Author's notes

Original posting date:Thu, 09 Apr 1997 09:26:44 -0700

Disclaimer: Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, Walter Skinner and any other tangentially mentioned characters created by Chris Carter remain his copyrighted property, as well as the copyrighted property of 1013 productions and Fox Television, a unit of 20th Century Fox. No infringement is intended.

Posting Date : April 1997

Archive Entry : A 7-Eleven Christmas 1/1

Archive to : Anywhere as long as my name and the story remain intact, and you let me know. Thanks.

Classification : MSR, but mild enough for non-shippers, I'm sure!

Spoilers : Up to US5

Chapter Rating : PG

Story Rating : PG

Summary : Christmas Eve in a 7-Eleven

Author's notes : The events in this story actually happened, the driver of the Suburban being my Dad and his fiancée. For some reason the often-told story popped into my head, with the addition of our heroes, who were, obviously, not in Dad's version of the story. :-) Anyway, a Christmas story in April is a bit odd, but oh well, I had fun with it.

--

A 7-Eleven Christmas

Mulder wrestled with the steering wheel, glancing at his partner out of the corner of his eye. He could feel the waves of tension rolling from her as the car slid a little further off of the road. Cursing softly under his breath he eased the heavy Taurus back onto the winding road, peering through the blinding snow, hoping for a break. Scully leaned forward a bit, as if that extra inch or two would give her an advantage. The snow was falling harder now, obliterating everything in front of them. The headlights were reflected back at them from the seemingly seamless wall of falling crystals.

Shaking his head, he waited for her to say something. He knew they were in trouble, and that it was his fault. He'd insisted on trying to get one last interview in before the storm hit, ignoring the local weather warnings. The interview had been short, as he'd predicted, but the storm had moved faster than he'd ever expected, coming upon them suddenly as they'd begun their descent down the treacherous mountain road. What a way to spend the Christmas holiday. Mulder had promised her they'd be finished with their investigation by the 22nd, then had offered to take a break for Christmas Eve and Day, when the latest victim had been found. With the killer striking again, and at a much younger victim than the others, Scully was more determined than ever that they'd nail him, and she knew Mulder was close. She'd done the autopsy on the 17-year-old victim and found more evidence to support Mulder's profile. Now it was up to him, and she wasn't about to leave him to get into this guy's head alone. Today's interviews hadn't given her much information, but Mulder seemed pleased. Until they'd driven straight into this storm.

Mulder heard her catch her breath as once again the Taurus seemed to develop a mind of it's own and begin to fishtail toward the rocky edge of the mountain road. They were barely moving, and that was the only reason he'd maintained control.

"Sorry, Scully. I guess we should have started back earlier."

"It's all right. I never expected the snow to get this heavy this fast either." She hadn't ever been in a Colorado snowstorm, but Mulder had. He knew it was going to get much worse before it was over. The locals had been talking about a 'big blow' for days, and it seemed that this was going to be it. Late storms were not unusual in Colorado, but this one looked to be a real whopper.

"I'm sure I remember a gas station or something not too much further," Mulder mumbled, his concentration completely on his driving.

Scully nodded, although she knew Mulder was too preoccupied to see it. "I do too. In fact..." She broke off, peering intently through the driving snow. "There it is! On the left Mulder, coming up."

Mulder could see the lights appearing out of the snow. "I see it. Hang on Scully, I don't think this is going to be very pretty. Can you see the driveway?"

Scully shook her head as she leaned back and tightened her seatbelt. Mulder gave her a nod and eased the wheel over, aiming for the smoothest high spot he could find, guessing that this would be the hidden driveway. Forcing the Taurus through the unplowed snow, he gunned the engine as much as he dared and winced as it slithered it's way across the highway and ground to a halt midway through the parking lot of a 7-Eleven convenience store.

He glanced over at Scully. "All right?"

She nodded and flashed him a quick smile. "Yeah. C'mon, let's get inside before all of the heat is gone."

Bundling up as much as they could, they stumbled from the Taurus, Mulder coming around to help Scully through the already knee-high drifts. Tucking her into his side, he kept her slightly behind him as he broke a trail across the lot to the door of the store.

Just as they made the door a dark red Suburban slid to a stop, it's driver having about as much control as Mulder had had. Waving Scully inside, Mulder held the door as the passengers of the Suburban made their way through the drifts. It took the combined efforts of Mulder and the driver of the Suburban to pull the door closed. The howling wind threatened to rip it from their hands.

