New! Life Cycles 18: Beliefs by S.Proto
Date: Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Category: MSR (marriage) MulderAngst, MTlite!

Rating: PG13 for language. Be aware, it's brief, but it's nasty.

Spoilers: None necessarily…though one of my scenes may remind you of a story
line in season five. I leave it up to the reader to construe it the way you
want. <G>

Summary: Mulder takes his children Christmas shopping, and in the spirit of
the season, learns more about his son.

Archive: Yes.

Disclaimer: Fox Mulder and Dana Scully belong to 10/13 productions and Chris
Carter. Adam and Dawn Mulder, The Goldfarb family , and any other character
you don't recognize are mine.

Since I have learned to play nice in the sandbox, I am only borrowing CC's
characters and promise to return them at the end of the story. I haven't
earned a red cent for writing this tale, so don't please, don't sue.

More Author's notes at the end.

Introduction: This is the next story in the series, though if you have any
idea of the Life Cycles series, you might just be able to follow it without
having read number 17, though please do, if you can find the time. I kind of
liked that one too! <G>

You can find the series archived at my site, courtesy of the ever wonderful,
Shirley Smiley:

And thank you, Vickie, who I truly believe will always hear the bells.

Feedback: I'd love it! It's therapeutic!

Life Cycles18: Beliefs
By Susan Proto (

Part 1/2

Mulder wheeled the sleeping toddler in her stroller as he kept a vigilant eye
on the seven year old boy that half walked and half ran towards the
department store which carried his heart's desire.

"Daddy! Daddy, do you think Mommy has any idea about what I'm getting her?"
he asked excitedly for what was probably the fifth time since they'd left the
house for the mall.

"No, Adam," replied Mulder, "I'm sure she doesn't. Not unless of course you
let the cat out of the bag?" he teased.

"No! No, Daddy! I promise, I didn't say nothing! When I heard Gamma Maggie
and Mommy talking about the picture box, I didn't say anything to them. I
just told you; you're the only one I told!"

Mulder chuckled at the sincere tone of his son. He'd been saving his money
to buy Scully a Christmas present and wasn't sure until a couple of days ago
of what he should purchase. Scully and Maggie solved that problem when they
spoke aloud of a photo box that had a frame on its cover that lifted to
become storage for more pictures. Scully had mentioned that it would be
perfect to hold the children's more recent photos.

When Adam approached Mulder with as serious an expression that any seven year
old could muster, and requested a trip to the mall in order to buy his mother
the perfect Christmas gift, Mulder didn't have the heart to say no. Of
course, when Adam showed Mulder his 'stash' of eight dollars and seventy-two
cents, Mulder realized there was a pretty fair chance he was going to have to
supplement the payment.

So now they whizzed around the lower level of the mall in a frantic attempt
to get their shopping expedition completed before two-year-old Dawn woke up
and became her normal, cranky self upon wakening. It never failed that Dawn
wouldn't wake up with a howl and sob for about a couple of minutes, and then
would be absolutely fine after that.

But the initial cry was usually loud enough to not only wake the dead, but to
also draw a great deal of unwanted attention, particularly from unaware
strangers. Mulder, during the few times he had Dawn alone with him on just
such occasions, always felt accusing eyes upon him when Dawn would wake up in
her own, unique loud manner.

They found the small specialty gifts shop in which Mulder felt they had the
best chance of finding the photo box. When they entered, he told Adam since
this was his gift to his mother, he was the one who should take charge in
shopping for it. At first Adam looked surprised and perhaps even a little
anxious, but with a little urging from his dad, he walked up to the sales
clerk and asked where he might find the gift for his mother.

"What are you looking for, young man?" asked the sales clerk, who though
harried, couldn't resist the little boy, who stood before her determined to
be as grown up as possible in tackling what he perceived as a very grown up

"I'm looking for a picture box that holds lots of pictures in it, but has a
frame on its cover," he described perfectly.

