The Case of the Christmas Stalking-Horse
By aka "Jake"
Classification: S, MSR
Spoilers: Pre-Ep of sorts for “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas”
Summary: “Stalking-horse”: anything serving to conceal one’s intentions.
Disclaimer: Do these characters really belong to Chris Carter, FOX and 1013 Productions? If so, no copyright infringement intended. Fun, yes. Profit, no.
Authors Notes: This story was written in response to Haven’s “Guilty Pleasures” fic challenge. Challenge elements are listed at the end.
Special thanks to mimic117 for quick beta.
Tuesday, December 22, 1998
“Mistletoe Ball? Mulder, you must be joking.” Scully sat ramrod straight, shoulder’s squared, posture as taut as her nerves. She was dreading the holidays. Every winking light, ho-ho-ho and Silent Night reminded her of Emily’s death a year ago.
The bullpen hummed with last minute phone calls and paper shuffling. Agents powered down their PCs, shrugged into their winter coats, and bee-lined for the door, eager to abandon the tedium of background checks.
Scut work. Bozo work. Mulder called it the FBI equivalent to wearing an orange jumpsuit and picking up trash by the side of the highway. His heart wasn’t in their punitive assignment. Her heart wasn’t in it either, but for different reasons.
Hunched over the desk in front of hers, chin propped on his left fist, Mulder hunted through his computer’s directory, opening folders and files, previewing images only to close them again. He seemed in no hurry to leave the office, despite his complaints about Kersh and their reassignment. “I’m serious, Scully. Tomorrow night, 8:00 p.m. Grand Ballroom at the Watergate.”
“I know when and where it is.” Her fingers grazed her keyboard as she proofed her December expense report, double-checking her credit card figures and trying hard to concentrate on anything but the impending anniversary of her daughter’s death. “I thought you hated black-tie affairs.”
“I do. But there’s something significant about this one.” He tilted his head ceiling-ward and inhaled deeply through his nose. “Can you smell it, Scully? Eau de X-File.”
As always, he was indefatigable, a bloodhound hot on the trail of the paranormal.
She wished she shared his enthusiasm. Cocooned in her sorrow, she smelled nothing, tasted nothing, felt nothing...nothing but slivers of grief, needling her during work, after hours, on weekends.
“We’re off the X-Files, Mulder.”
“I heard that rumor.” He returned his attention to his monitor.
Several desks away, a dedicated agent was bent over his keyboard, intent on his end-of-the-day tasks. Although out of earshot, Scully lowered her voice to ask, “Exactly how is the Bureau’s holiday dance an X-File, beyond the fact that you’re considering going?”
Mulder continued to browse his files. “You don’t want to get gussied up?”
“Gussied up? Mulder, what century are you living in?”
“Ah, here we are.” Apparently finding the image he’d been looking for, he sized it to fit his monitor and then leaned back to give her an unobstructed view.
Two human-shaped silhouettes filled his screen, both as black as Rorschach ink blots.
“What are those?” she asked, without any real interest.
“Shadow--?” Goosebumps sprouted on her arms. She leaned forward to look more closely at the photo. There was something repellent about the faceless human-like forms.
Mulder traced the outline of what could have been a profile with his index finger. “‘Shadow People’ -- or ‘Shadow Beings’ -- are fast-moving entities that appear without warning. They’re most often seen out of the corner of the eye and only very briefly, although a few witnesses have reported seeing them straight on for longer periods. The entities are commonly described as being featureless, but some have been said to have glowing red eyes.” He jabbed the shadow’s non-existent eyes.
She shook her head. “People often think they see things that aren’t really there. Their minds are just playing tricks on them.” She had thought she’d seen Emily during the Kernof case. Sometimes she thought she heard her daughter’s voice calling out to her, too. “The human eye and mind are easily fooled.”
“But not the camera.” He rapped the monitor with his knuckles. “Photos don’t lie, Scully.”
“I’m guessing those were real shadows caused by an ambient light source.”
“That’s one opinion. There are others.” He pushed away from his desk and rode his chair backward until he bumped into her desk. “Ghosts, demons, other spirit entities. Time travelers, interdimentional beings, aliens.”
“You think those shadows are aliens?”
“No, I think they’re astral bodies, the essences of people who are having out-of-body experiences. Their shadowy spirits wander the earth while their hosts sleep.”
