Noel Disclaimers: All Traditional X-Files Characters are not mine. They
were created lovingly by Chris Carter. I'm merely playing with them,
and I'll give them back. I'm sure CC won't mind. The town in this
story is, to the best of my knowledge, completely fictional. And the
song, if you couldn't tell, is "The First Noel." I didn't write that,
either.
Category: X
Rating: G
Dedication/Notes/Acknowledgements: Ok. This is a Christmas Story,
which I started before the airing of "Christmas Carol." It kind of
goes against what that episode said, but it *is* only a fanfic, after
all. I hope this isn't a problem for anyone. Also, in this story, I
poke fun at the "hick" people of northwestern PA. To anyone who may
be offended, I am sorry. I, myself, grew up near the area represented
in this story and am, therefore, writing from experience, not ignorance.
Spoilers: "Redux"/"Redux II" and "Unusual Suspects"
Summary: While Scully spends her Christmas vacation with her family,
Mulder and the Lone Gunmen investigate the sightings of mysterious
lights over north-western Pennsylvania.

Noel
Part I

******
The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay
In Fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
******
[December 20, 1997... Washington, D.C.]
[Mulder's Office, Federal Bureau of Investigations]

"Merry Christmas, Mulder," Scully said as she leaned idly in the
doorway. Mulder looked up from the papers on his desk. She wore a
black skirt and blazer with a red blouse. Pinned to the blazer was a
cluster of holly berries nestled in ivy and embossed with gold. It
was festive, matching the holiday spirit everyone was in.
"It's not Christmas yet," he reminded her. "Have you talked to
Skinner?"
"I did," Scully replied, her smile fading slightly. She'd wanted to
spend Christmas with her family. They were almost insistent upon it,
especially after almost losing her to the cancer that she had been
given.
Her expression of disappointment was not lost on her partner. "If you
want to go home to your family, Scully, you can," he told her. "I can
handle this on my own."
"Are you sure?" Scully's smile had returned, but slightly subdued.
She hated the thought of Mulder spending Christmas on the job... and
alone. Before Skinner told her of the new assignment, she'd toyed with
the idea of asking him to join her at her mother's house, despite the
fact that some members of her family were still angry with him. They
would have overcome their hard feelings to show him what a real family
Christmas was like. Providing he didn't turn her down.
"One hundred percent positive, so go! I know how much Christmas means
to your family."
"You'll call me if you need me, won't you, Mulder?" Scully asked him.
She still wasn't happy about leaving him alone. With all that had
happened in the last year, he was sure to need friends this
Christmas.
"I can handle it! Besides, won't your brothers tar and feather me if
it even looks like I'm dragging you away from the Christmas tree?"
"Mulder!"
"Well, won't they? I'm not exactly their favorite person, you know."
"No, they won't. I won't let them. Now, promise me you'll call."

Mulder smiled slightly-- a wry, almost humorless, smile that both said
"Yes, Scully, you'll be the first one I call," and told her he had no
intention of disturbing her Christmas. "Do you want me to fill you on
the case before you head for home... just in case I *do* need you
later?"
Scully sighed. "You may as well, Mulder. I have a feeling I'll end up
in a motel room in Pennsylvania before the week is up anyway."
"You never know," Mulder quipped as she took the chair opposite him.
******

[A week prior. A small town in North-western Pennsylvania, located in
the Allegheny National Park. The entire community has gathered in the
town's square in the dead of night to watch a bright light hovering
over the gazebo in the commons.]

