Title: Fight For The Future
Summary: Through Cassandra, Scully finds a way to save Emily.
Author's notes: Challenge, again! Thank you to: Scully, for a wonderful idea, and my beta readers, for all the time they spent on this... Dedicated to JD, just for being who he is.... :-)
Dana Scully unlocked her apartment door, trying to avoid dropping the stack of files and the pizza box she was carrying. When she had entered and turned to the light switch, she heard a sniffing sound originating from her living room. Files and pizza were forgotten when Scully turned into agent mode. She aimed her gun in the general direction of the noise and reached back with the other hand to turn on the overhead light.
Sitting on Scully's couch, covered in dirt and sweat, trembling from cold or fear or probably both, was Cassandra Spender. Scully dropped her gun as quickly as she had pulled it and rushed to her side.
"Cassandra? Oh my god, Cassandra, what did they do to you?"
Cassandra shivered uncontrollably. Scully reached for a blanket lying on the back of the couch to tuck it around her, then pulled Cassandra into her arms. "Cassandra, you're burning! You need to be in bed!"
Cassandra was so thin and fragile that Scully could easily carry her to the bedroom.
"No-o-o.... I ca-a-an-n-n't ta-a-a-ke away your be-d-d-d." Cassandra's voice trembled even more than her body.
"Sure you can. You need it more than I do right now. I'll sleep on the couch."
"They burned us, Dana! They burned all of them! And me too. But it just hurt... It didn't really affect me... Dana, what did they do to me that I ca-a-an li-ive through a fir-r-re that burns ev-v-veryone else to-o ash-shes?" Cassandra made an effort to speak clearly, but she couldn't keep it up very long.
Scully took off Cassandra's dirty, torn clothes, pulled a nightgown over her head and tucked her in. "First thing you need right now is sleep, Cassandra. We'll talk about everything in the morning." She smiled, "I promise."
Cassandra was peacefully asleep within minutes, but her peace didn't last very long. Scully was just preparing her couch with sheets and a blanket when she heard noises from the bedroom.
"Cassandra?" She hurried in and found Cassandra sitting up in bed, holding onto the comforter for dear life. Her eyes were as wide as her mouth, screaming, "Nooooooooo! No! Go away! Leave me alone!"
Scully shook her softly. " Cassandra, it's me, Dana. It's only a dream. They can't hurt you anymore."
With a start, Cassandra woke up and broke down in Scully's arms, sobbing uncontrollably. Scully also felt something else - Cassandra's hands were even hotter than before, and she was drenched in sweat.
"Cassandra, you have quite a temperature. I'll get you some paracetamol..." She stood up to go to her medicine cabinet in the bathroom, but Cassandra held onto her like a frightened child. Soothingly, Scully patted her hand. "I'll be right back, I won't leave you alone, don't worry."
She treated Cassandra's fever with paracetamol and cooling compresses, but when by 3 a.m. her condition had become seriously life-threatening, Scully decided that a hospital would be unavoidable. She dialed 911, and a quarter of an hour later, they were on their way. The EMTs had no more idea than Scully what possibly could be wrong. At the hospital, Cassandra was blood-tested and x-rayed - and the x-rays turned up something that frightened Scully even more than the ever rising fever. They showed a tumor-like organism growing in Cassandra's bloodstream.
'Just like Emily,' Scully thought. 'Maybe Cassandra has borne her. Maybe this thing is contractible by blood. I should tell Mulder. Maybe he has an idea, a source that could produce a cure to this... this... actually it *is* a disease, it kills them as surely as cancer or pox.'
She reached for her cell phone, realized with an annoyed groan that she had left it at home, and went to the nearest phone booth in the hospital entrance hall.
"Mulder," a sleepy voice greeted her.
"Mulder, it's me. I need you here a.s.a.p."
"Scully, do you know what time of day it is?" He seemed to fall asleep while talking.
"Actually, no. And I don't care either. Oh, and before you ask, 'here' is Georgetown Medical Center."
Now he sounded alarmed, "Medical... Scully, don't tell me your cancer..."
She smiled. Even in this half-asleep state he was concerned for her. She hoped he'd muster the same concern for Cassandra Spender. "Don't worry Mulder, I'm *really* fine. This is about Cassandra. She has the..."
"Cassandra as in Cassandra Spender?" he interrupted her.
