Title: "Christmas Surprise"
Scully, Melissa and I had been out Christmas shopping when we decided to stop by the Gunmen's Lair on our way home. I buzz the door and get a tersely worded "State the password."
"We've got Melissa with us. Open the door now or you don't get to see her," I reply.
Before the words are completely out of my mouth, the door is swung open by a beaming Frohike. "Melissa! How's my little love?" he asks reaching for the baby.
"Hello. We're here, too." Scully points out, amused. She might as well be talking to the wall. Scully stopped being Frohike's favorite female about three days after she gave birth.
"Excuse me, but did we change the password to 'Melissa's here'?" Langley inquires. "Because nobody told me that we did."
"Some of us will *always* open the door for Melissa," Byers responds, trying to take my daughter out of Frohike's arms and being swatted away. "Of course, if *you* don't want to see her. . ."
"Did I *say* I didn't want to see her?" Langley asks. He cuts off his computer and ambles over, smiling shyly. Byers has her by this point, but she reaches out and grabs Langley's hair and he gets a dopey smile on his face.
"Oh, look, Jimmy! It's the Mulders and they brought their baby!" a female voice rings out.
Yipes! Yves is here. I try to hide behind Scully, only to have her hiss at me. "Fox! Behave yourself! Yves is a perfectly nice woman."
"I don't react well to British brunettes, Scully. They bring up bad memories."
"Behave!" she hisses again, then turns to say in her normal voice, "Hello, Yves. How are you?"
"I'm fine. Oh, look how dressed up she is. Are you going somewhere special?"
"Hi, Fox," says Jimmy. I sigh. I've given up all hope that either Jimmy or Yves will ever address either me or Scully by our preferred names. They both refer to us as either "Mr. and Mrs. Mulder" or as "Fox and Dana". Trying to explain that only my wife and mother-in-law are allowed to call me "Fox" is fruitless. Trying to explain that although my daughter and I have the last name of "Mulder" my wife's last name is "Scully" is useless. Suggesting that they just refer to both of us as "Agent" hasn't worked so far.
"We've been Christmas shopping," Scully explains. "Melissa is dressed up because we were going to get her picture taken with Santa Claus. But she started crying when we put her in his lap, so we had pick her up again, before they had a chance to take her picture."
Damned straight I picked her up. My precious baby girl isn't going to have a reason to cry when Daddy's around.
"That's probably because it was at the mall, where there were lots of strangers around and it was noisy," Frohike says. "What you need is for Santa Claus to come to your house, where she feels comfortable. Luckily, I happen to be personally acquainted with him and will have him at your house whenever it's convenient for you. Is your tree set up yet?"
"Cool! You know Santa Claus?" Jimmy asks.
"We're getting our tree on the way home from here," I explain. "Why don't you guys - and Santa - drop by tomorrow afternoon about four?"
"All of us?" Yves asks.
"Of course. All of you," Scully confirms.
"Did you have to invite Yves and Jimmy?" Mulder grumbles once we have picked up the tree and are heading home. "I mean, Byers, Frohike and Langley are okay, but those two are a little weird."
"I happen to *like* Yves, Mulder. It's nice to not be the only woman around when I'm with you and the guys. I like Jimmy, too, as a matter of fact."
"Jimmy's okay as long as he sticks to discussing sports," my husband concedes. "When he gets onto other subjects, it makes me think maybe he occasionally forgot to wear his helmet back when he was playing football."
When we get home, Mulder struggles to get the tree set up and drag the ornaments down from the attic while I go into the kitchen and starts baking cookies for the get-together tomorrow. Melissa toddles back and forth between us.
As Mulder untangles yet another string of lights, he points out that perhaps we are imbibing our daughter with sexist stereotypes and that we should switch places, but I gives him my "look" and say, "Get the lights on the tree, Fox. Then Melissa and I will come in and help you put the ornaments on."
"Hey, did you know "Rudolph" is coming on TV tonight? We have to watch it in our pajamas. While drinking hot chocolate," he says.
"Why in our pajamas?"
"Because. . .well, because we *do* that's all. It's how you watch Rudolph."
"Okay, Mulder. We should have the tree all decorated and Melissa bathed and everything by that point."