"What do you reckon it is, Roy?" a heavy set man in flannel asked the
man next to him. Both had their eyes up-turned in wonder.
"I don't rightly know, John. It aint no star, whatever it is."
"That's fer sure," John muttered as he watched the light begin to fade
away.
******

[Washington, DC. Mulder's Office, Federal Bureau of Investigations,
present day.]
"The town is called..." Mulder laughed. "Get this, Scully...
Joseph-and-Mary."
"And is that near Bethlehem?" Scully asked, unable to resist her
small joke.
"Surprisingly enough, no." Mulder shrugged before continuing. "Eye
witnesses claim to have seen, and I quote, 'a bright light, like a
spotlight only bigger and brighter, moving eastward across the sky,
coming to a stand-still above the town square.' "
"How many eye witnesses?" Scully asked.
"The entire population, from toddler to the oldest gaffer," he
replied.
"Any theories yet, Agent Mulder." Scully knew that he must have had
enough time to ponder the phenomenon.
"There have been reports of extraterrestrial activity in the area--UFO
sightings and the usual bright light stories-- so I'm not going to rule
it out." Mulder took the report from her, scanning it again for
something he may have missed from his first several readings.
"It sounds like a comet to me," said Scully.
"Comets don't come to rest over small hick towns, Scully," Mulder
pointed out. "And neither do stars."
"Stars? Mulder, what are you talking about?"
"Some religious fanatics have heard about it and are calling it a sign
of the second coming of Christ." Mulder tossed her a copy of a small
local newspaper.

As ridiculous as that sounded to her scientific mind, Scully could see
where some people would want to view this as the coming of the Messiah.
Even the fact that it was happening in a town named for the parents of
Christ seemed kind of logical to her. She smiled to
herself as she read the article Mulder had circled. It was funny what
some people would believe.

**********

Noel
Part II

******
They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the East beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.
******
[December 21, 1997... Joseph-and-Mary, PA]
[A town square teaming with protesters, concerned citizens, and
curiosity-seekers]

Mulder picked his way through the thickest part of the crowd,
nearly crashing into a woman holding a poster which read, "Repent, for
the Kingdom of Heaven is near." It seemed to be a common theme among
the protesters, for many carried signs with this same sentiment or "Mt.
4:17" emblazoned across them. Still more read, 'This shall be a sign
unto you," while other signs--and their carriers-- shouted out, "Wackos,
go home!" Mulder briefly wondered what Scully would have made of the
situation.
"Excuse me, ma'am" Mulder said, approaching a woman in tight
denim jeans and a ski jacket carrying a sign which read 'LEAVE OUR
TOWN IN PEACE.' "Could you point me in the direction of the local
police?"
The woman shrugged. "Sure, my husband's sheriff. He's over
there." She pointed to a man who had just come out of the Dunkin'
Donuts(TM) carrying a box of donuts and a steaming cup of coffee. The
sheriff approached them, frowning when he saw Mulder with his wife.
"This man botherin' you, Evie?" he asked her as she handed her
the donuts.
"No, Clare, he ain't. He was just askin' for you, that's
all." She took the donuts and began passing them out to some of the
other locals. Mulder found a jelly-filled, powdered donut being shoved
into his hand.
"You were lookin' for me?" Sheriff Clare asked as he sipped
his coffee. Mulder made a mental note that coffee was a good idea in
this cold weather. "Who're you?"
"Mulder, FBI," he supplied, handing Clare the un-eaten donut
so he reach for his badge.
"Sheriff Clarence T. Lawson," the other man replied,
immediately turning colder than the already arctic air. This was,
Mulder realized, the end of the pleasantry between them. "What're you
doin' here? We don't need no interference from the government."
"I'm just doing my job, sir," he told the sheriff. "Trust
me... I could be doing a lot of things more fun than this."
Lawson stalked off soon after Mulder explained why he was
there, muttering something about trust and doing his job. Mulder was
left to fend for himself.

