. "Mulder, you're nuts!"

     "I mean it, Scully," he went on earnestly, digging his grave a little deeper.
"I've been meaning to talk to you about it. When was the last time you had a date?
Or went out to a club? Or even had a drink--er, not counting the one in your hand."

     "I've been too busy for that sort of thing," she said defensively, not meeting
his eyes. "I don't exactly have a nine-to-five job around which to plan an active
social life. Besides, I don't know anyone, and I'm really not in a position to meet
anyone--except, of course, for freaks and mutants and little gray men."

     "I don't know...Agent Pendrell would be happy to oblige, I'll bet."

     "Pendrell?" Scully stared at him in astonishment, the same blank, incredulous
look usually elicited by his wackier theories of extraterrestrial activity. "In the
lab? But he's not--I mean, he's never--" She broke off, flustered.

     "Oh, of course not. He's convinced you and I are--well. That's the general
consensus, you know...You *don't* know, do you? Scully! Come on, you can't be that
oblivious! Don't you see the way those two little blondes on the clerical support
staff glare at you every time we walk by there together?"

     This was news to Scully. "I never noticed. God, do they really think we're--oh,
NO!"

     And to Mulder's amazement, his calm and logical partner dissolved in a fit of
helpless giggling. It was akin to seeing Spock crack up. Thumping her glass down on 
the end table she collapsed, shaking with mirth, against his shoulder. Flame-red hair
and the scent of--sandalwood? Mulder felt a very unprofessional response burgeoning
in his nether regions, and he stifled a groan as she continued to writhe against him.

     "The entire Bureau thinks we're--oh, God!" Gasping for breath, she pushed herself
upright. "All my efforts to maintain some sort of credibility and decorum, and for what?
And it's so ridiculous! I mean, I'm not even your *type*!"

     In the four years he'd known her, Mulder had had ample opportunity to consider his
"type" and amend his perceptions accordingly; he questioned her now as to *her*
perception of same and was rewarded by the rare sight of a faint pink blush creeping 
into her cheeks.

     Dropping her gaze, she muttered, "I don't know. The centerfold type, I guess. Um,
taller. *Bigger*." After a beat, she dared a glance at him; and what she saw on his face
so unnerved her that she fairly leaped from the sofa, propelling herself across the room.
Too deliberately, she went to the door and opened it, on pretext of checking the weather--
but the small surprised sound she made was genuine enough to bring Mulder instantly to her
side.

     "God, look at it--there must be a foot of snow on the ground already and it's still
coming down...You can't drive home in this mess, Mulder; I doubt you could even get out of
the parking lot. Looks like you'll just have to stay and wait up for Santa with me."

     "Darn," he drawled, pulling the door shut and sealing out the night. "And I was *so*
looking forward to spending Christmas Eve alone in my cold, drafty apartment, reading the
latest theories of the Lone Gunmen. Which reminds me, Scully--Frohike gave me detailed
instructions as to what I was to do should I find myself alone with you in close proximity
to a sprig of mistletoe."

     "Mistletoe by proxy?" Scully's eyebrow quirked up. "Hmmm. Well, better you than him."

     "D'you mean that, Scully? Because I believe I happened to notice a specimen of the
plant in question, suspended above the kitchen doorway."

     The flush had returned to Scully's cheeks. Delighted, Mulder forged on.

     "I was going to ask you about that, actually. As you live alone and, by your own 
admission, are neither involved with nor interested in anyone at present--I must admit, the
usefulness of such a plant, with its associated amorous rituals, escapes me."

     The flush had deepened to crimson. The unflappable Dana Scully flustered--nay, outright
*embarrassed*, and twice in one night! Mulder was entranced.

     "I don't know," Scully mumbled, glaring at the offending sprig. "Mistletoe is just a
traditional Christmas decoration, like poinsettias and, er, things. I don't know why I put
the damned thing up there, I just--"

     "Scully?"

     She broke off in mid-defense. "What?"

     "You yourself admitted that impulse control can be carried to extremes." As he spoke,
Mulder sauntered across the room, coming to a stop in the kitchen doorway. With studied
nonchalance, he leaned against the doorframe. "Scully." He waited until she looked,
reluctantly, in his direction. The bright head came up; the blue eyes that met his defiantly
were carefully devoid of expression.

     "Dana, come here." He grinned. "I can't let Frohike down."

