Title: Wish For You
Disclaimer: I don't own the show, the characters, etc. etc
Spoilers: Very strong spoilers for Release, Audrey Pauley, 4-D
Category: X-Files, DRR (So DRR-IPPY it's not funny!)
Rating: PG-15 (Yeah, yeah, I made it up. PG-13 with one very minor sex scene :P Also there's some swearin')
Setting: Late season nine - Post Release. The Truth never happens, or it will happen different if it happens in the future :P
Content: Chapter 1 to 1 of 1 chapters
Summary: Christmas with John and Monica - and a mysterious couple eager to tag along :)
Notes: Okay, this fic is entirely STRANGE. It's got some kind of supernatural influence, I suppose, but I have no idea what I was on when I wrote it (maybe Vanilla Coke :P) Anyway I'm not sure you'll think it's believable, and I don't really mind because I'm still grinning teehee! Oooh the sweetness of make believe! :D This is MUCH longer than I intended. Once again ten pages has turned into...well...not ten pages! :P Enjoy nonetheless. Anyway, I hope you don't get bored with it :P hehe MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! :D
God, I wish I had a tree like that.
Monica stood in front of the department store window, in front of their magnificently decorated tree. It was beautiful, with purple and silver decorations and a shining star that Monica believed must have some damn fine jewels on it to make it sparkle as the tree's yellow lights flickered at its base. Best of all, Monica thought, it was green, real. Her hand clutched her large, plastic bag a little harder as she thought of the box inside and what it contained: her first fake Christmas tree that she'd be putting up alone.
Monica had experienced non-living trees before. It's not as though Mexico was adorned with luscious firs or a temperature low enough to sustain them, but she'd always put it up with her family. Most years since she'd been north, she had flown to Mexico for the holidays, to be with her family, and they had always waited until she arrived to decorate the tree. This year, however, she had decided to stay in Washington for the holidays and had booked her ticket for the New Year.
And so here she was, standing on an icy sidewalk staring longingly at a real live tree. Now that she thought about it, she'd had it once: with Brad. They'd put up a tree together at his place. The relationship had ended soon afterwards, however, and Monica had almost blocked those last few weeks from her mind. She found herself wondering now why she'd agreed to stay in Washington for Christmas anyway. She had told her parents a little about Dana, and Monica supposed that was her chief excuse, to support a friend, but Dana was going to stay at her mother's - Monica and John were invited for the Christmas Eve party - but other than that Monica didn't think she'd see much of Dana over the holiday season. Then there was work: the excuse she loved to use more than any other because it was convenient and no one knew enough to question her about it. 'Monica's FBI, it's a busy job', her friends and family would say. They didn't know what her kind of busy meant, she knew, and she hoped they would never find out. Her mother and father had a little idea, only because they'd overheard a conversation she and John had been having about Audrey in the hospital after the accident - Monica hadn't realised that they'd arrived.
"What did you do?" John had asked her. Monica was looking at him, tears in her eyes and breathing deeply to remain calm.
"Just...sat there," she'd replied. "Sat there and waited to die." She'd started to cry and John had comforted her, touching and caressing her face, and as she calmed they'd hugged fiercely. "How did she do it John?"
"Yeah. How did she... How did she create another world? It couldn't have been in her head - it was so real. She had our souls in her head, is that it?" John couldn't work out what to say. He'd just shrugged.
"I don't know Monica. I'm sorry." She smiled.
"Why are you sorry?"
"I can picture you, just sitting there, waiting. You were alone. I know what that feels like and I don't want that for you. You deserve better." Monica's smile had grown into a grin as tears threatened again, but she held them back.
"I wasn't alone. I knew you'd heard me. I heard you."
Monica reached out and touched the glass window, running her index finger across the outline of one of the decorations. A purple heart with a silver lining. She sighed, turned, and began to walk back down the street with the memory still fresh in her mind. Her parents had asked her why her soul had been in somebody's head, and she'd tried to explain. It was best they knew as little as possible, however, because if anything ever happened to them because of her...
Monica reached her block and couldn't bring herself to go inside just yet. It would be dark, it would be empty, and she'd just sit there, so instead she sat on the steps leading up. She knew she should call John, but his parents were visiting, staying with him, and she couldn't possibly interrupt him. She would just go inside and relax in a nice, hot bath, before decorating her tree. She was about to stand when a man sat down next to her. He was older, but not elderly. He was clean cut, relatively good looking, and his eyes- As Monica looked across to him, getting ready to stand; she became lost in his eyes. They reflected the entire world, and it took her breath away. His hand reached out and touched her arm, urging her not to leave just yet.
"Can I help you?" Monica asked, attempting to draw her eyes from him. She wasn't scared at his invasion of her space, but she was cautious.
"Don't go up just yet. Please."