******

[Later in the evening on December 21, 1997]
[Mulder's room at the Comfort Inn(TM), Joseph-and-Mary, PA]

Mulder lay sprawled out on the bed, staring unresponsive at
the ceiling. He couldn't remember feeling so tired.
After Lawson left him, he'd conducted a series of what had to
be the strangest interviews he'd ever done. Did people like these
really exist? The nearest Mulder could figure, he'd stepped into an
episode of "The Twilight Zone Meets The Clampets" and was now unable
to return to reality. He must have spoken to a hundred people, at
least, whose accents were thicker than pea soup. To make matters worse,
other than the information he'd received from Skinner, he hadn't learned
anything new or substantial about the mystery lights.
Well, there *was* one thing. The lights normally began their
travel across the sky around 10:30 and came to rest above the gazebo
at approximately Midnight. This meant Mulder had a few short hours to
rest and go over what he knew before heading out to see the light
show. With the hordes of protesters there, it was sure to be a
blow-out.

When Mulder first returned to the motel, the receptionist
informed him he'd received a call while he was out. The message was
simply, "Scully." Mulder knew she was wondering what he was doing and
if he needed her help. He had to admit, he *could* use the help. But
he didn't want to involve Scully. It would ruin her Christmas if he
called her away from her family.
Mulder smiled briefly at the thought of Scully at her Mom's.
Despite the losses the Scullys had faced, Christmas was always a
pleasant time for them. He could envision how happy Scully must be
right now, surrounded by her mother and brothers.

I could be doing a lot of things more fun than this.> Mulder
remembered what he'd told the sheriff with a bitter laugh. The truth
was, this was about as good as Christmas ever got for him. The
Holiday Season had lost its appeal to him after Samantha's
disappearance. He didn't expect it would get any better now that he
knew she was alive. He didn't know where she was or how to contact
her. For all he knew, she could care less about him right now.
Well, maybe the guys could have found her in the--> Mulder's
thought broke off. "Eureka, Scully!" he said to his absent partner.
"The guys will have heard something about these lights!" Mulder
sprang off the bed and reached for the phone.

******

[December 22, 1997... Baltimore, MD.]
[The home of Margaret Scully]

"Scully residence, Merry Christmas!" Margaret Scully beamed as
she answered the phone. "Oh, hello Fox!" she exclaimed, causing
Scully and her brother, Bill, to look up from the puzzle they were
working on together. Dana stood expectantly. "Of course, Fox. You
have a pleasant holiday yourself, OK?" Maggie smiled as she handed the
phone over to her daughter.

"It's not a comet, Scully," Mulder greeted his partner grimly.
Scully paled as she listened to Mulder speak.
"What is it then?" Scully asked him.
"I don't know. Nobody knows."
"No one? You've spoken with everyone who saw it?"
"Scully, you have no idea what it's like here. I feel like
I've gone backward in time. These people are so beyond hick, it isn't
even funny anymore. And I've gotten all the statements I could.
Hell! I've interviewed everyone except Opie and Ellie Mae!"
"Opie and Ellie Mae are from two different shows, Mulder,"
Scully reminded him.
"Not *here,* Scully. They're *all* here." Mulder began to
fill her in on the least eventful parts of his visit to
Joseph-and-Mary. By the time he finished, Scully was concerned, worry
etched on her face.
"You don't sound so good," she commented. He didn't. He
sounded tired... but more than just tired. Scully couldn't put her
finger on what it was that she heard in his voice, but it made her
worry. "Are you sure you don't need me?"
When she asked the question Bill jumped to his feet, "Dana,
no..." he started to say, but his wife pulled him back to the couch,
hushing him. Scully's family was silent as they listened.
"No, Scully," Mulder told her. "I don't want you to give up
your Christmas vacation. I've got things under control. Yesterday
was just a little overwhelming, that's all."
"Are you sure, Mulder?" Scully asked, her response eliciting a
sigh of relief from Bill.
"Yes, Scully, I'm sure. Merry Christmas," Mulder said as he
hung up.