"Well, I think we have just the thing over in the photo department. Why
don't you follow me, Sir, and we'll see if we can find the right one for your
mother." The woman led the seven year old who was now proudly standing up
much straighter than before as she led them all to the correct area.

"Here we are. I think you have three or four to choose from. I'll let you
look them over and then do call me if you need any help." Adam nodded his
head and said a very polite 'thank you,' and then went about looking at the
various choices before him.

Mulder, meanwhile, mouthed a clear 'thank you' to the saleswoman who smiled
her acknowledgment in return. Then he watched the younger Mulder as he
weighed the choices before him.

"How about this one, Daddy?" Adam asked as he pointed to a very ornate,
silver toned box with lots of ornamental decoration all over its sides.

Mulder consciously worked on suppressing the cringe he felt forming. It was
the most hideous thing his adult eyes had ever seen, but he could appreciate
how through a child's eye it was a thing of beauty. Now Mulder's dilemma was
how to persuade the child to make another choice without hurting his feelings.

"That is a beautiful box, young man," came a voice from behind Mulder. He
turned and saw the saleslady reappear, "but I wonder if it's the perfect box
for your home?"

"What do you mean?" he asked curiously.

"Well, this is a box that would typically be bought by someone who lives in a
mansion or a castle. Do you live in a castle?" she asked earnestly.

"No, no I don't," replied the child with equal sincerity.

"Ahh, I see, well, then I don't think this is the right box for your mother.
Hmm, let me think," she paused dramatically. "Wait! Young man, I believe I
have the perfect photo box." She reached up to the shelf slightly above the
child's eye level and brought down a photo box made of cherry wood. It was
simple and understated, but had just a bit of carving to appeal to the
child's eye.

"Well, young man? This box has a double frame on its cover. Why I do
believe it was meant for a mother with two children."

"My mom has two children! See? Me and Dawnie!" replied Adam excitedly.
"Daddy? Do you think Mommy would like this one better?"

Mulder had to work doubly hard to suppress his laughter. "Yes, Adam, I do
believe Mom would really love this box! I mean, she can put a picture of you
in one side and a picture of your sister in the other. I think you made the
perfect choice!"

"Okay, let's wrap it up, please. I got the money in my pocket." He began
taking his money out of his pocket, but Mulder told him to wait until they
got to the cash register.

After the saleslady rang up the cost of the box, Adam asked if he had enough
money to pay for it. Mulder was honest and replied, "Well, Buddy, to be
honest, no. You're a little short, but since it really is the perfect gift,
maybe I can kick in the rest so it can be from you and Dawn?"

"Umm, okay." When Mulder saw the child hesitate, he asked him what was
wrong. "Well, Daddy, would you mind if the box could be your Christmas gift
from me and Dawnie, too? I mean, I'm kinda wiped out now," he sighed.

Mulder managed to keep a straight face and simply said he'd be delighted to
accept this as his gift, too. He then proceeded to hand over three
twenty-dollar bills to supplement the rest of the cost and had the box
gift-wrapped as well.

Mulder hung the shopping bag on the back of Dawn's stroller. Both father and
son were still slightly amazed the child was still sleeping, but neither was
about to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Now as they approached the back end of the Mall, which was near the restrooms
(the next stop on their tour before they went home,) Mulder noticed what
appeared to be a large gathering of people. As they got closer, he realized
it was the North Pole display, with Santa sitting on his grand throne. Elves
were nearby to help with various tasks, such as dealing with squalling
babies, frightened toddlers, the occasional insistent, belligerent child, and
capturing it all on film for just ten bucks plus tax.

Mulder wondered if Adam was going to request a seating with the bearded gent,
when Adam made the comment, "I wonder if Santa brings presents to kids who go
to Hebrew School?"

Adam had begun attending Saturday morning classes at the Temple's religious
school that past September. He was learning about the bible stories and the
major holidays, as well as the Hebrew alphabet. It was something Adam had
been excited about doing, since his best friend, Jason, was attending it as

"I don't know, Adam," Mulder replied in a purposely open-ended manner. He
didn't want to influence the child one way or the other. He didn't want to
make him feel as though he couldn't sit on Santa's lap, but he also didn't
want him to feel obligated to do so either.

