Title: Jessica's Secret

Author: Louise Phillips

E-mail: lovesfic@hotmail.com

Rating: PG

Category: S, MSR

Spoiler Warnings: Fifth season spoilers

Summary: Scully collapses at a pre-Christmas dinner and meets an enchanting child as she waits to see if test results indicate that her cancer has returned.

Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. They belong to Chris Carter, 10-13, Fox, and all of those people. I am just borrowing them for a while. No infringement is intended, and I am not making money off this.

Please send feedback! Special thanks to Lorrie, Noel, Goblin214, Tabitha, Catalyna, DayGlow Angel for offering to beta read my story. A Happy Holidays to the romantics. :) May we get the real present in the coming year.

Jessica's Secret

Louise Phillips

What had begun as a celebration of life quickly downgraded into a nightmare...

December 22, 1997
Margaret Scully's Residence

The Scully family had gathered with a select few of their closest friends to celebrate Christmas and the meaning of the holidays. The celebration of life both new and renewed, with Tara Scully close to her due date and Dana enjoying a second chance at life after her seemingly incurable cancer went into remission. The Christmas feast was being held early this year because Margaret was going to spend Christmas with her eldest sister, Katherine Reed, who was suffering from advanced lung cancer. Although she did not wish to leave her child and unborn grandchild, she was secure in the fact that she would have many Christmases with both.

Of the selected friends sitting around the decorated table, only one was invited by the only living Scully daughter. Dana's only guest was her partner, Fox Mulder, seated by her side. Mulder noticed that Dana looked deeply anguished at every mention of the overdue child. Although he could never ask, Mulder was certain that Scully had been informed of her infertility and was grieving over the children that were never to be. He had selfishly held the horrible secret for several months to protect her from undue emotional pain, not realizing that she already knew. Moreover, she seemed slightly bothered at another problem that he could not diagnose. Mulder took his right hand from the wine glass on which it rested and slid it under the table. His hand took Scully's left hand that was resting on her lap and gave it a reassuring squeeze. Although he was trying to be furtive, to stave off the speculation of her family and the suspicious nature of Bill Scully, the gesture did not go unnoticed by her mother. At that same moment, Margaret Scully had bent down to retrieve a wayward napkin and had seen the move from her position under the table. Her heart warmed at the though of the Christmases yet to come.

Once Mulder released his grip on Scully's hand, Dana slid her chair back and excused herself from the room for a few minutes. He had noticed that her face appeared to be slightly pale, but attributed this to the late night that two had spent over at her apartment wrapping gifts for various family members. Ever since Scully had been released from the hospital, the two had been spending more time together outside of work. He only wished that their new togetherness did not stem from such a threat to Scully's life. He never wanted to see her go through such pain again. Especially now he had begun to realize that his feelings of affection ran deeper than previously thought. Of all the gifts that he had bought that year, there was one gift she had not seen. His hand instinctively prodded his inner pocket to ensure that the small box was still there, as close to his heart as the intended recipient.

When Margaret entered into the dining room with the last serving bowl, she noticed the empty chair. "Where's Dana?" she asked in Mulder's general direction. (Fox knows, she thought to herself. Fox always knows. It's as if the two have some sort of silent communication.)

Mulder volunteered to find her. He approached the bathroom door, but the light was off and the door open. He turned on the light, but she wasn't there. Turning toward the hall again, he saw a light shining from beneath the last door on the left. Soundlessly, he reached the door and opened it wide enough to peek through. This room appeared to belong to her mother. Scully's tiny frame was stretched out on the bed, looking through photo albums. She was so absorbed in thought that she didn't notice Mulder until he sat down on the bed and placed his hand on her shoulder.

"Your mother is waiting for you to come down."

Her body shuddered in surprise. It took her a minute to respond. When she did, it was not his statement that she addressed. "Look at the picture of me standing with my parents. I was only three then. Can you see the love and pride in their eyes as they look at me?" Her voice started to waver and tears formed in the corner of her eyes. Her fingers took on a mind of their own as she caressed the picture.

After a moment of silence Scully resumed speaking, her voice taking on a faraway tone. "Mulder, there's something I never told you about my abduction, something I only recently discovered." She turned her head around so he wouldn't be able to look her in the eye. She couldn't tell him the news to his face for fear that his gaze would cause her to lose her composure. Mulder remained silent. "The last time I was in the hospital, I was put through a battery of tests. One in particular returned with disturbing results. I made them check repeatedly, but it only confirmed the original diagnosis. As a result of the events of my abduction, I am no longer able to bear children."