"Yes, Mulder. She's back, she has survived the fire, and now she has the same thing that killed Emily." She swallowed hard at her daughter's name. Now he was alarmed. "I'll be with you in... twenty minutes."
He made it in fifteen, and as much as she tried to hold back, she couldn't keep herself from falling into his welcoming arms, sobbing as much as Cassandra had after her nightmare. "Promise me she won't die on me either. Promise me we'll find a cure this time. Promise me everything will be fine, Mulder..."
He didn't, and he knew he couldn't without lying, but he pulled her into a tight hug and softly kissed the top of her head. "We'll do everything we can, Scully."
She leaned back and gazed at him, tears stinging her eyes. A smile tugged at her lips, " Thanks, Mulder." She shook her head. "But what *can* we do?"
"You can dig up what you found out in..." he hesitated, "...in Emily's case, and start from there. I'll go see if the Gunmen can find out anything more."
"Mulder, what *if* we find a cure? If we can do it now, why not in Emily's case? I'm not sure I could bear the thought of having been able to save her and not doing it." She sounded troubled, desperate.
Mulder locked his eyes on hers. "Scully, you can't have doubts now. You can't afford them. Cassandra *needs* you. You're her only chance."
Swallowing hard, Scully pulled him tightly against her once more, then released him. "Go find out what this is about, Mulder. I know you can do it. I believe in you."
"And I believe in you." Now why did it feel as if he had just said 'I love you'?
In the meantime, Cassandra seemed to be in a slightly better condition. While Scully took more tests on her blood, Cassandra slept a drug-induced sleep that was supposed to lessen her pain, but did nothing more than minimize her visible reaction. She seemed to be in some kind of coma. Scully had to start at square one. Anything she had found out about Emily's disease prior to her death hadn't helped to prevent it, but only more and more justified her earlier decision not to let the little girl suffer any more.
But this time, it seemed to be different. The organism growing inside Cassandra's bloodstream behaved the same, but it wasn't as fast in killing the surrounding tissue. Scully consulted a biologist who stated that the Cassandra's body had by now accepted the organism, but that maybe, if injected into someone else, it could be perceived as a disease by that person's body and result in the production of antibodies.
"But you know it's highly unlikely to find a voluntary guinea-pig, Dr. Scully."
Her mind knew the risks, but her heart had already made the decision. "I'll be the guinea-pig."
Mulder came back with the news that if the disease could not be cured, it could at least be halted. But at that time it was too late for him to stop her. And as she had expected, he was *very* angry.
"What the hell were you thinking, Scully? It won't do any good for anyone if you also contract this thing, not for Cassandra, not for you and sure as hell not for me!"
But Scully was not to be convinced. "Mulder, if I can do anything to help Cassandra, do you think I can live knowing I could have saved her and didn't? Imagine it was me in that bed and you in my place." That effectively silenced him, as they both knew what he had indeed done to save her, nothing short of faking his own death.
Amazingly, it worked. Within a few hours of the injection, Scully's blood had produced enough antibodies to save Cassandra, Emily, and probably the whole FBI along with them.
In the meantime, Mulder had told her what the Lone Gunmen had dug up - the disease was heat sensitive, just like the alien retro-virus Mulder had once been infected with. It could be stopped by freezing the patient with a chemical they had encountered before - a freezing agent developed by the late Jason Nichols, and now finally synthesized by Lisa Ianelli, who unfortunately had moved to San Diego.
They wouldn't need it anymore, now that the cure was found, but Scully had another idea that took even Mulder by surprise. "They initially invented that stuff to make time travel possible, didn't they? Now it should be..."
"Mulder, if there is the slightest hope that I can save Emily, I have to take the chance."
"Scully, you're way too sacrificial for my good humor..." But he knew as well as she did that she wouldn't be able to look herself in the eye if she let this opportunity pass. "I'll contact Lisa Ianelli."
When they had the antibodies, it was only a matter of hours to create the serum. Cassandra responded to it even faster than expected. Scully was sitting at her bed, just welcoming her back to the world of the living when Mulder called.
"Cassandra, I'd love to stay with you, but I have a very, very important thing to do. I'll be back as soon as I can."
She met Mulder at the airport. "Mulder, I want you to take care of Cassandra a bit. She's doing better, but she's still..."
"Scully, you don't *really* expect me to let you do this alone?" He was incredulous.
"Mulder, I... there's no need for both of us to take the risk. I'd rather you..."
"Either we both go or none of us. I'd never forgive myself if something happened to you alone in... at that time."
