Santa-Faction Stories by Susanne Barringer

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Can’t Get No Santa-Faction &
Santa-Faction Guaranteed by
Susanne Barringer

Santa-faction cover

Can’t Get No Santa-Faction

TITLE: Can’t Get No Santa-faction

AUTHOR: Susanne Barringer

EMAIL:

ARCHIVE: Anywhere else okay with these headers attached.

CATEGORY: SR

KEYWORDS: Mulder/Scully Romance

RATING: PG-13

SPOILERS: Not a one

SUMMARY: Holiday fluff. For Christmas, Mulder gets what he asked for, but not what he expected.

DISCLAIMER: Usual.

THANKS to Sue for pushing me to get this done in a timely manner. Otherwise, I’d be posting it in March. You know which part is for you. 😉

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Can’t Get No Santa-faction by Susanne Barringer

I’m beginning to think I’m going to have to apologize to Scully for dragging her to the madness that is the mall two nights before Christmas. We’re here at my insistence after a tip about some mysterious happenings and a man who looks like Santa Claus.

We’ve got a composite sketch from some eye-witnesses I interviewed yesterday. Unfortunately, after two hours of questioning dozens of mall employees tonight, that’s still all we have. I’m sure Scully is well past her limit of humoring me.

We meet up again at the bench in front of Santa’s North Pole, having gone our separate ways in order to cover the territory faster.

The poor man playing Santa is still on duty, even though it’s well past most kids’ bedtimes now that the mall is open late for the holidays.

Scully quietly takes a seat on the bench next to me, and we both watch Santa sitting waiting for the next child to arrive or, more likely, for the time when he can clock out. He waves a gloved hand at us, and Scully waves back in a way that touches my heart.

Probably makes the guy’s whole night to have someone like Scully smile and wave at him.

The assistant elves, wearing skirts short enough to give those nearadolescent boys a little thrill, are sitting in their chairs looking exhausted. Tough job, I bet, dealing with screaming kids all day.

For some reason Scully and I continue to sit. I’m sure she’s working over the case in her mind before we leave. We’ve gotten nowhere tonight, and I’d bet she’s about to give me a lecture that will inevitably include the phrase “wild goose chase.”

“It must be an interesting job to play Santa Claus,” Scully remarks, reminding me once again that I can never accurately predict what’s going on in that woman’s head. “Especially watching the faces of the little kids who still believe in him.” She sounds sad, almost like she misses the days when Christmas was all about innocence, and toys, and milk and cookies left overnight.

“I bet you figured out there was no Santa when you were four, Scully. I can just see you calculating the speed of light, a billion homes, twenty-four hours. Nope, mathematically impossible.

Therefore, no Santa.”

“And I bet you believed until you were twenty,” she answers back, her face graced with a teasing smile as she turns to look at me.

“I still believe,” I say with a grin. “Otherwise we wouldn’t be here looking for him.” Scully shakes her head in amusement. “We should question the mall Santa.” I gesture in his direction. “These Santa guys probably all know each other.”

“I’m surprised you haven’t done that already. He’s just as likely to have seen this man as anyone else. Or be him.” Ah, well, she hasn’t totally dismissed this as a goose chase yet.

I’m pretty sure questioning Santa isn’t going to yield anything substantial, but I do have an ulterior motive. Just a little fantasy that needs to be played out. “Scully, why don’t you go sit on his lap to get your picture taken, and you can see what he knows. I’ll question the elves.”

She looks at me like I’m crazy, not at all unusual but somehow more deadly at this particular moment. “Mulder, we’re not undercover. Just go flash your badge and ask him what you want to know.”

“Then I won’t get what I want for Christmas.”

“What?” She sounds wary, with good reason.

“A picture of you with Santa. Really, Scully, that’s my greatest wish.”

“Why in the world would you want a picture of me with Santa?” I can tell by the tone of her voice that she thinks I’m putting her on, when, in actuality, I’m quite serious.

“I want a picture of you with something you actually once believed in. You have no idea how much that would just make my whole holiday complete.”

She rolls her eyes at me and looks appropriately exasperated at my insane suggestion. “Mulder, he’s here for the kids, not for adults.”

“It’s quarter to eleven, Scully, there’s not a kid in sight. He’s just waiting for someone to come sit on his lap, like any good dirty old man.” I wonder how long I can push this before she walks away.

“Don’t speak about Santa that way, Mulder. It’s sacrilegious.

You’ll end up with coal in your stocking.”

“Do it in the spirit of Christmas. I double dog dare you.” If I can’t get her to do it for me, I’ll make it a challenge.

She stifles a grin. “Double dog dare, Mulder? How old are you again?”

“C’mon, Scully. Give the man a cheap thrill.”

“Are you saying I’m cheap?” The eyebrow launches the question.

“Thrill, Scully. Didn’t you hear me put the emphasis on ‘thrill?’ The man has had a whole day of runny noses and wet diapers. He deserves a moment or two of a beautiful woman whispering in his ear.” She doesn’t quite blush, but she looks at me curiously. Yes, I said beautiful, Scully. What’s so weird about that?

“Double dog dare, huh?” She gives Santa a wary look. He waves at her again and makes a little motion for her to come on over.

Yeah, Santa, I know what you want. “What do I get if I do it?” she asks, not taking her glance from Dirty Old Santa. Could she actually be considering it?