"Can I ask him, Daddy?" he asked in a small whisper.

"Sure, but we'll have to get on line with all of the other kids," he replied
lightly. This particular pitstop wasn't exactly a planned one, but he didn't
have the heart to say no to his son.

"That's okay, if you don't think Dawnie would mind too much," he replied.

They both looked at Dawn who appeared to be down for the count, looked back
up at one another and smiled simultaneously. "Nah," Mulder said with a
slight chuckle, "somehow I don't think Dawn will mind too much." Mulder
received an exuberant hug around the leg in thanks.

"Daddy, what's that? Are those the presents Santa gives out?" asked the
excited little boy as he pointed over to a display area.

"Oh, well, not exactly," Mulder began to explain, as he read the sign over
the dumpster display. "Adam, this is a 'Toys for Tots' drop-off. People buy
a new toy for unfortunate children whose parents can't afford to buy toys.

"Oh." The child stood for a moment and said, "Does Santa want us to buy a
toy for one of those kids before I can talk to him?"

"Well, I don't know about that, but do you think it might be a good thing to
do?" Mulder asked.

"Yeah," he said thoughtfully, and then excitedly added, "Daddy! It's like
what Rabbi Gerry taught us at our before class asephar. This is like
tsedakah, Daddy!"

"Okay, help me remember what those two wonderful Hebrew words are, little
man," Mulder replied with a smile.

"Oh, sorry, Daddy. Asephar is like our morning meeting or circle time, and
tsedakah is like __, like 'chattering.' Oh, that's not right!" Adam said in

"Charity?" helped his dad.

"Yeah! Charity. That's it!" the child squealed in delight. "The rabbi said
it was like doing a 'good work.'"

"Yes, I guess that's what 'Toys for Tots' is all about. I mean, it's like
the old adage, 'It's better to give than receive.' C'mon, little man, let's
go do some good work," said the tall man they headed toward the nearby
Kay-Bee Toys store.

Mulder instructed Adam to go pick out a toy that he thought a child might
like. In fact, he suggested he find a toy that Adam already owned and really
liked and to find one just like it. While the youngster did that, Mulder
asked the salesclerk if by some miracle the store had any Pokemon card packs
in stock.

"As a matter of fact we do, but we're limiting them to three packs per
customer in order to spread the wealth, so to speak," he explained.

Mulder nodded his understanding, as he'd tried for weeks to find some packs
of the latest fad, but had found it very difficult indeed. The one place
that did carry them was price gouging and had an asking price of over five
dollars per pack. Mulder simply refused to pay.

But now, as it was getting closer to the Christmas holiday, he felt he should
bear any expense and buy the packs for his son. In fact, since the child was
so willing to come into the toy store to buy something for another child, and
not once made a request for himself, Mulder decided to save two packs and
give the third to his son immediately.

If nothing else, Mulder figured it would keep him occupied with looking at
which cards he gained while on line for Santa.

"I found it, Daddy," said the small boy with the tousled brown hairdo. I got
'Guess Who' because this way if the child who don't get any gifts can't read
yet, he can still play this game 'cause you don't hafta know how to read.
Isn't that good, Daddy?"

Mulder agreed and then asked if he was ready to pay for it and go hand it in
to the 'Toys for Tots' campaign. Adam quietly nodded his head. The fact
that he was in a toy store, surrounded by millions of toys, (well it was
millions to the young Adam) and knew none of them were meant for him on that
day, made him feel a little sad.

As Mulder paid for both the game and the Pokemon cards, Mulder took out one
of the packs of cards and offered it to Adam. "What's this?" the child asked.

"What does it look like?" Mulder replied with a chuckle, knowing full well
Adam knew exactly what his dad was handing him.

"Why?" asked Adam impulsively, but with a big grin.