They slept on the flight and reached Lisa's lab at 8 a.m. the next morning. Due to the fact that she herself had survived being frozen, Lisa was fairly easily convinced to help them, but the process of feeling themselves freeze was not a pleasant one. Scully felt like she was slowly turning to stone, while Mulder was reminded of his unpleasant state of catatonia when his sister had been abducted, but soon they felt nothing at all anymore.
Lisa Ianelli slowly unlocked the door to her office. Since Jason's death and her move to California, she had worked through each weekend and most holidays. She was determined to finish their work, if it was only to have a chance to go back and save him. She believed in the physical possibility of time travel, she also believed that the old man who had killed Jason had been his older self, but she still couldn't fathom the effects it might have on history.
Lisa turned on her computers, went to open the door to the lab - and froze. Not in the same sense the two people she saw standing in there were frozen, but her blood *did* run cold. She stepped in, quickly recognizing them - the FBI agents who had investigated Jason's death. She had no idea how they had gotten in there, but she'd have to take care of thawing them out. After all, it was probably her invention that had caused their present state.
Scully slowly regained consciousness. It took her quite some time to escape the blurry haze her mind had disintegrated into and recognize Lisa Ianelli leaning over her hospital bed looking down at her. She blinked.
"Lisa? What day is it?"
Lisa clearly seemed to be confused about the question. "It's Christmas, Agent Scully."
That evoked a relieved sigh on Scully's part. "You did it! It worked!"
"What worked? I did what?" Lisa's confusion grew.
Scully inhaled deeply and sat up. "Dr. Ianelli, may I congratulate you on the first successful journey back in time!" She smiled at Lisa's clueless expression. "We're from 1999!"
"You're *what*? It worked? It really worked!" Now Lisa was overjoyed.
Scully searched her nightstand and got out her badge that had been renewed just a few weeks before. It showed the date of May 17th 1999. Lisa could hardly believe it.
Meanwhile, Scully had something else on her mind. "Lisa, where's Mulder?"
"He's... uh... he didn't survive the freezing process quite as well as you." At Scully's shocked expression she quickly continued, "Don't worry, he'll live, he just has quite a bit of frostbite. You'll both be as good as new in a few days."
"But we don't have a few days! We need to be out of here by tomorrow, at all costs."
Lisa sighed. She had forgotten how stubborn those two were. "I'll see what I can do."
When she had disappeared, Scully looked around to find her partner in the next bed. She sat up and slipped into her shoes to take a look at him, only to discover that her legs were still a bit wobbly. To her utter discomfort, she didn't fall on her own bed, but on Mulder's, and of course he was instantly awake.
"Woo, Scully, you coming onto me?"
"Yes, and quite literally." She smirked. "You okay, Mulder?"
"I'm fine, it takes more than frostbite to get me down. You need a hand there, Scully?"
"Uh... no." She was still lying as she had fallen, across his legs on her stomach, and clearly couldn't get up alone. "Or maybe, yes. If you insist."
They passed the rest of the night making plans on how to get to Emily without anyone noticing that there were two of each of them, Scully sitting cross-legged on the foot of Mulder's bed.
"Tomorrow is the day you come to see me at the children's center. If I manage to catch you before you get there and you go in instead, it should work."
"Let me see if I get this right. You want me to go see your... younger self or whatever while you keep my younger self from doing just that?" Mulder's eyebrows climbed to his hairline.
"Hey, that's mine." Scully reached up to smooth his forehead. "But that's exactly what I meant."
Dana Scully smiled when her partner entered the room. She nodded at him, " Emily? I'd like you to meet a friend of mine. His name is Mulder. Remember, I told you about him?"
Mulder crouched down and smiled at the little girl. He bit his lip when he realized that for him, this child had been dead for more than a year. "Hi, Emily."
Emily didn't react. She was completely focused on her little painting of a potato. Mulder cringed inwardly when he remembered this very scene. "That a potato?"
"Mhmmm." Emily nodded.
Mulder suppressed a relieved sigh. Her first reaction. He made his best Mr. Potato head-face, and she laughed. "You know, I might get used to this..." he said, grinning at Scully.
She smiled broadly. "Never saw you as a father before, Mulder."
While Mulder took Scully back to her brother's, Scully had caught Mulder outside the children's center. "Mulder, Emily is probably seriously ill."