“I’ll let you open your Christmas present early.” Scully may be a strong, imposing woman, but put a gift in her hand and she fast becomes an impatient child. If there was any chance in hell of getting her to do this, presents would be the way. For the moment, I’m trying not to remember that I haven’t actually gotten her anything yet.

“Fine,” she says with a huff. She stands and makes a beeline for Santa’s North Pole. Geez, she’s not actually going to do it, is she?

Scully marches up to the entrance to the Santa line and weaves her way through the red and white striped tape to the platform where Santa sits. I figure she’s probably just going to ask him about the suspect, so when she ends up plopped right down on his knee, I’m shocked, to say the least. I get up from the bench where we were sitting and make my way over to the elf who’s risen to her place near the camera. I absolutely will not walk out of here without a photo to commemorate this event for all eternity.

Scully and Santa have a nice long conversation, and I can’t hear a single word of it. She says something to him and he ho-ho-hos, shaking like the cliche bowl full of jelly. I watch as Scully points at me, whispers something to Santa, then laughs shyly. I would like to think she just asked for me for Christmas, but another hearty ho-hoho from Santa makes me suspect that whatever she said about me wasn’t quite so complimentary.

The camera-elf motions that she’s ready, so Scully presses her cheek to Santa’s and smiles broadly as the flash goes off. It’s going to be a great picture, exactly what I asked for. I fork over my ten dollars even as my stomach sinks at watching Scully chat it up with Santa. He looks a little too happy about her company, and she seems to be having a grand old time.

Finally, she shows him the suspect’s picture. Santa takes it and looks carefully, but I see him shake his head in the negative. Just what I expected. Scully stands up and Santa reaches beside him to grab a coloring book and small box of crayons, the reward for all good little boys and girls. Before he gives it to her, he takes one of the crayons and writes something inside the book. I watch as she shakes his hand, my jealousy finally abating enough for me to chastise myself for being so stupid. Jealous of Santa, what a joke.

She was just being nice to him because I made her feel sorry for the guy. Spirit of Christmas and all that.

I collect my hard-won photo and meet Scully at the bottom of the exit ramp. “Dirty old man, right?” I give her a little wink.

“No, not old,” she says rather seriously. “Fake beard, fake eyebrows, young eyes. In fact, he asked me out to dinner.” She opens up the first page of the coloring book to reveal a phone number written in red crayon.

“He didn’t!” Okay, that was a development I did not expect.

“That’s disgusting, taking advantage of his position to hit on women. There has to be some kind of policy against that. We should report him.”

“You’ll do no such thing, Mulder.” She sounds annoyed with me, which maybe I deserve, but I can’t believe she would fall for some womanizer in a Santa suit.

“You’re actually taking him seriously, Scully?” I can’t help but laugh. His motives seem pretty damn clear to me. “He probably tries to pick up every woman over eighteen, or even younger. Who knows what kind of psycho he is.”

“Mulder, he seems like a perfectly normal guy. And funny too.”

She’s walking fast, picking up the pace, which means she’s getting angry with me. Somehow my whole Christmas wish is ruined—this isn’t what I had in mind when I imagined a picture of Scully with Santa.

“You’re not actually going to call him!”

“I don’t know, maybe. He must be a pretty nice person if he spends his nights playing Santa, making kids happy.” Her tone is curt, short.

“Yeah, either that or he’s a pervert.”

She gives me an annoyed look. “Cut it out, Mulder. You double dog dared me to do it. I did it. You’ve got no right to complain about it. So, I get my present now, right?”

*******

Scully’s quiet in the car on the way back to my apartment. It’s okay with me because I’ve got a bigger problem on my hands. She’s coming back to my place to get her promised gift, which I don’t have. Normally, that might not be a problem, but considering that she’s pissed at me, I’m not exactly confident that she’ll see the humor in all this. I never thought she’d take me seriously, and I’m not sure why she did. Maybe to give me the gift I asked for, maybe to prove a point, maybe to get her damn present that doesn’t exist.

Whatever the case, I’m screwed.

We’re not in my apartment two minutes before she asks. She doesn’t want coffee, a soda, a beer, something to eat, time to freshen up, or to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Trust me, I’ve tried to dawdle in every way possible.

“My gift, Mulder?” The words of doom.

I don’t know why, but this doesn’t seem to be the right moment to confess. I need to stall a little longer. I move to the desk and open a drawer, pulling out a small empty box. It’s one of those white ones from the jewelry counter at department stores—probably not the best choice, but it’s just a diversion tactic anyway until I can think of something I want to give her but haven’t gotten around to buying yet.

I walk back toward Scully and sit down on the sofa next to her; she turns so that we’re facing each other. I hand her the box. I’m a dead man.

I see a moment of surprise in the slight widening of her eyes. I know what she’s thinking. It’s a jewelry box, meaning, logically, that it probably has jewelry inside. She’s wondering what it is and if I actually went and spent a lot of money on her. She can’t hide the pleasure that rises in her cheeks.

“I haven’t wrapped it yet,” I say, but my voice pretty much dies out by the last syllable. She gives the box a little shake next to her ear, but, no surprise to me, hears nothing. I am so dead.

Scully flashes me a half-smile, then carefully lifts up the lid, her face full of expectation. She really is totally gorgeous when she’s about to open a gift. I should give her presents more often, although I suppose it would be more effective if they were actually gifts and not air. She peeks inside the box and sees nothing, obviously, so she lifts up the cotton to look underneath. I watch as the half-smile and girlish eyes drop flat in confusion.