She turned around to face Mulder and was greeted by a look of pain. She knew that he felt responsible for her abduction and this would make him feel even worse, but she had to tell someone. He tried to speak, but knew there was nothing to say that would take away her own pain. The pain of knowing that she would never carry a child inside her body, that she would never be able to hold her own flesh and blood in her arms.

Scully's eyes welled with fresh tears as she told her partner, "You're the only one I've told. You have to promise me that you'll keep it a secret until I am ready to tell the others."

"I promise," came the solemn reply.

In one quick motion, a now wildly sobbing Scully hurled herself into Mulder's outstretched arms. His arms snaked around her waist as his own tears came. The two sat this way for what seemed like an eternity, but was in actuality only a few minutes. Mulder then realized his reason for being upstairs.

He wiped his tears off with his sleeve. Bringing his lips to her ear, he asked Scully if she wanted to come downstairs or if she needed some time alone.

As quickly as Scully had embraced him, she pulled away. "I'm fine," she said severely. As she wiped away her own tears, the look of desperation left her eyes, replaced by a cool, distant look. "I'm just a little tired and emotional. The holidays always seem to bring me down. Let's go downstairs and see what my mother has made." As she stood up to leave, Scully's legs suddenly gave way, and she fell to the ground, hitting her head on the side of the bed. That was when Mulder noticed the small bloodstain spreading over the carpet that had originated from Scully's nose. He was overcome with fear as he leaned over her, trying to assess whether she was conscious. She was not.

Mulder desperately shouted down the stairs for some assistance, and the footsteps were soon heard running. The panic in his voice could not be ignored. Bill Scully pulled Mulder's cell phone from his hands and called for the paramedics, while Mulder knelt down at Scully's side, trying to comfort himself as much as he was trying to help her. His trembling voice kept asking her to wake up, and soon wild panic raised his voice to a shout. He was trying to transfer his strength, so that she could fight the cause of her collapse. Her recent brush with death lead Mulder to believe that Scully was in very serious condition. He barely noticed as more blood, from a relatively small head wound, began to stain his white shirt. His fear was that her cancer had returned and they would be thrust back into the same hell that they had left only weeks ago. Perhaps she would not be so lucky a second time.

Although Mulder became oblivious to everyone in the room except for Scully, the others in the room were very aware of the happenings. After seeing the blood on her daughter's head and nose, Margaret Scully was fast becoming hysterical. She had been so strong over the past few years, but strength has it limits. The death of her husband, the death of Melissa, the near death of Dana. She couldn't face the possibility that she again might be losing her only living daughter.

Although it seemed like an eternity to Mulder, the paramedics arrived only a few minutes after Scully's collapse. Mulder followed her into the back of the ambulance, but was pulled out by Bill Scully so that Margaret could ride with her daughter.

December 23
Waiting Room, Memorial Hospital

It was a tense night in the waiting room for both Mulder and the Scully family as they waited for any news on Dana. The news finally came shortly after 1am that she had regained consciousness, but there would be no news as to the cause of the collapse until more tests could be run. A lone sob rang out from Margaret Scully as the doctor confirmed their fears that a relapse of the cancer may have been the cause.

After bringing the family up to date on Dana's condition, Dr. Brady said that Dana could have a few visitors, as long as the visits were brief and limited to family members only. Mulder would have to wait until after breakfast to see her. He watched with a broken heart as Margaret and Bill disappeared down the corridor. Mulder sat down on the closest couch and waited for morning to come.

December 24

Scully shuffled slowly along the corridor of the hospital, no longer able to stand the confining walls of her room. She had sent an exhausted Mulder home for several hours to get some much needed sleep. He had not left the hospital since she had been admitted, spending every waking moment of the past two days with her. Even though he would return later that night, she had already begun to miss him terribly. There had been no news as to the status of her cancer, and she was becoming scared that the news would not be good. She did not want this to be her last Christmas. Lying in a hospital bed had given her ample time to think and she started to realize how much she had to live for, despite her infertility. A loving devoted family, a man who would do anything for her.

Scully soon found herself in the pediatric ward. The floor was bustling with activity, as parents were busy tucking their children in for the long winter's night. But Scully sensed that their hearts were not full of joy. Many families had not expected to have their beautiful children away from home at the happiest time of the year. Accidents and illnesses often had the misfortune appearing at this time of year, and by the time those children arrived home, the trees would be out at the curb. Other parents were faced with the task of remembering every second, every word, every scene of their child's last Christmas. Her battle with cancer allowed Scully to sympathize with this small group.

