DISCLAIMER: They're not mine, but I think my versions have much more fun than those of Carter, 1013, Fox, etc.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Note the first: Blame this on the 2-3 days of heavy rains and flash-flooding in the Memphis area last week.
Note the second: Based on some preview photos of S9ep4, there may be a timeline issue re: Monica's new apartment, since I was picturing this as happening not too long after the events of NIHT2. But, I don't want to ditch the idea, so readers can probably either picture this as happening around the time/events of "4-D" (#904) or just assume that Scully got the early, 'sneak preview' of Reyes' new digs. (g)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Susan P
I can't see more than two feet in front of me, no matter how hard I stare out at the blur of red taillights and water cascading down the windshield. I grip the wheel and stare all the harder, as if convinced that it will keep me safe. As though the weather were just one random variable over which I have no control. As if there weren't so many, many random factors that could cause me harm tonight. As if there weren't as many non-random factors and events that seem to have targeted me, personally. My partner, my child...
The rain beats so loudly against the car that it drowns out the sound of the radio. So loudly I can barely hear my own thoughts, though that may be a blessing.
I wonder, not for the first time, whether reaching my destination is worth the risk. To risk myself, and those I care for, yet again. I've already lost so much. Lost Melissa. Lost Emily. Lost Mulder, and found him, only to have to send him away for his own safety.
And now William. I don't know what they've done. I don't know what he is, really. And I don't know how to keep him safe.
Maybe I should just take him and disappear, like Mulder. All those years chasing after the truth, and what did it get him? What has it gotten either of us? Glimpses of truth, parts of the story, but little proof, and almost nothing concrete. It's gotten family members killed. It's put our lives in danger. And the men, women and beings behind all these plots and conspiracies still always seem to be a step ahead of us. Leads run into dead ends, evidence disappears, or gets destroyed, and so do witnesses, and we wind up with little more than the conviction of having witnessed what few would suspect and even fewer would believe.
Somehow Mulder's Grail has become my own. I keep chasing after the truth like it might save me--save William. But it hasn't yet, and it just seems even more unlikely. I'm just so tired of watching it all go up in smoke--literally--whenever I get close to an answer. This last time--that damned floating genetics laboratory--that was the last straw. So I told myself. Now I don't know whether my son is the result of their experiments, or something else altogether. Despite appearances, I know he's not like the average human infant. Yet he seems so like a 'normal' baby in so many respects. Is he one of them? Like Billy Miles. Like Shannon McMahon. Or could it be that he's like Gibson Praise? For my sake, I know which I'd prefer, but for his... I'm not sure either possibility would be 'good,' really. The hunters, or the hunted.
It was my own desperation to know that drove me out into this horrible night. A lead. A possibility of finding some record, something documenting the genetic and fertility experiments performed on that ship, and God knows where else. One more desperate search for my name on a file describing some atrocity performed on me without my consent or knowledge. I wonder how many more such documents I'll find before this is over, and which one will finally be the one to push me beyond the limits of horror at what they've done.
If I found this file, what would it mean for me? For William? Could I help him? Help either of us? I risked my life on that ship, fighting against the clock, trying to find some evidence that something had been done to me, or my baby. I risked Doggett's life, too. And hers. It was Doggett who had the sense to pry me out of there before it was too late. She would have helped, I think. Another seeker on Mulder's quest, now my own. She is much more eager than I remember being. A willing convert. And had she listened to me--given in to my need to find answers--she might have died for my cause.
It's that thought that stops me, literally, and I pull off onto the shoulder. The thought of losing her. The way she looks at me, and what I feel when she does. She is so like Mulder, in some ways, and so very, very different from him in others. She has his enthusiasm for the work. Mulder's work. My work. It could get her killed, and no matter how it happened, I would feel responsible. The last thing I want is to see her hurt, or worse.
But I just don't know that I could prevent it. I can no more turn her away from this quest than I could have turned Mulder away.
Suddenly I'm so tired of it all, and not for the first time. I feel the same kind of weary hopelessness I felt before I decided to have a child. The forces I'm fighting against are as relentless as the rain that's been falling for hours with no signs of stopping. I'm tired of sacrificing any chance at happiness for the sake of this fight. Tired of putting off the rest of my life for it. Getting pregnant, having William was my first step toward getting on with my life, and it's only seemed to drag me back in. To hell with it.
