Title: Long Lay the World
Author: Bella Maria
Rating: PG
Category: V, A, Character Death, S/D Friendship (put the flame-thrower down NOW!)
Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't sue. Thanks.
SPOILERS: None that I can think of, except oblique ones for En Ami, Requiem, and Millennium
Archive: Anywhere! Please, let me know where it's going first. Thanks!

Summary: A lonely Christmas Eve at a diner on 16th Street.

Authors Notes: This is in response to the Church of X Fanfic Challenge for December 2000. Also, I don't know if Doggett had a wife. She's my own creation, as is Louanne.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The bell over the non-descript diner on 16th Street let out a tinny jingle as Dana Scully crossed the door. It was Christmas Eve, and snow was drifting silently down on Washington D.C. In the morning, the world would be unrecognizable; a true white Christmas. Yet, Scully did not feel the same sense of peace and serenity that she had in Christmases gone by. It seemed hard to believe that just a week ago, she and a FBI team had found Mulder dead in a forest of Oregon. Not that there was much left to identify. Alien bastards.

Her mother had tried to understand. She had been there with cups of tea and undivided attention as Scully would ramble on about the things the two had done together, what they had seen, how he had been one of the best people she'd ever known. But, those days were a haze now. She had tried to forget them, ashamed at letting herself go that much. Scully wasn't even sure if she'd make the trip to her mother's house tomorrow. The last thing she needed was sympathetic glances and hushed words of sorrow over a man no one there had known.

Scully took a small corner booth and ordered a cup of coffee from an exhausted, but smiling, waitress. She wasn't exactly sure what she was doing here. All she knew was that she had to get out of her apartment, and her head, for a while. So, she drove until she found some place that was still open at 11:30 at night on Christmas Eve. This empty diner was the only place she had found.

The waitress returned with a cup of black liquid that passed for coffee, setting it down with a plate of slightly stale, but gaily decorated, Christmas cookies.

"I noticed your...condition," she said with a slight Bostonian drawl, "and thought you might want something to eat. You're eating for two now."

"Thank you...Louanne," Scully replied, looking at the waitresses nametag. "Do you have any children at home?" She asked.

"Three, with one coming." Louanne said with obvious pride on her face. "The husband's watching them right now."

Scully smiled, and Louanne went back to the counter, wiping it off and stacking dishes in the sink. Scully picked up a frosting covered angel, and nibbled on a corner. Her mind went to the baby inside of her. God, she didn't even know who the father was. It sure as hell wasn't Mulder. The most romantic they ever had been was a kiss one New Years. Medically speaking, she wasn't even supposed to be pregnant. There were, of course, other options she'd rather not consider...

She was jarred out of this state of reflection by the chime of the bell over the door. With surprise, she saw John Doggett walk through the door. He turned and smiled at her. Uninvited, he crossed to her booth and sat across the table from her.

"Hey," he said with an odd combination of a New York twang and a southern drawl.

"Good evening," she replied, suddenly intent on the coffee in front of her.

"The coffee here any good?" he asked, in an obvious attempt to make conversations.

"Passable," she mumbled.

Doggett signaled Louanne, who promptly brought another coffee to the table. Both he and Scully remained silent for a few minutes; both absorbed in their own thoughts. Doggett shattered the reverie by asking, "How are you holding up?"

Scully sighed. "As best as I can under the circumstances." She stopped herself. "No, I'm not."

Doggett's eyebrows rose slightly, in a silent urge for her to continue.

"I miss him. I blame myself for what happened. I could've done something. There were a million and one things that I could've said or done to stop it. But I didn't. I let him go. I lost my best friend." Her voice caught at that last statement, and she lowered her head so Doggett couldn't see the tears welling up in her eyes.

Doggett stirred his coffee for a moment, letting the silence hang on the air. Slowly, he began to speak.

"About ten years ago, my wife Dianne died in a car wreck while she was heading for the mini-mart. I had asked if she could get me a pack of cigarettes while I did some work on our apartment.

I never forgave myself. I thought that it wasn't a drunken guy in a pickup that had killed her. It was me. If I hadn't asked her for something so trivial, she wouldn't have gone, and she wouldn't have died. I sorta sat in self-pity for awhile, convinced that it was my fault, and that I would never stop missing her.

But one day, I was surfing the tube, when I settled on some sitcom. I found myself laughing out loud at something incredibly dumb, and I realized in that instant, that it didn't hurt so badly. That dull ache inside me wasn't so noticeable. It was time to get out in the world and start living again."

He paused at this point, sipping his coffee before continuing.

"I guess my point is that the pain will stop. One day, you'll find that you don't hurt so much, and that the guilt begins to go away. It does get better. I hope it's soon for you."

He looked up, and saw to his surprise that there were tears streaming down Scully's face. "Thank you." She whispered.

They looked at each other for a moment, when Louanne came over and coughed a little.

"I hate to interrupt, but it's midnight, and we ARE closing now. I'll ring you both up at the front counter," she called as she shuffled off.

The two stood up and pulled on their coats. They paid their respective bills at the counter, where Louanne bade them a Merry Christmas.

Doggett held the door for Scully, and they both stepped out into the night. While they had been in the diner, the snow had stopped and the sky had cleared. Above them was a ceiling of stars, each trying to outshine the other. A pale, creamy moon sat serenely among them, like a pearl surrounded by diamonds. It shed a silvery light on the snow covered ground, and it seemed as if all of Washington D.C had stopped for one brief moment. After surveying the aerial splendor, the two turned to each other.

"Well, I'm gonna head home now." Doggett said while folding the collar of his coat around his neck.

"Did you drive here?" Scully asked with a hint of maternal concern in her voice.

"No, I walked. I was just out clearing my head." He replied.

"Can I give you a lift?" She offered.

"No, no, I only live a few blocks from here. I can make it," he replied.

"Well, then, good night," she said, squeezing his shoulder slightly.

" 'Night," he said.

As Scully turned to walk to her car, Doggett called out, "Agent Scully!"

She turned around and answered, "Yes?"

"Merry Christmas."

A curious smile formed on her face. It widened, and she called back, "Merry Christmas, Agent Doggett."

Finis

Go give a loved one a hug and tell them you love them. Happy holidays.
~Bella

Visit my site!

http://www.reocities.com/bella_maria2000/Bella.html

DEDICATION: For Maya, and her constant support. I owe you some lemonade, girl! Nst, and the gutter monkies at Haven. Love you guys! Invis, Ann, and the rest of the minions of mayhem at The Church of X Foxytime, for being herself. My family, who really shoulda chopped me up and fed me to the wolves long ago.

On a personal note, my prayers go out to Leyla Harrison and her family. As I understand it, she is ill, and I wish her the speediest recovery.



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