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26 September 2012 @ 05:23 pm
Another old fic being archived.  
Title: A Midnight Clear
Chapter: 1/1
Author: inlaterdays
Rating: PG
Characters: Mulder/Krycek, Scully
Words: ~1400
Genre: Holiday Vignette
Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine.
Summary/Author’s Note: Set post-IWTB, in 2009. Originally written for the Nick Lea Holiday Zine 2009.

They had developed their own Christmas Eve traditions, he and Scully. Some were mutual - wrapping gifts, making eggnog - and some were done separately. Scully usually drove into town for Midnight Mass, but not this year; the truck needed a new battery and was stalling in the cold. Mulder always held his vigil.

Scully put the finishing touches on a gaily-wrapped package and placed it beneath the tree. Mulder had been silent for a few minutes. She glanced at the clock just as it started to strike twelve.

"Time?" she asked.

"Yeah." Mulder smiled, but his eyes were far away.

He stood up, stretched, absently ran a hand over Scully's smooth hair, and headed for the back yard, pulling on his parka as he went.

She watched him through the window as he left a trail of bootprints in the snow, his breath puffing out in tiny clouds. He stood still, gazing up at the stars, as he always did. There was a flash of light from the trees at the border of their property, briefly seen, then vanishing.

The reflection of a car headlight on an icy branch, Scully thought. She saw Mulder head toward it, cat-curious as ever, smiled, shook her head, and turned her attention back to ribbons and wrapping paper.
§ § §

...There was a flash of light from the trees at the border of their property, briefly seen, then vanishing.

That's odd, Mulder thought. He turned his steps in that direction, but stopped halfway. He'd gotten distracted; had almost forgotten - for a second - the reason he was out there. Not that he ever could forget for very long. Not that he wanted to - ever.

He stopped in the middle of the broad, snowy expanse of lawn and turned his face up to the heavens. It was a beautiful winter night, cold and clear, the stars visible in abundance. He craned his neck, looking up, looking out.

I want to believe so badly in a truth beyond our own, hidden and obscured from all but the most sensitive eyes.

In the endless procession of souls, in what cannot and will not be destroyed.

"Merry Christmas, Samantha," he whispered to the Infinite, just as he did every year, and for a moment, it seemed to him that the stars burned a little brighter.

That odd flash of light came from the trees again, teasing at the corner of his vision. Mulder continued towards it, shoving his hands deeper into his parka pockets and wishing he'd worn gloves.

He crunched through the snow, coming up on the stand of trees, mind automatically running through legends and folklore regarding Christmas Eve. Of course there was some rational explanation, but he couldn't help thinking what if? In his experience, the mundane was no less likely than the marvelous.

A dark shape flitted between two trunks.

"Hey there," Mulder said, conversationally. "This is private property."

"Yeah," a husky voice said from the darkness. "I know." A flashlight was turned on, a once-familiar face exposed. There was an odd feeling of inevitability to the encounter.

Mulder rocked back on his heels, trying to act unsurprised, though his heart felt like it was beating double time. "Well, well," he said. "The Ghost of Christmas Past."

Krycek laughed, stepping closer. "Not quite."

"Heard you were alive," Mulder said. "Read it online. Didn't quite believe it. I don't suppose you're going to explain?"

"I don't suppose I am. Since when do you rely on Wikipedia - "

Mulder interrupted. "Nor how it is that you happen to be in my backyard?" His hands balled into fists at his sides reflexively. Stay calm, he told himself.

"That I will explain." Krycek shut off the flashlight, leaving them both silhouetted in the starlight. "I've come to warn you."

"Oh," Mulder said. "Of course."

Krycek frowned. "The rumors about you were right, too. You have gone off mission. You've forgotten."

"Gone off what mission?" Mulder exploded. "Forgotten what? The invasion? 2012? It's a joke. It's an internet meme now. No one cares any more, Krycek. No one believes."

"Not even you?"

"It doesn't matter what I think. I'm one man, and I'm crazy. Washed up. Out of the business."

Krycek gave a short, harsh bark of laughter. "You'll never get out."

Mulder turned on his heel. "Go talk to Skinner."

"You can't walk away from this forever, Mulder."

"Watch me."

Krycek's hand landed on his shoulder, triggering long-dormant reflexes; Mulder spun around, tackling him and pinning him against a tree. Krycek dropped the flashlight.

"They won't let you walk away," Krycek muttered, squirming.

"I don't believe in them any more."

"That's a lie."

"I don't care."

Krycek's breath was coming in angry hisses; he was pinned between Mulder's arm and a tree branch. "I'm on your side, you idiot. I always have been."

"I heard that too. Didn't quite - "

"Shut up." Krycek, tired of the eternal game, changed tactics. He grabbed the back of Mulder's head with his good arm, stopped trying to twist away, and pulled him closer. For an instant the two men stood pressed together, heartbeat to heartbeat, faces an inch away. Intense green eyes stared directly into uncertain hazel. "You know you believe," Krycek said. "Maybe you can lie to yourself, but you can't lie to me."

Mulder scowled. Krycek's leather glove felt warm against his cold scalp. "What are you - "

"I said shut up." Krycek pulled him closer still. He waited until Mulder's tense muscles relaxed for an instant, then drew him in tightly and kissed him, hard, on the lips. He felt Mulder go rigid again, before relaxing more fully and returning the kiss with interest.

Mulder's senses felt heightened; he was intensely aware of the scent of pine needles, the sparkle of moonlight on snow, and the aching contrast between the cold night air and Krycek, warm and wild against him. He bit Kryck's lip, suddenly full of the passion, joy, and sorrow this man's presence always brought. Sorrow for times past and time wasted, joy for a hint of rekindled hope for the future, and passion for a sense of no time left to lose. And somewhere in the cascade of emotion, a realization and a promise to himself.

That's it, Krycek thought, sensing the change in Mulder's body language. It's time to stop lying to yourself at last.

"I hate you," Mulder said, breathlessly, when he finally broke away. "I hate you so much." But the tracks of frozen tears were gleaming on his cheeks.

"I can tell." Krycek smiled and released him. Mulder stayed in place for an instant before taking one step back, regretfully.

Krycek reached his hand into the depths of his own parka, pulled out a battered-looking manila envelope, and passed it across, wordlessly.

"What is it?"

"A Christmas present. Orders, and information. About that thing you didn't believe in."

"Oh, that. Santa Claus."

Krycek gave a throaty chuckle. "Yeah, that."

Mulder frowned again. "Orders from whom?"

"Open it and see," Krycek said. "I'm not going to stand here talking all night. It's freezing, and duty calls."

Across the yard, Scully had opened the back door. "Mulder? Are you okay out there?"

"Yeah," Mulder said. "Duty calls for me too."

Krycek turned, but Mulder grabbed his arm, triggering a sudden wave of nostalgia. Alex, give me your keys. That seemed like several lifetimes ago. Krycek shivered.

"So," Mulder said, again trying to sound like it didn't matter to him at all, "Same time next year?"

"Sooner than that. Expect the unexpected."

"I always do," Mulder said, releasing him.

Scully called again from the porch, sounding worried this time.

"Coming," Mulder answered. He tucked the envelope into his own coat, stepped out from the stand of trees, and began trudging back across the snow.

"I made the egg nog," Scully said. "It's freezing out there. What have you been doing?"

"Waiting for Santa," Mulder said, and laughed when she tsked at him.

A dark shape slipped through the shadows behind him. Mulder felt younger than he had in years. The world was once again full of the Unknown, glorious and terrible - and somewhere out there in the universe was his sister. Maybe.

He was never going to stop believing in miracles.