"Because I know it's better to give than to receive, and I felt like giving,"
answered Mulder, smiling.

"Oh." Adam's smile faded rapidly.

"What's wrong, little man?"

"I guess__," Adam hesitated for a moment or two, but then said, "I guess
maybe I should give these to the 'Toys for Tots', too. 'Cause it's better to
give than receive. Right, Daddy?"

Mulder was so tempted to tell the child it was okay for him to keep the
cards, but he knew if he did, the lesson would fall flat. Having Mulder
purchase the board game for the 'Toys for Tots' campaign was nothing like
giving up a coveted pack of Pokemon cards.

"Yes, Adam, I do think it's better to give than receive. I think this is a
very grown up thing you're doing," and he bent down to give his still little
boy a kiss on the top of his head.

Mulder stood back up to receive his change from the clerk when he realized
along with the few dollars was another pack of Pokemon cards. "What's this?"
asked Mulder quietly.

"That's the most amazing thing I've seen in a long time," the clerk said
softly. "I can't imagine a kid willingly giving up a pack of these things.
I mean, it was his idea; you didn't have to push him at all. Let's just say
I think it's better to give than to receive, too. Take this pack on me, then
he can have the three packs again, okay? Tell him Santa brought 'em."

"Thank you," Mulder whispered gratefully in reply. "Thank you so much. I'll
tell him a very kind Santa brought them."

And the family trio left the toy store, donations in hand, ready to stand on
line with the rest of the mall clients.

As they waited for the line to slowly (and that was very slowly) wind its way
down toward the holiday icon, Adam remarked, "Jason said he was going to see
Santa too, at his Grandma's house."

Jason Goldfarb was Adam's best friend and a classmate of his at the Temple's
Religious school, which they attended on Saturday mornings. Jason, his older
sister, Rachael, and their parents Leslie and Richard Goldfarb were all very
close friends of the Mulders. They were going to be spending the holidays
with Leslie's parents in Florida this year, and Mulder knew Adam was missing
Jason already.

"Do the other children from Hebrew School talk about visiting with Santa?"
Mulder asked cautiously.

"A little." Mulder waited Adam out. If the child wanted to discuss it
further, he would continue the discussion of his own volition. Mulder felt
uncomfortable pushing him.

"Amy Donahue says she visits Santa with her dad, but lights the Hanukkah
candles with her mom. And David says his mother lets him sit on Santa's lap
to ask for Hanukkah gifts. But nobody at Hebrew School gets Christmas gifts
besides Amy, Jason, and me."

"I see. So, it sounds like Amy's mom is Jewish, and her dad is not. Right?"
The name alone was a giveaway, but Mulder wasn't sure if Adam was savvy
enough to be aware of the differences in surnames.

"Yeah. I think so." The child paused a moment and looked almost reticent
about continuing. Finally, Adam said, "Amy says she's Jewish, but I'm not.
Neither is Jason."

Mulder remained silent; he sensed that his son needed to speak and work this
one out for himself as much as possible.

"Amy says your mother has to be Jewish in order for you to be Jewish. It
doesn't matter what your father is." Mulder's expression remained neutral,
but he nodded slightly to encourage the child to continue.

"I guess I'm not Jewish then, am I?" he whispered.

Mulder knelt down next to his son. He wasn't sure if this was the best place
to have this conversation, but since Adam brought it up, he figured now was
as good of a time as any.

"Adam, it's true that traditional, Judaic laws held that the religion of a
child was determined by the mother's religion. So, I guess technically, in
the conservative and orthodox segments of Judaism, you would be considered
Catholic, like Mommy, and not Jewish, like me.

"But Adam, you are part of Mommy and me; no, you're the _best_ parts of Mommy
and me. You are Mommy's inquisitiveness and Daddy's perseverance. You are
Mommy's seriousness and Daddy's silliness. You are the best of us, of Mommy
and me.