“Mulder, there’s nothing in here.” She looks totally crestfallen, more than I thought she would. I guess I still held out hope that maybe she would laugh, think it was funny. I’m sure I just made the whole scenario worse by pretending I had something for her when I didn’t.

“Just my love?” I say on a whim, and I’m entirely surprised that it comes out as a question. I really do mean it, but she’s not likely to take me seriously, especially when I sound like I’m just guessing.

“It’s a really small box,” she says. She’s peering inside the box, holding it at different angles as if trying to judge how much love it can hold, how much love I’m offering her. There’s no lightness in her voice. Every now and then comes a moment when I totally cannot read Scully, when I can’t interpret the small changes in her eyes or around her lips that clue me what she’s thinking. Gods be cursed, this is one of those moments. Her words seem like a joke, but she looks like she might cry.

“Mulder, if you don’t have anything for me, just say so,” she says, replacing the lid on the box and handing it back to me. “It’s no big deal. I wasn’t expecting anything.” Now I’m positive she’s entirely serious. Damn.

“Scully, I …” Am I reading this right? Did I just break this woman’s heart? “Scully, I meant what I just said. Before. What I want to give you can’t fit in a box.”

She looks at me without expression, not a muscle moves. “And you called Santa a pervert.”

And then I see it, a little lifting of the corner of the lips, a little flash of the eyes. She’s giving me a hard time, she’s making me suffer.

Suddenly the smile breaks free and I see the unreleased laughter drawn all over her face. I chuckle in response, but suddenly I really want to kiss her. It’s a drive that far exceeds the usual adequacy of my selfcontrol, a drive that I’ve felt this strongly only a handful of times since I’ve known her. “Funny, Scully, but you have no idea how close to the truth you are.”

She gives me that look, the one with the little eyebrow thing, followed by the pursing of the lips. I lean forward slightly, then a bit more. The message should be clear—I invade her space all the time, but never quite this invasive, and never when she’s looking at me like that.

“Merry Christmas, Scully.” I search her still eyes, then push forward, stopping just a wisp away from her lips. She doesn’t move away, and when I hear the shiver in her sigh, I know I’ve found my gift.

I think she’s the one who ends up making up that last little bit of difference between us because I’m actually shocked when I feel her lips against mine, no awareness of having done it myself. Shock gives way to total disbelief, then to a fabulous ribbon of heat through my body. A second passes, maybe two, and then she presses her mouth harder against me and her hand comes up to cradle my face. Her lips part mine slightly, just enough to show me that she’s not simply humoring my spontaneous pass. When she pulls away, her mouth tugs at my lower lip, taking one last taste before cool air fills the distance between us. Her eyes are dark and wide, and her fingers brush once across my lips before she drops her arm to her side.

I can’t help but stare at her, swallowing her whole with my eyes. I thought she was beautiful before, but now I see something I haven’t noticed before. She is stunning.

She watches me look at her, the sweep of emotions crossing her face too fast for me to interpret, but the warm feeling inside me assures me that they are all good.

“That’s all I get?” she finally says. My head is still spinning, so I can only trust she’s continuing to make me pay and isn’t actually seriously disappointed.

“There’s more where that came from,” I mumble, and I’m met by a broad grin and inviting eyes that send the heat racing toward my groin.

“That’s nice to know,” she says softly.

I feel utterly speechless, so I send the direction of conversation toward less serious ports. “So, Scully, what do I get for Christmas?” I can’t believe we’re even having a discussion so loaded with blatant suggestiveness, if there is such a thing.

Innuendo I’m used to. Scully implying she wants to kiss me again is a totally new ball of wax.

“You already got what you asked for.” She reaches into my shirt pocket and pulls out the picture of her with that Santa Casanova.

“A picture of you and your future husband?” I remark, trying to keep the tone light to cover up my adolescent jealousy. She laughs lightly, then slips the photo back into my pocket, resting her hand gently on my chest when she’s done.

“You didn’t really think I was going to go out with him, did you?”

She fiddles with a button on my shirt, her eyes looking up at me in a way that’s playing havoc with that previously mentioned selfcontrol.

“Honestly? I wasn’t totally sure. You looked pretty starry-eyed.”

“Mulder.” She sounds frustrated, the words carried on a sigh. She removes her hand from my chest, much to my dismay, and leans back against the arm of the couch. “You’re impossible.”

“I’ve been promoted from ‘pervert’ I take it?”

“For tonight.” The look she gives me could melt concrete.

She leans forward again, her hand coming to rest on my upper arm, then stroking up and down. I really have no idea what to expect from her next. She’s obviously okay with this kissing thing, but what does that mean? More? Tonight? Tomorrow? Next month?

She ends the third degree I’m giving myself by leaning forward to kiss me again. She toys with me, planting small light kisses across my lips, not allowing me any more than just glimpses of her taste, her touch. Then she settles in, her mouth opening across mine, and she slides her tongue between my lips. The sensation is unexpected and dazzling. I wrap my hand in her hair, pulling her tighter against me and for some reason am surprised that she doesn’t stop. For all the times tonight when I couldn’t read her, this moment is crystal clear.

She finally breaks away, my amazement echoed in her own sudden gasp when she opens her eyes to look at me. She rests her forehead against mine, and I can tell she’s as breathless as I am. I work on calming my racing heart so I don’t keel over right when we’re finally finding our direction.

