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Fighting for the Future

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It was bitingly cold. The wind felt like a million knives cutting into her flesh, her wet hair a frozen headpiece. She held him close, her cheek to his forehead, absolutely certain this was where they would die. White all around, no chance to escape the wide expanse before them. 

Scully closed her eyes, the thought of how they got there unknown to her, in fact she did not even know where there was. Raising her head, she looked down at Mulder, his eyes still shut, as a shiver went through her. She needed to get up, get them away from where they were, but he was out cold and she did not have the strength to help him. 

“Mmmm.” She heard him moan and no sound had ever sounded sweeter. 

“Mulder,” she said, her teeth chattering. “Mm-ul-der.” She touched his face and he opened his eyes, shock on his face. 

“Scully!” He sat up and held her face in his hands, staring into her eyes. “You’re… oh God.” He looked to the skies and then back to her. Standing up quickly, he walked to the edge of the giant crater beside them. “Holy shit, we need to get out of here.” 

He came over to her and helped her stand. Putting an arm around her waist and holding hers around his neck, he nodded at her. “You can do this. I have a vehicle just over those rocks, okay? If you need to stop, we will. Let’s go.” She nodded, her feet tingling from the cold as they began to move. 

Twice they had to stop, her body unable to keep moving, too tired to walk quickly. Setting her in the snow, he held her close, keeping her warm as she panted out her exhaustion. 

“We’re close,” he said into her freezing hair. “Almost there, Scully. Over the rocks and then it’s just on the other side. You’re doing great.” She closed her eyes, certain what little ground they had covered, could hardly be considered as great. 

“I’m tired, Mulder. I’m cold,” she mumbled, wanting to fall asleep, surrender to the feelings weighing her down. 

“You can sleep when we get to the vehicle, I promise. We need to keep going. If the sun goes down, we’re done for. Come on, you can do this.” 

He pulled her up again, leading her up the rocks and to the crest. Standing and looking down, the vehicle could have been a mile or a hundred, it felt the same to her. 

“Mulder… I can’t,” she whispered, staring at him, her feet freezing. 

“Yeah, you can,” he said, and he held her upright as they made their way down the hill, stopping at the bottom. She dropped to her knees, then her stomach, her face in the snow. “Two minutes, Scully.” He fell beside her, lifting her head and laying it in his lap, brushing at her hair, keeping her close. 

“Okay, once more and we should be there.” He pulled her up again and she breathed hard, shaking her head and leaning heavily into him. It was so close, so very close, but she simply could not do it. 

“I can’t. Mulder, I’m so tired. I can’t.” She started to slip and he lifted her into his arms, her own going loosely around his neck. She could hear him breathing heavily and hated that he was suffering under her weight. 

“Almost there. We’re almost there, Scully,” he panted out, his breathing harder with each step. She gripped his clothing, trying to do what she could to alleviate any heaviness. 

Finally, he stopped. Turning her head, she saw they were by the vehicle. Setting her down gently, he took great deep breaths, his hand against the tracks of the snow vehicle. 

“Okay, we need to get inside.” He helped her up onto the tracks, then climbed up and stood beside her. He opened the back door and helped her inside. 

It was warmer in the cab, but not by much. As she fell onto the bench seat in the back, she felt him trying to remove her socks as he closed the door. 

“I’ve got supplies under this bench. Clothes, socks, sleeping bags, blankets, flashlights, food, water… Scoot up a little and I can get them.” 

She did as he asked, too tired to speak. She heard bags being placed around her, but she kept her eyes closed, not caring if she lived or died. 

So cold, she thought, almost asleep, when she felt him shaking her. 

“Open your eyes, Scully! Look at me!” She had a hard time focusing on him, but he pulled her up roughly, cursing as he did. “Don’t you fall asleep! Not yet. We need to get you changed into warmer clothes.” She nodded, his face becoming less blurry as she stared at him. 

“Come on, here we go,” he said, unzipping her jacket and taking it off. She shivered violently, her hands coming up to cover her naked body. “Okay.” He put something over her head and then helped her put her arms inside and pulled it down. “Good. Next one.” Again something went over her head and her arms were placed inside. She raised her eyes to his and he nodded. “Now a vest. Then the jacket.” He put them on, pulling her hair out from inside and looking around. 

Taking a rubber band from somewhere, he gathered her hair into a ponytail and clumsily tied it up. She smiled slightly, nodding her thanks. Already she was feeling warmer, her top half at least. 