Mulder joined Scully near the hot drinks area, smiling his thanks for the cup of tea she handed him. Moving aside he gave the other newcomers access to the coffee and tea service.

The bearded driver of the red car held out his hand. "Hi, my name's Kevin, guess we're going to be here a while, eh?" His bright blue eyes twinkled with suppressed laughter, and Mulder guessed he was the sort who could find humor in just about anything. Mulder smiled back and returned the handshake.

"Fox Mulder." Introductions were made all around; other than Kevin, the other occupants of the car were his fiancee, Evie, and three employees from their restaurant. After seeing how bad the snow was coming down, Kevin and Evie had closed their restaurant early and offered to drive some of the employees home. They had been on the last leg of their drop-off journey when the snow had really started to come down. Pulling into the 7-Eleven had been partially by choice, and partially due to loss of control in the blowing snow.

After paying for their coffee's and tea's, the group drifted toward the window, watching in silence as the snow continued to pile up. Scully watched as the clerk glanced their way and began to fiddle with his register.

"Mulder." She glanced up at her partner, who was lost in thought.

"Mulder, I think our host is trying to tell us something." He glanced down at her, then followed her gaze to the fidgeting shopkeeper, watching as the man fiddled some more with his register.

Noticing their attention, the man cleared his throat. "Um, perhaps... you will be moving on soon?" His timid voice instantly irritated Scully, let alone the pure stupidity of his question. Her eyebrow went up and she glanced at Mulder in shock. Next to her, Evie, whose diminutive, barely 5-foot stature made Scully feel positively tall, gave a tiny gasp and spun to stare at the unfortunate clerk. Her fiancee, the amiable Kevin, placed a steadying hand on her shoulder, his burly 6-foot frame dwarfing his tiny partner. Outside, the howling wind of the storm made their arguments for them. Nobody said anything for a minute, all seven of the stranded travelers just looking at the clerk. Mulder knew that nothing the man said would make him leave this store any time soon, he just wondered what the man was planning on doing next.

As if realizing he had no hope of getting his customers to leave, the clerk picked up the phone and began dialing. Evie grinned up at her husband-to-be and headed back toward the tea. Scully listened as the upset clerk began explaining to someone that he wouldn't be making it home for Christmas Sunday.

"I cannot make them leave... I know... At this point, I doubt even I could make it in this weather... Go ahead and put the stockings out, we can do the presents later. Yes, yes, goodnight." Scully caught his eye as he hung up, giving him a tiny smile. She knew how he felt, being away from family was hard during any holiday. Normally she'd never consider letting a case take her away from her family this close to Christmas, one her favorite holidays, but this one, with a vicious murderer so near to apprehension, and Mulder getting deeper and deeper into the case, Scully knew she couldn't leave. She wouldn't leave Mulder to cope with this alone, especially during the holidays.

"Scully." Mulder's voice pulled her from her reverie. He waved her over to where he sat, perched atop 50lb bags of Purina dog chow. "What'll we have for dinner? I don't think we'll find any Christmas eggs hidden here."

She settled herself beside him, noting that the others were similarly busy finding places to settle for the night. Everyone seemed to be finding 'out of the way' spots, giving themselves the illusion of privacy. Mulder's little dog food nest was in the back corner of the store, the furthest from the doors.

"I'm not really hungry, just tired - and still cold." She shivered involuntarily against Mulder's shoulder.

"Do you think we could convince our friend to turn the heat up and the lights down?"

"You have no idea how long I've waited to hear you ask that." Mulder's teasing voice made her smile.

"What, that I'm tired and cold?"

"No, for you to ask for the lights to come down and for the heat to come up." Mulder pulled off his trenchcoat and laid it over Scully's lap. "Hold on for a bit, I'll see what I can do."

Scully watched as he approached the clerk, who seemed intent on noting every item his unwanted guests touched or opened. After a few moments, Mulder pulled out his wallet and handed the clerk a small card. Scully grinned, wondering how Mulder was going to explain a night's heating bill on his bureau card. She pulled Mulder's coat up a bit higher, enjoying the illusion of having him near, breathing deeply as the faint smell of his aftershave surrounded her. Aftershave and... something she couldn't identify... a distinct Mulderscent, she finally decided. Something unique only to him. Settling deeper onto the makeshift couch/bed, she let her eyes drift shut.

