Scully got nearly halfway home before pulling over in a parking lot. She couldn't help but feel enormous guilt for leaving Mulder, not after that bizarre encounter in the mansion. She still couldn't exactly process what happened. Poor Mulder. It began to dawn on her why he had called her out to the site in the first place – he was lonely. No more family, no friends to visit, nothing. She'd been so wrapped up in trying to ignore the fact that Christmas was the anniversary of her father's death, she'd completely ignored the fact that she'd come across as an asshole. Didn't see that Mulder wanted to ignore the loneliness of Christmas as much as she wanted to throw herself into her family to ignore the emptiness of her dad being gone. She turned the car around and drove back to Mulder's.
Mulder sat on the sofa, watching A Christmas Carol. The weight of the ghost's words echoed through his head, over and over. Narcissist. Fanatic. Selfish. So lonely you'll go insane. The ghost had hit him square in the heart. He tried not to cry as he remembered how much Samantha and he had looked forward every year to seeing that movie on the UHF channel. He missed having a family dreadfully. A slight pang of envy flashed over him when he thought about Scully spoiling her nephew and niece, and all the bustle of a Christmas family he never got to experience again after Samantha disappeared. The echoes of those happy years made him all the more aware of his bleak surroundings. At least Mrs. Scully would remember him tomorrow with a plate of her delicious jam thumb prints and chess pies, his favorite cookies. Scully's mom was a cookie whiz.
The door suddenly knocked. At first he thought it was his neighbors at it again, but it was his own door. Probably the landlord with his annual Christmas card. Nope, it was Scully.
"I couldn't sleep."
They talked a little about what had happened at the mansion, and both realized, and admitted to each other, that they were lonely workaholics. Mulder felt a lot of guilt about yanking Scully away from her family, but she felt as much guilt about not including him. Mulder decided to give her a present. She had one for him, too. They ran to the sofa, giggling a little, and opened them up together.
"Thanks, Scully. I'm glad you didn't get me a pack of tube socks."
"They weren't on special. But thanks for the Valentine's Day idea."
She sheepishly grinned as Mulder leafed through the first edition copy of '1984' that she had picked up at a book shop during her Christmas shopping expedition.
"How did you know this was my favorite book in high school?"
"Educated guess." She held the Einstein bobble-head figurine in her hand and laughed. "And this is priceless."
"It'll look sexy on your nightstand," laughed Mulder.
"I hope that bending the time-space continuum can apply to early morning alarms or pissed-off calls from Skinner."
"I hate to say this, but I'm glad you came here, Scully. I…I'm sorry about earlier. I really am. This time of year is hard."
"It is for me, too. It's been three years. I wish Dad had gotten to meet you - you would have gotten along."
"You must miss him a lot."
"Every day. But this is the worst time." Her face looked wistful. Mulder decided to lighten the mood.
"Scully, since we're both up, why don't we do something fun? You want a drink?"
Scully smiled and nodded enthusiastically. For some strange reason, as he suggested this, her heart felt fluttery, her stomach in knots, like the night Marcus asked her to the prom. Mulder got up to amble over to the kitchen. He pulled out a box of Franzia. Scully laughed when he placed it on the coffee table.
"Box wine, Mulder?"
"I was saving it for a special occasion, or a date, or something."
"Oh." She couldn't help it, but a flush grew on her cheeks when he brought up the word 'date.' Mulder noticed it immediately and grinned like the Cheshire cat.
"Don't get jealous or anything, Scully…it's been sitting in my kitchen for almost three years."
"I'm not jealous, hot shot. Pour away."
She turned on the TV. "Let's watch a movie. Oh, I have something for you in the car. From Mom. She wants you to eat them all."
"I bet I can guess what they are."
"Those chess pies are pretty damn good."
The next movie on the channel Mulder had on was It's A Wonderful Life. After a couple of drinks, Scully confessed to Mulder that she adored Jimmy Stewart, and her favorite scene was when Mary and George fell in love talking on the phone. Mulder said he loved the part where Mr. Potter barked "Happy New Year to you…in JAIL."
"You ever wish you were in an old movie, Scully?" asked Mulder, downing his third glass of wine.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm in one."
"Oh, I don't know."
She trailed off. "…Because no one ever makes out until the end of the movie," she thought.
"I'd like to be in a Marx brothers movie. Like when they're playing all the crazy music and everything's like a cartoon," mused Mulder.
By 3:30 AM, half the box was kicked, half the cookies eaten, and Scully was sound asleep against Mulder's shoulder…half snoring. Mulder watched the movie, munching on thumb prints, feeling none of that lonely pang than before. Scully was there. No sad night alone. He looked down at the sleeping Scully, and it hit him like a ton of bricks. The crumbs on her chest from the cookies, the half smile on her face. She had never looked more lovely. He put his arm around her and dared to stroke her hair a little.
"Scully," he whispered softly, not exactly wanting to break the spell, but his arm was falling asleep.
"What time is it?"