When she leans back away from me, it’s with a radiant smile. “I do have a present for you,” she says, and I hear a roughness in her voice that I have never heard before.

“Do I get it tonight?” I’m surprised to hear the same jagged tone from my own throat.

She shakes her head. “Why don’t you come over tomorrow and spend Christmas Eve with me, and I’ll give it to you then?”

I only nod at first, trying to understand what has happened to suddenly put a whole new spin on everything she says to me. “I’d like that.”

She rises to leave. Of course I’m disappointed, but I’ve loved every second of what’s happened tonight, at least since we got to my apartment, and that leaves too much hope for the future to be displeased about this temporary end to all that’s new with us.

I follow her to the door, wondering if she’s going to bless me with another one of those kisses tonight. Apparently not, for she opens the door and steps out into the hallway. Then, she turns around and takes a small step forward to stand in the doorway. Her hand comes to rest on the doorjamb as she leans forward a little before speaking.

“That present I have for you?” Her voice is just above a whisper, and she looks down to watch her finger picking at some chipped paint on the door frame. “It doesn’t come in a box either.” She looks up to give me just the slightest of smiles, then turns and walks away.

END

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Santa-Faction Guaranteed

TITLE: Santa-faction Guaranteed

AUTHOR: Susanne Barringer

EMAIL:

ARCHIVE: Anywhere okay with these headers attached.

CATEGORY: SR

KEYWORDS: MSR

RATING: **NC-17**

SPOILERS: None

SUMMARY: Sequel to “Can’t Get no Santa-faction.” Mulder goes to Scully’s on Christmas Eve and tries again with the Christmas present.

DISCLAIMER: Short version: characters borrowed from 1013 and Fox. No infringement intended.

THANKS to Suzanne Schramm (whom you should thank also because this story would’ve ended with one of those annoying PG-13 fade-outs if she hadn’t threatened me) for beta reads that always make me laugh.

Thanks also to Alicia K. for volunteering and then doing a great beta job on a short deadline.

It’s best to read “Can’t Get No Santa-faction” first. Nothing like a schmoopy Christmas story in May…

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Santa-faction Guaranteed by Susanne Barringer

Scully answers the door wearing a Santa hat. I try not to laugh.

“Hi,” she says in a way I can only describe as bubbly.

“Merry Christmas, Scully.” I lean forward to kiss her on the cheek.

Not our usual thing, but everything between us changed last night.

“Or Eve, I guess, technically.”

She steps back from the door to let me in. Her apartment sparkles.

There’s a tree with too many lights near the front window, plus she’s got lighted garland around the window and door frames. No one could accuse Scully of not being in the holiday spirit.

“Place looks great,” I comment after taking a quick lap.

“Thanks,” she says with another broad grin. The Santa hat is tilted on her head in a way that is utterly charming.

“What’s up with this?” I reach out to recenter the hat so it doesn’t slide off.

“It’s for you, actually,” she says, pulling the hat away from my grasp, then reaching up to plant it on my head. I feel like a doof, but when she tilts her head to study me, the look in her eyes makes everything okay. “I thought maybe you’d ask me to sit on Santa’s lap again.” The look she gives me is wicked. She crinkles her nose teasingly, then walks away from me, leaving me stunned into a lack of any witty rejoinder.

By the time I recover from her little game, she’s in the kitchen. As if the festivity of her home wasn’t enough, she asks me if I want eggnog. I don’t think I’ve seen so much holiday spirit since I was a reindeer in the fifth grade play.

She carries my eggnog over to the sofa, so I accept the invitation and take a seat next to her. We sit quietly for a few minutes, and I watch the reflection of the lights off the blank TV screen in front of me. Last night we passed a milestone, an important one, but I’m not entirely sure what that means for tonight. At the least, we need to talk. At the most, well, the most is something I don’t even want to contemplate unless I know it’s going to happen.

I’ve spent the last twenty-four hours thinking of a dozen different ways tonight might go. Now that I’m here, none of them seem suitable.

She threw me off my plan as soon as she dropped that line about sitting on Santa’s lap. Tonight, it appears, I’m Santa. And a damn lucky one at that.

There is, however, one thing I have planned for sure. “I have a present for you.” I pull a white box from my pocket. It’s the same white box from last night.

She notices. “Didn’t we go through this already?” She sets her eggnog down on the end table and takes the box from me but holds it only at the edges, as if it burns her in some way.

“Yeah, we did, but the outcome will be different this time.” I’m not stupid. I wouldn’t give her an empty box twice in a row.

“I kind of liked the outcome last time,” she says gently with a touch of a smile. She has a point.

“You can have both,” I suggest, figuring that I certainly wouldn’t want to deny her another round of kissing—or more—if that’s what she wants.

She flashes a bit of a grin, then brings the box up to her ear and gives it a little shake, just like last night. This time, something rattles.

“Ah, it’s not empty this time.” She opens the box and looks in, but not before giving me a look of utter joy and anticipation that sends my heart pounding. I have faith in this gift.

She pulls out the object, a large key with a loop of red ribbon attached. “It’s a key,” she says flatly.

“Yes, it is.”

She looks at me curiously. “Mulder, if you tell me this is the key to your heart …”

Okay, so I kind of wish I’d thought of that. Then again, it might have made me look as cheap as I looked last night. “No, it’s the key to something much more substantial.” I watch as curiosity overtakes her features. I wonder how long she’ll wait before she grows impatient.

Not long. “Key to what, Mulder?”