“Socks and pants now,” he said, reaching for the buttons of the pants. “Maybe if you lay down… I could do this easier.” 

He helped her to lie down and she felt him taking off her pants, the cab cold once again as her bare flesh was exposed to the elements. She had no time to worry that he was seeing her completely nude, as her legs began to shake from the cold. 

Following his quiet instructions, he had some pants on her quickly, then another pair, two pairs of socks, and then the pants she had been wearing. 

“Mulder, these are your pants and your jacket. You’ll be cold,” she said, her eyes closing, the exhaustion washing over her, as he buttoned up her pants. 

“I’m okay, Scully. I have boots for you, but I think they might be too big. But for now let’s get you in the sleeping bag. Come on, stand up.” He pulled on her jacket and brought her to a standing position. 

Holding onto the seat in front of her, she leaned against it as he laid out the sleeping bag. She heard it unzip and then he guided her down, helping her to get inside comfortably. Closing her eyes, he covered her, shaking her shoulder as he did. 

“Wait. You need some water.” 

“Mulder, I just want to sleep. Please.” 

“No, you’re dehydrated I’m sure. Here. Sit up a little. That’s it, just a few sips. Good. Okay, let me…” He pulled her hood up, closing it around her head and gently laid her down. She felt a blanket being laid on top of her and she sighed, her feet still slightly cold, but relatively warm everywhere else. 

She heard him moving around, but she faded in and out. Voices she did not recognize, static, and Mulder’s worried voice, all presented themselves to her as she lay there. Opening her eyes, she saw him in front of her, his face blurry again. 

“Are you warm enough? Do you need another blanket?” His voice was worried as he touched her, closing the sleeping bag tighter around her. 

“I’m okay. Okay.” She tried to reassure him, but then she was asleep again. 

Loud voices woke her and she opened her eyes, finding it nearly dark. Mulder was asleep, very close beside her, in a sleeping bag of his own. Hearing the voices again and seeing lights flashing, she panicked. 

“Mulder. Mulder!” She brought her hand out and touched his face. “Mulder!!” His eyes flew open and he stared at her with wild eyes. “Someone is here. I can hear them.” He frowned and sat up, looking out the window, with a sigh. 

“Oh, thank Christ. They made it. Stay put. They’re filling up the gas tank, and we needed it. The one extra tank I had ran out and the engine cut off over an hour ago,” he said, waving at someone outside. Looking back at her, he shivered and leaned in close. “Are you warm enough? Your feet, hands?” She nodded and he nodded curtly, getting out of his bag and laying it on top of her. He put his boots on and shivering again, he went outside without his coat. 

She heard him speaking to someone but was unable to stay awake as she lay there. Fading out, she only awoke when she felt the vehicle moving, the engine extremely loud. Mulder was not at the wheel and not seeing him beside her, she sat up, fearful something had happened. 

“I think your partner’s awake,” the driver chuckled and Mulder’s anxious face appeared around the passenger seat. He moved and came back to her, telling her to lie down and stay inside the sleeping bag. 

“What’s going on? Where are we going? Who is that?” she asked, as he knelt beside her, covering her and then staring at her, the moon bright around them. 

“His name is Cassy. Strangely enough, or perhaps not, he’s a friend of Langly’s. We’re heading back to his research base, and we should be there soon. About an hour and a half or so,” he said touching her face, his eyes soft and concerned. It was then that she noticed the bloody spot on his forehead. 

“Mulder, what happened to you?!” She exclaimed, reaching to touch his face. 

Tis but a scratch,” he joked, and she stared at him. He shook his head and gave her a small smile. “Got into a little tussle with an ambulance driver. Nothing to worry about.” She softly touched his wound and he closed his eyes. 

“What happened? I don’t remember,” she whispered, causing him to lean in close to hear her. “Where are we?” 

“Antarctica.” 

“Ant… Antarctica?! What?” 

“I know. And I’ve yet to see a penguin anywhere.” He smiled and she failed to see the humor. “Scully, I will tell you everything, but let’s get back first okay?” He held her eyes and she searched his face, finding only truth and worry. She nodded and he did the same, covering her again. 

“We’ll be there soon. Sit… lay tight okay?” She smiled as she closed her eyes. He chuckled lightly and then kissed her forehead, moving away and leaving her alone. 