"And when we decided to teach you about both of our religions, then you
became part of Mommy's Catholicism and part of Daddy's Judaism. You are a
lucky, lucky boy to have so much faith and trust surrounding you. There was
a time when both Mommy and Daddy weren't sure what to believe in, but then
you were born, and you helped us find our faiths again.

"We both found our ties to God; the only difference was which house of God we
found Him in. Mommy found him again in her church, while I looked for Him in
the temple. You know, Adam, my very wise Nana once said, 'It doesn't matter
which house you find God in, just as long as you find God.'

"I'd asked Rabbi Ginsburg about whether you could be a Bar Mitzvah after my
own Bar Mitzvah. You see, I wasn't sure, Adam if it was allowed, because I
knew technically you weren't Jewish in the eyes of many Jews. But you know
what Rabbi Gerry said?"

At this point the little boy had become so mesmerized by his father's words,
he'd stood absolutely still with his mouth slightly open, hanging on every
word. He shook his head slightly in answer to his father's question.

"Rabbi Gerry said as long as you studied hard, and learned about your
religion and your Jewish roots as well as Hebrew, prayers, and the torah,
then he would be honored to call you to the torah to be a Bar Mitzvah. So,
Adam, if you keep working hard and want it badly enough, you can be a Bar
Mitzvah like your Daddy was," Mulder declared softly.

Adam stood quietly for another moment or two, and then asked in a whisper,
"Jason, too?"

Mulder nodded and said, "It's the same deal for Jason."

Adam nodded at this and then wrapped his arms around his father's neck and
hugged him tightly. Mulder knew this would not be the last of these
discussions. As Adam grew older and became more entrenched in the ways of
both Judaism and Catholicism, he would discover that at some point the two
religions would diverge and cause his son some conflict in his belief.

Mulder could only hope that by the time this happened, he would be adult
enough to be able to choose what he needed from both religions. Mulder hoped
he and Scully would be wise enough to guide him through those choices.

After their heart to heart, Mulder and Adam realized they had a little ground
to make up in the line, so they gathered their things and made their way up
closer to Santa Claus. Adam realized there were only two or three more
children ahead of him. He questioned aloud whether the baby that was even
younger and smaller than Dawn would want to sit on Santa's lap, or even have
that much to say. Mulder didn't succeed at stifling the chuckle on that

Suddenly, a pair of adolescents appeared at the head of the line. Adam
indignantly declared that it wasn't fair for those guys to cut in front of
the others. Mulder quickly shushed him, as he wanted to assess the situation
without endangering anyone on the line, especially his own children.

"Yo! Santa Dude! Wha's up, Santa? You gonna visit my house this
Christmas?" the taller, thinner of the pair called out.

"Boys, please, let's allow the small children to have their visit. Please,"
Santa calmly implored.

"But how come we don't get none of these fine looking presents, Santa?" asked
the boy's partner.

"How do you know you won't, young man?" asked the Santa cryptically.

Mulder smiled at the reaction Santa's question elicited from the boys. All
he could think was, ya gotta believe. But then all of a sudden, things began
to get tense and ugly.

"Don't be messin' with my head, Santa! Don't need no mind fucks about
Christmas, man!" shouted back the first young man.

"Please, there are children present!" pleaded a young mother with a child of
about three or four in her arms.

"Whatch you think, lady? You don't think that little pisser don't hear that
kind of word? Give me a fuckin' break!" he demanded.

"Daddy!" Adam called out while tugging at Mulder's pants leg, "Daddy, tell
him you're a special agent!"

"Adam, hush!" he admonished the child sternly. When he saw the frightened
look on Adam's face, Mulder explained in a whisper, "I don't want them to
know I'm an agent yet, Adam. I have to make sure everyone will be safe,
little man. Soon. I promise, soon." Mulder ruffled his fingers in the
child's hair in an attempt to smooth things over without calling too much
attention to himself.

"Now you listen here, Santa Man, we think we deserve a Merry Christmas, too,
ya know? So, what you say you just hand over some of those pretty new toys
for me and my friend here, huh? I think that's a damn fine idea! C'mon,
Santa, my man, give me some of that good Christmas cheer.