**********

Noel
Part III

******
This star drew nigh to the northwest,
O'er Bethlehem it took its rest,
And there it did both stop and stay
Right over the place where Jesus lay.
******
[Later on the night of December 22, 1997]
[The home of Margaret Scully, Baltimore MD]

"All right, Dana, out with it! What's wrong?" Maggie Scully
asked, cornering her daughter as they washed dishes.
"Nothing, Mom," Dana lied.
"Yes, there is. You can't fool your mother, Dana Scully.
You've been acting strangely ever since Fox called. Is he all right?"
"No... yes... I don't know." Dana set down the glass she'd
been drying. "He sounded so *different* when he called, Mom. He said
he was fine, but I know he wasn't. I... I think he needs me there."
"For the case?" her mom asked.
She shook her head. "No. I don't think that's it. Mulder has
had a few personal tragedies lately, Mom, and although he's confided a
lot in me, I can tell there's still something I don't know. All I
know is that he shouldn't be alone right now."
"If you really thought he would need your help, dear, in any
way, why did you even bother to come here? Why didn't you go with him
to Pennsylvania?"
"He didn't want me to work. He keeps telling me I came back
to work too soon after the cancer. So does Skinner. Neither one of
them really wanted to even tell me about the case."
"That was sweet of them," Maggie said with a smile. She took
her daughter's hand in her own. "If you really think Fox needs you,
Dana, go to him. Don't let him go through this alone."
"Thanks, Mom," Scully said, hugging her mother. "I knew you'd
see it that way. That's why I already booked a flight."

"That's settled, then, Dana," Maggie said as the entered the
living room, where Charles, Bill and Bill's wife, Tara, sat watching
"It's a Wonderful Life." "I'll drive you to the airport first thing
in the morning."
The others turned their heads in Dana's direction. "Where are
you going?" Bill asked, his eyes narrowing.
"To Joseph-and-Mary, Pennsylvania, to help Mulder. He needs
me," Dana replied.
"No! Dana, you can't! It's Christmas, for crying out loud!"
Bill protested.
"I'm sorry, Bill, but I can't leave Mulder alone."
"Yes, you can! Dana, you need to have some time off. Every
time you need time to rest, he's always dragging you off on some
hair-brained science fiction crusade! For once will you think about
yourself?" Bill was almost shouting now.
"I don't expect you to understand, Bill. Mulder needs me, and
I'm going to him."
"What, are you in love with him or something? Is that it?"
Bill asked.
"I suppose I do love him, in a way," she admitted.
"How? How can care about him, Dana? All he's ever brought
you was suffering!"
"Mulder is my partner, my confidante, and my best friend. I
*do* care about him, because of what we've shared these past years
since I met him. Right now, Mulder needs me, Bill, and I'm not going
to just sit here and do nothing," Scully told her brother with firm
resolve. "I'm going to Pennsylvania, and that is final."
Bill turned his accusing gaze to his mother. "And *you're*
going to drive her to the airport?"
"Yes, I am, Bill," she replied. "I like Fox. He's a sweet
man, and he truly seems devoted to Dana. He deserves to happy, too."
"I think Mom's right, Bill, " Charles said, Tara echoing the
sentiment.
"Am I the only one who cares about Dana's well-being?" Bill
wondered aloud as he stormed from the room.

******

[December 23, 1997... Joseph-and-Mary, PA]
[Mulder's room at the Comfort Inn (TM)]

"You're just lucky we decided to come up here at the last
minute," Frohicke told Mulder as he entered the motel room, followed
by Langley and Byers. Byers flung a briefcase on the bed and pulled
out a laptop computer.
"There's been a lot of talk about these lights of yours on the
'Net," he said as he began hooking the laptop up.
"It's making waves like you wouldn't believe," Langley added
with a grin. "What's your take on it, anyway?"
"That's the thing, guys," Mulder said, "I've never seen
anything like it. I've been here two full days and I can't come up
with any solid evidence to support anyone's theory. That's why I need
your help."

The Lone Gunmen exchanged glances. They'd done a lot for
Agent Fox Mulder in the past. Anything from breaking into top secret
files to star gazing for aliens. While some of the cases where
dangerous, all were fun for the three hackers. Had there ever been any
question as to whether or not they would join him in this adventure?
Three devious grins faced Mulder, telling him the answer was a
definite "yes."