She massaged the bridge of her nose, feeling as if she were having an out-of-body experience right then and had been having one for the last twelve months. Numbed from the inside out, disconnected from her physical body, she could be one of Mulder’s insubstantial Shadow People.
“They’re rarely photographed, Scully. This picture,” -- he nodded at the monitor -- “was given to me by Chester Nutt, who--”
“Excuse me? Chester Nutt? That’s his real name?”
“I don’t think he’d use it if it weren’t.” He gave her a sidelong glance. “Chester Nutt is a night custodian at the Watergate Hotel.”
“Which is where the Bureau’s Mistletoe Ball is being held. I think I see where this is going.”
The beginning of a smile nudged his right cheek. “It’ll be the perfect cover for our investigation.”
“Kersh will have our heads.”
“He doesn’t need to know.”
“Just let me give you a few details before you make up your mind.” He leaned back in his chair and waited for her full attention, not realizing she gave nothing her full attention these days.
She tried to feign interest in what he was saying. “Fine. Give me the details.”
“Chester Nutt--” He stopped speaking when the lingering agent suddenly rose from his chair.
The agent gave them a cheerful wave. “G’night,” he called.
Scully returned his wave. “Was he listening?” she asked as soon as he was out of earshot.
“I don’t think so,” Mulder answered, but waited until the agent was out the door before he continued. “Chester Nutt claims to have seen Shadow People at the Watergate on six separate occasions over the last five months. He says they come out only at night, in the ballroom, during crowded social events. He took that photo,” -- Mulder hooked his thumb at the picture on his computer monitor -- “during the Veteran’s Day dance last month. He’s convinced the Shadow People will make an appearance during the Mistletoe Ball. Which is why we’ve got to be there.”
Fatigue pressed at her eyes and her disinterest grew with each passing second. In contrast, Mulder was exhibiting his usual exuberance, oblivious to her ennui.
“I’m not going.” She powered down her computer. “Ask someone else.”
“Ask...?” He blinked at her. “Such as...?”
“I don’t know. I don’t really care. Take a date.”
“I can’t take a date.” His brow buckled with disbelief. “This is a case, Scully.”
“Then go by yourself.”
“To a formal dance? You’re my cover. I need you with me.”
“You don’t need me. And this is not a case because we are officially off the X-Files.”
“But that’s the best part.” A mischievous glint brightened his eyes. “Going against orders right under Kersh’s nose adds to the fun.”
She was in no mood to play Mulder’s rebellious games. “Why did you wait until now to tell me about Chester Nutt and these...Shadow People?”
“I just found out about them. Mr. Nutt e-mailed me only this morning.”
“Mulder, I have Christmas shopping to do--”
He pushed his chair back to his own desk and shrugged as if to say, “Is that my fault?” Shutting off his computer, he said, “There are still two whole shopping days left before Christmas.” He sounded irritated. “But there’s only one chance to witness this phenomenon.”
“I have presents to buy--”
“So skip mine.”
“You don’t want to exchange gifts this year?”
He turned to look at her with pleading eyes. “If you’re giving me the choice, I’d rather you come with me tomorrow night.”
She had run out of energy to argue and she supposed it didn’t really matter where she spent tomorrow evening. Whether she was Christmas shopping at the mall or investigating a non-case with Mulder, she would still be thinking about Emily.
“Fine. I’ll go with you. But I’m taking tomorrow off.”
“Sure. Shop ‘til you drop, Scully.”
Shop ‘til-- Damn it, she realized she now needed to buy an evening gown, too. She was about to tell him she’d changed her mind, when he rose from his chair and said, “You won’t regret it, Scully.”
He looked so pleased she resisted her urge to renege.
She stood, too. “I hope not.” She already had all the regrets she could handle.
Shrum’s Formal Wear
Wednesday, December 23
“How about this one?” Maggie pointed to a gaunt mannequin dressed in a black lace shift with a beaded bodice. Several dozen small bows decorated each glittery sleeve.
“Too fussy. I need something plain,” Scully said.
She trailed her mother through Shrum’s, scarcely looking at the festive displays. They’d been browsing for only ten minutes and she was ready to give up, call Mulder and tell him she couldn’t make it, he was on his own.
The First Noel began to play on the store’s PA system and she found herself imagining how different this Christmas would have been if Emily had lived and she’d been able to adopt her. She would be shopping for dolls and picture books, instead of accompanying Mulder on another one of his wild ghost chases.