Mulder's soft "Hey sleepyhead" roused her from a half doze, and the smell of the soup he was holding completed her waking up. Looking around, she noticed the store lights were mostly off, only the faint light of the coolers illuminating the room. Nearby, she could hear the soft voices of the other storm refugees.

"C'mon Scully, chicken noodle, made especially for you." Mulder grinned at her, his eyes alight with mischief. "See, I even kept to the fish on Friday rule."

She waited for some teasing remark about drooling. Raising her eyebrow at him, she smiled softly, "Mulder, that's Easter. " Scully gratefully took the cup and sipped, reveling in the feeling of the warm liquid flowing through her body. "Mmm, thanks, I guess I was a little hungry." She watched Mulder settle in next to her, sipping his own cup of something steamy. "What're you having?"

"Spaghetti-O's"

Scully grimaced and leaned away from him. "Oh ick, Mulder. Not really?"

Shaking his head at her he pulled her back to his side, "No, just kidding, I have the other half of your soup. Like it?"

"Yup." She gave him a small smile. "Keep it up, and I may have to have you cook for me more often."

Mulder studied her as she sipped her soup and stared into the murky depths of her cup. "Anytime partner, you name the date," he said softly. Scully turned back to Mulder, the hard planes of his face softened by the shadows of the darkened store. He caught her gaze, his hazel eyes lit by a fire only she could see, a blaze she caused to burn. She studied him, noticing the tired lines of his face, products of the horrors of this latest case; the faint stubble on his cheeks, the fullness of his beautiful mouth.

Her gaze lingered there, locked on his mouth. Her breath caught for just a second, imagining those lips pressed to hers. She watched as they curved up into a gentle smile and she followed that smile back up to his eyes. Matching his soft tone, she replied, "OK partner, it's a date."

Mulder's eyebrows went up in a move that mimicked Scully at her best. "Date Scully? Did I hear you correctly?" He was delighted that she'd taken him up on his suggestion. Months, years really, of innuendo, of playful verbal jousting and she'd finally began firing a few rounds of her own. Not only that, she was taking their game a step further.

"Sure Mulder, why not?" Scully shrugged and finished off the rest of her soup. "It's not as if it's against Bureau policy, right? There's no rule, written or unwritten, that says two partners can't go out together, is there?" Encouraged by Mulder's head-shaking negative, and even more by his grin, she continued. "So, what's to stop us from actually having a date?"

"Good, it's settled then. Sometime after we spend the night together here, we'll have a date. Agreed?"

Mulder ducked Scully's swinging arm, chuckling softly as she swatted him on the arm. Collecting their empty mugs she went to the bathroom to wash them out, meeting Evie inside.

The other woman spoke softly, smiling at the agent. "Hi, it's Dana, right? How are you and your husband doing?"

Scully smiled at the woman's mistake, something that happened to her and Mulder quite frequently. "We're fine, although he's my partner, not my husband. Are you guys all settled in?"

Evie quirked a smile at Dana, moving aside to give her access to the sink. "Husband, partner... whatever, it's all semantics, isn't it?. Yeah, we're settled in. I just wish there were some way to phone out of here. We were only able to make one call before the lines went down. The girls' parent's must be worried sick by now."

Drying the two small cups, Dana nodded. "I know, we tried on our cell phones too, but no luck. I guess we'll just have to ride this out." She smiled at the small brunette. "Goodnight Evie, sweet dreams." Scully returned to their spot to find Mulder had pulled two more bags down and covered them with the one blanket they'd managed to scavenge from the storage room. Earlier, Mulder had turned up enough blankets to supply one to each small group, including one for the clerk, leaving one for he and Scully to share.

Scully just raised her eyebrow at Mulder as she settled into 'her' side of their makeshift little bed. For his part, Mulder managed to keep his face schooled into an expression of polite interest, nothing more. He knew that if he even so much as looked like he was smirking, or enjoying this too much, Scully would have to problem booting him out into the cold on his own.

Laying back, his head resting on his folded arm, he tried not to think about his partner lying beside him. Tried not to think about how much he loved to tease her, to argue with her, to laugh with her and to just watch her think. She was something, his Dana Scully, something indeed. He didn't have to wonder what he'd do without her, he knew. He'd been through that already, twice.

First after Duane Barry abducted her and took her from him. He'd gotten her back, but only after almost losing his mind for three horrific months. The second time was when he was 'dead' and she was covering for him. He'd never forget that first sight of her, after telling Skinner that he was 'only half dead', and coming upon her lying there in that hospital room. He'd only gotten as far as the observation room when he spotted her.

