|Fic: The Rat Series - Christmas Trees
||[May. 9th, 2010|05:06 pm]
a story from The Rat Series universe
follows 'First Thanksgiving'
It was the first Sunday of December, and Alex, Lissa and Samantha had just returned from their very first visit to church. Lissa had begged and begged to go until finally he'd given in. Fox had decided not to join them, but promised he would in the near future. Alex knew that Mulder still was uncertain about what he believed, and decided not to push the matter. As for himself, he did believe in God, but wasn't so certain that God could forgive him for his past. But both girls had been raised in the Christian faith, and since Christmas was nearing, he'd felt it was time.
They had walked to church, enjoying the new-fallen snow. When services were over, they had found that the snow had begun to fall again. The girls giggled as they tried walking with their faces up in the air, tongues out, trying to catch the big, fat, fluffy flakes falling from the sky. More than once one or the other of them would run into Alex or something else. He laughed with them, enjoying their unbridled joy, not minding almost being knocked down time and again. Samantha slipped and fell onto the snow-covered grass of someone's yard. She lay there, turning red with giggles, then thrust her arms out to the side and began to make a snow angel. A reprimand hovered on the tip of his tongue. They were in church clothes after all. But then he realized that the clothes could be washed and dried...the memories, however, had to be made for them to exist at all. Lissa looked up at him, eyes begging to be allowed to drop down in the snow. He nodded, and she threw herself down to make her own snow angel.
"Help!" Samantha held a hand up for assistance. Alex reached down and grabbed it, pulling hard. Up she went and she carefully stepped out of her snow angel back onto the sidewalk. "That was fun!"
He helped Lissa up next, then the two girls signed their names to the angels in the snow with their fingers. Lissa took his hand and leaned into his body. "Thanks, Daddy."
A lump formed in his throat, as it usually did when his daughter showed her love and trust in him. To think it hadn't even been a year since Mulder had found him in that alley. A lifetime of experiences had passed since then. All of them leading to this moment in time, where he had the family, the house and the dog and cat too.
Samantha hurried on ahead and he reflected on how quickly she was recovering from her years in stasis. Her steps were sure, her speech showed almost no hesitation anymore with only occasional slip ups with words. She was still receiving speech therapy, and both girls had been receiving riding lessons regularly when the arena footing suited. Her birthday was coming up in January and would be fifteen. Well, sort of. It was a little disconcerting to think that this young girl was actually older than he was.
Lissa too, was doing better. She was still sometimes plagued with nightmares of Bill holding her hostage, and of Alex shooting him, but the compulsive hair washing had come to an end. She was still seeing a therapist, and probably would for some time to come.
He looked down at his daughter. "Yeah?"
She pointed to the pine tree at the corner of her old room, as they started up the driveway. "When are we going to decorate the tree?"
"That's right, I did sort of imply that we'd decorate it, didn't I?"
Her head bobbed up and down.
"Well, let's talk about it as a family, to see how we want to do it, okay?" He looked at Samantha who was trying to squeeze in the door past Chance, who was excited at their return. "Hey Sam!"
She looked back at Alex.
"Don't track footprints!" he warned.
After leaving their wet footwear at the door and the girls changed their clothes, they ate the light lunch Mulder had waiting for them. Then they gathered in the living room to talk about decorating for Christmas.
"We could put lights on the edge of the roof like Jam was going to do!" said Samantha.
"We HAVE to decorate the tree outside!" demanded Lissa.
"But what about an inside tree?" asked Alex.
Mulder shook his head. "After planning our house addition around that damned tree, we'd BETTER decorate it!"
Lissa and Samantha stared at him, open-mouthed. "Fox! You said a bad word!" said Sam.
"Quarter in the jar," Alex laughed. "Right now. You know the rules." They had recently started a rule that every time anyone cussed, they had to contribute a quarter to a jar. When the jar was full, it would be used to purchase food for the church food pantry.
Lissa and Samantha both had become very concerned over the hungry. Not just in their own community, but worldwide. He'd find them cutting out articles from the newspaper, and searching for information online. He and Fox had to insist they were not to send money to any organizations without their permission. If they hadn't, the girls would have sent in every penny they had.
Samantha, in fact, had gone without lunches for a whole week at school because she wanted to send her lunch money to someone in need. When he found out, Fox had explained that for one, the lunch money was given to her for a specific reason and was not to be repurposed. And two, that she needed to take care of herself in order to be able to care for others.