"Please." Monica's mouth opened to reply but she found herself without anything to say, and so she sat back down on the front steps. After a moment of silence she turned to him again. His hand was still on her arm, though not in a threatening manner. It was as though he was simply holding her there.
"Why can't I go into my home?" she asked softly. He didn't look over at her, instead releasing her arm.
"I'm not going to hold you here, but if you could just wait..." Monica's brow furrowed. Something was wrong with this whole situation. She sat with the man for a few more minutes. Neither spoke. She decided to go up and turned, glancing up the stairs to her house as she stood, her hand flexing instinctively at her right hip.
"Monica," the man called, grabbing her attention as she went to leave. She had been for a moment prompted to ask his name, but hadn't, and on this note she was instantly curious as to how this man knew hers. They stared at each other, both standing now, Monica perched several steps above him. "He's thinking of you," the man said, before he turned and walked away. Monica's brow creased and she hesitated before jogging down the steps and turning in the direction he had left, but he was gone.
Monica reached her apartment only to find the door swinging open.
"Shit," she whispered, leaving her bags on the floor and drawing her gun. She approached the door and thought quickly through her floor plan, before kicking the door back. Hearing wood hit fellow wood she entered and quickly scanned the living room. It was large and spacious, and there weren't many places to hide. Her bedroom and bathroom doors were open and her search turned up nothing. Once she'd ascertained there were no longer any intruders, she noticed that there definitely had been someone there. She was standing in her bedroom. Her bed was pulled back and the sheets had been stripped. Clothes were everywhere. Winter, summer, suits, underwear... She even spotted her bathing suit that had been packed into a box at the top of her cupboard. Her gun at her side, she walked into her living room. All the furniture was in tact, and only her couch had been turned upside down. She'd left a stack of files on the dining table and they were all over the chairs, the floor.
Her kitchen was the worst hit. Monica's mouth fell open as she observed the damage. The fridge door was hanging wide open. Everything that had been in the fridge was now on the floor. Fruit, milk, juice, chocolate, yoghurt, bread, and someone had opened her freezer and found a packet of frozen peas, slitting it open and spilling them out on top of the mess as though they were hundreds and thousands decorating icing on a cake. She stepped back, deciding to look for anything that may be missing. All her electrical equipment remained in place, though someone had jammed a fork into the VCR and her stereo had been toyed with as well.
Someone had to have heard all of this, Monica realised, but after closing her apartment door and questioning her neighbours, they revealed they'd heard nothing. Everyone had been at work or shopping or just out. Monica returned to her apartment, wishing that all the damage would have disappeared, but it hadn't. She brought her shopping bags inside and stood in the doorframe, trying to work out what to do. After a while she shut the front door and walked into her bedroom, looking around for her jewellery box that was in a drawer. It had been rifled through, but nothing was missing.
They'd been looking for something.
Monica doubted there was just one person who was involved in this, and one thing was certain in her mind, the man from the steps had known. He had known. Monica bit her bottom lip in thought and took out her mobile as she was struck on the back of the head. She fell forward, onto her knees, her face landing on the bed as her eyelids fluttered shut.
"So how's work?" John's mother asked him as they sat down to dinner. John nodded.
"It's good. We're doing good work."
"You still working at the spooky unit?" his father asked. John smirked.
"Will we get to meet your colleagues? These, Mulder and Scully?" John remembered that he hadn't told his parents about Monica. At all. He would have wondered why if his parents weren't pressing for an answer to their question.
"Mulder's ah, left town for awhile," John told a half-truth. "We're invited to a party Christmas Eve that's being thrown by Scully's mother. Just family and friends. I thought we could go."
"Are you sure we're welcome?"
"Sure mum. I already asked. Dana's friends from work are absolutely invited." His mother and father nodded, and seemed to be satisfied. Somewhere in the distance, a phone rang. John's brow creased as he recognised the tone. "I thought I turned that off," he cursed allowed, excusing himself from the table. He picked it up from the kitchen, saw the ID: 'MONICA' and clicked 'Answer'. "Yeah Mon?" There was no reply. "Monica?"
John's mother and father raised their eyebrows. Monica? Who was she?
Meanwhile, John was still getting no answer and walked away from the kitchen into the living room.
"Monica I can't hear you. You've dropped out." He was about to hang up when he heard something. It sounded like a sigh. Then he heard a cough and a groan. "Monica?" John asked more urgently. "Monica are you there?"
"John..." he heard her sigh, and she definitely did not sound fully conscious. John had heard her say his name both while she'd been conscious and when she hadn't quite fit that category, and this would be of the latter.
"Monica, where are you? Are you hurt?" John asked. No answer. "Monica!"
"Ah, prick!" he heard, accompanied by a groan.
"Monica? Mon, pick up your phone!" he exclaimed into the mouthpiece of his cell.
Monica rubbed her head and felt a lump on the back of her skull. Piece of crap! There'd been someone hiding under the bed. Piece of shit! Her finger crossed the centre of the lump and she groaned, pulling back and seeing blood.