Lying on his makeshift bed in a secluded 7-Eleven, Mulder's breath left his lungs in a rush, his body remembering his reaction to that gut-wrenching sight. He could remember struggling to breathe, his hands hanging limply at his sides, gasping for air, his eyes focused only on her. Mulder took a slow, deep breath, the only sound in the now-silent snowbound store. Taking another to calm his still shaking nerves, he shifted slightly to brush his arm and leg against Scully, reassuring himself that she was in fact there, safe and healthy, and by his side. Scully felt him tense beside her, heard his breathing quicken for just an instant. He took another deep breath and shifted closer, just barely touching her. Rolling onto her side to face him, she put a gentle hand on his arm.

"Hey, are you OK?"

"Mmm, yeah, just fine. Just thinking about this case." He felt, rather than saw, her small nod. Patting his arm, she let her fingers slide in a brief caress before turning onto her back once again. Mulder smiled into the darkness. Nudging her softly with his elbow he turned his head and whispered in her ear, "Good night Scully."

Turning her head slightly to the right she whispered back, "Night Mulder, sweet dreams." Slowly she felt herself relaxing, letting her body absorb the warmth coming from the man resting against her side. Closing her eyes, Scully drifted slowly asleep, letting the steady breathing of her partner provide a gentle counterpoint to the escalating winds outside.

"Mmph!" Scully awakened suddenly to find Mulder's head on her stomach, his faced pressed into her belly. She heard his muffled groans again and struggled to sit up, an angry blush pinking her features. Reaching down she grasped his shoulders and pulled him back. "Mulder!" Scully hissed furiously, trying not to disturb the others in the store. "What the hell are you doing?"

Mulder rocked forward again, his head coming to rest on her hip, his arms locked around his right leg. Afraid he might be having one of his nightmares, Scully again tried to pull him back to her, her initial anger subsiding a bit.

"Hey partner, what's going on?" She began softly, trying to rub some of the tension from his shoulders.

Through teeth gritted from pain, Mulder finally ground out, "Charlie horse, Scully."

Not hearing him at first, Scully leaned a bit closer. "What?"

"Charlie horse! The mother of all Charlie horse's! Ahhh God!" His voice trailed off as he continued to try and massage his throbbing leg.

Scully pushed him back on the bags of food, face first. Pulling his clenched hands away from his lower leg, she straightened his legs out and straddled his feet, beginning to massage the affected limb. As she worked as smile crept across her face, becoming a full-fledged grin. Soon she was chuckling softly as she worked the tension from the contracted calf muscle.

"Great Scully, what the hell's so funny about this?" Mulder whined softly, remembering to keep his voice low.

"For a second there Mulder, I thought you were trying to take advantage of our little situation here!" She worked her hands slowly up and down his calf, feeling some of the tension begin to give way.

"And you're laughing?"

"Well, I'm not sure why it's funny, but geez, Mulder, a Charlie horse? How original." She felt him begin to flex his ankle, or try to, considering that she was resting her backside on his feet. She shifted sideways, continuing her massage while he flexed his leg, helping to ease the tension to the stressed muscle.

Patting his calf gently she climbed back over him to her side of their small piece of the world. Noticing her breath in the air, she turned back to Mulder, only to find his face inches from hers. "Mulder?"

"Hmmm, yes?"

"Umm, I think the heat's gone off in here." The wind hadn't ceased it's frantic screaming while she'd been sleeping either, but it didn't seem to matter as much as it had a second ago.

Mulder watched as Scully slowly pulled back and began to settle herself back onto the bags. As he tucked their overcoats more snugly around her shoulders, he glanced at his watch. 11:59 P.M. Almost Christmas morning. Hmm.

Propping his head up on one hand, he turned so he was facing Scully, her profile lit by the dim light in the room. Reaching up, he slid a finger gently down her cheek, watching as she turned her head toward him. "What is it?"

"Hey, just wanted to thank you, and to wish you a merry Christmas." That wasn't everything he wanted to say, but it would do for now.

"Merry Christmas to you too, Mulder." She paused, a puzzled frown wrinkling her brow. "Thank you for what?"

"For this..." he breathed, leaning down to gently cover her lips with his. He felt her surprise, then a split second later her acceptance as her lips softened against his. They stayed there for an eternity, it seemed, one frozen moment in time, their lips softly joined while the howling wind sounded an audible echo of their feelings.

end...