She continued down the hall, peering into the rooms. Scully knew that she should be conserving her strength, especially if bad news awaited, but she felt compelled to continue on as if being pulled by a string. She came to a stop at the final door on her left and peered inside. Lying on the bed was a young girl, all alone. The child looked up and saw Scully staring. This child was the most beautiful little girl that Scully had ever seen, but there was a sadness clouding her eyes that seared Scully's soul.

A wavering voice broke the silence. "Have you seen my mommy?" Tears sprung to two pairs of eyes. It killed Scully to have to deny this child her mother, but she shook her head.

"Daddy said that mommy couldn't come because she had to have the baby, but I want to see her."

Scully nodded, finally understanding why the child was alone. The mother had gone into labor that night, and the father was torn between his wife and new child, and his injured daughter.

Scully walked over to the bed, determined to give the child some company until the father arrived. She sat down beside the child and wiped away her hot tears. Trying to take the girl's mind off of her loneliness, Scully started to ask her questions. "What's your name?"

"Jessica," she replied tentatively. "What's your name?" Scully sensed that the child had been raised to mistrust strangers, but had become used to strange people entering the room.

"I'm Dana. How old are you Jessica?"

"Five," replied the child.

There were bandages covering part of her head and her left leg was in traction. Although it was apparent that she would recover, Jessica was obviously still in pain. Her investigative side caused her to lean over and whisper in Jessica's ear: "What happened to you?"

Her faced brightened at the fact that she was being treated like an adult by a grown up. "Daddy took me to the park so that we could slide on the hills, but on the way home I saw a cute puppy across the street. I wanted to go pet it so I ran across the road and got runned over by a car. Daddy was crying because he was scared... and I was too."

Scully's heart ached for the child's pain and that fact that her family would be separated over the holidays. Children weren't meant to be alone on Christmas Eve.

Her heart also ached for herself knowing that she would probably never be able to have children because of her abduction. She never knew how much she wanted to feel a child growing inside of her until now, and it was too late. She would never hold her own child in her arms.

"Dana, you look like my Mommy," Jessica began, "and you smell like her too. A really nice smell. But you don't have a big tummy."

"Thanks Jessica," Scully laughed and leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek. Jessica took this as a cue to hold onto Scully for dear life, lest her only company on the happiest night of the year be torn away.

As Scully held the child who was now sobbing for her mother, she noticed an exquisite necklace hanging from the child's neck. To take Jessica's mind off her loneliness, she asked her about the jewelry.

"Mommy was visiting me when she said she had to go and have the baby. She had the necklace on, but she let me wear it because I'm being such a brave girl. Daddy gave it to my mommy before they were married."

"It's very pretty," Scully said. Upon touching the necklace, a thrilling sensation swept through her body. She had never seen anything as perfect as Jessica wearing the necklace.

"Mommy said it's one of a kind."

At that moment, she turned toward the door and thought that she saw Mulder hovering outside. Promising Jessica that she would come right back, she ran toward the door moving much faster than a person should in such a weak condition. She realized her error as her slipper stepped in some water spilled by a nurse, and she ended up sprawled across the hall. Fortunately, she was unhurt.

Mulder nearly ran through the halls as he searched for Scully. It had almost made him sick when he returned to her room for the night and was informed by the nurse that she had disappeared. His instincts told him that she was still too weak from her fall and fatigue to be out of bed, and needed to find her fast.

It was quite a shock to him to find her sliding out into the hallway and land on her ass. Normally it would be quite humorous, but he was too worried to laugh. He took her outstretched hand and pulled her to her feet.

Despite Scully's weakness and fear at the awaiting news, Mulder was struck by the air of content she radiated. Immediately mystified, he forgot all about the doctor who was waiting in the room and wanted to know that cause of her tranquillity. He did not have to wait long.

"There is someone I want you to meet," Scully told Mulder. She slipped her small hand into his larger one and lead him to the room she had emerged from only minutes ago. "Her name is Jessica. She's all alone tonight because her mother has just gone into labor and her father went with her. She was recently hit by a car. She seems fine, but is very scared. I was hoping we could spend some time with her tonight until her father returns."

His hand broke free of hers. "You go ahead. I need to go to your room and let everyone know that you are okay. I'll find my way back." He knew how badly she wanted to stay with the child, so he didn't try to convince her to go back to her room. He didn't want to take away her opportunity to act as a surrogate mother to the child, knowing that she could never have children of her own.

"Let me go with you."

Mulder put his foot down. "I can't do that. Look at you, you are way too weak to walk all that way." He placed his cool hand on her forehead. "You're flushed. Go into the little girl's room an lie down." He wanted her to rest, but that was not his only motive. He also wanted to retrieve her gift from his jacket pocket. It was resting on her bed. He wanted to give it to her at the right moment, and did not want her to find it before then.