The sound of doors slamming woke her again. Mulder’s voice yelling out to someone, caused her to open her eyes. It was bright, wherever they were; every available light must be on at this hour. Men’s voices carried to her ears, but the thought of sitting up was exhausting.

The door opened by her feet and she looked to see Mulder, once again without a coat, climbing in from outside. 

“Mulder, you don’t have a coat,” she said and he laughed softly as he shut the door. 

“I’m okay, Scully,” he said and knelt down in front of her. “We’re gonna get you out of here, but I don’t want you to get out of the sleeping bag. They’re bringing out a stretcher and then they’ll put you on it and carry you inside.” 

“Mulder…” 

“A stretcher, Scully. I won’t argue with you on this,” he stated with finality, his eyes serious. She nodded, knowing if she tried to stand up, she would most likely crumble to the ground. “Good. Now, just stay put, okay?” He touched her cheek and disappeared out the door. 

The door shut and she closed her eyes, trying to recall the last thing she remembered. Skinner’s face as she handed him her letter of resignation; no chance would she be transferring to Utah. No chance would she leave Mulder that way. 

Even if they were shut down, if they no longer worked together… she needed him and he needed her. She could get a job elsewhere, allowing them the ability to still see one another. Would he want that? To continue on at the bureau without her? Could he integrate with fellow agents and work in a different area? Perhaps teach? Would he even want to see her still, after giving up and quitting? 

But you saved me! As difficult and frustrating as it’s been sometimes, your goddamn strict rationalism and science have saved me a thousand times. You kept me honest. You made me a whole person. I owe you everything, Scully and you owe me nothing. 

Oh… 

I don’t know if I wanna do this alone. I don’t even know if I can… and if I quit now, they win. 

The words he fairly yelled: his anger, fear, and worry… the honesty they possessed, made her ache, and pulled her back to him. She remembered the sadness in his eyes and then the feel of his arms around her. 

And then… 

Oh… 

The door opened again and then there were two men she did not know, preparing a stretcher, then gently laying her upon it and strapping her down. They carried her out carefully and when the night wind hit her, she was grateful for remaining in the warm cocoon of the sleeping bag. 

As they began to walk, Mulder appeared beside her and smiled as he fell in step with them. Beyond the doors they entered, it was much warmer and she breathed a sigh of relief as they continued further inside. She wanted to sink into a warm tub and stay in there, possibly forever. 

“We have to go to the medical bay. Get you checked out,” Mulder said in a low voice and she knew they would, but she simply wanted a bath and to sleep uninterrupted for hours and hours. 

She was placed on a table and unstrapped from the stretcher. She was lifted and the stretcher slid from underneath her in one fluid motion. The sleeping bag was unzipped completely and taken off of her, when a female doctor walked over to the table. Scully felt incredibly happy to see her, knowing she would soon be undressed and examined. 

The men were told to leave and Mulder came close to her, touching her shoulder before he followed them from the room. 

“Thank you,” Scully said quietly and the doctor nodded. 

“Can you sit up? Stand?” the doctor asked her kindly. 

“Yes, if you wouldn’t mind helping me.” 

The doctor helped her to a sitting position, then off the table, holding her steady as she gained her balance, breathing hard at the small exertion. 

“Okay, we need to get you undressed. I’m Doctor Turk, Emilia Turk…” 

“Agent Dana Scully.” 

“I’d say pleasure to meet you, but this won’t be very pleasurable,” Doctor Turk said and smiled softly. 

“No, I don’t imagine it will be. I’m also a doctor and I’ve been through many quarantines. I know the drill.” The doctor smiled and nodded, helping her to undress. 

Laying back on the table, she was covered with a warm blanket, the doctor checking for external injuries. Aside from some bruising, she was miraculously unscathed. No frostbitten fingers or toes, thanks to Mulder’s care, but she could feel where the cold wind had cut at her face. Blood was taken and Scully closed her eyes as it was, still cold and dreaming of a warm bath. 

“I’m going to take samples from your hair and under your fingernails and then we’ll get you warmed up. I’m sure you’re cold and wanting to get dressed. I’m sorry this needs to happen, but you’re an old pro at this it sounds like,” the doctor said quietly with a squeeze to her shoulder and Scully nodded. 

Scully felt her hair being released from its ponytail and a piece of it being cut from underneath. Her fingernails were scraped and then Doctor Turk told her to wait and she would be back, placing another blanket over her. Scully nodded and waited, feeling exhausted. 

