Title: 1984
Author: Kathmak
Distribution: Ephemeral; Gossamer; XFMU. Anywhere else, please ask.
Rating: PG; suitable for all readers. (Come on, Monica was a teenager in 1984. You didn't expect anything naughty, did you?)
Category: V (Vignette)
Keywords: DRF/DRR; Pre XF
Disclaimer: John and Monica don't belong to me, unfortunately. If they did, I would have treated them with much more respect than "you know who." Notes: I took a few liberties with the characters in terms of ages, etc. A suspension of disbelief is required for most fan fiction, isn't it?

Summary: A chance meeting in 1984 makes an impression on a teenage Monica Reyes.

Thanks to Joanne for encouraging me to finish this when I felt like giving up. And thanks to Tracy for being my webpage guru. As John Doggett would say, "I 'ppreciate it."

Washington, D.C., 1984

She was ready to go home. The weather had been nice, although maybe a little too rainy for her liking. She was used to the dry warmth of Mexico. Her aunt and uncle had been wonderful, but she missed her parents and her friends. She liked Washington, D.C., but how many times could she visit the Jefferson Memorial? She had already memorized the famous quotations inside the austere, imposing structure: on her first trip there, in fact. Yes, she decided, D.C. was a great place to visit, but she could never see herself living there. Leave that to the politicians.

"Earth to Monica." Her cousin Margie snapped her fingers in front of Monica's face. "So 'cuz, what do you think about him?"

Monica squinted and followed the path of Margie's purple fingernail, which was pointed at a tall gangly kid with bleach-blond hair. "Who? That one?" Monica's nose wrinkled in disapproval. "He looks like he just got out of jail."

Her cousin shrugged and swung her legs around the park bench, turning her back to Monica. "You don't like any of these boys. What is it with you, anyway? Are the guys cuter in Mexico or what?"

"No, I guess I'm just not in the mood to be boy watching with you today, Margie," Monica sighed wearily.

An audible snort came from the other side of the bench. "Well with that outfit you're wearing, it's no wonder."

Monica looked down at her faded jeans and her well-worn U2 T-shirt. "What's wrong with what I'm wearing? At least I'm not trying to look like Madonna's love child," she snapped.

"Whatever." Monica could just imagine Margie's eyes rolling in disgust. "Well, I don't care what you think of him," she said. "Stay here with your stupid book. I'm going to go over there and talk to him."

Monica watched as her cousin ambled off in pursuit of the teenage delinquent. She was only fourteen, almost two full years younger than Margie, but suddenly she felt older and grossly out of place. There was so much going on in the world: the threat of a nuclear war between the superpowers, a new and deadly virus called AIDS, famine in Africa. It just boggled her mind. And Margie? Margie's biggest concern was whether or not the rumors about the Police breaking up were true. No doubt Margie stayed awake at night wondering what was going on with Sting's latest hairstyle, Monica thought with chagrin.

Monica yawned as she stood up to stretch. As she did, the book that been resting on her lap fell to the ground with a distinct thud. She lifted her left leg onto the bench and was stretching out the kinks when she became aware of someone standing behind her.

"You dropped your book," a voice informed her.

There was something about that deep rasp of a voice that seemed strangely familiar to Monica, and yet, she knew that she had never heard it before. She turned quickly, curious to see who was making such a blatantly obvious statement. Her breath hitched in her throat when she saw him.

He was handsome, yes. But he was no pretty boy. His face was angular; his features chiseled. He couldn't have been more than twenty-four or twenty-five, but his eyes told a different story. His eyes looked as if they had seen a thousand years on a thousand different planets. They were a glacial blue, a color that Monica didn't know even existed in nature until now. The ears were a little pronounced, although that was probably due more to his military-style haircut than anything else, she decided.

Still dumbstruck, Monica watched as he leaned over and picked her book up off the damp grass. He used the sleeve of his khaki colored jacket to wipe away the wetness from its cover. So there were still a few gentlemen in the world, she thought to herself.

He read the title of her book aloud before handing it back to her. "Hauntings in North America."

"Is that so hard to believe?" Monica asked, immediately regretting her defensiveness. She clutched the book to her chest as if he had just unlocked the secrets of her personal diary.

The corners of his mouth turned up into a flat-lipped smile that Monica found immediately endearing. "No, not a bit," he finally answered. "But shouldn't someone your age be more interested in MTV and stuff like that?"