Later that evening, we settle down to watch "Rudolph". I've even persuaded Scully to give Melissa a tiny bit of hot chocolate - well, more like lukewarm chocolate, really - in a sippy cup. When it advertises, Scully asks me, "Mulder, how is that you never dragged me out to look for The Abominible Snow Monster? Seems like he would have been right up your alley."
"Yukon Cornelius already has him, Dana," I point out.
"How come we never got to investigate any cases involving flying reindeer?"
"You never asked to see the flying reindeer file." She snorts at that. Maybe I'd better quit while I'm ahead and not tell her there really was a flying reindeer - okay, to be honest, it was a moose and he just sort of. . .hovered, rather than flew - in one of the X-Files.
When the show ends, I notice that Melissa and Scully have curled up on either side of me and fallen fast asleep. I expected it of Melissa; it's past her bedtime anyway. I carry her gently to her crib and tuck her in. I'm a bit disappointed that Scully conked out so quickly, too, but it's understandable, I suppose. She gets up early with the baby every morning and we've had a hectic day. I scoop her up and she mumbles, "Sorry, Mulder. Didn't mean to fall asleep."
"Shh!" I whisper. "You're tired. Rest." I had honestly hoped for a more. . .eventful end to the evening, but this is okay. The funny thing is, I know I could kiss and tickle Scully awake and she'd give me exactly what I want; sleepily, but happily. She's very generous that way. But I get almost as much satisfaction from simply being able to hold her as I would from making love with her. I settle down with her cuddled up against me and flick the bedroom TV on for some channel surfing. I watch college hoops for a while, then cut off the TV and go to sleep.
I wake up in the middle of the night with my husband whispering in my ear and another prominent asset of Mulder's poking me in the back. He's got me spooned against him, wrapped tight in those big, strong arms of his. "Hey, Scully! You awake?" he murmurs.
"I am now. Why?" "Just wondered, that's all," he mumbles. It's cute, actually, the way he gets embarrassed when he wakes me up because he's horny. I don't mind. It's usually because he's had some sort of dream about the two of us.
I rub my cheek against his and something that had been nibbling at the back of my subconscious mind hops to the forefront. "Fox, you didn't shave yesterday morning, did you?"
"No, I didn't bother. I figured we were just going shopping and to the tree lot, so it didn't matter. Why?"
"You've got beard stubble," I murmur. "You know what that does to me."
"Why don't you remind me," he suggests, his voice smug and sexy. "It drives me crazy," I purr, arching myself against him and wiggling my ass against his arousal. I spent too many years trying to deny the enormous sexual attraction I feel for Mulder. But that all ended on our wedding night. The man has a right to know that he's capable of driving me into a frenzy. It helps that I know he feels the same way about me, too.
"Why does it drive you crazy?" he growls, his voice a rough whisper.
"Because I can't help fantasizing about what that stubble would feel like against my breasts, or the inside of my thighs," I reply.
"You mean you don't like the way it feels against your neck?" he asks, his face against my neck while nibbling on my ear.
"That's nice, too," I moan. His hands have now moved to my breasts and I'm trying to simultaneously thrust my nipples into his questing fingertips and get his tongue into my ear. We succeed and I moan again.
"So, my darling Dana, you want to feel my face against your breasts?"
"Please," I reply. He responds promptly, pulling my nightgown over my head to bare my body to his gaze. He lowers his face to my breasts and tickles each of them in turn with his burgeoning beard, then sucks gently on first one, then the other.
When he finally raises his eyes to smile at me, his expression is warm and questioning. "Lower," I murmur, pushing at his broad shoulders. He wiggles down while, at the same time, lifting my legs and begins to rub his face against the sensitive skin of my inner thighs. He hasn't even touched me with his mouth yet, but I'm already beginning to pant.
Normally, oral sex isn't really that much of a turn-on for me. From what I've read - and from occasional conversations with my sister, years ago - I've gathered that most women apparently find it easier to climax from oral sex than from sexual intercourse. But I usually have my most powerful and pleasurable orgasms from actual intercourse, generally when I'm on top or when Mulder enters me from behind.
However, variety is the spice of life and, tonight, I'm craving his tongue on me. When my husband begins eating at me, I arch off the bed. I feel, rather than hear, the vibration of his laughter against my lower lips while he grabs at my hips to keep me still. I reach back and brace myself against the headboard. He keeps going and going, not letting up for even a moment and I finally come with a shriek of his name.