That much was true, but Scully really wished she had known it at that time - she might have saved the poor girl the ffirst time around. It was not too difficult to convince Mulder to take Emily to hospital, and the tests confirmed Scully's suspicions.
Mulder was eager to go search for Emily's origins, but Scully knew that *her* Mulder was probably doing just that right now, so she insisted that he stay with Emily while she started her research on a possible cure.
Finally alone in the lab, Scully sank into a chair with a heavy sigh.
Keeping their existence a secret was an enormous additional stress factor. Fortunately, she didn't have to worry about the cure too. After a few hours in the lab, she joined Mulder at Emily's bed. "How's she doing?"
Mulder turned his concerned gaze her way. "You were right, Scully. She's dying, and extremely fast. Did you have any luck?"
Scully had to make a great effort not to get his hopes up unnecessarily. It was still possible that the serum might not work. "Possibly. As the disease seems to be a part of Emily's system, I figured it should not be harmful for me. I injected myself with a small bit, and developed some antibodies."
"Scully!! You could have died in the course of that!" He was shocked.
"Mulder, if there is any chance to save her, I have to take it. Could you forgive yourself if we found out we could have saved her and didn't?"
He briefly hugged her. "That's not what I meant... I'm just... I just don't wanna lose you."
At that moment, the social worker appeared. "Miss Scully? Can I speak with you?"
Scully sighed and smiled, "Of course. What is it?"
The woman looked determined. "Miss Scully, we cannot allow you to make any more decisions for Emily. I know that you only want the best for her but..."
"Miss Chambliss, I have probably found a cure for Emily's current state. If you do not allow me to administer this serum, she will most certainly die."
"I'm afraid we'll have to hear court in this matter, Miss Scully."
Holding in a frustrated sigh, Scully excused herself. She went to the bathroom to call her partner. "Mulder? I've managed to keep your self here, but I need you to take care of the court matter with mine."
At last she was granted partial administrative powers for Emily and allowed to inject her with the serum, but that didn't solve the other problem - what would happen to Emily if she survived?
The next morning, Miss Chambliss turned up again. Scully was everything but glad to see her. She had slept in a hospital chair next to Emily's bed and had not yet decided what to say.
But the woman surprised her. "Miss Scully, considering that in strictly biological terms, you are Emily's mother, we have tried to find a compromise that would allow us to let you adopt her. Unfortunately, with your profession, this has been rather difficult. We have put together a few conditions you would need to agree to. If you can adapt to those, the chances for your request might increase."
"And those conditions would be?" Scully prepared for the worst.
"We need you to strictly cut back on your working hours. You should be home no later than seven p.m. on a normal workday."
"Done." This wasn't as difficult as she had feared.
"You need to find a person to care for Emily during your working hours. It can be a paid babysitter or a member of your family, someone you trust with her."
"My mother." Maggie would not be pleased to hear this, but she'd agree for her daughter's sake.
"Also you need to find someone who can be some kind of father figure for her. Maybe your partner..."
Scully gulped. "Maybe... I'll see to that."
"We trust you with your work, Agent Scully, but we need your mother and your partner or whoever you choose to testify that they will take the job."
"I'll see to that, " Scully repeated.
Shortly later, Mulder was back from the motel where he had passed the night. Scully prepared for a rather difficult conversation. "Mulder, I need to have a word with my mom. They want me to find someone to care for Emily during the work hours. And they want me to find a father for her..." She swallowed hard without meeting his eyes.
He surprised her by lifting her chin to meet her unsure gaze. "Want me to apply for that job?"
For a moment, she nearly forgot that this was not the Mulder she'd known for the last one and a half year, and flung her arms around his neck, "It's working, Mulder, it's working! I'm getting Emily back!"
"Back?" His confused question brought her back to reality.
She smiled and hastily added, "I already feel I've known her for her entire life, you know..." She quickly retreated. "I'll go have a word with Mom."
In the car, she called *her* Mulder. "I need to talk to you ASAP. You could send my self to talk to mom, that's where I told yours I was going."
Mulder sighed and sat back down on Bill's couch when he turned the phone off. She had sounded troubled.
"Who was it?" Scully asked.
"Oh... ah... my mom. She's a bit ill," he lied.
"Maybe you should visit her, " she suggested.
"Ah... no, it's not that bad. But maybe you should talk to your mom, she's mighty confused about the whole Emily thing."
"I'd like to know how Emily's doing first."
