DISCLAIMER: X-Files and its characters belong to C.C. and 1013 Productions. No copyright infringement intended, no money be made.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is from a prompt given to me by londynon. Special thanks to oxfordshoes2 for the beta.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.
She jerked awake, not knowing if the nightmare was in fact a nightmare or real, when a hand reached out and touched her. She nearly jumped out of her skin.
"Easy, it's just me. Are you okay?"
She swallowed hard and fought to slow the rapid pounding of her heart. "Yeah... it was just a dream."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
The redhead turned to look out of the window, closed her eyes, and shook her head silently. She felt tears sting behind her eyelids. No, she didn't want to talk about it.
"We'll be there soon."
Monica mentally sighed as she continued to drive. She wondered when Dana would trust her enough to open up and let her in. They'd been partners now for over two years, and still the redhead kept her at arm's length. It hurt her heart to see the ghosts and shadows that haunted her partner's blue eyes. Monica had never met Special Agent Fox Mulder, but she hated him. She hated the bad name he'd given the FBI. She especially hated what he'd put Dana through.
Dana laid her head back again, still looking out the window. She took no notice of the passing landscape. The nightmare dominated her thoughts. It wasn't the first time she'd had that particular nightmare.
Her years with the FBI certainly hadn't turned out to be anything she could have ever imagined or anticipated. After a couple of years as an instructor, she'd been assigned to the X-Files. Her job was to provide substantive investigative and scientific tools to ensure the proper investigation of the cases Agent Fox Mulder worked. It was clear that those who had assigned her that task were hoping she'd quickly be able to debunk Mulder's work, practices, and theories. And, in most cases, she was indeed able to provide scientific and documentable explanations.
Despite the evidence she'd uncovered and documented, Mulder always chose to believe his own wild theories and imaginings over forensic proof. Considering his obstinate clinging to unsubstantiated and wild theories, his persistent unfounded paranoia, and increasingly irresponsible behavior she shouldn't have been surprised when he finally snapped and lost any hold on reality or semblance of sanity. However, she had not been prepared for it when it did inevitably happen. As a result, she was helpless when Mulder killed an innocent elderly couple and then eventually turned his service weapon on her and then himself.
Her nightmare was always the same. She was back in the house in Chepachet, Rhode Island where they had found David and Amy Cassandra's bodies, blood everywhere. It then morphed into the Mulder family summer house in Quonochontaug. She watched, totally helpless to stop him... She'd always waken crying out.
She drew in a slow, even breath. She hated that after two years Mulder and his insanity still had such a hold on her. She should have been able to put it all behind her. Instead, the nightmare seemed to be coming with greater frequency. And in the last few months, one small detail had changed... Agent Reyes was there, too, another victim sacrificed before her eyes.
Dana knew she kept Reyes at a distance, even more so since her partner's appearances in her nightmare. Her sister was dead because of Mulder's almighty quest for 'the truth.' The thought of losing anyone else... sometimes the feeling simply overwhelmed her. And it didn't help that Reyes had already been shot once since they'd become partners. Fortunately, the brunette had been wearing her vest so she'd only had a couple of broken ribs, otherwise
She needed some air. She needed to get out of the damn car, now.
"Pull the car over, please. I need to get out."
"Hold on, I'll take the next exit." Full of concern, Monica quickly steered the car onto the off-ramp. She pulled into the first gas station she came to.
Dana shot out of the car like a cannon. She practically ran to the bathroom and slammed the door shut behind her, locking it. She turned on the cold water and let it run over her wrists as she leaned heavily against the sink. She didn't want to look in the mirror and see the look in her own eyes. Damn it! She couldn't keep doing this. Something had to give. She jumped at the knock on the bathroom door.
"Dana? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine." Of course, that's what she always said, whether it was true or not.
"Are you sure? Can I get you anything?"
"I'm fine, Reyes. Just give me a few minutes."