     After a moment of hesitation, she joined him. Looking at her steadily, Mulder reached
out, placing his hands lightly on either side of her waist, and drew her to him. Scully
stood motionless in his embrace, her head tilted back slightly; she stiffened involuntarily
and turned her face aside as his lips inclined toward hers. He corrected deftly, closing 
his mouth over hers, parting her lips gently with the tip of his tongue. Scully started to
draw away, pushing at his chest with her hands, but his arms held her fast and his lips 
never slackened their insistent pressure. She fought him, and herself, an instant longer
before giving way all of a rush, melting against him, returning his kiss with a fierce
abandon even she had not known herself capable of. Her arms slid round him, hands stealing
up to twine in his hair and draw his head more tightly down to her.

     It was Mulder who broke the spell, wrenching his mouth free of hers and holding her
off at arm's length. His eyes, dark with passion and concern, searched her face anxiously.
Blinking as though surfacing from a deep dream, Scully licked her swollen lips and asked in
a voice not quite her own, "Was that Frohike?"

     "No. You're still dressed." He slid his hands slowly up her arms, feeling the prickle
of gooseflesh there, and brought them to rest lightly on her shoulders. "That was just me."

     Comprehension began to dawn on Scully's face; the look of absolute horror thereon cut
Mulder to the bone. Ducking out from beneath his hands she scurried away, into the bright
safety of her kitchen. She prepared herself another stiff eggnog, with shaking hands.

     Mulder remained in the doorway, feeling as though he'd been sucker-punched. "Dana. What
is it?"

     "DAMN it!" Bringing both palms down hard on the counter top, Scully spun to confront 
him. "'Impulse control' my ass! I am not going to do this, Mulder. I'm not going to risk it.
I'll risk my life every day of the week, but not this."

     "What?" His voice was so low she barely heard it over the pounding of her own pulse in
her ears. "Tell me, Scully."

     "This!" She flung her arms wide. "Everything I--WE've worked so hard to build over the
past four years. I'm closer to you than I am to anyone; sometimes I think you're the only
friend I have left in the world. I'd trust you with my life, Mulder. I *have*. And I'm not
willing to jeopardize what is for what could be."

     Mulder looked at her steadily, fighting for control. His heart seemed to have leapt into
his throat and lodged there; his voice came out sounding strangled.

     "Scully. What would you do if you knew--you *knew*--there'd be no repercussions? If you
knew you had one day in which you could do anything at all, and the next day just pick up
where you left off like nothing unusual had ever happened--what would you do?"

     "First I'd hunt down Alex Krychek and kill him," she said promptly. "Then I'd go find
that Cancerman. Are you trying to force me into an admission of something?"

     "Yeah."

     Silence. It stretched out, endlessly. Mulder held his breath. Scully let hers out, a
long ragged exhalation. Her shoulders slumped and she felt tears prickling behind her closed
eyelids as she turned away from him again.

     "What I'd really want to do," she said, very softly, "would take so much longer than
just one day."

     Mulder was across the room in two long strides, desperate now, heedless. Grasping her 
round the waist he turned her to face him; when she refused to look at him he took her head
in his hands and tilted it back gently, forcing her to meet his gaze.

     "You can take as long as you want," he assured her, soothing away with his thumb one 
errant tear that trickled down her cheek. "Don't you know by now how I feel about you? 
Sometimes I think the only thing that's kept me sane through any of this is knowing that 
you're with me--knowing that there is someone I can actually trust, implicitly."

     "'Sane', of course, being a relative term in your case."

     "You are my sanity."

     Feeling the tremor of suppressed emotion running through his taut form, Scully 
slipped her arms around him and drew him close, cradling him as she had so many times 
before--as he had done for her on those rare occasions when she'd managed to drop her 
defenses and let him see the truth of her. The hot unfamiliar longing that filled her 
was at once frightening and exhilarating. So much at stake--but hadn't she accepted that 
risk when she joined the FBI? She risked her life on a daily basis, and never once paused. 
Why, now, did she falter? So much to lose--the delicate, precarious equilibrium of their 
strange bond; would it shatter so easily upon the introduction of their messy human passions, 
or was it stronger, greater than that? Though she couldn't be certain about much of anything 
anymore, Scully thought she knew the answer to that one. She searched for just the right 
words to carry her across this last, most difficult breach; but it was he who found them, 
and spoke them in tones that brooked no doubt.

     "Scully. You know that I love you."

     Feeling herself on the brink of behaving like one of the dippy heroines of a romance 
novel, Scully made a final attempt to lighten the mood. "But, Mulder, what'll we tell 
Frohike?"

     "I'll send him a gift subscription to Hustler," he said, hands sliding down over 
her hips.

     "Don't you think he's already got one?"

     "I'll give him my video collection, then. Stop stalling, Scully, and tell me what 
you want." The hands slid lower, snugging her tight up against him. She smiled up at him, 
knowing her Christmas wish had already come true.

     "Just you, Mulder," she murmured, settling into his arms. "Just you."


     

~~END~~



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