Lifting his face, Mulder gives me a grin and says, "Shh! You're going to wake up Melissa if you keep making so much noise."
"Shut up, Mulder."
He gives a huge mock sigh. "So now that you've gotten what you want from me, I'm expected to shut up and go back to sleep? You're a heartless woman, Agent Scully."
Before I know what's happening, I find myself on my back with Scully straddling me. "Who said anything about sleeping, G-Man? Just be quiet - or at least try to - while I have a turn."
Scully begins nipping and kissing her way down my body, stopping to suck gently at my nipples and run her tongue along my ribs. When she reaches my belly button, she dips into it, then pushes the waistband of my boxer-briefs down a bit to lick below it. Then, giving me that "naughty girl" grin that I only ever see under these circumstances, she slides my shorts off and takes me in her mouth.
Scully never fails to surprise me. I'd expected her to approach this like she usually does, licking me first then slowly taking me into her mouth. Instead, she practically swallows me whole in one gulp, getting me in deep and sucking hard. I groan. Stretching up, she places her fingertips on my lips and presses lightly.
"I can't be quiet, Dana," I murmur, my voice little more than a whisper. "Feels too damned good." She makes a purring sound in the back of her throat that I suppose is the closest she can get to laughter under the circumstances and the vibration, combined with the suction she's already pleasuring me with, almost makes me climax right then.
Instead, I yank her up and bring our mouth's together; realizing, with a bit of hazy surprise, that it's the first time we've actually kissed so far this evening. When we come up for air, I lift her on top of me and she guides me inside her. Holding tight to her hips, I plunge in and out. I like this position; I can grab Scully's ass, suck on her breasts and look at her beautiful face, all at the same time.
Also, I can last longer this way, which means that just as I finally explode inside her, I feel her internal muscles quiver around me as she experiences a second orgasm. Sliding off me, Scully cuddles up beside with her head on my shoulder and her legs entwined with mine. "Good night, Fox. I love you."
"'Night, Dana. Love you, too."
The next morning, I wake up to the sound of Melissa cooing from across the hall. Scully opens her eyes and murmurs "Just a minute, sweetie, Mommy's coming".
But I drop a kiss on her forehead and say, "You go on back to sleep, Dana. I'll get up with Melissa this morning." I take a moment to pull on a pair of pajama bottoms, then walk across the hall.
"Hi, Melissa. How are you this fine morning?" I ask as I enter our daughter's bedroom. I change her diaper, then lift her from the crib. She quickly toddles across the hall to make sure Mommy is still there, then looks at me and holds up her arms. I scoop her up and step over the infant gate.
We have gates at both the top and bottom of the staircase, to keep Melissa from climbing the stairs and tumbling down. Scully complains that they're a pain, because she has to unlatch them every time she goes upstairs or downstairs. I don't mind so much; my legs are long enough that I can just step over them.
Melissa and I go out to get the paper and let Elvis, our dog, in then I put some coffee on. We settle down on the couch in the living room and I read the front page and the sports section, while Melissa "reads" the ads I've given her by tearing them into pieces. Occasionally she tries to stuff a piece in her mouth and I reach over and remove it gently, saying "Paper is not for eating, sweetie." Finally, I figure that maybe she's putting the paper in her mouth because she's hungry and I go into the kitchen and start breakfast.
On weekdays, we usually just grab a piece of toast and a cup of coffee for ourselves, although Scully always makes sure that Melissa has a good breakfast. On weekends, Scully usually gets a bit more creative, making French toast or scrambled eggs or something. I decide to make pancakes. Now, I don't do a lot of cooking but the recipe is right here on the box of baking mix. How hard could it be?
The aroma of coffee and sizzling bacon eventually pulls me out of bed and down the stairs. When I enter my kitchen, which was sparkling clean when I went to bed last night, it looks like a tornado has torn through it. The counters are splattered with batter and grease, the sink is stacked with dishes and utensils, half the Sunday paper is on the floor and the dog is running around.
However, the table is piled high with bacon, pancakes, coffee and the remnants Sunday paper. "Look, Melissa! Mommy's here!" Mulder says in a tone of excitement he used to reserve for possible UFO sightings. Melissa starts banging on the tray of her high chair and they both beam at me. It's as if they were honestly concerned I might go someplace else, presumably by crawling out the window, rather than come downstairs after getting out of bed. I'm torn, for a moment, between amusement and exasperation.