"Okay." Monica frowned. She was worried about her partner and wanted to help, but she didn't know how. And she doubted the redhead would let her, even if she did know how.
When Dana exited the bathroom a few minutes later, she looked a little better not quite so pale.
"How do you feel, Dana?"
"I'm fine. Let's go."
"I can get you something to drink or"
"No. Let's just go, please." Dana fought to keep from snapping at Reyes.
At the hotel, they checked in and headed to their rooms. They weren't expected to report in until morning. Dana had to do an autopsy at 8:30 in the morning. The agents who'd been working the case were going to meet them at the morgue.
Dana and Monica met up in the hotel restaurant for dinner. Dana didn't eat much, but then she usually didn't. Monica noted that her partner seemed to be more settled and decided against bringing up their emergency stop, knowing the redhead would brush off her concern anyway.
After dinner they went to Monica's room and went over the case file. They had both already familiarized themselves with case and their review didn't take long. Dana then excused herself and returned to her own room for the evening. Having finally come to a decision, she placed a phone call, leaving a message on voicemail.
6:30 in the morning Monica's phone rang. "Reyes."
"What the hell is going on down there, Reyes?" bellowed AD Skinner.
"I had a very disturbing message on my voicemail from Scully this morning. I just got off the phone with her she's resigning! Now tell me what the hell is going on with your partner."
Monica sat up in bed, shocked. "I don't have a clue, sir. I had no idea she was going to do that."
"She didn't say anything to you?"
"Not a word."
"Well, find out what's going on and let me know. All I got out of her was that she'd have her official letter of resignation on my desk as soon you got back to DC."
"I'll see what I can find out, sir."
Monica didn't a say word about her phone call from the assistant director during breakfast. She thought it best to not get into things until they had some time... and privacy.
Though not comfortable spending much time in the autopsy bay, Monica stayed nearby while Dana worked on the body, watching her partner. She didn't see anything unusual in the redhead's manner or actions. Dana's face didn't show anything but concentration as she focused on the task at hand.
The case occupied their time and attention all day, not allowing for a convenient time to approach Dana about her resignation. So, Monica decided to wait until after dinner with the local agents. At the hotel, she changed into jeans and a t-shirt and then went to Dana's room.
Dana looked out the peephole when there was a loud knock on her door. She was a little surprised to see her partner standing there. She opened the door. "What's up?"
"We need to talk," Monica replied as she marched past Dana and into her room without waiting for an invitation.
Surprised by the brunette's behavior, Dana closed the door and eyed her partner. "What do you want to talk about, Reyes?"
"How about the fact that you called Skinner to resign and you never said a single word to me about it?"
Dana dropped her eyes and crossed her arms in an unconscious defensive manner. "Yes, I did," she said with a sigh. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you first. But I just made the decision last night."
"Why? What did I do?"
"You haven't done anything. It's not you."
"Then what is it? We've been partners for over two years, Dana. I've always had your back. Haven't I earned your trust yet?"
Still not looking at the brunette, Dana closed her eyes and let out a deep breath. "I know you've had my back, and I do trust you, Reyes. That's"
Dana looked up in surprise. Reyes rarely raised her voice, and the look in her eyes let Dana know the other woman wasn't about to leave until she said her piece.
"We've been partners over two years and you haven't let me in at all. You don't even call me by my name! You never call me Monica; it's always 'Reyes.' It's just another way you keep me at a distance. You won't talk to me about anything other than work. And if I ask about anything you simply say 'I'm fine.'"
Feeling vulnerable, Dana pushed back. "What else do you expect?" she snapped. "We work together, so we talk about work. And if I wanted to share personal things with you, I would. After two years I'd think you'd catch on to that fact," she finished with a defiant glare.
Monica wasn't fazed. If Dana was going to resign anyway, she had nothing to lose. "Fine. You're right; we don't have to be friends to work together. But if what we've had is your definition of a partnership, then you're the most selfish person I've ever met."
