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Sick days

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It had been a year since Scully was told that Emily was now under her care. She called it ‘the best day of her life’ and rightly so. A lot of obstacles had come in the way of the adoption process, and a lot of people tried telling her that she shouldn’t even bother because her job was too risky to add a toddler to the equation. Still, she persevered and finally the Judge ruled that Scully would be given full custody of Emily.

Mulder couldn’t have been happier for her. All through the adoption process he reminded Scully that he supported her and that he would be there for her no matter what. And when she quit the FBI, he was the one who had to practically kick her out of the office. “You’ll be late for your first day, Doc. You don’t want to keep your interns waiting.” He stated as he lightly pushed Scully out of the door. She smiled, looked around the office – all the while feeling as if someone was sitting on her chest –, and left.

One night, while Emily was laying on the floor on her stomach with a colouring book and they were sitting on the couch watching T.V., Mulder proposed to Scully. Not because he thought that Emily should have a family – one mom, one dad, a brother and a sister some day in the future –, but because of love. He loved her more than anything in the world, loved her ever since he asked her if she believed in the existence of extraterrestrials and she gave him a logical answer. He loved watching her with Emily and how being a mother was effortless for her. He loved her with all of his heart, and he made sure she knew that when he slipped the little box on her lap. “Are you going to put it on my finger or not, Mulder?” She smiled. They were married within the month.

Emily had been told by the doctors that she was as healthy as a horse, any trace of sickness was long gone. Still, that didn’t mean that whenever Emily sneezed or sniffled Scully wasn’t by her side taking her temperature or with the phone in her hand about to call an ambulance. 

Two months after her health clearance, Scully was sent to New York to attend a medical conference on behalf of the hospital. On her second in the Big Apple, her cell phone rang at 9am. She reached for the hotel’s night stand, instantly feeling the absence of her husband’s warmth, and answered sleepily. “Scully. What?!” Scully jumped and her eyes began to water. It was Emily’s preschool teacher saying that she was burning up and complaining that her ear hurt, asking if they could pick her up. Phone calls such as these were the ones that made her incredibly anxious, especially when she wasn’t there with her daughter. “Absolutely. I’ll call her father right now. Thank you so much, please tell her that her daddy’s on his way.” Even though she tried to fight it, her voice was trembling and it was a matter of seconds before tears ran down her face.

Xxxxxx

Upon receiving her call, Mulder ran out of the FBI building and drove to the preschool, breaking a few traffic laws in the process.

The playground was filled with kids of all ages, some of them running, others playing in the swings, sliding down slides or playing tag, clearly enjoying their carefree years. Mulder looked frantically around for the little blonde girl with bangs who had decided to wear a white T-shirt with red Oshkosh overalls and black Mary Janes. Having failed with his search, he ran towards the building, ignoring the 4 year-old who tried to tackle him. 

Emily was in her classroom sitting on a blue plastic chair with her elbow on her knee and her chin on the palm of her hand and drawing circles on the table with her finger while her teacher, a young brunette sitting next to her, caressed her hair. Emily heard Mulder’s shoes screeching to a holt when he reached the classroom door and she looked up and smiled weakly at him, the kind of smile that didn’t reach her current glassy eyes. The image broke his heart and frightened him, giving him flashbacks of the months they spent at the hospital trying to find a cure for her illness. 

“Emily, honey. What’s wrong? Mommy called me and told me to pick you up.” He approached her and lowered himself to her level, kissing her temple and instantly feeling how hot her forehead was. 

“Daddy, I’m not feeling well.” She pouted and turned to him, hugging him around the neck and holding on to him for dear life. Mulder rubbed her back and looked at her teacher. 

“About an hour ago she told me she had a headache and that her ear hurt. We aren’t allowed to give any medication unless it’s indicated by the parents, so we took her temperature and when we saw how high it was we wanted to call an ambulance, but she insisted she wanted her Mommy and Daddy, so we called Mrs. Scully who told us she would call you.” Her teacher explained sadly. 

“I’m so sorry, she looked perfectly fine this morning, otherwise I wouldn’t have brought her in today and risk other kids getting sick.” Mulder explained as he felt tears on his shoulder and continued to rub her back soothingly. 

“No, it’s okay. I advise you take her to the hospital, though. She did have a nosebleed just before you got here.”

“Of course, we’ll go right now. Thank you so much.”

The teacher smiled and nodded once, standing up as Mulder did with Emily in his arms. 

By the time they got to the car, recess had ended and no kids were in sight. Mulder was buckling Emily to her car seat when she spoke in a low voice, “daddy, I don’t want to go to the hospital. I don’t like them, they scare me.” Her bottom lip started to tremble – which reminded of how alike she was to her mother – and before long she started to cry.

Mulder took a step back and noticed the blood stains from the nosebleeds on his daughter’s clothes. He smiled sadly and stroked her cheek, “I know, sweetie. But I promise that it’s just to see what’s wrong and we’ll go home. We’re not staying there.” Emily nodded and Mulder got into the car. 

As they drove to the hospital, he prayed silently to himself. He really hoped he could keep his promise.

Xxxxxx

Two hours later, Mulder was carrying a sleepy Emily who was diagnosed with an ear infection to the car. Given that Scully was away for the week, Mulder would stay with Emily for the five days of bed rest the doctor ordered. He didn’t mind, though. He absolutely loved spending time with Emily, whether she was sick or not. She was more important than any X-file laying on his desk. 