“Have you finished your shopping yet?” Maggie asked, eyes focused on the next gown.
To be honest, she hadn’t even begun. “I have a few more people to buy for.”
“Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve, sweetheart. And you know we’re expecting you at the house by 6:00 a.m. Christmas morning,” her mother reminded her. She stopped in front of a billowy scarlet taffeta and fingered the material. “How about this one? It’s pretty.”
“It’s red.” Scully waggled a lock of coppery hair at her mother.
“I know, but maybe they have it in blue or green.” She moved on, humming along with the store’s music.
In some respects, Scully regretted inviting her mother to come with her. Their tastes were nothing alike. But she knew her mom would enjoy their time together and, more importantly, she knew Maggie wouldn’t let her back out of her obligation to Mulder. The temptation to call him and cancel was becoming almost intolerable.
“Do you like this gold one?”
“Mom, can we take a break? Maybe get some coffee or something?”
“Dana, we’ve barely begun and you don’t have time to dawdle. Didn’t you say the dance was at 8:00?”
“I can be late.”
“Late? For heaven’s sake, what will your date think?”
“This isn’t a date, Mom. I told you, it’s work related...a case... I’m going with Mulder.”
Maggie paused to admire the next dress, a low-cut clingy peach-colored gown. Scully imagined how she would look and feel in it: completely naked.
“A little too, uh, showy, Mom,” she said. “I need something more professional.”
“You’ve got a nice figure, Dana, yet you never show it off.”
“I don’t want to show it off. I’m going to be working. With Mulder.”
Maggie gave her a disapproving frown before abandoning the dress and continuing their search.
“What?” Scully asked.
“Dana, you’ve been partners with Fox for years. He’s a nice man.”
“He’s my partner.”
“He likes you.”
“Of course he likes me. I like him. We’re friends.” Although, now that she was thinking about it, she hadn’t confided any of her feelings about Emily to him, not in all the months since her little girl’s death. Wouldn’t you tell a friend something like that? And wouldn’t a friend...a really good friend...remember the anniversary of your child’s passing? Wouldn’t he understand that you might be feeling distracted by your loss? That you might not care about demon fetal harvests and weather-controlling meteorologists and Shadow People?
Maybe the fault was hers. She’d grown to rely on Mulder too much. He was paid to watch her back, not coddle her.
Hoping to end her mother’s well-intentioned meddling, she said, “I’m not interested in becoming romantically involved with anyone right now.”
“Sweetie, you’re 35 years old. I know children aren’t an issue for you, but--”
“Mom, please... I can’t...I can’t have this conversation right now. Please.” Tears came unbidden, hot and stinging. Her empty heart ached to hold her daughter again.
“I’m sorry.” Maggie squeezed her arm. “I didn’t mean to upset you.” Eager to put things back on a more pleasant path, she returned her attention to the dresses. “Oh! How about this one?”
She indicated a lovely off-the-shoulder gown with a velvet top and an A-line skirt. The bodice was moss green and the skirt matte satin, in a slightly lighter shade.
Simple, classy, professional...and very beautiful.
A cheery sales clerk approached and asked, “Find something you like?”
“Try it on,” Maggie urged.
Minutes later they were in the dressing room, Maggie sitting on an upholstered bench, while Scully undressed in front of a three-sided mirror. The clerk held onto the gown until Scully was ready to slip it over her head. Together they tugged it into place.
“Oh, Dana, it’s lovely. You’re lovely,” Maggie said, pride in her voice and tears glossing her eyes.
Scully pivoted to study herself in the mirror. The gown was the right size and the style flattered her figure.
“I’m not sure,” she said, eyeing her bare shoulders and the form-fitting velvet bodice. Was it too...sexy?
The clerk plucked at the neckline and fussed with the skirt. “The color goes perfect with your hair,” she said.
“She’ll take it,” her mother said.
The smiling clerk looked to Scully for confirmation.
The gown was a little revealing, but no more than any of the others her mother had pointed out. Rejecting it would mean starting all over, looking for another.
“Sure, I’ll take it.”
Watergate Grand Ballroom
The click of Scully’s heels ricocheted off the Watergate’s black and white marble floor as she hurried toward the ballroom. She was more than an hour late.
She’d been soaking in the tub when Mulder phoned earlier to say he was on his way to pick her up. The water had gone tepid, the suds gray. Dashed dreams and year-old memories fogged her mind like steam on the bathroom mirror. Rather than take the time to explain to Mulder why she was still not dressed, she put him off by telling him to go ahead without her, promising to be along shortly.