******

[December 23, 1997... A farmer's snow-covered field west of
Joseph-and-Mary, PA]

"This is approximately where the lights originate every night,
according to the locals," Mulder told the Lone Gunmen.
"You mean to tell us you haven't checked it out before now?"
Byers asked, an incredulous look on his face. Agent Mulder was
usually more on the ball than this.
"I couldn't get any of the locals trust me before now," Mulder
admitted. "Not even the local police."
"You'd think they'd want to get this cleared up so their town
could go back to sleep," commented Frohicke.
Mulder nodded, grinning slightly. "That's what I thought,
too, but they seem to have a great distrust of the federal government
up here."
"Smart people," quipped Langley.
"What exactly are we looking for?" Frohicke asked Mulder,
bringing the conversation back around to the business at hand.
"Anything," Mulder replied. "The source of the lights. If
they're a man-made ruse, there has to be a source."
"We should probably search those woods over there, too,"
Langley commented, pointing out across the field.
"That was my thought," Mulder told him as they split up, each
trudging off through the snow in different directions.

**********

Noel
Part IV

******
Then enter'd in those wisemen three,
Full rev'rently upon their knee,
And offer'd there, in His presence,
Their gold and myrrh and frankincense.
******

[Later on the night of December 23, 1997.]
[The town commons of Joseph-and-Mary, PA]

Langley and Frohicke stood beside Mulder's rental car watching
the bright lights approaching the town.
"Shame Agent Mulder and the Narc have to miss this," Langley
said with a grin. "It's quite a show."
"They can probably see it from where they are," his friend
told him. "And with a little luck, they've already got the information
we need to crack this case wide open."
"Do you really think they'll have better luck finding the
source of the lights now that it's dark?"
"I hope so," Frohicke said to him, not too confidently.
They'd searched that field, the woods, and all the surrounding area
for miles around and had found nothing. If the lights were a hoax,
they were made with more technology than the four of them would have
given credit to this back-woods region. The lack of evidence drew them
closer to calling it a supernatural phenomenon, but they still had to
completely exhaust all other theories.
The two Gunmen watched in awe as the light came to hover over
the gazebo in the town square. It was bright and powerful. It didn't
seem to come from any one place, but rather shone out from a source
within itself. When it came close enough to them, Langley pulled out
a video camera. If they discovered nothing else, at least they would
have it on tape.
It remained there for several minutes, unwavering, and then
blinked into darkness. The Gunmen remained rooted to their places in
the snow, as did the hundreds of other on-lookers who had come to see
the light. After a few minutes, the awe that had grabbed them all faded
away, and most people began to move away from the town square. Frohicke
tugged at Langley, who was still facing the gazebo, camera still poised
to record the event.
"Come on! It's over now," Frohicke said as he pulled Langley
around to the passenger side of the car. "Let's go see what you got
on that tape."
******

[December 24, 1997. 1:30 AM]
[Mulder's room at the Comfort Inn (TM)]

Mulder and the Lone Gunmen sat around the television, viewing
Langley's tape of the lights in the town square. It revealed nothing
to them, giving away none of the secrets they have hoped to learn.
"Look on the bright side," Mulder commented dryly as the tape
ended. "You can always sell the tape to 'Unsolved Mysteries.'"

A knock on the door interrupted any forth-coming comment on
the part of Mulder's discouraged cohorts.
Mulder rose from the bed where he had been sitting and went to
the door, wondering who it could possibly be at this hour. Opening
the door, he found Scully standing there, holding a suitcase and looking
bedraggled.
"Scully!?" Mulder exclaimed in a mixture of shock and
near-pleasant surprise. He stepped aside to let her in. "What are
you doing here, and at this time of night?"
Scully looked around her at the Lone Gunmen and a motel room
littered with pizza boxes and used coffee cups. "I wanted to join the
party, but I guess I'm too late," she said with a slight smile. "I
thought you said you didn't need help, Mulder."
"I..."