Monica sat back down, slumping into the park bench. "I don't know. I guess I'm not like other girls my age."

"That's for damn sure," he mumbled under his breath.

"What did you say?"

"Nothing." He sat down next to her without being invited. Somehow he knew she wouldn't mind. He was right. The two of them regarded each other quietly, but it was by no means an uncomfortable silence. After another minute or two, he cocked his head to the side and opened his mouth to ask her the question that she just knew was on the tip of his tongue.

"Have . . . ?" he began.

Monica interrupted him gently. "You're going to ask if we've ever met before," she said confidently.

His jaw dropped in amazement. "Yeah, I was. How'd you know that?"

"Just a feeling. I wondered the same thing."

She felt his eyes on her. "Well, have we?" he asked.

"I don't think so. Not unless you've been to Mexico." She smiled. "And no, I'm not actually Mexican. I'm adopted," she said in answer to his unasked question. She watched with amusement as his eyes narrowed.

"How the hell do you know what I'm going to say before I say it?" he asked with some exasperation.

"It's a gift, I guess," Monica smiled.

He shook his head. "You sure are an odd one."

"I'll take that as a compliment."

Monica closed her eyes, concentrating on the feeling of the warm breeze gently blowing across her face. She was still very much aware of his presence, and it comforted her for some unknown reason. She couldn't explain why, nor did she want to.

"So do you live here in D.C.?" she finally asked, turning toward him. He was staring at the ground, seemingly deeply absorbed in his own thoughts.

"No. New York. I had to come back here for my six-month checkup," he answered. "At Walter Reed."

"The military hospital?" Monica sat straight up and looked at him as he nodded. "Are you okay?"

He sighed. "Yeah, I seem to be. I took some shrapnel in my back when I was in Beirut. The doc just wanted to be sure everything was healing the way it's supposed to."

Monica sensed that he was reluctant to say much more than that, but she pressed him a little further anyway. He finally told her that he was a Marine and was wounded when terrorists filled a truck with explosives and detonated it near his barracks. He was one of the lucky ones, though: more than 200 Marines, Soldiers and Sailors were killed in the blast.

His words were guarded at first, his face impassive. But the more he spoke, the more he seemed to relax. His tone of voice and his body language demonstrated this. He smiled at Monica more than once, and she was struck by the warmth in his eyes, warmth that grew as they talked.

They talked about anything and nothing, and before she even realized it, nearly an hour had passed. Monica watched out of the corner of her eye as she noticed her cousin meandering by the reflecting pool. The teenage Romeo she had seemed so interested in was nowhere to be found, Monica noted.

"Is she a friend of yours?" the handsome young Marine who had been sharing her company asked.

Monica snorted in response. "My cousin. I'm spending a few weeks with her and her family before I go back to Mexico. I guess I should go over there and drag her butt home. My aunt is going to start wondering where we are."

He nodded and stretched his arms high above his head. "Yeah, I should go, too. I promised my girlfriend I'd take her to the Smithsonian," he said with a noticeable roll of his eyes.

They stood up simultaneously from the park bench that they had occupied for the past forty-five minutes or so, and Monica instantly felt a tinge of sadness as they said their goodbyes to one another. Silly, she thought, to feel that way about someone she hadn't even known for a full hour.

He started to walk away but then quickly turned around as something occurred to him. "Hey," he said. "I don't even know your name."

"It's Monica," she said.

"Monica . . ," he repeated thoughtfully, more to himself than to her. He seemed to like the sound of it well enough. "I'm John, by the way."

She smiled enigmatically. "I know." Monica waited until his eyes widened in disbelief before she let him in on her little joke. "Gotcha," she said with a giggle. "I'm good, but I'm not that good."

His laugh was genuine. "You had me going there for a minute." Another smile. "It was nice to meet you, Monica."

"You too, John." She waited until he was out of earshot before she added, "I'll see you again sometime." Her eyes were fixed on him until he disappeared from her line of sight.

She had never considered herself a particularly romantic girl. While her girlfriends were daydreaming about their idea of a perfect wedding, Monica was busy pondering the mysteries of the universe. Once, her mother had solemnly assured her that she would one day find her soul mate-the man she was fated to share her heart with. Monica had openly scoffed at the absurdity of such a notion. At the time, she recalled having no use for such sentimentality.

But that was then. Seemed like ages ago all of a sudden.

Somewhere inside her, Monica Reyes knew. She didn't know when or how, but she knew that she would see him again. And she would be ready.


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