Mulder got up and dropped a quarter into the jar that was sitting on the mantle of the fireplace. "Stockings hung from the mantle!"
"Absolutely! That way Santa can deliver your coal," Alex joked.
"Ha ha." Mulder sat back down beside his lover and put his hand on the back of his neck. He massaged lightly once or twice, then grabbed a tiny hair and pulled.
"Owww." Alex contorted his body, trying to ease the pull. He reached back and tried to slap Mulder's hand away.
"Look at that rabbit!" said Lissa, pointing out the window. "It's looking for something to eat! Can we feed it something?"
"If you open the door, it's just going to run away," said Alex.
"Hop away," corrected Mulder.
Alex rolled his eyes. "God you're a pain today."
"Yeah?" Mulder pulled another hair.
"Will you stop it?! You are such a kid..."
"But it's hungry!" Lissa would not be detracted from the supposedly hungry bunny.
"We feed the birds out back. Why not rabbits and squirrels?" wondered Sam.
"We DO feed the rabbits and squirrels when we feed the birds," said Alex. "They're always getting into it."
"Hmm. Maybe if we feed them out front, that'd keep them away from the bird feeders out back?" considered Mulder.
"Good point." Alex shrugged his shoulders. "We can give it a try."
"Oh! That dog is chasing it!" cried Lissa, as the rabbit hopped into the thick brush at the edge of the property to escape the predator.
"Rabbit, run!" said Alex, craning his neck to see what was happening, always rooting for the underdog.
"Updike," Mulder commented, showing off his literary knowledge, but Alex didn't grace him with a response.
"It got away!" Lissa said with relief.
"What will we feed them?" asked Sam. "Carrots and lettuce?"
"Your assignment, should you choose to accept it," droned Mulder, "is to research what to feed squirrels and rabbits in the wintertime. And Saturday , we'll drive in to the city and look at ornaments for both the outdoor tree and the inside tree. There's a huge store there that is nothing but Christmas stuff."
"Yay!" The girls raced away from the window and headed into the den to research food for the animals.
Mulder watched them leave. "We have to do some Christmas shopping!"
"What? Why is yours done and mine isn't?" Mulder asked, aghast.
"I don't know, Fox, why?"
"But I wanted you to go with me to buy for the girls!"
"Sorry, you're on your own. I managed. You will too."
"But I don't know what to buy girls!"
"According to Scully, you don't know what to buy women either."
"No fair! You had her help you, didn't you?!" Mulder accused.
"Nope. John and I went by ourselves. We had no womanly help whatsoever."
"Ah. The Other Man. I may have to have a talk with him," teased Mulder. "So what'd you get the girls?" he asked. "I want to be sure I don't get them the same things"
Glancing around to make sure the girls were still in the den, Alex told him.
Mulder was impressed at Alex's choices. "What'd you get me?"
"Ah, for the answer to that, you'll have to wait!"
Saturday came before they knew it, and Mulder drove them into the city as promised. After finding a space in the parking lot, he led the way inside. Christmas items spanned the breadth and depth of the store, and the girls and Alex, stood in awe.
"How'd you know about this place?" asked Alex.
"Carter told me about it last year. You remember her, don't you? Addison's secretary? I came in to find a nice Christmas wreath for Mom's grave."
Alex nodded. "Yeah, I remember her. She had the big hair, right?" he asked, demonstrating with his hand.
He laughed. "I forgot about that. She doesn't wear it like that anymore." He noticed the kids were getting antsy. "Huddle!" he ordered. They gathered around. "We agree on lights and garland and silver and blue ornaments for the outside tree?" Everyone nodded.
"Okay, here's what I think we should do for the inside tree. Tinsel garland, miniature lights and specially selected ornaments. I think when we decorate the tree every year, we should be able to have a reason for each and every ornament. It should provoke a memory, be a gift from someone, something handmade. Stuff like that. So this year, each one of us should choose only one or two ornaments that means something to them. That means there won't be many on the tree this year, but each year we'll add more."
"That's a great idea, Fox." Alex was impressed that Mulder was actually getting sentimental about this Christmas.
"What do you say, girls? Do you agree?" asked Mulder.
"Yes," they both replied.
"Okay, let's start the search! We can split up, but Lissa, you have to stay with Samantha or one of us. Forward ho!"
While the girls searched exclusively for their special ornaments, Mulder and Alex quickly selected the other decorating items for the two trees. Only when that was done, did they start looking for their ornaments. A couple of hours later, they all finally started regrouping.