"Ah, prick!" she exclaimed under her breath. She used the bed to push herself up and closed her eyes momentarily to stop a wave of nausea sending her crashing back to the floor. She sighed as she opened them and found her balance, before sitting down on the bed, one hand holding the back of her head. It seemed to be just a scratch, but it hurt like hell. She saw the phone beside her and decided to call the cops for real this time, but she saw the screen light on and 'JOHN' flashing on the screen.
Monica's brow creased. Her phone hadn't even been on when she'd taken it out, because the battery was about to fail. Now it was fully charged, and there was a call to John in progress. She snapped it up in her hands.
"Hello?" she asked. She heard a sigh over the end of the phone.
"Jesus Monica what's going on?" John asked. "Are you okay?"
"I, uh, I think so."
"You *think* so. Were you knocked out?"
"I, uh...I think so," she repeated. "Someone broke in and went looking for something and I interrupted them...I think."
"Did they take anything?"
"No. The place is a mess. I'm gonna call the cops, okay?"
"You need a place to stay?" Monica hesitated over the phone.
"Um...Yeah, I think I do."
"Okay. Monica, you call uniform and then come over here, okay?" There was no answer. "Monica? Agent Reyes?"
'Agent Reyes', John's mother mouthed silently to her husband, raising her eyebrows.
"Yeah, yeah I'm here. Sorry I just had to-"
"You get hit on the head or something?"
"You sitting down?"
"Yep," Monica lied as she leant against the bathroom sink, trying not to be sick. "I'm okay John. I'm fine."
"Call the cops. I'm gonna pick you up and take you to a doctor then I'll bring ya back here, okay?"
"No, John, you can't. Your parents-"
"They'll be here when we get back. Can you call the-"
"I'm fine, John!" Monica exclaimed.
"You don't sound fine!"
"Well, I'm shaken up."
"Exactly," John stated. "I'll be there as soon as I can." John said goodbye and hung up. "Will you both be all right for a while?"
"Sure son," John's father stated, picking at his dinner carefully.
"Who's Monica?" his mother asked. "Is she all right?"
"She'll be fine." John grabbed his coat. "We'll be back as soon as possible."
"You didn't answer my question John." John opened the front door and cast a glance back at his parents.
"She's my partner," he replied, walking out quickly before they asked too many more questions.
Monica was sitting cross-legged on her bed when John arrived. He'd passed through the living room and kitchen on his way, and had raised his eyebrows at the food strewn all over the floor on one side, the paper from official files on the other side. CSI agents and a plain-clothes detective who was overseeing the search were covering every inch of the floor.
"Can't come in here," the plain-clothes stated as John flashed his badge.
"I'm her partner. She called me."
"She didn't tell me that."
"Yeah well I'm taking her to see a doctor. She was hit over the head. Where is she?"
"Agent Reyes is in her room. And your name sir?"
"Special Agent John Doggett." The detective wrote it down, but glanced up slowly.
"You ever been in blue?"
"NYPD," John replied.
"Yeah, same. Seen your name on a couple of old arrest reports." John nodded, shaking the man's hand. "Your partner's room's down the hall to your right." John nodded. Left, he corrected silently, but he didn't want to be giving the detective any ideas. He'd only been in Monica's bedroom three times. One when he'd been house hunting with her and they'd stood in an empty room, the agent declaring that this was the bedroom. The second time he'd been helping her unpack and had made her bed for her, marine- style. She'd laughed at him, commenting that she'd never be able to get under the sheets they were pulled so tightly. The final time he'd been there to pick up some clothes for her to come home in from the hospital. John walked now into the room and saw Monica watching a CSI fingerprint her chest of drawers. She saw him and smiled.
"Hey John," she stated. The CSI looked up. "Billy this is my partner, John Doggett."
"Oh hey Agent Doggett," the CSI smiled, glancing up at him. "Just talking with Agent Reyes here about what she reckons she was hit with."
"Any idea?" John asked her. She shrugged.
"Felt like a gun barrel, but I'm not sure. I can tell you now though, no one heard anything. They were all out." John looked at her incredulously and Billy answered his silent question.
"She already came in, found the mess, walked back out to talk to the neighbours straight away. I'm telling her she shoulda called us first, but hey, FBI think they're immortal, right? So she comes back in. This dude's stuck under her bed and takes his chance to get away, or something freaked him and he ran. How long were you out for Agent Reyes?"
"Not long," she replied. "Maybe five, ten minutes." John walked up to her and took a gentle hold of the arm she was holding to the back of her head. She pulled against him but he was stronger.
"Lemme see," he stated. She reluctantly pulled her hand away and John saw the blood on her fingers, dried. He parted her hair carefully but must have pulled a couple of strands because she jerked her head back and winced. "Sorry," John replied. "Just a scratch," he added. "Nice bruise startin' though."