A few minutes later, Doctor Turk returned, lightly touching Scully’s arm and smiling as she opened her eyes. “I have a bath ready for you. It’s not exactly the Ritz, but I don’t think you’ll mind.” Scully laughed and sat up with the doctor's help. “It’s not too far down the hall. We’ll just wrap the blanket around you.” Nodding, she stood still as the doctor wrapped the blanket around her and led her out the door, slowly walking with her down the hall. 

Walking into a large bathroom, she saw the tub, the steam rising from within, and could not wait to get in and warm her cold body. The doctor led her to a shower stall and Scully looked at her in confusion. 

“Whatever you were exposed to, I don’t think you’ll want to soak in it. Let’s get you rinsed off first,” the doctor said and turned on the shower, letting it warm up before removing Scully’s blankets and guiding her into the stall. 

The warm water hit her skin, causing goosebumps to rise immediately. She seethed and stepped forward. 

“Oh, I’m sorry, is it too hot?” 

“No, not at all. It’s perfect,” Scully said, stepping back and standing under the spray, rinsing her hair. 

“Okay. I think that will be sufficient. Let’s get you into the tub; that will be best for you.” The doctor shut the water off and reached for Scully’s arm, bringing her to the tub and letting her lean on her as she stepped inside. 

Scully moaned as the doctor helped her to sit down and lean back against the tub. The water was the perfect temperature as she slid down, covering as much of her body as she could. Closing her eyes, she sighed heavily, her mind racing with questions, but needing this moment to regroup. 

“I’m going to find your partner. Would you like me to tell him to come back here, or wait until you’re finished?” Doctor Turk asked, and Scully opened her eyes. She looked at the doctor and saw understanding on her face. 

“You can tell him to wait outside the room and that I’m okay. Thank you,” she said and the doctor nodded. 

“I’ll get a towel and some clothes. You take as long as you need,” the doctor said, nodding her head and leaving. 

Scully closed her eyes and let the warmth of the water seep into her cold and aching bones. Now that she had been moving around, she felt how sore she was and how tired. She wanted to sleep, but the bath felt amazing. Sliding under the water, she held her breath as she covered every inch of her body. 

Coming back up, she laid back and kept her eyes closed as the door opened and the doctor told her she was leaving her a towel, washcloth, toiletries, and some clothes. Scully nodded and thanked her, sighing as the door closed. 

Dunking under the water again, she floated, her body light as she did. Coming back up, she sat up and added more hot water to the tub. As she shut it off, she heard a loud knock on the door and leaned back. 

“Come in.” 

The door opened, but no one entered. Instead, she heard Mulder’s voice call her name as he stayed outside of the room, just as she had asked. 

“Scully?” 

“I’m okay, Mulder. Cold, but okay.” He was quiet and then she heard him sigh. “I’ll be out soon-”

“No… no take as long as you need. I’ll be here. Maybe I can find someone to ask about finding those penguins.” She smiled as she swirled the water around and heard the door close, knowing he would find a chair and wait outside the room until she emerged. 

Sliding under a few more times, adding more hot water, she finally reached for the shampoo and washed her hair twice. Washing her body, she leaned back again, ready to get out, but not sure if she had the strength to do it. 

“Mulder?” she called, closing her eyes. The door creaked open, but still he did not enter. 

“Scully? You okay?” 

“Can you come here and help me?” she asked, hating that she needed to do it, but knowing she would not be able to stand on her own, let alone get out and then dress.  

“Um, do you want me to get the doctor instead?” 

“It’s not as though it’s something you haven’t seen already,” she said with a bitter laugh. 

“Scully… it’s not the same.” 

“Mulder, please. Please come in here and help me.” 

The door opened and he sighed, his footsteps coming closer. Opening her eyes, she saw he was picking up the towel and holding it open, keeping his eyes averted. Appreciating his effort, nonetheless she knew she would need him more than he had believed she did. 

“I need you to help me up, Mulder. I just can’t do it.” He flicked his eyes to hers and she saw the panic in them. Smiling slightly, she nodded. “I’m so tired. I need your help.” He nodded and placed the towel over his shoulder and then reached for her hand, keeping his eyes on hers. “I think it might be easier if I sat forward and you lifted me from behind.” 

“Okay,” he agreed quietly, moving around her as she sat forward, letting him slip his arms under hers and lift her gently, holding her against him as she gained her balance, soaking his clothes as she did. “Let me get the towel, Scully.” She nodded and he got it ready again, taking her hand and holding it as she stepped out. Wrapping her with the towel, he kept his eyes on her face, and she smiled at him. 