"Ah... yes. Let me call them." He punched in Scully's number, and a moment later had her on the line again. "I'm calling about Emily Sim. I'd like to hear how she's doing..." When he heard that the serum had worked as expected and that she was on her way to meet him, he allowed himself a relieved sigh. "Ah... yes... yes... thank you very much." Turning to Scully, he said, "They found a cure!"
"They found... oh my god, Mulder, she's going to live!" She was overjoyed. He picked her up and swirled her around the room, nearly knocking over the table.
"Mulder... what's wrong with you?" she giggled.
"Nothing wrong, I'm just happy. Now go tell your mother the great news!"
On his way to the car, he sighed. He hoped very much that his Scully would be just as happy one day. Just when he got out his keys, Scully pulled into the driveway. She ducked behind the wheel, and he quickly got in. A second later they were gone again. She drove a few blocks, stopped the car and turned to him.
"So what is it, Scully? You told me already that the vaccine has worked. What else?"
Scully bit her lip. It was just unfair that she had to do this twice.
"There is a possibility for me to adopt Emily, Mulder..." A small gulp.
"But that's wonderful, Scully! What's the problem?"
"It's not my responsibility alone... they want me to find someone to take care of her during the day..."
He had the same thought she'd had earlier, "Your mom..."
"Yes... and they want a father figure for Emily." There. It was out. Now the rest of the news wouldn't be as difficult to lay on him. "Miss Chambliss suggested you take that job..."
Mulder's turn to gulp, "Scully... I feel honored, but..." He stopped and took a deep breath. After all she had done for him during the last seven years, how could he deny this? "Of course I can do it."
She broke into a wide smile, "I knew I could count on you, Mulder!" She hugged him happily, and before he knew what was happening, she had kissed him.
She grinned, "Oops, I'm sorry, Mulder!" But her apology didn't sound all too sincere, and she didn't look sorry at all. "You know, all we need to do is convince my mom..."
But that was fairly easy compared to what awaited them afterwards - they had to set their younger selves up to meet again, but in such a way that they wouldn't realize they hadn't been together in the first place. After giving a lot of thought to the problem, they decided on the most simple, if not most secure method - hitting them over the head, dumping them in their car, and hoping that their memories would be blurred enough.
Then they visited Emily for the last time. The little girl's health had improved a lot, and even if she was not out of the woods yet, she was rapidly getting there.
Emily seemed to be glad to see them, and she talked more in those five minutes than in the whole time they had known her, but her last words completely took them by surprise. "Goodbye Mommy, goodbye Daddy!" Mulder's heart skipped a beat before returning to it's regular rhythm. He turned beet red.
Emily and Scully laughed wholeheartedly. Scully couldn't suppress a grin. "Stop that, Mulder, or you'll get high blood pressure!"
Lisa was reluctant to send them back to 1999, as they were her only proof for the feasibility of time travel. But they wouldn't be convinced to stay, not even her argument that they didn't have any freezing agent was successful, they had brought some from their time. Finally, she sent them back to the same point when they had left.
After the twentieth try, Scully threw her key to the ground and furiously banged against the apartment door. "What the hell did they..."
At this point she was interrupted by the opening door, and a sleepy old man gazing at her. "Do you know what time it is, young lady? You can bang on my door all day long if you insist, but please let me sleep now." He shut the door in her face.
Scully turned to her partner. "Your key doesn't fit, mine doesn't either, my apartment seems to be occupied by someone else, so what do we do now?"
"Try your mom?" he suggested.
With a shrug, she nodded. "Can't hurt."
Luckily, Scully still had her mother's key, so they wouldn't have to wake her - but the whole house was illuminated anyway. When they approached the door, it flew open and a young woman came running toward them, calling, "Mrs. Mulder, I'm so glad you're back! I'm so sorry, I really don't know how she does this! She's gotten away again!"
Ignoring the fact that she'd been addressed as Mrs. Mulder for the moment, Scully asked, "Who's gotten away?"
"Emily of course! She's been gone for the whole evening!"
Scully sighed. "C'mon, Mulder, I have a pretty good idea where she'll be." She went down to the cellar, and indeed there was Emily, hidden under the stairs. But upon seeing them, she came shot out, calling, "Mommy!! Daddy!! You're back!"
Mulder picked her up and turned to Scully. "Guess we're parents now, Dana."
Scully's surprised expression slowly diffused into a soft smile. "Guess we're *married* now, *Fox*!"
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