Appreciation wins out, however. Mulder looks so proud of himself. I've got a sweet, sexy husband and a beautiful, healthy baby girl. . .why sweat the small stuff? "Did you and Daddy make breakfast?" I ask Melissa. She claps her hands in response and we sit down to eat.
"If you'll take Melissa to Mass with you, I'll clean up the kitchen while you're gone," Mulder offers.
"Sounds good to me," I reply. I always go to Mass and I usually bring Melissa with me; she's too young to understand most of what's going on, but I want church to be a place where she feels comfortable.
Mulder accompanies us occasionally, usually on special occasions like Christmas and Easter. I've never tried to force Mulder to accept my religious beliefs, but I send up a silent prayer every week that someday he'll receive the gift of faith.
The Lone Gunmen pull up in our driveway at the same moment we hear Melissa awakening from her nap. "You let the guys in," Scully suggests. "I'll got get Melissa back in her Christmas dress so we can take the pictures."
I note with relief that the only people exiting the van are Byers, Frohike, Langley and an elderly man dressed in red. Maybe Yves and Jimmy decided not to come. "Hey, guys. Who's your friend?"
"Ho, ho, ho! Don't you recognize me? I'm Santa Claus." I nod. Compared to the Gunmen themselves, an elderly man who likes to do a bit of method acting isn't really all that bizarre.
"Where's Melissa?" Frohike demands the minute he walks into the house.
"Upstairs. Dana's getting her ready for the pictures. Where are Jimmy and Yves?"
"They're coming later, in Jimmy's car," Byers replies.
The guys fuss with their cameras until, a couple of minutes later, Melissa and Dana walk in. I'm knocked breathless by the sight of them. I'd seen Melissa in her dress yesterday, of course, but I hadn't realized it was one of those mother-daughter sets. Both my wife and daughter are arrayed in matching dresses of midnight blue and they're absolutely beautiful. I've never really understood the intense desire some men have for a son, and I understand it even less now that I'm the father of a daughter. Everyday, I have the pleasure of coming home to not one, but two females who are always incredibly glad to see me.
"You both look lovely," I finally manage to choke out.
"Thank you. I thought maybe, if the guys didn't mind, they could take some family pictures of us after the ones with Santa and Melissa." Turning to the elderly man, Scully smiles and says, "Hello, Santa Claus? How are you?"
Melissa clings to me for a minute, but then Frohike steps up beside Santa and she gives a gurgle of approval. It's not until I see them standing side by side that I realize why - apart from his truly remarkable resemblance to a greeting card Santa Claus - this man seems so familiar. He must be Frohike's father.
"I'll sit in that chair, with your Christmas tree in the background. Whenever she's ready, I'm sure she'll toddle over to me," he says.
Within a few minutes, Melissa has warmed up to the elderly man and the guys get a wonderful series of pictures of her with Santa. Then we take a few family shots. I've gone into the kitchen and am coming out carrying a tray of Christmas cookies and mugs of hot chocolate when Jimmy and Yves finally show up.
"We were beginning to think you guys weren't coming," Mulder says as he opens the door. I listen carefully to be sure there's no tone in his voice indicating that he *wishes* they hadn't come, but he sounds polite enough.
"Sorry we're late," Yves says, smiling. She sounds a bit breathless and looks really pretty. Instead of the black she usually wears, she's got on a bright red, Christmassy-looking dress.
"Yves persuaded me to go ahead and let her open her Christmas present early, since she's going to be visiting her family in England next week," Jimmy says, looking pleased with himself.
"What is it?" I ask, sensing that Yves is eager to tell me.
Yves smiles even wider and thrusts the hand that had been behind her back into my face. A solitaire diamond is gleaming on the ring finger of her left hand. I gasp and grab Yves and we hug and kind of jump up and down a bit. Normally I don't get this excited about other people's romances, but I'd been arguing for months with Mulder about the relationship between Jimmy and Yves. I *told* him I thought something was going on between them, but even I never expected it to reach this level this quickly.
"Oh, God!" Langley groans in the background. "Like having Mulder and Scully married wasn't bad enough? Now we have to put up with *another* pair of newlyweds?"