Dana was actually shocked by Reyes' words, although she didn't allow it to show.
"All you do is take. You never give. You don't even give me the respect of treating me like an equal. I haven't been your partner; I've been your lackey. I've bent over backwards to be understanding, supportive, and respectful of your apparent need to close me out. I get that you don't want to be friends. Fine. But even agents I didn't know showed me more concern than you ever did when I was shot. I shouldn't have been surprised when you didn't even bother to call to see how I was doing, especially since your only reaction when I came back to work was to tell me I needed to catch-up on my case reports." She let out a growl of frustration.
"Then I guess my resigning will be doing you a favor. Now you can get a partner you'll like." Dana was as still as a stone and glared unflinchingly.
Monica shook her head as she moved towards the door. "I don't even know why I tried with you. You did the autopsy, there's no reason for you to stay. I'll take it from here. Go on back and turn in your resignation. You're so eager to be left alone, that's exactly what you'll get. Goodbye, Agent Scully." She exited the room, slamming the door behind her.
Dana was so pissed she picked up a water glass and threw it at the wall. "Fuck!" She turned on her heel, grabbed her keycard, and went down to the bar.
She sat in the dark booth drinking her scotch. It was her third one... maybe the fourth. She'd been going over everything Reyes had said to her. She'd been shocked by the brunette's anger. Reyes was the one of the calmest and most understanding people she'd ever known.
How could Reyes not know how much she cared about her? When Reyes had been shot Dana had felt her own heart stop. It didn't start back up until she verified the woman had been wearing her vest. She had missed Reyes while she was recuperating, but Dana didn't want to impose or intrude on the woman in the privacy of her home. Dana got so irritated when people continually asked her if she was okay when she had already told them she was fine. She assumed Reyes was 'fine' when she returned to work if Reyes hadn't been fine, she wouldn't have been back to work.
Apparently, what she viewed as not intruding or being pushy had been perceived as a total lack of caring on her part. Dana closed her eyes and sighed. Nothing could have been further from the truth. And that was the problem.
It was late and Monica should have been asleep. The only reason she wasn't was because she couldn't stop thinking about the confrontation she'd had with Dana. She couldn't shake the feeling that there was something the redhead wasn't telling her, something important. So while she was surprised to get a call on her motel room phone, it didn't wake her up.
"My name is Vanessa Ronson. I work for the hotel."
"Look, I know this is none of my business, but my brother is a cop, so I understand the pressures. And I know that sometimes the only person that truly understands is another cop, especially a partner..."
"What are you talking you about?"
"I think you should come down to the hotel bar, Agent Reyes. I think your partner could really use a friend right about now."
She pinched the bridge of her nose. "Scully."
"I'll be right there. Thank you for calling me, Vanessa." Monica got up and pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Slipping her keycard in a pocket as she pulled on her boots she was out the door in less than two minutes.
She found Vanessa waiting for her in the lobby as soon as she exited the elevator. "She's right in here, Ms. Reyes." She led the way into the hotel bar and to a booth. "If you need anything, just let me know," Vanessa said softly. "I'll be right over there," she added with nod to end of the bar.
"Thank you." Monica slid into the dark booth and was confronted with a sight she never thought she'd ever see a clearly inebriated Dana Scully. "Dana?"
"Have a drin'."
"No thank you."
"Then go 'way."
Monica waved to Vanessa, who came over, and spoke softly to her. She left with a nod. Monica looked back at Dana. She remained silent until Vanessa returned with her drink orange juice. "So, tell me, what are we celebrating?"
"Then why are we drinking?"
"What do you want to dream about?"
The redhead shook her head unsteadily. "No mo'..."
"No more? No more what?"
Tears began trailing down Dana's cheeks. "The dream..."
"What dream, Dana?" Monica asked gently.
"Same... always da same..."
"Tell me about it."