“You okay?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” she said, managing to control the tremor in her voice.
“You are coming tonight, right?”
“I’ll be there. I’m just running a little late.”
His next words sounded clipped with disappointment; he ended their conversation with “See you soon.”
Strains of Deck the Halls eddied down the corridor from the ballroom, sounding tinny and frantic. She followed the music, passing rows of ficus trees decked with miniature white lights. Their winking glow reflected in the windows and blended with the sparkle of the Georgetown skyline beyond the glass. Displays of crimson poinsettias vied for her attention, but her focus was on the far end of the hall, already searching for Mulder’s familiar silhouette.
She spotted him slouched against a pilaster near the ballroom’s entrance. He looked uncomfortable but handsome in his tux and his face lit up when he saw her. Pushing off the wall, he headed her way.
He surprised her with a peck on the cheek when they met.
“You clean up nice, Scully.” He corralled her with one arm and steered her toward the ballroom.
“You don’t look too shabby yourself, G-Man.”
As a matter of fact, he looked exceptionally handsome and at first she attributed it to the tux, until she noticed it was his smile that had captured her attention. Not one of his usual fleeting half-smiles, but a dazzling grin that made her realize how seldom he laughed when they were together. Funny, she hadn’t expected him to be so relaxed at a formal Bureau function.
“Mulder, have you been drinking?”
“No,” he said, chuffing with good-humored indignation. Then, as if suddenly remembering his manners, he asked, “Did you want a drink?”
“No, of course not. We’re working.”
He reached past her to grab two petit fours from the tray of a passing waiter.
“You've got to try these.” He held one out to her as he popped the other into his mouth.
She waved him off. “I’m not really hungry.”
“They’re great. Here. Try it.” He held the confection to her lips.
Reluctantly she nibbled a bit of chocolate-covered coconut from its edge before shaking her head to the rest.
“You don’t like it?”
To be honest, she could barely taste it. “I haven’t had much of an appetite lately.”
“Oh.” He finished it off and wiped his hands on his trousers. “You, uh...you wanna dance?”
The band was playing Winter Wonderland and the dance floor was swarming with revelers, dressed to the nines, dancing, laughing, drinking.
“Uh...sure. I suppose we should.”
He dovetailed his fingers with hers and drew her into the swirling throng. When he found a vacant patch of floor, he turned to face her and posed for a waltz. She slid into his embrace.
The room was dimly lit and she wondered how they would be able to distinguish Mulder’s shadow entities from all the real shadows. “Where’s your source?”
“My what?” He missed a step; a chevron of confusion appeared on his brow.
“Oh! Him.” His smile returned. “He’s around somewhere. It’s still early.”
He moved with fluid confidence, holding her lightly, keeping a gentlemanly distance between them.
“You’re a pretty good dancer,” she said, surprised to find herself relaxing in his easy embrace.
“I had a lot of practice at debutante balls on the Vineyard.” He waggled his brows. “How about you? Where did you learn?”
“Dad taught me. He claimed it was an essential skill for every officer’s wife.”
“Ah, he had traditional hopes for your future.”
“I suppose, although he always supported my decision to go into medicine.” Winter Wonderland transitioned into Let It Snow. Mulder didn’t miss a beat as he led her backward, swaying gently to the music. “Dad was proud of my accomplishments...”
“Do I hear a ‘but’?”
“I think there was always a part of him that wanted me to marry a Navy man and become a homemaker and mother.”
Nodding, he drew her a fraction of an inch closer.
The fabric of his coat tickled her arm where she held his shoulder. She thought she caught a whiff of his aftershave when he suddenly sidestepped around an encroaching couple. The intruders turned out to be Kersh and a lab assistant from forensics.
Kersh nodded politely. “Agents.”
“Sir.” Mulder veered away to put some space between them.
Scully kept her eye on Kersh. “He’s watching us.”
“You’re imagining it.”
“No, I’m not. He’s looking at us right now.”
Mulder twirled them, swapping positions so that he faced Kersh. “Nope. You’re wrong. He’s staring at Skinner’s secretary’s ass. Actually, I think he’s staring at Skinner’s ass.”
She smiled in spite of herself, until she spotted another set of prying eyes. “Isn’t that the agent who was in the bullpen at the end of the day yesterday?”