Part of me really wants to tease her, to draw this out, but I toyed enough with her last night. Besides, I can’t wait to see the look on her face.

“It’s out in the hall,” I say. She’s headed for the door so fast I barely have time to put down my eggnog and meet her there before she has the door open. She peeks outside and I hear the gasp. When I make my way into the hall, I see the look on her face to match what I heard.

“It’s a hope chest,” I explain. I’m sure she knows that but I feel it necessary to elaborate so that she doesn’t wonder why the hell I bought her a piece of furniture.

“It’s beautiful, Mulder.” She stoops down in front of the chest and runs her hand over the glossy wood. I went top of the line, and the mahogany glistens wonderfully in the low light of the hallway.

Scully strokes over the wood of the lid a few times, then runs her hand down the front, sketching over the scrolled carvings with a finger. I watch her study it, her eyes wide with the details, her hands playing over the wood. Within moments, she rises up and lifts the lid, releasing the pungent aroma of the cedar-lined interior. The chest is empty, like the box last night, but she seems to have no complaints this time.

Finally, after inspecting the chest closely, she closes the lid and turns to face me. “Mulder, this is so beautiful. But why in the world did you buy me a hope chest?” She looks honestly confused.

Maybe this wasn’t a good choice.

“Hope for the future, treasures of the past,” I comment with a shrug.

She looks at me in a way I can only describe as loving. Whatever the word, I’m overwhelmed by what I see in her eyes.

“Did you write that?” she asks, her hand coming up to rest on my elbow.

“I got it off the sales brochure,” I admit. She laughs and I resist the urge to kiss her again. I want to let this moment settle before I start pushing to change it.

Somehow, I find my arms around her anyway as she slips closer to me.

She hugs me tightly, then steps back. “Let’s take it inside.” She hoists one end as I carry the other, and we maneuver the chest through the door and into the living room. She directs me to a place in front of the sofa, against the wall, where we set it down.

“Shouldn’t it go in the bedroom, Scully? I mean, isn’t that where they go?”

“Probably.” She moves a planter out of the way, then gives the chest a little shove to center it. “But I’m putting it out here where everyone can see it.” She wipes imaginary dust off the lid. “It looks perfect here anyway.”

Scully admires the chest for a few more moments, then takes my hand and pulls me back to the sofa, and we sit facing the hope chest. She seems to like sitting and looking at it, at least for the moment, so I play along. It’s nice to be here, on Christmas Eve, with a beautiful tree, and Scully by my side. If I had to pick a gift, this would be it.

“How did you get this here, Mulder?” she asks suddenly, moving closer to me, much to my surprise and delight.

“I had a few elves to help me.”

She turns to look up at me. “Tell the Gunmen I said thanks.” Yes, she certainly knows me well. “It’s gorgeous, Mulder. I can’t get over it. You have good taste.” She’s got that teasing tone of voice, so light and happy that I could spend all night listening to her give me a hard time. For some reason, however, that makes me feel serious and sentimental. I want her to know what this means to me, how important it is.

“You know, whenever I’d see these things in catalogs or in stores, I always thought that it was just the kind of thing I would have bought for Samantha on her wedding day or for her college graduation. It seemed like something I would have loved to give to her.”

Scully says nothing at first, but my words have had an effect on her.

“Mulder, if you’re leading up to telling me that you think of me like a sister, I’ll be sending you the bill for my therapy.”

I laugh. I mean, I laugh from the gut, in a way that so rarely happens to me anymore. As much as I love Scully for all the things I see in her everyday, I love her even more for the rare moments when she shows how truly deadly her sense of humor is.

“Trust me, Scully, I definitely don’t think of you as a sister. I was only trying to say that it’s really nice to finally have someone to buy this for. It’s something I’ve been wanting for a long time.”

She takes my hand in hers, stroking softly across the back of my knuckles with her thumb. “I understand, Mulder, and I’m sorry I made fun of you.”

“No, Scully, that was perfect. Thank you for making me laugh.” She leans into my shoulder in such a way that there’s nothing for me to do but put my arm around her. Obviously I’m not reluctant, but all my plans for how to make this evening perfect aren’t needed. It’s happening on its own because Scully wants it to.

“This is nice,” she says softly. It most certainly is.

“I’m surprised you’re not spending tonight with your mom,” I say, after a silence that is beginning to feel like we’re both waiting for something to happen. I’ve always assumed that Scully was busy on Christmas Eve, that her family kept her from ever being lonely the way I’ve been lonely.

“Since Dad died, she’s started spending her Christmas Eve at the homeless shelter, helping with the big holiday dinner they serve tomorrow. The holidays are hard for her. I think it makes her feel better.”

“I can understand.” I can’t help but wonder how hard they are for Scully. Me, I haven’t had a normal holiday since I was a kid, but the losses for Scully are much more recent. “You didn’t want to go help?”

“I think Mom prefers to do it alone. It takes her mind off everything. We spend Christmas Day together, so I’ll see her tomorrow. Besides,” she squeezes my hand and looks up at me, “I wanted to spend tonight with you.”

Damned if she hasn’t rendered me speechless again. I can’t think of anything to do but tease her. “And why is that exactly?”

She looks at me wide-eyed but says nothing. Then she turns and looks at the hope chest in front of us. “Thanks for my gift, Mulder. I love it.” She’s already told me that, more than once. Is she flustered?