“Thank you,” she whispered and he nodded. “There are clothes there, but I think I’ll need your help with those as well, unless you would rather I call the doctor.” 

“I can do it,” he nodded. “As long as… if you’re okay with it, Scully.” She exhaled a laugh and shook her head, not meeting his eyes. 

No, she was not okay with it, but she trusted him and he knew she did. 

“I can dry myself,” she said and he nodded, turning around as she did, giving her at least some semblance of privacy. 

Drying her body and then her hair somewhat, she decided to put on the offered pants first. There was a pair of long underwear, a long sleeved shirt, and also a pair of scrubs. The long underwear had most likely come from the bags Mulder had with him. She picked up the pants and sighed, debating trying to do it on her own and possibly falling, or doing what she called him in for, and accepting his help. 

A knock sounded at the door and she looked up to see the doctor coming in, glancing at Mulder as she walked closer. 

“Out of the tub I see. Feeling better?” she asked, stepping closer and taking the pants from Scully’s hands and setting them down, exchanging them for the long sleeved top. She helped her slide it over her head and down her body.

“Agent Mulder, Cassy asked for you as I was walking over here. I think he had some questions for you.” Scully saw him nod and leave the room hurriedly, without glancing back. The doctor smiled at Scully and she nodded her thanks. 

“Thank you, Doctor Turk. We… it’s…” Scully said, attempting to explain their relationship, and the doctor smiled again. 

“Emilia. I understand, Agent Scully. Sometimes it’s easier with a woman and also a fellow doctor. I know it’s still not ideal of course, but…” she said with a smile and a shrug as Scully nodded. Emilia next helped her with the pants and then the scrubs. 

“There, that’s better, right?” Scully nodded and Emilia helped her sit on the bench, where she gently towel dried her hair and then bent down to put on some blue skid proof socks. Standing up, she helped Scully to her feet and led her out of the room and down the hall. 

“I’m going to get you hooked up to an IV and give you some fluids, I’m sure you’re dehydrated. I’d also recommend something to help you sleep and get some rest.” 

“Normally, I would say no, I don’t usually like taking anything. But, I think under the circumstances, it would be a good idea,” Scully laughed softly, her body screaming at her with every step, almost begging for sleep. 

“Let’s get you settled then,” Emilia said quietly, pushing the door open and helping Scully into the bed. 

Laying down against the pillows, Scully sighed deeply, her eyes closed. She heard Emilia moving around, felt the prick of the needle and the warmth of the IV fluid being pushed in, and then she heard and felt nothing further. 

___________________

Swallowing, her throat feeling like sandpaper, Scully opened her eyes and immediately shut them again, the sun too bright. She licked her lips and tried to clear her throat, but it hurt. Slowly opening her eyes again, she saw Mulder asleep in a chair beside her. 

“Mmm. Mmulder…” she groaned, but he did not stir. Reaching out, she squeezed his hand which was lying on her bed. Squeezing again, he finally began to move and then his eyes flew open, as he leaned forward to look at her. 

“You okay?” he asked, his voice gravelly. She shook her head and touched her throat. “Thirsty? I’ll get you some water.” He stood up quickly and she closed her eyes, already imagining the feel of the cool liquid in her mouth. 

“Here, Scully.” 

She opened her eyes and saw Mulder kneeling in front of her with a cup and a straw. He held the straw for her and she drank it slowly, moaning in relief as it soothed her dry throat. 

“Thank you,” she whispered when she finished, licking her lips and closing her eyes, leaning back on the pillows. 

“Are you okay?” 

“Hmmm,” she said with a nod. 

“Do you need the doctor?” 

She opened her eyes and looked at him. Shaking her head, she reached for his hand, squeezing it when he laid it in hers. 

“I’m okay. My throat is a little sore and I’m definitely feeling every bump and bruise, but considering everything else, I’m doing okay.” She smiled at him, his own expression serious as he stared at her. “I’m really okay, Mulder.” 

He nodded and squeezed her hand before leaning back and standing up. He set the cup down and sat back in his chair. Taking a deep breath, he looked at her, clasping his hands together. She sighed and moved to a sitting position with a groan. 

The door opened and Doctor Turk walked in with a smile. “Good morning, Agents. How are you feeling?” She stepped closer to the bed and Scully smiled. 