"Yeah thanks," she rolled her eyes.
"Come on, let's get you checked out then." He helped Monica stand and she seemed to be okay on her feet. She picked up her bag, slung it over her shoulder and she and John spoke briefly to the detective before they left.
An hour and a half later they were pulling up in John's driveway.
"You sure you have room?" Monica asked.
"Absolutely. Besides, the doctor said-"
"Yeah, yeah, mild concussion. Sure!" She rolled her eyes. "If I can live through being hit over the head with a fire extinguisher then I can handle a teensy little gun." John chuckled, shaking his head and shooing her out of the car.
"Out, go on."
"What, you won't even open my door for me?" Monica gasped. "John, I'm an invalid!" John got out, smirking as he walked around to Monica's side and helped her out, taking her hand but letting it go once she had her footing.
"Hypocrite!" he exclaimed. Monica would've taken a bow if she didn't think she'd fall flat on her face as a result, so instead she grinned, glancing up into the house that was still well lit for this time of night.
"You think they're awake?" she asked John. He nodded.
"I'll bet on it. Listen, uh, Monica-" He stopped her before they walked in. "They don't know...who you are."
"What do you mean?" she asked earnestly.
"All they know is that you're my partner, right? And they found that out tonight as I was leavin' to get you."
"That is who I am, your partner, aren't I?"
"No, um, they dunno that you found Luke."
"I couldn't tell em everything, and Luke's a...painful memory for them. They're bitter. Mum doesn't really understand what the police, the FBI, really did-" Monica nodded.
"No, I understand. I think I would be bitter too. They don't know we've been friends for years. It's okay."
"And they don't know about work." Monica took the chance and laughed, covering her mouth at her outburst. "What?" John asked, opening the front door and looking around carefully as he took Monica's coat off her shoulders and hung it up with his own.
"Neither do mine. Except for..."
"Yeah, I ended up telling them that it was just my experience, and I promised I didn't deal with things like that every day. Mum and dad would...I dunno...it would be too scary for them. Do you know what I mean?" She turned to look at him and he nodded.
"I know. I think mine know a little more though."
"Dad calls it the spooky unit." Monica's mouth opened. "I only told them about one particular case and that occasionally there are similar ones, and he named it himself. Nothing to do with Mulder, although they know his name."
They walked into the main living area and found John's parents in the kitchen, washing up some dishes.
"I'm home," John called, and they broke from their conversation and turned. "Monica, my parents-" John's mother walked forward and shook Monica's hand.
"I'm Jane and this is Arnold." Monica shook his father's hand as well.
"Nice to meet you," Monica replied, making her way over to a stool, taking a seat.
"You've got a good handshake," Jane remarked. Monica smiled.
"Mum," John began.
"Well she does. I suppose, you have to be good at that to work in the FBI, being professional and all."
"I suppose you do," Monica replied.
"So is...everything, okay?" Jane asked, looking from John to Monica.
"Everything's fine," John replied. "Mon, you hungry?"
"I'm starving, but I can get it." She started to get up but he pushed her back down, a hand on her shoulder.
"No, I haven't eaten either. Mum, dad, want any more?"
"No thanks. It was good though. I never could cook like that," Arnold said.
"That's because you've always had your wife to do it for you. Times have changed," John replied, getting out a new plate and dishing out some food, before zapping it in the microwave. Monica reached behind her and found some cutlery without thinking.
"So you're John's partner, are you?" Jane asked. John slid Monica her plate as he put his own in the microwave and she handed him a knife and fork as they all sat around the kitchen bench. There were only three stools and so John went and dragged in a chair from the dining table, sitting down.
"Yeah, we've been partners for a year or so now, right John?" she looked over at him, and he'd shrunk. She started laughing and he looked up at her, hidden mostly by the bench.
"What?" he asked, not really expecting an answer. He knew what. "And yeah, about that."
"You must be close then," Jane continued.
"Jane," Arnold scolded.
"What?" she asked, sounding like a female version of John.
"No, it's okay," John replied. "I guess we are."
"Did you make this?" Monica asked him. He nodded.
"It's good. Not as good as the turkey though."
"I know," John replied as she finished up and stood, getting herself a drink of water.
"I'm going to find some blankets for your couch," she stated as she rinsed the glass, leaving it sitting in the sink.
"Wait Mon," John called before she disappeared around the corner. She turned back. "I'll take the couch." Her mouth fell open slightly.
"Oh no, it's okay."
"It's not that comfortable, the bed'll be better for your head."
"What's wrong with her head?" Arnold asked.
"I uh...fell," Monica replied, and she knew instantly that they knew she was lying. "Anyway, John if it's uncomfortable why should you-"
"You're forgetting I was in the marines. I've slept in worse surroundings. You wanna head up then?" Monica hesitated. She was going to spend the night in his bed. She couldn't believe it.