It's been a week since we took the Christmas pictures. We have several displayed on our mantel at home, have sent e-mail copies to everyone we've ever met, including Morris Fletcher, and have a framed, wrapped 8x10 under our tree to give to Maggie as an extra present when we go over to her house for Christmas dinner tomorrow afternoon.
Of course, I've also spent the last week being teased unmercifully by my beautiful wife for the facts that, first, I didn't realize "Santa" was Frohike's father until he told me so and, secondly, I had been of the opinion that nothing was going on between Yves and Jimmy other than maybe some mild flirtation. If I didn't love her so much, Scully would get on my nerves sometimes.
As it is, however, whenever her comments about "Gosh, I wonder what Santa's up to today" or "They're just friends, huh, Mulder?" begin to get to me, I shut her up with a kiss. Sometimes, given the blissful look of happiness on her face every time I do so, I think she deliberately says the stuff simply to provoke that response. Not that it's necessary. I'm happy to kiss her whenever she wants; all she has to do is ask.
Now it's Christmas Eve and a light snow is falling. I've been trying to figure out the last piece of a profiling puzzle and, as a result, I'm one of the last agents to leave the building. I should have just enough time to get home and pick up Dana and Melissa so we can attend Christmas Eve Mass.
Except that my car won't start. I try for a full ten minutes, but absolutely nothing is happening. I have no idea why, either. I like to think of myself as a fairly masculine type of guy - I enjoy beer and sports and sex and, as a testosterone-laden bonus, I've got a profession that requires me to be fairly proficient with firearms. But cars are something I know absolutely nothing about. Other than how to drive them and where to put the gas in, they're such a complete mystery to me that the X-Files are clear as crystal in comparison.
I sigh. Guess I'll have to call Scully to come over and pick me up. Of course, that will mean we'll miss Mass and I hate to think of her being out on the road with Melissa in the snow. Maybe I could call the gunmen to run me home instead.
While I'm musing over my options, a bright red pickup truck pulls up beside me. "Having a problem, Fox?" I look up with a start. It's Frohike's father, complete with his Santa Claus suit. Guess he's on his way to a party or program of some sort. Frohike confided that his father supplements his retirement income at this time of year by taking advantage of his natural resemblance to Santa.
"My car won't start," I admit. "Is there any way you could give me a lift home?" "Well, this is a busy night for me," he replies. "But, sure, if we can leave right now I can get you there before I have to take care of my other duties."
"Thanks," I say, climbing in. During the ride home, he mostly sings Christmas carols. Well, 'tis the season I suppose. He drops me off with a wish that I have a Merry Christmas, and drives off through the falling snow.
Christmas Eve Mass was a lovely experience. We took Melissa up to look at the nearly life-sized Nativity scene set up at the foot of the altar and I patiently explained who all the statues represented. Mulder even supplied the names of the Three Kings.
Now, she's been put to bed and Mulder and I have finished playing Santa Claus for tonight. He collapses with a tired grin into the easy chair and pats his thigh. "Come tell me what you want for Christmas."
I climb eagerly into his lap and nibble lightly on his neck. "I've already got everything I could possibly want," I assure him. "A handsome husband, an adorable daughter and a reasonably well-behaved dog; for the first time in years, I even have one of my siblings living near me, which is nice."
Mulder gives a grunt at that. Bill Junior was recently transferred to Annapolis to teach there for a three-year tour, beginning this semester. We've only actually seen him three times; once at their place, once at ours and once at Mom's, but we'll all be together all day tomorrow. Bill really hasn't been too much of a problem. I think Melissa helps a lot; as the father of two boys, he's fascinated by our baby girl.
"I know what I want for Christmas," Mulder murmurs.
"What's that?" I ask, playing along, but I'm not in much doubt. I don't think that's a jumbo-sized candy cane poking me in the hip!
"I want to watch you come, right here in the glow of the Christmas tree and the firelight," he says, his voice low and sexy. "Then I want to carry you upstairs and have my turn."
"Okay," I agree, softly. Mulder's a big proponent of equal rights - in bed as well as in the office. I've tried to convince that if, say, one time out of ten he experiences an orgasm and I don't, it doesn't mean he's a failure as a lover, but he's a bit of a perfectionist in that regard. No matter how powerful his physical release is, he's not satisfied on an emotional level unless I come too. . .preferably before he does.