“Feel okay. Just needed a good night's sleep.” 

“Good to hear. Your preliminary test results have come back and you weren’t exposed to anything that would be considered a threat or a cause to place you under quarantine. In fact, everything was… to keep it rather simple, organic in nature. And while it was not something completely recognizable, it was also not something that raises an alarm. It sounds baffling, I know, but there we are.” She looked at each of them and sighed. “You’ve told us your version of events Agent Mulder and Cassy went out today to inspect the area you claim was ground zero.” Scully looked at him with a frown as he shifted in his seat with a sigh. 

“Doctor Turk… I know your testing was thorough, but there has to be something. I know what I saw and I know what Agent Scully was exposed to,” he said forcefully, glancing at Scully. “It’s not a simple explanation. It has to be something other than “organic.” It was an alien virus that would have killed her if I hadn’t had a vaccine for it.” 

“Agent Mulder,” Doctor Turk sighed quietly.

“I know what I saw and what I was told,” he said, just as quietly. “Please conduct more tests. If there is proof of an alien virus, we… we can figure out a stronger vaccine… or even a cure.” 

“Agent Mulder,” she said, harsher than before, causing them both to look at her. She sighed and shook her head as she crossed her arms. 

“We are a research base, we don’t have access to the highest of technologies here,” she began again, her tone softer. “I’m limited as to the tests I can run, and an alien virus … it’s just not something I am equipped to handle. As I stated, there was nothing within the testing that would point toward an unknown virus. If there was, we would be in a lock down quarantine” She looked at him and he shook his head. Turning to Scully, she smiled almost apologetically. 

“Maybe with more better equipment, you will find more answers, but for now, all I can offer you is what I have found. Honestly…” She sighed and looked back at Mulder. “I don’t believe in an alien virus, not the way you’ve described it, Agent Mulder. It sounds like science fiction.” She stared at him with a look Scully had seen many times and even given him herself.

Disbelief and denial. 

“Agent Scully, I am sorry for what happened to you. I know there was something done, but I simply cannot confirm it was of alien nature,” she said quietly, looking back at Scully. “I can give you all of the samples, and my findings, but I cannot sign off on the idea that an alien race has come to take over the earth.” Scully looked quickly at Mulder as he stared at the doctor, who shook her head. 

“When you’re ready to travel, Agent Scully, we will see to your accommodations.” She nodded at them with a sad smile, and walked out of the room, leaving them in silence. 

“This is bullshit,” Mulder said, standing up and pacing the room. “I know what I saw and you saw it too.” He stopped and looked at her as she stared blankly back at him. “Scully?” 

“Mulder… I… I don’t know...” she trailed off, snippets of her memory returning. 

So cold. The wide expanse of… something some place. Pulling themselves up. Crawling through snow. Running. Running so fast. 

“You remember.” 

She looked at him, opening and closing her mouth, not knowing what to say. 

“Scully… you have to remember.” He sounded so defeated, she wished she could tell him she did, wished her answer was what he wanted to hear. 

“Mulder…” she sighed and he scrubbed a hand down his face and began pacing again. “I know you don’t want to hear this, but I… Mulder, I don’t know what happened. I have no idea how we got here, I don’t know why we’re here. My memories are not exactly reliable.” 

“What’s the last thing you remember?” he demanded and she sighed, looking down at her hands. 

Honesty. She had to be honest, no matter how much they both avoided it at times. 

“I remember coming to your apartment after my meeting with OPR,” she said quietly. “I… remember leaving and you following me out. I remember…” She looked up and stared at him, his eyes intense. “I remember… your words…” He stared at her as she began to breathe hard, the memory of his face coming closer to hers, his warm breath ghosting across her lips, and then… 

“I remember being stung. The feeling in my chest.” She closed her eyes and placed her hand on her chest, feeling that stabbing pain again. “I… don’t remember much until you were there and I was so cold. So very cold.” She opened her eyes and moved her hand to her lap, looking at him again. 

“You… you don’t remember anything else?” he asked softly. 

“I didn’t say that.” She shook her head with a small smile. “But, my memories will not be accurate or helpful the way you may want them to be. I know you will want me to corroborate your story, but Mulder…” 

“I don’t want you to agree simply to agree. I’ve never wanted that, Scully.” 

“I know.” 

They fell silent and he sighed, looking down and shaking his head. She felt she should apologize, but remained quiet, watching him as he stood there. 