"NOW!" And with that order, one of the young men, the first boy, pulled out a
switchblade, and with the click of a button, and the hiss of air, the blade
was brandished about.

"Ohmigod! Please! You're frightening the children!" cried out yet another
of the mothers.

"Oh yeah, and I'm pretty damned sure it ain't just the little kiddies that
are shittin' in their pants!" commented the shorter, heavier set of the two
boys. "Oh yeah! That is the truth!" he cried out as he looked for a
confirmation from his partner.

Mulder kept reviewing the situation over and over. There were two agitated
young people but only one of them was holding a switchblade. He appeared,
however, to have no problem with waving it about while there was no one
standing nearby. Mulder looked down at Adam, who was now watching,
mesmerized with the choreography of the two perpetrators.

He tapped Adam gently on the shoulder and whispered, "Stay put and watch your
sister." Adam nodded solemnly and tightly grasped the stroller handle.

Mulder, meanwhile, inched slowly closer to the boy nearest him; the boy
waving the switchblade around. He felt if he could get near enough without
being noticed he should be able to wield the knife out of his hands. The
operative phrase was 'without being noticed.'

Just as he was close enough to seize the perp, there was a bloodcurdling
scream. The first impression of those present was that someone was hurt,
perhaps even cut. Mulder however realized immediately what it was; his
daughter's wake-up call.

Unfortunately for Mulder, the knife holding perp had no way of knowing that
it was only Dawn's odd manner of waking up from a long nap. The teenager
turned quickly in a startled response to the frighteningly loud scream. In
his own fear, the young man lost control of the weapon he held in his hand
and ended up swiping and slashing the first object in his path.


"OH SHIT, BOBBY!" yelled out the second boy. "Damn, Bobby! You cut him!
You cut him!"

"Shuddup, A.J. Just shuddup! Aw, man, I'm sorry. I never meant to cut
nobody. I was just trying to scare the Claus man, honest. Oh shit, mister,
I'm sorry!" cried out the now weaponless Bobby, as security finally showed up
and easily wrested the knife out of the boy's hand. Though the security
officers held onto the young perpetrators, they remained close by until more
assistance arrived.

Mulder had somehow remained standing all this time, but his hand found the
slashes the knife made in his stomach, and though he tried to stem the flow
of blood, he wasn't succeeding very well. Not at all, as the pool of red
that was forming at his feet well attested to.

"Daddy?" called out Adam.

"Dah? Dah?" whimpered a now fully awake Dawn.

"Oh, God, not again," muttered a now slightly dizzy Mulder. Although he tried
as hard as he could to remain standing for his children's sakes, he felt
himself slipping to the floor.

"Daddy!" screamed Adam, but as he never let go of the carriage handle once,
he pushed Dawn forward to rush to his father's side.
"Daddy! What's wrong?"

"Call 911!" someone screamed out.

"He's dying!" cried out another voice.

"Help him!" yelled yet a third panicky bystander.

"Oh, Daddy," murmured Adam as he grasped his father's hand. "Please don't
die, Daddy. We gotta have Christmas with Mommy and Gamma and Gampa. Please.
We got to have latkes this year, but now it's Mommy's turn. You know that!
Please, Daddy," the little boy pleaded.

Moments later a red clad being knelt himself down next to the fallen agent.
He looked first at the wound and then at Mulder's face. Mulder was trying
desperately to convey reassurances to his young son, but he was having little

He then looked at the little girl, who sucked her thumb in an attempt to
comfort herself while her real source of comfort laid on the floor going into

Next, the man in red looked at the young boy, who watched his father with a
face that expressed an odd combination of anxiety mixed with resignation. It
was as if this child had seen this before. He had experienced this type of
pain before.

And the old man knew this could not be. It should not be. Not now. Not at
this time of year.

"Your name, boy. What is your name?" asked the bearded man.


"And your sister?" he pressed.