Dana shook her head and downed the last of her drink, before pouring another shot from the bottle on the table. "Don' wanna talk 'bout it... don' e'en wanna thin' 'bout it." She downed the shot she'd just poured and then stood up to leave... and swayed precariously. She'd have taken a spill if Monica hadn't jumped up and caught her.
"Whoa. Easy there."
"'m okay." Dana pushed herself away from Monica to stand on her own, but she stumbled and fell, rather ungracefully.
Monica waved off Vanessa who started to move in to help. She bent down and wrapped her arm around Dana's waist while slipping the redhead's arm over her own shoulders and holding onto it. "Come on, Dana; let's get you up to your room."
"O'ly if ya brin' the bo'le."
"Alright, I'll bring the bottle, Dana," Monica said, but with no intention of doing so.
In the elevator Dana all but passed out, turning into dead weight. Monica managed to heft the somnolent redhead into her arms and carried her out of the elevator and to her own room, which was closer than Dana's. As she removed the redhead's shoes and socks, Monica shook her head. She didn't understand what had gotten into Dana. In the over two years they'd been partners, she'd never once seen the redhead drink anything more than a glass or two of wine, much less overindulge to the point of inebriation. Dana simply hated not being in control. Monica pulled the covers over the woman. She then stripped down to her panties and t-shirt and got into the other bed.
Monica was abruptly wakened by a scream. She quickly moved to the other bed and took the trembling woman into her arms. Surprisingly, she felt Dana cling to her, tucking her face into Monica's shoulder and sobbing.
"Hey, it's okay, Dana. It was just a dream... just a dream. Shhh..."
Dana cried and sobbed in a way Monica suspected the redhead had never allowed another person to witness before. Suddenly, Dana pulled away from Monica's embrace, lunging out of the bed and into the bathroom. Monica followed when she heard the retching and found Dana kneeling over the toilet. She knelt next to the redhead and gently rubbed her back.
The whiskey was sour and caustic as she threw up, a clear reminder of one of the reasons she normally drank wine and very rarely overindulged. It was never really worth it for Dana to get drunk anyway. Through a trick of genetics she had such a high tolerance for alcohol she could drink anyone under the table, and any pleasurable feeling of intoxication she eventually achieved never lasted for very long. And of course, on the rare occasion she did excessively imbibe she had to deal with the unpleasant aftereffects.
Her ribs hurt as her body continued to try to expel contents from her now empty stomach. Finally her dry heaves stopped. Dana rested her head on her arm as she tried to focus past the pounding in her skull. She didn't notice the warm hand on her back until it left. She missed it, its warmth, its gentleness.
Dana opened her eyes to see the glass containing mouthwash being offered by Reyes. She took it in a shaky hand and rinsed her mouth with minty liquid, spitting it into the toilet when she was done.
"Think you can move yet?" Monica asked. The redhead silently nodded and surprised Monica by letting her help her to get up and back into the bedroom. Monica pulled the covers over Dana's legs after she sat in the bed. Instead of returning to her own bed, the brunette sat on the edge of the redhead's bed and looked at her. "Do you want to talk about it?" she asked gently.
Monica sighed. It was the answer she expected. Part of her wondered why she even tried. She nodded and stood.
It may have been a residual effect of the alcohol, but Dana felt guilty about the clouded shadows that passed behind Reyes' dark eyes. She reach out and caught the brunette's wrist when she stood, stopping her before she walked away. When Reyes looked down at her, Dana couldn't meet the questioning gaze. "I don't really want to talk about it, but..." she closed her eyes, swallowed, and drew a slow, deep breath, "I do owe you an explanation."
Monica sat back down. She didn't miss the trepidation in Dana's eyes when they opened again. "It's okay, Dana. Take your time."
Dana felt her throat constrict around the growing lump in her throat. "The reason I told Skinner I was going to resign is because I just can't take it anymore."
"Can't take what?"