“Are you hungry? I can get you something,” he said, looking up and attempting to smile, though it did not reach his eyes. 

“I’d like that,” she smiled. “Anything will be fine. But first, could I have more water?” He nodded and left to get some for her, leaving her alone. 

Sighing, she closed her eyes and leaned her head back on the pillows. Her throat hurt and her body ached, though she would not tell him to what extent, wanting to get out of there as soon as possible. 

The door opened and she opened her eyes, watching him bring over a plastic pitcher of water. He moved the table closer to her, filled her cup and set down the pitcher. Handing her the cup, he nodded and left the room again. 

Drinking down the cool liquid, she closed her eyes, wondering why her throat was sore. She knew when he brought back their food, they would need to have a discussion. 

She just was not looking forward to it. 

_______________

She shook her head, the tale he told her almost too impossible to believe. She looked at him and he stared back. 

“It’s the truth, Scully.” 

“Mulder.” She sighed and pushed the table away, the smell of the food now turning her stomach. 

“Scully, we’re in Antarctica. I don’t know what else to say about why we would be here, other than the reason I gave you. You were infected with the virus and brought here to be used, just as the vast amount of people I saw. Scully, if I hadn’t gotten there when I did, if I wasn’t told where to find you…” He shook his head and stared at her. 

“But, why would he have told you? Why now?”

“He saw what was happening; it’s surpassing their ability to control it.”

“Mulder, a virus doesn’t do that. It does not… mutate into a creature-”

“Scully-”

“No, Mulder. I will not accept that.”

“Scully, you saw that virus, what it did and what it can do.” 

“Yes, I did.” 

“Then how can you question-”

“Because I did not see a creature. I did not see an alien gestating in those bodies.”

“Maybe they hadn’t reached that stage yet. Maybe… maybe it hadn’t evolved and those bodies… they were what could have been: the beginning stages of it attempting to gestate.” He shrugged and she shook her head. 

“There is no proof of what you’re claiming.” 

“I saw it with my own eyes.” He stared at her and she sighed heavily as she shook her head again. 

“Mulder-”

“Scully.” He shook his head and paced the room in front of her, sighing loudly. “I saw the effects of that virus. Saw how it changed those people.” He stopped and stared at her and she held her breath. 

“He told me how to find you,” he said softly. “He gave me the vaccine that I needed. Whatever he did in the past… it’s … it’s not forgiven, but he knew his life was at risk, and yet he gave me the information I needed to save you.” 

“Mulder,” she said, shaking her head. 

“These men… they don’t give a shit about anyone, so long as they can save their own asses. I find it hard to believe he did anything to help me.” 

“His had his reasons-” 

“His reasons!” she nearly shouted, her throat hurting and causing her to reach for her water and take a drink. 

“He wanted to protect his family-” 

“And what about the families whose lives they’ve ruined? All those years and the people they have hurt and taken… your sister…” She knew it was a low blow, especially when he stared at her with pained eyes. “Mulder, he only cared when the threat grew too close and came to his own family. Where was the care for my mother, my family, for y… for you.” 

He stared at her and he shook his head. She looked down and sighed, staring into her cup of water. Closing her eyes, she shook her head, and sighed again. 

“He told me how to find you,” he said again. “He wanted me to see, to have the proof I needed. He knew what that vaccine would do. As soon as I gave it to you, the thing that was connecting you, like some kind of… an umbilical cord, the virus was pulled out of you and it… it woke those things. Whatever was in that vaccine, it foiled their plans.” 

“Foiled, Mulder?” she whispered, with another shake of her head. “You saw what he wanted you to see, but you have no more proof than when you left. You say it was a spaceship flying away… with hundreds, if not thousands, of people that you say you saw… Mulder, they are still missing and it’s unknown exactly what will happen to them. How exactly were their plans foiled?” She sighed sadly and he shook his head, as he stepped back. 

“Because you’re still here, Scully. You were all that I cared about,” he said quietly, holding her gaze, before he left the room, saying nothing further. 

Closing her eyes with a heavy sigh at his words, she dropped her head back onto the pillows. His story was not so unbelievable, not after all she had seen over the years, but she could not willingly subscribe to a story if she was not completely sure it happened. 

Over the years, despite working on the same case, their stories often conflicted with one another. The difference in those cases though, was that she had been there with him, and had her own factual experience of what she saw. 

In this instance, her memories were fuzzy, and the tangible or scientific proof she needed was simply not there.

