Summary: Scully is unsatisfied by Mulder's explanation of a mysterious phenomenon.
Ratings: Slash. M/K. (Well, I say it's M/K slash.)
Disclaimer: They ain't mine, though I'm not sure CC and 1013 would recognize them as theirs, either.
Christmas Tree Farm
Scully was already halfway through her coffee by the time she heard Mulder’s footsteps in the hallway. His pace showed no eagerness to reach the office, but she reserved her judgment until he actually appeared in the doorway.
Then, when she saw how pale he was, the dark skin under his eyes and the flatness of his hair, she spoke. "You look like hell warmed over, Mulder. Have you even been home yet?"
"No, I came straight from the airport," he said.
Scully bit her lip. "Mulder, I --" she began, and then she broke off as he sank into his chair and let his head drop forward. "Mulder…"
He lifted his head again and sighed. "Go ahead. Say it, if it'll make you feel better."
Even then Scully would have held her tongue if it had been purely a question of relieving her own feelings. But she had to make another effort, for his sake. "Mulder… it's always like this. Every time you come back. You wait, and you wait, and then finally you get that call and you go to him… and you come back like this."
Mulder was silent, looking away from her.
"Why do you go, Mulder?" Scully pressed on. "Why do you have to keep going?"
For a long moment she thought he wasn't going to answer. But at last he shook his head. "Because," he said. "Because… It's like Christmas."
"When you were little, your family, did you have live Christmas trees?"
"Yes. But --"
"Did you ever see where they come from, Scully? They grow on farms. People plant whole fields of them and raise them. And it's not just a one-year thing, either. They have to plant them five, six years in advance, some of them. Do you know why they do it?"
Scully shrugged. Her mouth felt dry. "For the money," she said.
Mulder looked at her with tired eyes. "Nobody makes enough from that to live on, Scully. They do it for Christmas. Because people should be happy on that day."
"All for that one day."
"That one day," Mulder confirmed.
Scully shook her head unhappily. "It's not the same thing, Mulder. It still doesn't make sense."
Mulder looked away again. "The scientific explanation is your department," he said.
Scully picked up her mug abruptly and drank off the rest of her coffee in one long slew of gulps. "The lab sent back the results from the Hialeah case," she said when she could speak again. "I think you'll find them interesting."
"On MacKay's rifle?" Mulder asked. "Oh, good, let me see them."
Scully passed him the folder and watched as he began scanning the thickly printed pages. The intent expression he took on while reading did not entirely erase his previous look of prostration. But it did at least take over the foreground, and that would have to be enough for her.