"Um, yeah, if that's okay. I'm kinda tired. Damn medication-"
"You only took two!" John laughed, walking around the corner with her. Jane and Arnold heard their voices as they disappeared into John's room.
John pulled back the covers as he explained that the bathroom was just next door.
"I know," Monica replied, but stopped. "Oh shit."
"What? You okay?" he asked, immediately concerned. She nodded.
"Oh my God. John, I knew where everything was."
"Yeah, we're partners. We've been to each other's place before. What's the problem?"
"I just don't want to give off the wrong impression...about what's going on here."
"What is going on here?" John asked. Monica shrugged.
"I don't know, but they're going to think that I-"
"Well, if they think it already, they're going to convince themselves of it by tomorrow morning. We can't help it if we know our way around each other's apartments. Nothing's come of it." She nodded. John rifled through his top drawer, finding a neatly folded dress shirt. "I don't wear any of these any more really, and since all your clothes are evidence and so you have none-" Monica nodded. "It's gotta be more comfortable than that." She took it from him, smiling.
"Help yourself. There should be a spare towel in the bottom cupboard of the bathroom if you want to take a shower."
"I think I will. Make sure there's no blood left in my hair." He nodded.
"All four of them? Narr, it's fine." John nodded.
"Night." John left quickly and Monica made her way into the bathroom. As John reached the kitchen, he heard the water start up. His parents were sitting in front of the television, watching some carols.
"That was very nice of you to let her sleep in your room," Jane commented as he joined them. "She seems a sweet girl."
"She's nice, yeah," John replied.
"Can't imagine her as an FBI agent. They seem so...tough." John smirked.
"She is tough mum." Tougher than you would imagine.
"I'm sure she is. So...she uh, seems to know her way around. Knows where you keep blankets, glasses, cutlery-"
"She came over at Thanksgiving."
"Yeah, we did the turkey together and all that stuff."
"What about her family?" Arnold asked, breaking his silence.
"They're in Mexico."
"What the hell are they doing in Mexico?" he exclaimed. John resisted the urge to roll his eyes.
"She doesn't look Mexican," Jane stated. John sighed, leaning back in the chair.
"Look it's kind of a personal issue for Monica, and I don't-"
"Come on son, she's in the shower, she can't hear you-" his father urged.
"She's adopted, okay? And I'd prefer if you didn't bring it up in front of her."
"Of course," his mother replied. "We were just curious, John."
"Yeah, I know." He stared at the television, not really watching it.
"So you're friends?"
"Jesus mum! Yes, we're friends."
"That's nice. I was beginning to think you didn't have any left." John didn't reply as his parents decided to head off to bed as well, leaving John to get settled on the couch. He removed his shirt and laid it over a nearby chair before realising that he didn't have any blankets. He made his way down the hallway and took two blankets and a spare pillow from the cupboard. On his way back, he knocked softly on his own bedroom door.
"Yep," Monica called. He opened the door and smiled.
"We're going to bed. How you feeling?"
"Good," she replied with a smile. All he could see in the dark were her white teeth and a dual glittering - her eyes. They said goodnight again and John headed back to the couch, falling asleep quickly.
John woke to the morning sun peeking through the curtains and its warmth spreading over his chest. Monica reached out and gently poked at his chest, smiling to herself. He looked good without a shirt on. In fact, he looked better. When he didn't respond she went to poke him again but he grabbed her hand. She gasped, jumping a mile high. John laughed, opening his eyes.
"Good morning," he chuckled.
"Just checking if you were still alive," she defended. John looked at her, holding her palm down on his chest.
"See this, it's called breathing. If I'm breathing, I'm alive. No need to poke." Monica grinned, shrugging. John noticed she was wearing the shirt he'd handed her the night before, and that it was now severely crumpled.
"Yeah, yeah. I rang the local PD and they didn't turn anything up at my place." John checked his watch. It was seven am on Christmas Eve.
"Not surprising," John replied.
"Yeah, I guess. Hey um, are you going to Mrs Scully's tonight?"
"Okay, well I'm going to get changed and get a taxi back to my place. I've got some cleaning to do."
"You want a lift?"
"No, it's okay." She smiled and stood, walking away, as John stood up. The shirt just covered her hips and John couldn't help staring at her slender legs.
Monica shut the door of her apartment and, crumpled crime-scene tape in her hand, glanced around, her mouth open. It was spotless. The couch was back in its upright position; the files were neatly stacked on the table. She walked into the kitchen. There was nothing on the floor. Not one single pea or drop of juice. She knelt down, touching her fingers to the floor. Not sticky. She brought them to her nose and smelt cautiously. Soap and polish, she identified as best she could. She stood back up, opening her fridge. It was stocked with just the basics, but it was more than what had been left the previous night. Next to the television the Christmas tree Monica had purchased and had left against the front wall overnight was assembled. There were no decorations but a bag full of them was sitting at its base. Monica walked into her bedroom. Her bed was made and the floor was clean. Opening her cupboard and draws she saw that everything had been hung and folded neatly.