She sighed and tried to think back to what she remembered… 

The excruciating pain in her chest, was the last memory she had. She recalled the feeling as it began and when she stumbled forward, Mulder’s arms had caught her, lowering her down gently to the tiled floor of his hallway. The feeling of her painful gasping breaths, her chest hurting more than any pain she had ever felt, as she heard him, his voice echoing, calling for the ambulance. 

She remembered him running back to her, and the sound of his heavy footfall pounding in her ears. 

His face had swam before her, fuzzy and too large. But then she had heard his voice and for a second she felt that it would all be fine. 

“Scully,” he had whispered, close to her ear. “The ambulance is coming. You’re going to be okay. Scully, you’re okay…” 

Her eyes had slid shut and it was the last thing she remembered— his voice and his hand desperately squeezing her own. 

Then there was coldness, confusion, and fear as he carried, pulled, and guided her out of wherever he had found her. She had no knowledge of where they were, but even with his story and what he claimed he saw, she was not ready to agree and call it a spaceship. 

She knew what he was telling her was the truth that he believed. The fact that they were there, in Antarctica, had to be proof of something, but she could not put the puzzle together, if she did not have all of the pieces.

Opening her eyes, she shook her head and took a few deep breaths as she laid her hand on her chest, feeling again the phantom pain. 

Setting the cup down and pushing the covers back, she stood to her feet. Gaining her balance, she pushed the IV pole with her into the bathroom.

Washing her hands after she used the toilet, she stared at herself in the mirror. There were scratches and signs of frostbite on her face, and she was very pale. 

Sighing again, she shook her head and left the bathroom. Mulder was not back in the room, though she had not really expected him to be. She knew he was angry and hurt and they both needed some time to themselves. 

She adjusted her blankets and changed the bed from a sitting position. Laying her head on the pillow, she pulled the covers tightly around her, still feeling chilled. She closed her eyes and attempted to quiet her mind, even as she once again tried to figure out what the hell had happened to her. 

____________________

On the airplane the next evening, she sighed as she shifted, bruises she had not known were there, were now making themselves known. Judging by the ache in her back and her ass, it was going to be a long ride home. 

“You need anything?” Mulder asked, and she looked up at him, shaking her head. 

“Oh, actually, a bl…” she started to say, not wanting to chance being cold, but he was already handing her a blanket and pillow. Smiling, she took them from him as he closed the overhead compartment and sat down with his own pillow and blanket. 

“You’re sure those samples will be okay up there?” he asked, looking above them, and she nodded; the samples and information Doctor Turk had given her, stored in a securely packed transport bag. 

“They will. I’ll get them to the lab when we get back and run more tests. We’ll see if anything comes up with access to more sophisticated equipment.” She covered herself with the blanket, as she looked out the window with a shiver. 

“I know you’re hesitant to believe it, Scully,” he said quietly and she closed her eyes with a sigh. “But I know what I saw. What we saw in Texas. You were stung, I saw what happened to you. They took you away because they knew. They knew, Scully.” 

“Or they wanted you to stop looking,” she said, turning her head to look at him. “They shot you, Mulder. They were intent on killing you. If they had…” She shook her head as she looked at the small bandage Doctor Turk had placed on his wound. “I understand what this means to you, but how much are you willing to pay?” 

“Are you asking me to quit?” 

“No, I would never ask that, I just…” She reached for his hand and sighed as he squeezed gently. “The truth is worth nothing, if you’re dead.” He stared at her and she gave him a small smile. 

“I don’t want that either,” he said with a bitter chuckle, as she closed her eyes, and exhaled a deep breath. He squeezed her hand and she opened her eyes. “I just can’t let them win, Scully. I can’t.” She nodded, squeezing his hand and then releasing it. 

“I’m tired,” she said apologetically, knowing he wanted to discuss it more, not having finished their conversation yesterday, instead tiptoeing around each other as they made their plans to leave. 

She knew they needed to talk, but her eyes were becoming heavy, her body demanding sleep. He nodded with a smile and covered himself with his blanket.

“I just need to sleep for a little bit, Mulder,” she said with a yawn. “We’ll talk more about it soon. Because you’re right… they can’t win.” 

He looked at her and nodded again, as she closed her eyes, and put her head on his shoulder, as his hand gently covered hers. 

“No, Scully,” he said quietly, his head resting on hers, as he let out a deep breath, and she sighed with him. “No they can’t.”