"That wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. What'd you choose?" Alex asked the girls.
Lissa held out a box holding a ballerina ornament of Clara from The Nutcracker. "Because I love ballet so much!"
Samantha showed them hers. The guys looked at each other, puzzled.
"That's an odd choice, isn't it?" asked Fox.
Samantha shook her head. "Nope. A DNA Double Helix. Scully said it was something in my DNA that proved that I was really your sister. If it weren't for that, I might not be here with you." Her eyes teared up. "So it reminds me that I AM your sister."
Mulder hugged her tight. "It's a great ornament Sam. You put a lot of thought into that."
Alex had a metal ornament that depicted a house. Engraved on the front were the words 'Our First House'. "I thought we'd engrave our names and address on the back."
Mulder smiled, approving. "Very fitting. I picked out two. I couldn't resist this one." He showed them a fish bowl ornament that had two fish depicted on it. All of them laughed. They knew how much he loved his fish. "But this one is special." He looked at Alex with love and held out a box. It said 'Snow Couple First Christmas Together'. "Look at the picture! Both snowmen are exactly the same. They can be male or female!"
"It's perfect, Fox. Let's go pay for these." Alex led the way toward the check out.
"When will be get the tree?" asked Samantha.
Alex stopped abruptly, Mulder bumping into him from behind. He turned around and looked at Mulder.
"The tree!" they both said simultaneously.
Mulder reddened with embarrassment. "I can't believe we forgot the tree. Let's go pick one out." He turned around and headed back into the store proper
Lissa tugged on his arm. "But aren't we going to get a live tree?"
Alex spoke up from behind her. "We're decorating the tree outside, Sweetie. I think an artificial tree will be just fine for inside."
It didn't take long for the family to decide on a beautiful tree for their living room. It was a bit small, but Mulder had explained that by the time they had enough ornaments to fill the tree, they'd be ready for a new one anyway. And this way, the few ornaments they did have wouldn't look lost in the branches.
Once everything was paid for and loaded into their vehicle, they stopped for a meal, then headed home.
Christmas morning dawned, cold and snowy. Lissa and Samantha were up early and hovered outside the guys bedroom.
"They won't mind if we wake them up," whispered Samantha.
"Are you sure? You've never seen Daddy when he's mad. Plus, he's pretty grumpy in the morning until he gets his coffee," cautioned Lissa.
"Then let's get the coffee brewing," suggested Samantha.
Alex sniffed and smiled. Fox must have put the coffee on. He opened his eyes and found that his lover was still in bed with him, sound asleep. He sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. Just as he was about to stand, he heard loud whispering from outside their door.
"Okay, wake them up!"
"YOU do it!"
"No, YOU do it!"
"I made the coffee. YOU wake them up!"
He grinned and shook Mulder awake. "Get up. The girls are anxious," he said.
Mulder grunted in response, but then opened his eyes and looked blearily at Alex. "Mornin'"
"Merry Christmas, Fox." Alex kissed him on the cheek, then stood up and crossed to the door and opened it. "Hey! Merry Christmas girls!"
"Merry Christmas! We brought you coffee," said Lissa.
"I see that! Thank you! Can you put it down right here?" He indicated a spot on the dresser. After Sam put the try down, he continued. "Why don't you girls go wait for us in the living room. We'll be out in a minute."
"Okay!" They eagerly ran off to await the men.
"The girls made it," Alex said. He handed a mug to his lover, then took a sip of his own. "Not bad!"
They spent a couple of minutes quietly sipping their coffee before heading out to join the girls. There they quickly began to hand out the presents to each other, and for the next hour they ooh'd and ah'd over the gifts they'd received from each other and from their friends. Then they sat, gazing at the tree with their carefully chosen ornaments front and center, a nativity carefully arranged underneath. The wise men however, were not to be found, due to Lissa's insistence, as she said that they had not arrived until long after baby Jesus was born. The heck with tradition; his daughter insisted upon accuracy.
As they munched on the apples and oranges they'd found in their Christmas stockings, Alex reached out and fingered each of their special ornaments placed on the tree, plus the dog and cat ornaments they'd unwrapped from Sarah that morning. The pet's names were engraved on them.
"You know, I think this was the best idea ever, plus it was really fun choosing the perfect ornament. I almost can't wait for next year so we can choose the next ones!"
until next time