"No way," Monica whispered under her breath. "No frickin' way!" She put a hand to the back of her head just to make sure this had really happened. It had. The bruise was tender and she could feel one of the stitches. She walked quickly into the kitchen and punched in John's number.
"John Doggett," he answered on the fourth ring.
"John it's me. You didn't tell anyone what happened, did you?"
"Well you know how I said I had lots of cleaning up to do?"
"Yeah, want some help?"
"No, that won't be necessary, because this place looks as good as new."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean it's spotless. It's cleaner than I left it yesterday morning."
"Someone came back in and cleaned it for you?"
"Maybe." Monica did another double take around the place. "There's something going on John."
"What do you mean?"
"Well apartments don't clean themselves! And then there was the man-"
"Uh-" Monica hesitated, realising she'd never told him.
"Monica, what man? Was there a witness?" Monica heard a knock on the door.
"John I'll call you back all right?"
"See ya." She hung up and, phone still in hand, answered the door. It was the detective. He glanced around.
"Wow, that was quick," he remarked of the clean up.
"Yeah some uh, friends, helped."
"Good to have friends in high places I'm sure. I was just stopping by to take another look around but seeing as you're here I'll ask you some more questions?"
"Sure. Come in." She led him in and they sat on opposite seats in the living room. "What do you need to know?"
"Were you or your partner working on anything that someone may have been after?"
"Not that I know of. We haven't taken any new cases in the last week, and most of them-"
"Are these the cases on the dining table?" Monica nodded.
"They're old cases. One I'm reviewing for a parole hearing early in the New Year, the others are uh...just for reading."
"Just for reading?"
"So I take it you've spoken with my AD?"
"I have, yes. He was under the impression this wasn't work-related either. He wouldn't tell me why."
"That's because the last couple of cases John and I have worked on haven't quite been...the norm."
"Uh, well in our most recent case the perpetrator was a um, a ghost."
"Yes. An evil spirit." The detective was stunned.
"Our other recent cases have been isolated psychiatric matters. The suspects aren't capable and they have no associates who could have done this."
"I see." He made some notes. "Do you have any idea who may have done this then? A pissed off boyfriend perhaps?"
"No, definitely not."
"Sometimes, Agent Reyes, violent behaviour doesn't have to be in character for something like this to happen."
"I'm aware of that, but there haven't been any boyfriends to piss off in a while," she spelt it out for him, eyebrows raised.
"Okay," he replied. "Any idea of who may have done this then?"
"No," Monica thought. "But I think I know someone who may be involved." She told the detective about the man on the front steps, who'd told her to stay outside even though she hadn't really listened.
"Did you get a good look at him?"
"Yes. He was between fifty and sixty, dark grey hair. It would've been dark brown once. Fair skin, large, expressive eyes. I couldn't pick a colour. Looked to be a mixture-"
"Agent Reyes, a sixty-year-old man wouldn't be able to do this kind of damage."
"He didn't. He was outside. But I'm sure he warned me."
"Did you see where he came from when he sat beside you? Did he get out of a car or walk up to you?"
"I...don't remember even hearing footsteps."
"Deep in thought?"
"Something like that."
"Okay, well I'll take your description down to the precinct and we'll look into it, but this is probably someone from your past. I'd keep an eye out."
"Sure," Monica replied, letting him out. She knew she should call John back, but didn't really feel like it, instead going for a walk.
By the time Monica reached the park snow had started to fall lightly. She smiled. After the icy nights of late it was a welcome result. She didn't even mind being in the middle of it, finding a tree and sitting underneath it.
It had only been five minutes when a pair of feet materialised in front of her. She looked up and saw the same man, dressed in exactly what he'd been wearing the previous night. Monica looked up at him with wide eyes, unsure of whether she should trust this man.
"How are you feeling?" he asked. "You shouldn't be out here. You'll catch a cold."
"How do you know my name?" Monica asked. He didn't answer.
"I'm glad you weren't hurt. May I sit?" She nodded, looking over at him.
"Did you go back last night and clean up after your friends?"
"You told me not to go up. Were you meant to do that? Or were you meant to let them know when I showed up so they could be ready to shoot me when I walked through the door-"
"He shot you?"
"Do I look like I've been shot?" she exclaimed.
"Okay, you're angry because I didn't explain."
"How do you know my name? Who are you?"
"My name's Kris." He stood up. "The rest comes later." Monica jumped to her feet.
"Hey!" she called. He turned before walking too far away. "Who was he? What did he want?"
"He didn't find it."
"Don't be alone, because he's watching you."
"If he's watching me he can see I'm with you. You're a dead man!"
"He can't touch me."
"What is this? Is this an X File?"
"I've been called worse."
"What?" Monica asked.