“Dancing with Jennifer from accounting.”
“Who’s Jennifer from accounting?”
“The leggy blonde with the tight red dress and fake beauty mark.”
He nodded when he finally spotted her. “What about her?”
“Nothing about her. The guy with her. Wasn’t he the agent who was listening to us talk about our case, which isn’t really a case because we don’t work on the X-Files anymore?”
Mulder chuckled. “Scully, no one is watching us, particularly that guy with whoever-from-accounting.”
“But...aren’t you worried about Kersh finding out--”
“Kersh doesn’t know why we’re here. No one does. Just enjoy the dance, Scully.”
Mulder began humming It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, although the band was now playing Silver Bells. The disparity muddled Scully’s thinking. Or maybe it was Mulder’s proximity that had her missing steps. He was holding her closer than before and she was certain she could smell his aftershave now. It had a spicy, masculine aroma, which began to make her feel a bit dizzy.
“Shouldn’t we be looking for Shadow People?” she asked, trying to focus on business.
“Didn’t I tell you? They don’t come out until midnight.”
“Midnight?” She drew back to scowl at him. “That’s three hours from now.”
“And your point would be...?”
“Why are we here so early?”
“Because it would look a bit suspicious if we showed up at 11:55.” Again he narrowed the gap between them. He leaned so close she could no longer see his face. “Did I mention you look nice?” he murmured.
“Uh...thank you...yes, you did...back at the--”
She felt his palm skim her back as he gently fingered the velvety fabric of her gown. “I like this dress. What color would you say it is?” he asked.
“Hm. That’s interesting.”
“Why is that interesting?”
“A ‘green gown’ is a metaphor for a ‘tousle in the new-mown hay.’ It means ‘to go beyond the bounds of innocent playfulness.’”
Leave it to Mulder to turn her choice of gown into an innuendo. “According to whom?”
“The Canting Dictionary.”
“The Canting Dictionary?”
“It’s an archaic collection of thieving slang, used by beggars, Gypsies, cheats, house-breakers, highwaymen, et cetera.”
“Remind me never to play Trivial Pursuit with you.”
Again he chuckled, waltzing her backward, hugging her to his chest. Their bodies now connected from breastbone to knees, but instead of feeling uncomfortable about it, she found herself lulled by the warmth and sway of his body...and a little excited by the friction of his leg nudging between hers. His breath tickled her bare shoulder and his palm heated her fingers where he held her hand. His other hand caressed the small of her back in a most unprofessional but incredibly hypnotic way. She found herself almost forgetting why they were here, distracted by the attractive scent of his aftershave, the faint taste of coconut and chocolate still on her tongue and the incredible calm that was softly descending on her like new fallen snow.
“Mulder, are you sniffing my neck?” She pulled back and caught him mid-whiff.
“You smell nice. Is that a new perfume?”
He wasn’t acting like himself at all, but then neither was she. “Mulder, what is with you tonight?”
“T’is the season for magic and miracles, Scully. I’ve got the Christmas spirit.” As if to prove his point, he burst into song. “Santa Claus is coming to town--”
“Shhh! And please don’t tell me you still believe in Santa Claus.”
The band began to play O Come, All Ye Faithful, and Mulder changed the rhythm of their dance. “You know me, Scully, I’ll believe almost anything. And you have to admit the legend of Santa Claus is rife with paranormal phenomena. Think about it. Flying reindeer. Magic sleigh. A portly man who can slide down several million chimneys in one night quicker than Eugene Tooms. I’m thinking bilocation.”
“Could be his elves shape-shift into Santa look-alikes to help him out.”
“That’s a creepy idea.”
“I’ve never told anyone this, Scully,” -- a playful glint lit his eyes -- “but I was always a little creeped out by Santa’s elves. Not in an aliens-from-outer-space kind of way or even a creepy-clown way, but in the small, pointy-eared men living with an old fat guy at the North Pole kind of way. Know what I mean?”
“Thank you so much for that image. I’d never really thought about it quite that way before.” She leaned into him, content to listen to his silly confessions while he rocked her in his arms. “Since we’re divulging our deepest, darkest secrets, I always found the fable about Frosty the Snowman a bit frightening.”
“What do you mean ‘fable’?” he said with mock horror. “You don’t believe Frosty’s old, silk hat was magic?”
“Of course not. Magic is an illusion...nothing but sleight of hand and parlor tricks.”