"Oh. Yeah, I don't think I'm going to make the 6 AM Scully roll call. I'm in no shape to drive."
"It's okay. You can phone your mother later."
"I'm so tired."
"You can stay here, if you want."
"I do. I will."
"Want me to clean off my bed?"
Scully sleepily nodded and fell back asleep. Mulder walked into the bedroom and cleaned off the bed. The four-poster waterbed nightmare was gone, but the ceiling still had the mirror. It kind of creeped him out. He still had no idea why the landlord had decided to remodel out of the blue.
Scully was well-aware of Mulder's infamous porn collection in his closet, but he suddenly felt really self-conscious of it. He took the magazines to the garbage chute and dropped them. The super would enjoy that. He went in the bathroom, changed into pyjama pants and his Knicks shirt, and brushed his teeth. He laid out some clothes for Scully to change into – sleeping in her suit looked uncomfortable.
Scully changed into his pyjamas. She was still pretty drunk, and her tiny frame looked absurd in his clothes. She laughed when she caught a glimpse of herself in his ceiling mirror.
"Come on, hot shot," he teased, while she flashed him a grin, "let me tuck you in before Santa gets here."
Scully took his hand as he fluffed up the pillows for her and covered her with the comforter. Scully was surprised at how comfortable Mulder's bed was, and wondered fleetingly why he used it as a storage unit.
"Where will you sleep, Mulder? I'm not kicking you out of your room, am I?"
"I usually sleep on the sofa."
"Oh. I…this might just be the wine talking, but would you like to sleep here? I…I really wouldn't mind."
Mulder's heart skipped a beat. This was getting dangerous, fast. On one hand, he wanted so desperately to continue the physical contact they'd had on the sofa; to hold her or be with her, like that night in the woods when he slept in her lap and she sang to him. He wanted…craved…more of that intimacy. But this was Scully. He had been in this sticky situation before. Phoebe and Diana…they seemed so far away.
"I mean…there's plenty of room. And your apartment is freezing. Come here, let's get warm."
"I never thought you'd ask me to sleep with you, not in a million years."
"Shush." She smiled and put her finger to her lips. "If we don't get to sleep, the reindeer will pass us by."
She slid over and Mulder climbed into bed with her. He had to admit - it felt so nice having her close to him, her arm flopped around his chest. She snuggled against him. He felt the warmth of her body against where his shirt had slightly ridden up. He pulled the comforter up around her shoulders and kissed her on the head. As he lay there staring at them lying on the bed together, he hoped she wasn't cognizant enough to notice the profound physical effect this had on him. God, he wanted her. It could never happen. It was ridiculous. They'd seen each other naked before, they'd snuggled before, this really wasn't THAT strange.
"Good night, Mulder," she whispered.
"Good morning, Scully," he whispered back, putting his arm around her. They slept soundly, dreamlessly, peacefully, wrapped comfortably in each other's arms.
She awoke before him, at nearly 11 AM. She momentarily panicked. Her family must be worried sick. Bill would chew her out and make a scene. As she thought about it, the idea of being with the Scully clan seemed less and less appealing. As she looked over at Mulder, her heart melted. She didn't want to wake him up. That selfish little feeling of having him all to herself crept into her heart, but she didn't dare admit she wanted more than a night of innocent cuddling. She was a little embarrassed by her needy clinging last night, but deep down she was glad she'd coerced Mulder into bed with her. She needed the comfort. She kissed him on the cheek.
"Merry Christmas," he mumbled, "What time is it?"
"Time to wake up, elf," she said. "I blew it with my family. Totally blew it. I should probably call them so they don't think I'm in danger or anything."
"If I can make amends, would you like to come over to Chez Scully with me as my special guest?"
"Really? I wouldn't be intruding?"
"Not in the least, Mulder. Mom likes you. Bill's another story, but he can be a dick. And you've never met Charles. He's coming in this afternoon from Philadelphia."
"I'd like that, Scully. Promise it's not out of pity?"
"No. I just like having you around, that's all. The kids would like you a lot. I can guarantee by the evening they'll have you decorated with tinsel and gift bows. Which is good, because I was "Christmas Tree" last year."
"I bet you looked very shiny." Mulder pulled Scully back down to lay next to him. Now was the time to kiss her, you dope. She's IN YOUR BED.
Scully laughed, picked up a pillow, and bopped him on the chest with it. She wanted Mulder to kiss her. They had just CUDDLED ALL NIGHT.
But it wasn't to be, that moment. Both froze, tried shaking off the evening as one wild event, and after Scully dressed, she sheepishly phoned her mother with a thousand apologies. She told the partial truth, that she'd had too much wine and passed out. Her mother's laughter made things feel much better. Scully asked if it would be okay to bring Mulder along. Of course it would be fine.
Mulder appeared in the living room, fully dressed in a red hoodie with a green scarf and jeans. Scully laughed.
"You do look like an elf."
"If you're good I'll make you a special toy."
"Okay, elf. Let's head over to the Scully ranch," she smiled, tossing him the car keys.