Mulder didn't get very far with his explanation, because
Frohicke stepped in as he took Dana's suitcase from her and made room
for her to sit down by pushing a pizza box off the bed. "We met Agent
Mulder in town a couple of days ago and decided to lend a hand,"
Frohicke told her. This was partially true. When Mulder had tried to
contact them, the guys were already on their way to Joseph-and-Mary on a
bus. So, while Mulder had every intention of asking them for
help, they hadn't come solely because of him.
Scully glanced from Mulder to Frohicke in skepticism, but said
nothing. Instead she wandered over to where Langley had rewound the
tape and was now watching it for a third time.
"Is this the famous ball of light I've been hearing about?
It's all over the news."
Langley looked up at her with a grin. "I got some great
footage," he crowed. "But, unfortunately, it doesn't show much."
"Mulder, why don't you let me look at whatever information you
have while I watch this," Scully said to her partner.
She was asleep by the time he went to give her the files.

******

[December 24, 1997... near Midnight]
[The town commons, Joseph-and-Mary,PA]

Scully looked around her at the throng which crowded in around
the tiny gazebo. It was amazing to her that so many people would
gather here-- in a small town and on Christmas Eve no less-- just to
see some lights in the sky.
"We normally have the Nativity set up by now," a voice came
from beside her. Scully turned to see a woman standing next to
Mulder. She held a cup of hot coffee out to Scully. "Except... in all
this excitement, we just plain forgot about it. I suppose it's too late
to worry about it now."
Mulder smiled slightly at the woman. "You haven't met my
partner yet, have you?" When Evie shook her head, Mulder added,
"Scully, this is Evie Lawson. Her husband, Clare, is the sheriff
here. Evie, this my partner, Agent Dana Scully."
Scully smiled warmly, accepting the coffee. "I'm sorry to
hear about your creche. I'm sure the town misses it, since it's not
there."
"Maybe they do. I cou--" Evie's words were cut short as the
lights came at last to rest above the gazebo where the creche would
have sat.
Like before, it shone strong and unmoving, glowing with an
internal light. Then it seemed that the light began to expand,
growing in size until it enveloped the gazebo. The crowded stepped
back, ooo-ing with wonder.
Langley, who had brought his video camera again, moved forward
slightly, trying to get a good shot of the light. Mulder, Scully and
the two other Gunmen came to stand beside him. Then something else
happened.
Within the center of the bright, white light, something else
appeared. It started out as a dark blur, but then began to grow. The
crowd stepped back even further as the blur began to solidify and
become more visible. It materialized in the shape of a family-- a man
and a woman, holding a tiny baby-- seated inside the gazebo.
All muttering from the crowd ceased as they stood there
watching in awe. From a distance, the only thing visible was a living
Nativity. Mulder and Scully, the brave shepherds, stood unmoving in
front of the crowd, who huddled in behind them like so many
frightened sheep. The Lone Gunmen moved in to get a closer look of the
vision... like the Magi coming to pay homage to the baby Jesus. The
surveilance equipment in their hands brought to mind images of gold,
frankencense and myrrh-- the gifts of the Magi. But they, too, did not
go further than the edge of the light, and instead, stood transfixed as
a part of the mysterious tableau.

For a brief second, the vision remained in the gazebo, then it
began to break away--disappearing--as quickly as it had appeared.
As it left, Scully felt her mind growing fuzzy, as if the
memory of what she had seen was trying to escape her.
"What was that?" she heard Frohicke asking Mulder.
"I don't know," Mulder replied.
"Aliens?" someone suggested.
"No.. a miracle," Scully supplied in a thoughtful whisper.
Her eyes held fast to the now-empty gazebo, and one hand drifted up to
finger the tiny gold cross around her neck. "A Christmas Miracle."

******
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.
******