He suddenly whirled her, making her laugh, despite herself. “I don’t suppose you’d be willing to entertain the notion that Frosty was brought to life by the power of positive thinking?”
They slowed and she caught her breath.
“That’s a nice idea, Mulder, but optimism, faith, wishful thinking...they can’t spark life where there is none.”
An image of Emily rose unbidden in her mind. It struck her that this was the first time she’d thought about her daughter since spotting Mulder out in the lobby.
“Children say he could laugh and play just the same as you and me.” Mulder tucked her hand against his chest, placing her right palm directly over his heart. “Feel that, Scully? Thumpitty-thump-thump, thumpitty-thump-thump.”
She did feel it, a soft pulse beneath his starched shirtfront.
My God, she could feel it...and smell his aftershave...and taste the sweetness of the petit four. It was as if she were waking from a year-long sleep to find her senses finally restored. Like the essences of Mulder’s Shadow People, returning from their dark wanderings back to the bodies where they belonged.
Teetering on a tightrope of emotion, she decided to confide her feelings. It wasn't something she would normally do, especially with Mulder, but maybe this night was magical, like he'd said. “Mulder...this year has been hard for me--”
“I can’t help thinking back to last Christmas--”
“When Emily was--”
“Scully, I *know*.”
She looked up to find him gazing at her with sorrow-filled eyes.
“I know what it’s like to lose someone close to you,” -- his voice wavered -- “someone you love.”
Of course he did. Samantha. He’d been living with the grief of his sister’s abduction for decades.
His head dipped and she felt his cheek graze her ear.
“I once lost you,” he murmured. “Remember?”
He hadn’t been referring to Sam? He’d been talking about *her*? Her throat tightened. The band began to play The Christmas Song and to keep from crying, she focused on the lyrics: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...
Chestnuts... Chester Nutt...
Mulder had arranged this evening...for her sake!
She gripped him more tightly. “There never really was a Chester Nutt, was there? You made him up.”
“I did,” he admitted, looking contrite.
“You couldn’t think of a better name than that?”
“Sometimes the most ridiculous lies are the most believable.”
“But why did you feel you had to lie at all? Why didn’t you just ask me to the dance?”
“Would you have said yes?”
He put his lips to her ear and whispered, “Well, there you go.” Wrapping both of his arms around her, he rested his chin on the crown of her head. His words vibrated against her brow when he spoke. “I-I couldn’t think of an appropriate gift to give you this year, Scully. Everything seemed so trite compared to...to all you’ve lost. So I thought maybe I could give you a little peace of mind, if only for an hour or two.”
“Oh, Mulder.” She felt her tears return, but this time they were tears of appreciation.
He’d given her much more than he realized. His thoughtful gesture had helped her regain her lost sense of self and she could feel her spirits lifting for the first time in weeks. Suddenly she felt prepared to tackle her Christmas shopping and celebrate the holidays with her family. Maybe she would buy him a gift, too, to hell with their earlier agreement.
She snaked both arms around his waist, not caring who might see her display of affection. “Do *not* call me tomorrow with another bogus case. I’ve got shopping to do.”
“Bogus case?” He kissed her hair. “Admit it. Chasing shadows is preferable to running from them.”
Yes, it was. She nestled into his embrace, grateful beyond words for his friendship.
“Merry Christmas, Mulder.”
“Merry Christmas, Scully.”
Author's notes: This story was written in response to Haven’s “Guilty Pleasures” November fic challenge.
A voyeur or an act of being voyeuristic -- Was Kersh watching them?
A search for something, someone, or a telling of a search -- searching for Chester Nutt’s photo, Shadow People, Scully’s gown, and her lost sense of self.
A fear of clowns -- and aliens and elves and Frosty the Snowman!
A stalker -- the title of the fic: The Case of the Christmas Stalking-Horse.
I consider “The Case of the Christmas Stalking-Horse” a pre-ep to “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas.” Remember the scene at the end of that ep when Mulder says to Scully, “Now, um...I know we said that we weren’t going to exchange gifts but, uh...I got you...a little something.” Lots of authors have written fics about the mystery gifts that our heroes exchanged and opened with such childlike enthusiasm. But as far as I know, no one has written about the moment when Mulder and Scully agreed not to exchange gifts in the first place. Sooooo...this was my take.
Feedback, good or bad, is welcome on this or any of my stories. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.