"I'm fine," she told him. But she knew he was right and Jessica needed her, so she watched him disappear down the hall. She turned to enter the private room.

Mulder entered a room of worried faces upon his return. He reassured everyone that Scully was fine and recounted the story of Jessica. A collective sigh of relief went up among the family members, although Bill still had a look of suspicion in his eyes. Mulder made his way over to his jacket, complaining about the temperature of the room. He told her mother to go home and get some sleep because he had no idea when Jessica's father would return to her room. Margaret offered to stay and sit with the child in place of her daughter, but also knew of her compassion and her need to experience a sense of innocence over the holidays. Reluctantly the Scully family left leaving Mulder some quality time with Dana.

He had just closed the door on his way out, when he ran into Scully's doctor.

"Have you got the test results back yet?" Mulder was very anxious.

The young doctor nodded wearily. "I was just about to go in and talk to her."

"She's not in there. She's down in the pediatric ward staying with a lonely child. I'll bring her up right away." Mulder knew that she was craving some answers. He would return her to the child right after if the doctor allowed and if the news wasn't too devastating.

When he reached Jessica's room, he saw Scully siting on the worn mattress of an otherwise bare room. She was confused and at the point of tears.

"She was here. I saw her, I held her hand." Mulder walked over to her and placed his hand on her shoulder. Her thin body was shaking.

"There has got to be some logical explanation for this," Mulder said in a complete reversal of roles. "I'll go check with the nurse on duty to see if she has was taken anywhere by her father when your back was turned to the room."

When he consulted the nurse, he was told that the room had been vacant for days. The nurse also told him to take his friend back to her doctor, because she was probably delusional. Upon that last comment, Mulder gave the nurse a look that in primitive would have turned her to stone. He turned away disgusted. As completely sure as he was that she had seen this child, he was as sure that she was in full possession of her senses that night.

He returned to the room to tell her that this girl she saw could not have been there, could not have existed. The nurse even checked the records twice to see if there were any Jessicas in the pediatric ward. No name even resembled Jessica. Scully swore that she was lucid and that she saw a girl there. Her mind began to drift back to other times. Her father, the ghost in the bathroom. Her heart ached with the tragedy that must have taken place in the room, for the loss of such a young child on such a sacred holiday. For the family who would never see Christmas in the same eyes again.

She stood to leave the room, to get away from the crushing feelings of sadness and death. Mulder stopped her by lifting her into his arms. He wrapped his strong arms around her to protect her from the fear. She was crying. He needed to find some way to dry her tears.

He passed her the little box from his jacket pocket. With all of the earlier confusion as to Scully's whereabouts, Mulder did not have time to wrap the present. The only decoration was a blue ribbon encircling the blue box.

She took the box from his hand. "What's this for?" She was still confused and a little scared by her ordeal.

"I saw a man ripping off a jewelry store earlier today when I was shopping for your Christmas gift. Last minute shopping, you know. Anyway, I would have gone after him but time was running out and I still hadn't found the perfect gift for you. Just then, I saw something on the ground. He had dropped something from the bag he was carrying. It was all wrapped up nicely, so I thought I would bring it over and give it to you. It looked feminine enough, so if it's not, blame the crook."

Scully laughed in spite of herself. Mulder always knew how to cheer her up. She started getting excited as to the contents of the box, because she knew that to make a mood-lightening joke it had to be something special.

She had no idea exactly how special this gift was...

She quickly peeled off the ribbon, despite her fatigue, nothing was going to stop her from seeing this gift. As she peered inside, her breath caught in her throat. Nestled among the silk in the box was a necklace that she recognized quite well. It was the same necklace that had graced Jessica's neck.

Mulder leaned over and whispered into her ear, "Do you like it? I had it specially made for you. It's one of a kind."

Scully couldn't respond. The sweet voice began filling her thoughts:

"Mommy said it's one of a kind..."

"My daddy gave it to my mommy before they were married..."

"You look like my Mommy..."

"She had to have the baby..."

Mulder's voice brought her out of her reverie. "Scully, we have to go back to your room right now. Dr. Brady has your test results and she wants to talk to you before she leaves tonight." He needed no reassurance that she liked the necklace because the look on her face told him all he needed to know.

Scully peered in his face. Mulder was very anxious to hear about those results. He cared about her more than she ever imagined anyone could. At that moment, everything became clear as she envisioned the two of them dancing at their wedding. She made a mental note of contacting a fertility specialist in the New Year to see if those earlier test results were in error, or if there was still a possibility of having a child after treatment.

"Let's go," she told him, but was no longer concerned about the test results. She knew how it would all turn out.

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