I kiss Scully slowly, taking the time to savor the peppermint flavor on her tongue - she must have snuck a candy cane when we were filling up Melissa's stocking. Then I smile into her eyes as my fingers find the tiny buttons at the front of her nightgown and begin to unbutton it.
I know Scully can get a bit embarrassed by the intensity with which I sometimes watch her while we're making love, but I'm very visual and she does her best to accommodate me. "I want to look at your breasts," I say, brushing my fingertips against her nipples. "I like the way they get all flushed and pointy when you're excited."
"Mmm!" she replies, closing her eyes as I gently squeeze first one breast, then the other. I slide my hand down to her thighs and stroke them softly. "Spread your legs for me, Dana," I whisper. She blushes but complies.
I take my time, kissing her, touching her, whispering in her ear how beautiful she is and incredibly happy she makes me. I'm getting harder by the minute, hearing my wife whimper and feeling that luscious little ass of hers wiggle against my leg. Finally, I dip my fingers into her and begin to flex them inside her. She grabs onto my shoulders and thrusts hard against my hand, coming with a low groan of my name.
As soon as Scully is finished, I scoop her up in my arms and climb the stairs. I don't even bother to remove her nightgown - in some ways having the bodice open and the skirt pulled up is sexier than sheer nudity would be - just lay her down on the bed, yank off my pajama bottoms and dive right in. Scully whispers "I love you," as I enter her.
I manage to get out "I love you, too" between thrusts and when I come, it's a doozy. But then, it always is.
This has been the best Christmas of my entire life. Of course, I've thought that about every Christmas since Mulder and I married, but they really do keep getting better.
Two years ago, I had the pleasure of waking up in Mulder's arms on Christmas morning, but also believed that the joy of watching our child open presents might never be mine. Last year I had the wonderful experience of celebrating the holidays with a beautiful baby in my arms, but I was still wiped out from having given birth just a few weeks earlier.
This is the first year that Melissa has been old enough to notice the lights and play with her toys. . .even if, with some of the presents, she found the big boxes they came in more intriguing than the gifts themselves! She's been toddling after her cousins all day long. Patrick is only a few months her senior, but Matthew is now a "big boy" of almost four.
Fox and Bill are even getting along remarkably well together. Mom bought them a joint gift - a foosball table. They debated a joint custody arrangement whereby the game stayed a few months at our house and a few months at Bill's but finally decided - much to the relief of Tara and me, as neither of us wanted the thing in the middle of our living room - to leave it here so they can play each other whenever we all get together.
Charles and Christa called on the phone. They're spending their first Christmas as newlyweds with her parents, but they said they'd try to make it up here sometime this spring. Charles, of course, had to loudly proclaim that he'd take on both Fox and Bill for the family foosball championship.
Finally, when Melissa is beginning to nod, we begin loading up the car. Not only do we have the usual paraphernalia of toddlerhood, we also have to try to fit in all the presents and and the various leftovers my mother keeps handing me.
"Dana, you know how I said I would never be caught dead driving a mini-van?" Mulder asks.
"I'm beginning to reconsider," he mutters, trying to shove one last box into our trunk.
When we get home, I unload the car as Scully gets a now-cranky Melissa ready for bed. My daughter's a delight most of the time, but when she's overtired and overly excited, I've learned it's best to leave her to Mommy.
I decide to give the guys a call, wish them a Merry Christmas. Frohike answers and after we exchange holiday greetings, I add, "By the way, tell your Dad thanks, again, for giving me a ride last night. Our whole Christmas Eve would have been shot if he hadn't helped out."
"What are you talking about?" Frohike asks. So I explain about his Dad showing up, seemingly out of nowhere, and driving me home after my car had stalled out.
"Mulder, I don't know who brought you home last night, but it wasn't my father. Langley and I were at his place from about noon yesterday 'til a couple of hours ago. I assure you, he wasn't out cruising yesterday evening. Dad's 81; the only places he drives are to church, the grocery store, the doctor's office and my Aunt Virginia's house. . .and even those places he goes only during daylight hours when the weather's good. He wouldn't have been out driving through the middle of Washington, in the twilight during a snowstorm, even if he didn't have guests."
"But then. . .who. . ?" I sputter. The old guy who picked me up knew my name and where I lived. . .and talked about Christmas Eve being a busy night for him. Was it possible he was really. . .?