by stellar dust

TITLE: Family
AUTHOR: stellar_dust
EMAIL: , or livejournal: stellar_dust
SPOILERS: Emily, post-ep
RATING: PG, for angst
SUMMARY: There are three families in this vignette - and all of them, in some way, are Emily's. Intimations of MSR, but these are friendly conversations, not lover's talk. ARCHIVE: Please do!
DISCLAIMER: They're all Chris Carter's. Not mine. Please don't hurt me.

Scully closed her eyes, twisted with grief, seeing only the cross, only the way it had rested against Emily's soft, young chest. That cross, that small symbol of her faith, had been a constant reminder in her life of God's eternal love, that He was watching her and cared for her. Even in the worst nights of her cancer treatment, the sheer, simple faith represented in her mother's gift had sustained her and given her hope.

Giving the necklace to Emily had been an impulse, a visceral response to a child's interest in bright shiny things. It had also been a desperate wish, a connection between them that would last, no matter where Emily was placed in foster care, a promise that Scully would remember always, that Emily would be loved forever. And finally, it had been a prayer and a benediction, to bequeath her own faith on another, that Emily would be as loved and protected by God as Scully had felt so often herself.

She opened her eyes, and tears overflowed, streaming silently down her cheeks. The cross burnt her hand in a recrimination and a fear. The sand in the coffin, all that remained of her daughter, was dyed a brilliant rainbow of colors as the late afternoon sun streamed through the stained-glass windows.

Was Emily in Heaven? Could God love a child whom man, in his arrogance, had created, perverted, had used and tossed aside when her small purpose was over? Scully had to believe it was possible, that the innocence of a child was pure and incorruptible no matter her origin, that God would welcome her soul as gently as any other young life cut short too soon.

Scully clasped the cross tightly in her hand and leaned forward, choking on a sob, and sent loose a silent, incoherent prayer for the only child she could ever hope to have.

She felt a strong hand on her shoulder and straightened, blinking tears, holding herself tightly, sheepishly ashamed that Mulder was watching, certain he could never understand.

"Thank you," she whispered hoarsely. "Thank you for coming, thank you for trying to help me - help me keep her ..."

He was silent for a moment, but squeezed her shoulder tightly, and slowly reached out for a handful of sand. There was a reverence in the gesture that surprised her and touched her deeply, as the grains trickled through his fingers in a marking of time and a tender farewell.

"She's safe, Scully," he whispered back. "She's safe, and she's loved. You did save her, Scully. I'm sure of it."

She turned toward him, and his eyes searched hers, those big green eyes, deep and honest and sad and full of truth. He took the cross from her hand and clasped it gently in place around her neck. She felt her lips quivering again and lowered her head against his chest, felt his arms close around her back. "I know ... I know. But I'm so scared, Mulder ..."

He held her for a long moment, and then "Come on," he said gently. "I'll take you home."

Scully nodded and wiped her eyes, started to let him lead her from the chapel.

"Wait! I need to - need to take a sample, we've got to get this analyzed ..." her voice trailed off as she searched frantically in her pockets for a vial.

"Scully, no." Mulder reached out and grasped her hand, stilling it. "Don't do this to yourself ... let her go."

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, heaved it out, swallowing. He was right. "All right." She nodded. "Give me - give me one more second."

Scully walked back to the casket and whispered a final prayer, then closed the lid, with the finality of a bullet to the heart.

Drained and melancholy, she walked back to Mulder and took his hand. "All right," she said. "Let's go."

The rental car pulled up to the curb in front of Bill's cookiecutter, military-issue house. Scully had the door open and one foot on the ground before she realized the motor was still running. She looked at Mulder curiously. "Aren't you coming in? I told Mom I'd bring you in for dinner."

"I, ah ..." Mulder smiled evasively and rubbed at his face.

"Mulder." Scully's eyes were still sad, but her mouth smiled knowingly. "It's New Years. Don't spend it in a motel room, alone. Please?"

Mulder finally turned off the car. "I don't know, Scully. I don't want to impose ... Your brother - your brother doesn't think much of me, I'm afraid. I don't want to break up another family gathering." His mouth quirked upwards.

"What do you mean?" Scully asked quizzically. She pulled her leg back in the car and closed the door.

"Well, uh ..." Mulder hesitated. He sighed and leaned his head back. "When you were in the hospital a few weeks ago, he, uh ... he sort of gave me a piece of his mind. I'm a bad influence, I put my quest ahead of your health ... I'm a sorry son of a bitch." Mulder turned toward her and smiled tentatively. "I don't think he appreciates me hanging around this week, either; meddling in your family's business and bringing in all this - this alien nonsense." He shook his head ruefully. "He's right, too, you know."

"Mulder." Scully turned towards him seriously. "Mulder, I couldn't have come through this without you. I couldn't have survived the past four years without you. If Bill can't appreciate that, well, that's his problem. Come in, Mulder. You deserve this. And I ... you - you stabilize me. Without you here, I'll - I'll probably fall apart at the dinner table." She smiled wryly, and he took a breath to speak, but she cut him off. "I owe you an apology, Mulder. I'm sorry I pushed you away, back at the hospital. I thought you wouldn't understand, about - about Emily." She held his hand, and looked into his face. "But I was wrong."

"Scully, when that doctor -" Mulder shook his head as if to clear it. "When he assumed I was Emily's father - I don't know, I suddenly understood a lot of things." He bit his lip and shifted his grip on Scully's hand. "I would have done anything to save her, Scully. Anything. I, uh," he chuckled, "I went a little crazy when I visited Dr. Calderon. I'm surprised I wasn't arrested. But, Scully, if I were to raise that child, to watch her grow and bloom and learn about her world - would I ever have the heart to tell her what she was, where she came from?" His forehead creased as he shook his head. "I don't know. But I suddenly felt very close to my own parents, what they must have gone through when Samantha was taken, and to hide the truth from me." His face convulsed and he let go of Scully's hand, gripped the steering wheel tightly and breathed deep. "I wanted a chance to try, though."

"Mulder." Scully touched his arm lightly, silent tears flowing freely again. "More than anything, right now, I want another chance. And that chance has been taken from me."

Mulder reached out through his own grief to wipe away some of her tears. "There's always hope, Scully. Someday .. someday, we'll find a way." He took the keys from the ignition and smiled broadly. "Come on," he nodded toward the house, eyes twinkling again, with tears, or hope. "Let's join the family."


Notes: My second. Another Scully POV. Too many feelings were still unresolved in that final aired scene ... feedback appreciated, as always.

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