"The dream... nightmare, actually." She paused for a couple of beats as she looked at the fidgeting hands in her lap. "It's the same... every time." She didn't try to stop the errant tear that escaped from the corner of her eye and trailed down her cheek... or the ones that followed. "I'm always back there, in the house in Chepachet... and forced to watch as Mulder kills them."
"You mean Mr. and Mrs. Cassandra?"
"But you weren't there when they were killed." Monica mentally kicked herself in the ass at the look in Dana's eyes. "Which doesn't mean a damn thing where your dream is concerned. Sorry," she said softly. She reached out and took Dana's hand in hers, surprised when the redhead didn't pull away. "There's more, isn't there?"
Dana nodded. "The house morphs into the Mulder family summer house in Quonochontaug."
"Where he tried to kill you and them himself."
"I find him in the living room... He forces me to watch as he kills everyone I love!"
Monica immediately pulled the redhead into her arms and held Dana tightly as she sobbed.
"He kills them all... over and over... Melissa, Charlie, Bill... Mom..." she unconsciously tightened her hold on Reyes, "... you. I can't keep going through that. It has to stop."
Monica's heart skipped a couple of beats when Dana included her in the list of people that she loved. She wasn't sure she'd heard correctly... but prayed that she had.
"He kills all of you and there's nothing I can do to stop it!"
"Shhh... it's just a dream, Dana. Your mother and brothers are safe. And I'm right here. We're all safe, Dana. Mulder hasn't hurt any of us, and he's not going to. He's locked up and he's never getting out. He'll never hurt anyone again." Without thinking about it, Monica kissed the side of Dana's head. "We're okay. Don't quit, Dana. Don't let him win. If you quit he wins." She pulled back just far enough to be able to take the other woman's face in her hands and look into her blue eyes.
"I'm not strong enough. I can't do it anymore."
"That's because you've been doing it alone all this time." Monica wiped some of Dana's tears away with her thumbs. "But you're not alone, Dana. You don't have to do any of this alone anymore. You don't have to be strong all the time."
"I'm so tired..."
"I know. I'm right here; just lean on me, Dana. Let me be strong for you for a little while."
Dana didn't know what to say. She'd been a 'lone wolf' practically her entire life, learning as the youngest girl in a family with four children to rely on no one but herself. Before she could even form the question in her mind, much less verbalize it, Reyes gave her the answer.
"Because we're partners and because I'm your friend. But most importantly, because I love you." Giving Dana enough time to pull away if she chose to, Monica slowly leaned in and pressed her lips to Dana's, sliding her hands from the redhead's cheeks back into her silky tresses as their kiss deepened. But then reason took over from her emotions. Monica pulled back, trying to regain her equilibrium along with her judgment.
Dana was confused. She didn't understand why Reyes was pulling away. "What's wrong?"
"I don't understand, Reyes."
"And that is my point," she said softly with a sigh. "You've been drinking, you're clearly upset... and you don't go from over two years of keeping 'Reyes' at arm's length to... this."
Dana took a deep breath. Of course Reyes Monica would think that, she'd given her no reason to believe otherwise... and that was her own fault. She took Monica's hands in her own and looked deep into her dark eyes. "Monica, listen... I'm not drunk and I know exactly what I'm saying and doing. I'm sorry for keeping you at a distance all this time, but it was never because of you... or a lack of feelings for you." She squeezed the brunette's hands as she dropped her eyes. "In fact, just the opposite. Monica, you invaded and took up residence in my heart a long time ago... I was just too afraid, and stubborn, to let you know it."
"And now? Now I'm tired. Tired of surviving instead of living... and tired of fighting my feelings for you and hurting both of us in the process." She reached up and gently cupped the brunette's cheek. "I love you, Monica. Can you ever forgive me for everything I've put you through?"
Monica covered the hand on her cheek with her own. Her dark brown eyes watered as she saw and felt the sincerity in crystal blue. "I already have."
Dana felt every wall she'd ever built around her heart crumble into nothing and be replaced with hope and joy as their lips met in a kiss that melded their hearts.
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