I have one more trick up my sleeve. “I’ve got something else, something for you to put in the chest. It’s bad luck to leave it empty.” I remove my arm from around her and reach into my shirt pocket.

“Did you read that in the sales brochure too?” she teases.

“No, I just made that up.” I pull out the photo of her sitting on Santa’s lap from last night at the mall. She takes it from me and laughs loudly.

“Is this supposed to be a hope for the future thing? Or a treasure of the past thing?” She pulls away and sits up straighter, which means she’s no longer tucked neatly against me. I miss the contact.

“You tell me.”

She studies the photo carefully. “Well, it is my future husband,” she says, making fun of the jealousy I displayed last night in all its glory, “but I still think it’s a treasure of the past. That was yesterday, and this is today.”

I’m not sure if she’s being philosophical or funny. She continues before I can ask. “Then again, there’s hope too. Because of this picture …” She doesn’t finish the statement, but I’m pretty sure I know what she’s thinking.

“Because of this picture what?” I grab onto the edge of the photo in such a way that our hands are touching.

She smiles broadly but doesn’t look at me. I tilt my head down to try to see what she’s thinking. “You know.” Her voice is soft and deep in tone.

“Know what?” I can’t help it. She looks like she wants to slug me.

Instead she turns toward me and kisses me lightly, her lips touching mine, her hand brushing my cheek.

When she pulls back I can’t seem to do much but stare at her. She kisses me again, quickly but more deeply, and I get a taste of her tongue against mine. Then she stands up and walks over to the chest.

She stoops down, lifts the lid, and places the picture inside.

“Wouldn’t want bad luck,” she says softly. I get up and stand behind her, charmed by the way she runs her hand over the lid, as if memorizing the feel of it. I have a sudden flash of her hands running over me that way, touching me that way. My breath catches in my throat. The curve of her back makes me want to lean down and touch her, stroke her skin until she writhes under my touch.

She stands up and takes a few steps toward me and I wonder if she can see what I’m thinking. All I know is I have to touch her. I move forward and wrap my arms around her. The way she looks at me, I can tell she’s not surprised. She’s the one who leans up to kiss me and I meet her halfway.

Her lips brush over mine, and when I open my mouth to her, her tongue darts out to join mine, tangling up then stroking around me. I’d already forgotten in the short time since last night how sweet this could be—how fast the desire could rise inside me. She presses her body against me and drops kisses along my neck and jaw. The heat of her lips scorches patterns into my skin.

My need gets the best of me and I push into her. She takes a few steps back and I feel her legs bump against some furniture. She sits down, pulling my head down so that she can keep those lips on me. Her fingers twine through my hair, knocking off the Santa hat.

I drop to my knees so that we’re on the same level. Her legs part so I can get closer to her, and her arms pull me forward. She tastes of eggnog and Christmas but her kisses are short and quick, not enough for me to get that taste into my soul.

Her lips wander over my neck, her tongue tickling at my throat. Then she returns to my lips, finally kissing me long and deep. I reach up to unbutton the top button on her blouse. She makes a noise from down low in her throat that makes me grin madly. She wants me as much as I want her. Talk about a Christmas miracle.

I go for another button, then lean down to kiss the revealed skin, tasting the Christmasy sweetness of it. Her hands stroke along the back of my neck and shoulders, digging into my skin as I caress her breast through her shirt.

I slowly work my way down a few more buttons. Scully gasps and nips at my neck, small sounds of pleasure rising up from her. I hit the bottom button and open her blouse to reveal her bra and smooth belly.

Glimmers of the Christmas lights reflect off her skin, and when I look up I see a barrage of colored lights in her eyes. And so much more.

She surprises me by reaching out and touching me, stroking her hand over my cock which quivers under her touch. Her eyes light up even more with the smile that follows her touch.

I grasp her to me, burying my face into the valley between her breasts, tasting her skin, hearing her breathing become gasps. Scully pulls my shirt away from my shoulder to kiss her way along my collarbone as I tug down one side of her bra to kiss the revealed skin.

“Wait, Mulder, stop.” I hear her words but it takes a full five seconds for my brain to process it. Stop? I pull my lips from the smooth skin of her breast and look up. Stop?

“Stop,” she says again, as if for emphasis. So, I stop.

“I’m sorry, Scully. I thought …” The idea is carried away on an imaginary breeze. I figure spelling it out at this point is both redundant and pointless. I stand up, away from the magnetic allure of her body.

She smiles suddenly. “No, I don’t mean stop stop.” Her hand comes up to rest on my hip. “I just mean stop, not on the hope chest.” I look down and realize that, yes, in fact, she is sitting on the hope chest.

I was so wrapped up in the moment I wasn’t even paying attention. I look back at her face and she is flushed and grinning.

“What about the hope for the future?” I tease, thankful that this moment is ending in a joke and not a cold shower.

“Yeah, but we’d leave treasures of the past all over it.” Another wicked moment of humor, resulting in a laugh that bursts out of me with true and honest pleasure. I laugh with the same passion that I feel at this moment.

In the end, I can’t exactly argue. After all the money I put into that thing, it would be a shame to ruin it. “So, you would have no objection to my continuing what I was doing on, say, the bed?” I waggle my eyebrows for effect.

She looks thoughtful for a moment. “Bed, couch, floor, kitchen table.

I don’t much care, as long as it’s not the hope chest.” Oh God, how I love this woman.