Tomorrow, next week or next month I'll probably let myself get sucked back in, but tonight.... Tonight I want something much simpler. It's a different kind of truth I want to find tonight. Simple comfort. One person--one soul--to another.
My first call is to check on my son.
"Hi, Mom. How is he?"
"He's sleeping, dear. Went right out after his feeding. Will you be coming home sooner than you expected?"
"I'm not sure. My plans have changed a little, but I may still be late getting in. Is that all right?"
"He's my grandson. Of course it's all right! If you do come in late, why don't you just stay? Take him home in the morning?"
"That sounds like a good idea, Mom. I'll see you later."
"Okay. Be careful, Dana."
"I will." My current plans are much less dangerous than my original mission, after all. "Look after him. I love you."
Maybe the only protection I can ultimately provide William is what any parent can offer: being there when I can, and making sure someone I trust cares for him when I can't.
The second call is not so simple.
"Agent Reyes. Monica. This is--"
"Dana? Dana, what is it?"
"I need you."
"What can I do to help?"
"I just... Can we do this in person?"
"I can meet you--"
"No! I'd rather come to you."
She gives me directions to her new place. I know the neighborhood; it shouldn't take long to get there. On the way there, I try not to worry about how many ways this could go wrong, but I'm secretly pleased to have something ordinary to worry about. Something that is entirely of this world: not the next, not extraterrestrial, not evil. Even if I screw this up, it will be my screw-up. My will I'm exercising.
Not that it would be simple, but it wasn't life or death. Well, it was about life, no matter the outcome. And that pushed me on. I covered the distance as quickly as safety concerns would allow.
She looks worried. I slide past her into a room filled with packing boxes from the move and a bare minimum of furniture.
"Hi." I've run through at least seven different versions of the conversation I wanted to have, but now, seeing her, words fail me.
She looks as though she's dressed for bed: red flannel pajama bottoms and a form-fitting white tank top that reveals more than it conceals. She looks incredible and she seems utterly unconscious of that fact.
I'm staring, I realize, as she seems to notice.
"Um, should I have gotten dressed? Do you need...? Is this about a case?"
"No. No case. Not tonight. And you look fine." Better than fine, actually.
"Okaaay." She's caught between being glad to see me and wondering why the hell I'm here. She looks around the apartment nervously, "Sorry for the mess. I haven't had time to finish unpacking yet, and things are still a little disorganized."
I just shake my head and wave off her apology. She's looking at me intently, like she has a habit of doing, and I take a step toward her.
"Umm, can I get you something to drink? Or...something?"
I just shake my head. "Maybe later."
She's studying me, trying to figure it out. "Dana, is something wrong?"
"No. Well, yes, I guess, but that's not why I'm here."
Her eyes all but scream the question: then why are you here? She doesn't ask it. She's waiting for me to say...whatever I'm going to say. She's not alone in wishing she knew what that would be.
I fight the urge to pace the room in front of her. "Monica, I..." I don't know what to say to her. Telling her of my profound fatigue would hardly be the best opening. None of the words I rehearsed in the car seem right now, either.
I take another step toward her, effectively closing the distance between us. That just makes her more nervous, and she sways slightly, as though she has to fight to keep from stepping back--or forward. She's adorable when she's nervous.
Then it occurs to me why words suddenly seem so inappropriate. Feelings. She deals in feelings, hunches. Maybe I should just trust that, and give her a little more to go on.
I reach up and do something I've wanted to do for a long time. I tentatively touch her face and trace a thumb lightly along her lower lip. There's something about its structure that has always drawn my eye, and I've often wondered what it would feel like, and how she would react if I ventured to find out...
I saw the shock in her eyes at the first touch of my fingers, but I soon get lost in my study of her lips, of the texture and the warmth beneath my thumb. She makes no obvious movements toward or away from me, but I feel her start to tremble. I look up just in time to see her eyes drift closed at the sensations I'm causing. I smile, thinking she may be getting the message.
I move in even closer and use my other hand to push a lock of hair behind her ear, letting my fingers linger in that caress.
"Dana?" she chokes out, her voice low and hoarse with what I hope is desire. Then she opens her eyes and I see the truth I seek in those dark orbs. I say a silent 'Thank you' to whatever powers have seen fit to answer this prayer.
Whatever she sees in my eyes spurs her into action and she leans into me as I strain up to meet her lips and explore them with my own for the first time.
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