"A figment of the imagination, that's all." He turned and left.
"Hey!" Monica called. He didn't turn around. "Come back!"
"Monica?" Monica spun around at the sound of John calling her. She turned back to where Kris had gone, but he'd disappeared. She sighed, as John caught up to her. His hands reached for hers. "What are you doing out here?"
"I was thinking."
"Who were you calling after just now?" Monica looked up into John's eyes.
"You didn't see him?"
"Who?" John asked. He reached up, laying a hand gently across her forehead. She would have been offended, but he seemed genuinely concerned and his touch was comforting.
"Um...no one," she answered as he pulled his hand away. "I'm okay. I was just out for a walk."
"It's snowing." Monica nodded.
"Yeah, I noticed."
"You're not even wearing gloves Monica."
"Well I hadn't planned on being out too long-" Her brow furrowed. "What are you doing here?"
"You never called me back, so we stopped at your place. You were right about it being spotless. Anyway I was on my way back down when I ran into one of your neighbours. I asked if she knew where you were and she said to try here."
"I didn't tell anyone where I was going, John."
"Then how did she know?"
"John, did you see which room she came out of?"
"Yeah, across the hall from you, she said."
"Two men live across the hall from me."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." John became confused. "What did she look like?"
"Um...maybe early fifties, blonde hair, blue eyes-"
"I don't know anyone in my building who looks like that." Monica bit her bottom lip, sighing.
"Well I didn't imagine it, because you're definitely here." She nodded, her eyes tilted downwards, an expression of intense concentration on her face. John smiled, reaching out and picking some snowflakes from her hair. He brushed a finger down her nose, wiping off more flakes, and she looked up at him, her stomach turning over in a manner she hardly remembered. "You shouldn't be out here. You'll catch a cold." Monica's eyes widened.
"That's exactly what... Never mind," she corrected. John smiled.
"Come on, mum and dad are waiting in the car."
"It's okay, I'll just-" Monica stopped mid-sentence.
Don't be alone, because he's watching you.
She took a deep breath. The man had been right once, she really should take what he said to her seriously from now on, or she had a feeling she'd be getting more than a crack over the head. She looked up at John, and smiled.
"Thanks John." He shook his head.
"No worries. Mum and dad want a tour of the Hoover. You wanna come?" Monica smiled.
John's mother got out of the front passenger seat, vacating it for Monica as she and John approached the car, and the four of them drove to work.
They were stopped at the entrance as Monica searched for her ID, realising that she didn't have it on her.
"John, I left it on top of your dresser," she sighed. John checked his watch.
"It's okay. Rachel's on. No problems."
"How do you know that?" she asked.
"She was talking to me the other day about how much she's going to be getting paid in overtime these holidays." Monica laughed. Jane and Arnold were suited up with visitor passes once John explained who they were and gave them clearance, and they headed in. Jane and Arnold watched with surprise as Monica pulled her weapon from its holster, which had been hidden the whole time, placing the gun on the tray and walking through security.
"How's it going Barry?" she asked of the guard who handed her the weapon back. John walked through after her.
"Not too bad Agent Reyes. Did you hear they're upgrading these things?"
"Yeah? How sensitive will they be?"
"Not sure yet."
"Well as long as I don't have to remove any jewellery before walking through-"
"You know, that would be an excellent April Fool's."
"Don't even think about it Barry," John stated. "Unless you want all the women in this place attacking you at noon." Barry grinned.
"I dunno. There's only five of them." Monica whacked him across the arm and they laughed. "Well, okay, there's more than that."
"That's better. Is it quiet?"
"It's Christmas Eve agents, it's very quiet. Although Agent Scully turned up an hour ago."
"Yep, she and bubba." Monica smiled.
"Well we better go and find her," Monica replied, urging Jane and Arnold to follow them as they made their way to an elevator.
"Where do you want to go?" John asked them.
"How about your office." Monica turned to John and raised her eyebrows. He shifted in his place.
"Uh, okay." He pulled out his mobile as they stepped into the elevator.
"Scully," Dana answered. Doggett could hear William squealing happily in the background.
"It's John. Where are you?"
"Believe it or not, I'm at work," she replied. Monica listened to John's half of the conversation, glancing occasionally over at Jane and Arnold as they watched in awe as they actually descended in the elevator.
"What you doing at work? Shouldn't you be at your mother's helping out?"
"Yes, actually, but I left a file here I wanted to look over and I got distracted."
"Ah," John replied.
"So, what's up?" Dana asked, finally realising that he had called her, and so he must have something to say.
"Not much. How's William?"
"You can hear him?"
"He's good. Oh listen, I was going to ring Monica. Skinner called and told me she had a break in and was hurt?"
"Narr, just a small concussion. She's fine now. Slept it off."
"Good. So you're both coming tonight?"
"The basement?" Jane exclaimed rather loudly as the elevator stopped. Scully heard it through the phone as the elevator tinged outside the office door.