They stopped at the pharmacy to pick up the medicine and then at the bookstore to buy some colouring and activity books for Emily. Even though she was given Tylenol in the hospital, Emily was starting to look pale again, so he decided to skip the grocery store and head home. He could ask Frohike or Mrs. Scully to pick up some popsicles tomorrow.

Xxxxxx

“Mulder, how is she?” Scully answered the phone as soon as it rang.

“Hey, Scully. Where you sitting next to your cell phone all day? Wow, needy.” Mulder joked to lighten the mood. When he received no response other than an angry huff he added, “jeez, Scully. It was a joke.”

“What did the doctor say?”

“Ear infection. Some antibiotics and a couple of ear drops for a week and she’ll be as good as new. He did say that she could go back to school in five days, but I’d rather she wait for the treatment to be over, don’t you think?” He said as he walked towards Emily’s room, checking to see if she needed anything for the tenth time. She was sleeping peacefully on her side, hugging a stuffed teddy bear and holding the pink sheets to her face with her hand.

Mulder heard Scully sigh in relief. “Yeah, I think so, too. Well, if the pain gets worse, put a warm towel against her ear to relieve pain. And keep her ears dry. What about her nosebleeds?”

“Could be related to the ear infection or because she stuck her finger in there too far up and scratched something she shouldn’t’ve scratched.” That earned a chuckle from Scully who was now clearly in a much better mood than she was when Mulder called her. It was his turn to sigh in relief.

“How’s she doing now?” Scully whispered as if Emily were sleeping next to her.

“Sleeping, the antibiotics knocked her out. I gave her a bowl of soup for lunch, but she just had a few spoonsful. We’ll see when she wakes up if she’s hungry or not and I’ll call your mom to see if she can pick up some groceries for tomorrow.” Mulder informed, feeling proud of himself for being able to take care of his daughter without Scully hovering over him.

Silence followed and Mulder thought she had hung up or the line had disconnected. He was about to hang up when he heard a muffled sob. “Scully? Are you crying? What’s wrong?”

“I just want to be there with her, but I can’t. I tried talking to my boss and ask him if he could send someone else in my place, but he wouldn’t listen to me. I need to be there, Mulder, she needs me.” Scully choked out between sobs.

Mulder’s heart broke. No one would be more concerned about Emily’s health than Scully. Ever since the DNA results indicated that she was her daughter, Scully’s maternal instinct kicked in. She did everything she could to get a cure for Emily’s illness: fighting with doctors, doing research of her own. Enduring sleeping on uncomfortable cots, eating disgusting hospital food, laying in bed next to Emily and holding her hand whenever a nurse came in to draw blood. He remembered every time they held their breath whenever the doctor entered the room with new test results, bearing bad news or no new news; remembered his own sobs in the bathroom while they slept, and, finally, how they sobbed when the doctor told them they had found a cure and that they could start treatment right away.

She was right. Emily did need her. She needed both of her parents taking care of her, Mulder going to the grocery store or to the pharmacy while Scully stayed at home with her and watched TV. At the end of the day, she was a doctor and knew much more about taking care of sick children than he did.

He took in a sharp breath and said, “Scully, I know how hard this is for you. But she’s with me, she’s with her daddy, and I think she likes me,” Scully laughed, “I’ll take good care of our daughter. Trust me.”

“Oh, Mulder, you know she loves you. Sometimes I think she loves you more than she loves me.” Scully laughed once again and sniffed, but Mulder could imagine her pouting. “Thank you, Mulder.”

Mulder smiled. “Nah, don’t thank me. You’ll have to repay me, though. I know I’m in for a week of playing house. I have a feeling she might get it from you. You’re turning into a real soccer mom, it’s getting annoying.” He started pacing around the coffee table in the living room like a teenager speaking with his girlfriend, completely in love, instead of a husband talking to his wife about their sick daughter and soccer moms.

“Well, by the time I get home I guarantee you’re going to be the soccer mom in the house.” Scully chuckled which warmed Mulder’s heart.

“Hey, Scully?” Mulder said after a moment of silence, after taking in the beautiful sound of her laughter.

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She replied with a hint of a smile in her voice. “I have to go now, though. I have a lecture in about 10 minutes. Call me if you need anything. And I mean anything.”

“Will do, Doc.” He returned.

After saying their goodbyes, Mulder heard Emily stir in her bedroom. When he entered, he saw her still laying in her bed awake, rubbing her eyes.

“Hey, honey. How are you feeling?” He asked as he sat on the edge of her bed and feeling her forehead.

Emily let out a little whimper. “A little better, but my ear still hurts.” She lifted her hand and placed it against her aching ear.

“I know, sweetie. You’re still a little warm also. The antibiotics haven’t done their thing yet, let’s give it a little more time. Are you hungry?” Emily shook her head as she yawned and stared at the floor.

“Where’s mommy?”

“She’s in New York, she won’t be back for a few days. Now how about you go to our room and watch some TV? I’ll get you a warm towel for your ear, maybe it’ll help ease the pain.” He offered.

“But that’s not what the doctor said.” She responded, tilting her head to the side and furrowing her eyebrows.

“Not the doctor from the hospital, but mommy did. She called when you were sleeping and asked how you were feeling. She said she was going to call at night and talk to you.” Mulder gasped and Emily’s eyes brightened, smiling. Mulder caressed her hair and smiled back.

“Did mommy allow me watching TV?”

“Mommy’s no fun, honey. You’re stuck with me for the whole week, and I promise you this will be the best week of your life, even though you’re sick. And we will start by watching Disney movies. What do you say?” Mulder said as he stood up, reaching out for his daughter’s hand.

Emily smiled and took his hand. “Okay, daddy.”