“The bedroom it is. For starters anyway. We’ll cover the rest later.” She laughs softly, and I stoop down and wrap my arms around her waist so I can pull her to her feet. She surprises me by locking her legs around my hips. I hold onto her tightly, intending to carry her into the bedroom. Before I can straighten up, she pushes her weight into me, causing me to land on my ass with her straddled across my thighs.

“Or the floor,” I amend.

“This works,” she says, pulling her legs up so she’s on her knees, then scooting forward so that she’s sitting across my groin.

“Yes, works fine,” I manage to say as she shifts slightly so that my cock lies between her legs. She kisses me deeply, her fingers finishing with the buttons on my shirt. Then she stops and leans back on her hands so she can study me. I recline against the sofa behind me so I get the same view. We sit like that, Scully straddled across my lap, grinning at each other.

“So, little girl, tell Santa what you want for Christmas,” I tease.

Scully throws back her head and laughs, but her eyes glisten with intent when she looks at me.

“Let’s see, Santa. I’d like roller skates, and a puppy, and a Barbie Townhouse, because I’ve been very very good.” Her eyes are lit by the Christmas lights surrounding us and by her smile. Then a serious look crosses her face. “And someone to spend my life with.”

“Don’t you already have one of those?” I ask, not exactly sure what an appropriate response would be but surprised at the sudden hammering of blood in my head.

“Do I?” She’s serious. She leans forward again, her hand stroking over my jaw, her eyes asking me a deeper question than her words.

I take her hand in mine, then motion toward the hope chest. “Hope chest, Scully. I didn’t buy it to watch some other guy help you fill it.”

One side of her mouth lifts in a half-smile. “That’s what I figured,”

she says softly then kisses me lightly. “So, is that a candy cane in your pocket or are you just glad to be here?” She shifts over my hips just to remind me how much I want her.

“You’re the doctor, you tell me.” I return to my previous project, before she moved us from the hope chest, and run my tongue along the soft skin at the edge of her bra.

Her breath puffs against my ear, then turns into a whisper. “If it is a candy cane, I want to taste it,” she murmurs.

My cock jumps in reply and Scully gasps against my ear. Time to cut the chit-chat and hurry this thing up a bit.

She beats me to it, suddenly reaching down between her legs to stroke my cock through my jeans. I damn near jump off the floor at her touch, grabbing onto her waist to steady myself. I can’t believe how far just her simple touch can take me. She unzips my jeans, thankfully, then slides her hand inside to take firmer hold of me while kissing me mercilessly.

Now we’re hurrying too much, at least I am, so I make a conscious effort to change the direction of things, for now.

I take her hand, the busy and talented one, and kiss her palm, then her wrist. She weaves her fingers through mine and studies our linked hands, breathing heavily. She continues to watch our fingers, wiggling hers between mine, watching the way mine wiggle back.

It’s an odd experience, this careful examination of the way our hands meet up, her fingers shorter and more delicate than mine, yet fitting perfectly.

“Merry Christmas, Mulder,” she says, finally looking at me again. Her gaze is overflowing with emotion.

“Merry Christmas, Scully.” She unlinks our hands, then pulls her unbuttoned shirt off her shoulders. Mine follows, though she removes my shirt slowly so her hands can linger on my shoulders, then my arms.

Her touch is hot against my skin, those fingers I just held against my own suddenly coming alive.

I pull her closer, then reach around to unhook her bra. Her chest rises as her breathing quickens once more. She kisses me fiercely as I pull the bra off her shoulders and then place my hands over her breasts. They are warm to the touch and unbelievably soft, and it’s only moments before her nipples harden under my stroking. Her pelvis grinds down over my cock, driving sensations straight up my spine.

Scully pulls one leg over so she is kneeling next to me, then reaches down to work my jeans off. I lean back and raise my hips to help her out. She moves to my feet to give each pant leg a tug before grabbing both and pulling off my jeans in one quick motion. She reaches for my boxers immediately—certainly not wasting any time—and frees me. I’m already fully aroused and Scully gives me an approving grin.

Then she slips off her pants, taking her panties right along with them. Seeing the full length of her body makes me dizzy with need. I want to look at her, but almost immediately she has straddled me again. She places a hand on my chest and pushes me back so I am leaning against the sofa once more.

She bends forward, her hair brushing against my neck and cheeks and kisses me so intensely my breath is lost. While my tongue circles hers, she moves up my lap until she is poised over my cock. I feel the wet heat of her, and she strokes herself over me, making me damn near ready to explode. She sits up straight again and the contact of her lips and my hands on her breasts are lost. All of my senses are focused on the one spot where we touch.

Then, she takes me into her in one long smooth stroke that seems to last all night. The “Oh God” that spills across her lips feels just as welcoming and hot as her body as it contracts around me and finds its way. She settles over me, drawing me deeper into her, closing her eyes while she finds the rhythm and movement that suits her. Once she’s started moving over me, she opens her eyes to connect with me and gives me such an incredibly beautiful grin of amazement that my hips rise under her.

The feeling of being inside Scully seems unreal, something so far removed from any reality I’ve known as to be incomprehensible. Her hips undulate in an unpredictable way, taking me in and out of her in easy long strokes, then a circular movement of her hips to prolong the entry. She leans over to kiss me again, her tongue pressing over mine in time with the way she rides me. She plants her hands on the sofa on either side of my head to get more leverage. Her up and down movement dangles her breasts in front of my face and I take the opportunity to lick and tease her nipples.