"Well, Adam, it seems to me your daddy was trying to do something very brave.
He was trying to help me, wasn't he?"

"Yes," Adam whispered in a voice that was on the cutting edge of tears.
"Daddy's a FBI special agent. He's always brave."

"I see. Well, I think brave people should be rewarded, don't you, Adam?" the
soft spoken man asked.

"Daddy says it's better to give than receive, but Daddy already gave you the
board game, and I gave you the Pokemon cards. I know it's better to give,
but I want my Daddy now. Please, Santa, please. I want my Daddy to be okay
for Christmas for Mommy and Dawnie and me."

"I understand. Well, Adam, do you believe that having the Christmas spirit
can heal all wounds and make good, brave people such as your father healthy
again?" asked Santa.

Without hesitation, the small boy gasped, "Yes."

And do you believe enough even for your baby sister?" pressed the now smiling
old gent.

"Oh, yes, I believe," he whispered with awe.

"And your daddy, Adam? Do you think he could believe such an improbable,
impossibility truly can happen?" he asked with an even wider grin.

"Daddy? Do you believe?" asked the youngster who was not about to take any

"I want to believe, Adam. I will always believe in you, little man," he

"Yes, Santa, Daddy believes," replied the child with confidence.

"Then so it shall be," declared the jolly old soul as he placed his hands on
the painful belly wound until all that was wrong was righted and no trace of
the cuts and slashes were left.

Mulder closed his eyes momentarily, and for a second Adam thought something
terrible had happened but soon Mulder's eyes reopened. His eyes smiled
first; his mouth curved into one soon after.

"Daddy? You okay now?"

Mulder placed his own hand on the now mended, clean shirt and replied, "Yes,
Adam. I suppose I am."

He slowly sat up and then noticed his daughter sitting contentedly in her
stroller. Her lips were smiling around the thumb that remained firmly
planted in her mouth.

"Hi little girl," Mulder greeted.

"Dah-Dah," was the enthusiastic reply.

Mulder then looked at his son who was staring at his father, amazed and
grateful that they would apparently not be spending another holiday in the
hospital. The child then looked over to the man called Santa Claus.

"I was afraid you might not give me any presents," Adam began.

"Why would that be?" he asked curiously.

"Because I'm Catholic and Jewish. I got gifts from my Mommy and my Gamma
for Christmas last year, but I wasn't sure if you could give me one, Santa,"
explained Adam. "But you did give me a gift. You gave me back my daddy.
Thank you, Santa."

"Miracles happen all of the time, Adam. There was the miracle of the Lord's
only Son being born in a small manger. And Adam, did you know the Lord's
son, Jesus, was Jewish too? Seems to me if the Lord's son was Jewish, it
would be all right for Jewish boys and girls to receive gifts at Christmas
time if those presents were given and received in the spirit of the season.
Don't you?"

"Yes, Santa. Thank you," he said yet again and then the child reached out
and offered the familiar figure a loving embrace.

And suddenly the child was grasping at nothing with only the sound of bells
ringing in the air. Adam looked about with surprise and confusion, but he
then caught his father's eyes and began to giggle with relief and joy.

"Do you hear them, Daddy? Do you hear the bells ringing?" Adam cried out.

"I think it's time to go home and see Mommy," declared a suddenly exhausted

"But Daddy! Can you hear them? They sound so pretty!" Adam pleaded.

Mulder stopped and cocked his head to one side and then smiled. "Yes, little
man. I hear them."

"Hear what?" asked several of the people who had remained milling about.
"What do you hear?"

"I hear what my son hears. The sound of Christmas bells," Mulder replied

And the lovely fact of the matter was, he really and truly did.

End ( Feedback to:

Author's Note- A special acknowledgment to one of my favorite holiday books,
The Polar Express, by Chris van Allsburg for inspiring the final scene of
hearing the bells of Christmas.

Happy Holidays to old friends and hopefully some new ones! And a very Happy
and Healthy New Year 2000 to you all!