Her short sighs and moans echo through my head, almost as arousing as the way she is moving over my cock. She pulls back a little so she can look down and watch the way her body takes me into her. I wait as long as I can before moving, finally giving in to the need to be deeper inside her by rising to meet her downward stroke.

She lets out a huge rush of breath, then a moan, and I can’t stop myself any longer. I grab onto her legs and throw my hips up and forward to meet her, each penetration seeming to go deeper and deeper.

She moves faster, finally leaning back on her hands to change the angle, which allows her to roll her hips forward on each downstroke.

And then she watches me—with every move of her hips she watches my expression. I seem to be able to manage a half-smile; I see in her eyes that she needs nothing but this.

The need and desire rise inside of me with force, my gaze falling onto the place where we join. With both of us leaning back, she is now outside my reach, so I do the only thing I can. I reach down and touch her between her legs, where my cock slides in and out. The touch on her clitoris makes her cry out and she jumps forward with me inside her, sending vibrations running through my groin.

I work over her in circles, feeling the way her movement over me becomes more desperate, less even. The inside of her quivers around my cock, and when I press down hard she explodes into a muddle of groans and convulsions, her hips bucking against me wildly. She cries out in one sharp shout, the spasms wrapping around me, massaging me.

I sit up straight and grab her around the waist to pull her forward.

I want to feel her body giving in to mine, to feel her tremble all over. She digs her fingers into my upper arms and rides out her orgasm in my arms.

When she’s done, she sits quietly, my cock still inside her.

“Mulder?” Her voice is soft and dazed.

“What?”

She looks at me curiously and I have a moment of panic. What’s going on? Is she about to regret this?

She takes my hand in hers, then slides off of me. She lies back, and pulls me on top of her. “Make love to me, Mulder.”

Okay, so I thought that’s what we just did, but I certainly am not going to argue with what she wants now. She looks at me with the most wide open and honest gaze I have ever seen from her. I’ve been momentarily distracted from my body’s needs, and I feel my heart swell up in a way that brings unwanted tears to my eyes. She reaches up and strokes my cheek gently, and when she pushes her hips up against me I am reminded again of the unrelieved pressure in my groin.

I shift from our awkward position to lie fully between her legs. I push slowly inside of her, marveling at the sensation of this new angle, and she arches her back up toward me. Her legs wrap tightly around me, encouraging me to drive deeper and faster. I don’t need to be asked twice.

I plunge faster, the heat from her radiating up through me like small electric shocks. Her orgasm has made her slick and warm, and that feeling is all I’m aware of as I dip into her. She digs her fingers into my ass, pulling me into her and writhing beneath me. Her breathing is hard and desperate against my ear, and when I pull back to meet her gaze, she looks at me with pure desire. With a final deep plunge, the orgasm hits me, and I call out as my heat and hers mix deep inside her.

As my breathing slows and I relax, I’m aware of the smell of her. I dip my nose between her breasts, then to each side to take it in.

Tart and sweet all at once, needy and satisfied. I look up to meet her eyes and she beams at me. I kiss her softly, tasting the way her lips feel against mine and note how different it feels to kiss her in this way as opposed to the desperate need of before, the way her bottom lip lingers just a little longer than the top.

Her touch runs over my shoulders, my back, down across my ribs, then up the spine. Her hands are deft and soft, as well as purposeful in their wanderings. I look forward to taking more time to learn her touch, and to touch her.

I’m vaguely aware of the chime of Scully’s mantle clock somewhere in the distance.

“It’s officially Christmas,” she says. The insertion of her voice into this moment of touch only adds to my incredible sense of contentment. Her voice is so beautiful, still husky and dark from her desire. I let it settle over me before speaking.

“Hey.” I shift off of her and lie closely next to her, my hand resting on her stomach so as not to break our connection. “Didn’t you have a present for me?”

Scully reaches over and brushes a lock of hair off my forehead.

“What, this wasn’t good enough for you?”

“Oh, I won’t be cashing in on the guarantee, that’s for sure. I just thought you bought me something.” I shrug and try to look hurt, even though I’m a long way from that. We’ve been playing the gift game for too long now to just let it drop.

“The truth is, I didn’t.” She gives me a guilty smile.

“What? And you were all pissed off because I gave you an empty box?

Hypocrite.” I play indignant and pout for her.

“Yes, but the difference is,” she runs her finger in teasing circles over my hip, “that I didn’t use my non-gift to bribe you into doing something, like sitting on Santa’s lap.”

“You got me over here, didn’t you?” She gives me a look of surprise.

“You promised me a gift, and I came all the way over here, and what did I get? Nada, squat, zippo. Just some eggnog and a hat.”

She slaps me lightly on the shoulder and crosses her arms. “Fine, see if you have a place to go next Christmas Eve.”

I roll onto my stomach and plant a kiss on the inside of her thigh.

She shivers under me and whimpers softly. “You’ll be inviting me back for every major holiday, I bet.” I give a soft flick of my tongue against the thin skin I just kissed.

“And minor ones too,” she mumbles contentedly.

We lie still a few more moments, then she starts to stand up. “We should go to bed. Santa’s coming.”

She tugs on my arms to help me up. When we are both standing, she wraps her arms tightly around my waist.

“I have news for you, Scully,” I murmur into her hair. “Santa already came.” She laughs brightly, then takes my hand to lead me to the bedroom. On the way, she picks up the Santa hat I was wearing earlier, lifts the lid of the hope chest, and drops it inside.

END

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