"John, where are you?"
"I'm about ten metres away from you," he replied, chuckling a, "See you soon", and hanging up. Dana was sitting expectantly on her desk with William on her lap as the door opened and not one but four people walked through. Dana couldn't hide the surprise on her face.
"Hey, you brought company!" she exclaimed, obviously in a good mood. Monica walked up to Dana and she handed William to him. Monica cooed and pulled faces, jiggling him softly as he laughed at her, reaching for her hair. John introduced his parents to Dana and then to William, who was too busy playing with Monica to notice the unfamiliar faces. "What brings you here? Wanted a tour?" Dana asked with a hint of sarcasm that she just couldn't help.
"Something like that," John replied, turning to his parents. "This is where we work."
"All three of you fit in here?" Jane asked. "No wonder!"
"No wonder what?" John asked.
"Such a small space every day, close quarters, all that travelling-" John and Dana exchanged curious glances.
"Never mind your mother," Arnold stated. "So why don't you have an office?"
"This is our office," John replied. "See, there are desks, chairs and filing cabinets. It's an office. This one's mine, the one opposite is Monica's, and this one over here is Agent Scully's."
Everyone stopped as the phone on Monica's desk started ringing. Monica reached down and picked it up without a moment's hesitation, oblivious to the fact that it was Christmas Eve and no one should be calling her at work at this time.
"Monica Reyes," she stated, her voice steady and professional, yet at the same time she grinned at William, who reached out and grabbed her ear. Monica's eyes darted to Dana, who gently pried her earring from William's fingers and took him back. "Si mama," she added after listening several seconds. "No, I'm not working. I just popped in for a second. I...forgot a file. Why are you calling me here anyway? Is Papa all right? Oh, well what about my mobile? What? No, it hasn't been disconnected. Just a second." Monica reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out her mobile phone. She turned it over and slid off the back cover with one hand. John stepped forward and took it from her as she went back to the conversation. "Si mama. No, everything's fine. It's snowing... Yes I bought a tree. No, not a real one... Because they're too messy and there's no point. They just die anyway and then you have to clean it up... I know, I like them too but I don't have the energy and it's no fun alone... No, I haven't decorated... I will, I promise. Listen mama I have to go. I'm all right, okay? Okay, I love you. Bye." She hung up and pinched the bridge of her nose.
"Monica," John began. She looked up and he was looking at her, worried. "You left your mobile phone for any amount of time?"
"Because it's had a job pulled on it." He handed her the sim-card. It was stained. Someone had removed it, with sweaty fingers, and put it back in. They had the number. They could track her-
"Piece of shit!" Monica exclaimed, tossing it in the bin. "I left it in my bag when I went to talk to the neighbours. I only picked it up when I went back the second time. Shit!"
"What else could they have got at?" Dana asked. Monica shrugged.
"I had my ID in my pocket-"
"On my hip. My credit cards were in my purse. I'm not missing any money but they could've swiped the cards for a trace. They're at my place. I'll have to cancel them. Excuse me," she said as a measure of politeness as she sat at her desk, flipping through a Rolodex of numbers and punching one into the phone at her desk. She identified herself and had the account cancelled. "I have to go and get my things," she explained to John once she'd hung up.
"Sure." She stood when the phone rang again.
"Why aren't your phones ringing?" she asked, smirking, as she sat back down again. "Monica Reyes. Hi dad." John tried not to laugh and Monica shot him a look. Dana excused herself and Will and waved goodbye. They'd see her tonight. "I'm not at work...Why am I still here? Because mama rang and distracted me. I'm going home, I promise. Wait! Actually, I'm going to call you for Christmas tomorrow, okay? Because my phone might not be working tomorrow... I know, it's bad customer service, but you can't blame the phone companies for everything... Well, okay you can, but I'm not going to... I know, listen- What? Papa!" She sighed. "Yes, he's here. He's not working either, he gave me a lift over. Uh, because we were headed out to lunch. No it was not a date- I don't think so dad. Oh, all right." She sighed again and handed John the phone. "He wants to say hi."
"Hey, Ricky. I promise I'm taking her straight home after lunch. We weren't working, no... No, we weren't doing that either!" John chuckled and Monica groaned.
"I hate my parents," she mumbled, trying not to laugh.
"It was nice speaking with you again too. Give Maria my love. Merry Christmas. Okay, I'll hand you back to Monica." Monica took the phone quickly.
"Bye papa. Love you. Bye!" She hung up quickly and stood. "Right, we're going before my mum rings back." John laughed.
"He told me to tell you that you should call more often."
"I call all the time," Monica protested, walking straight into the open elevator.
"I'm sure you call all the time just like John does," Arnold replied, sounding a little cynical. Monica remained straight-faced as they headed back up to the ground floor.
"John, I'm curious," Jane began. Uh oh, John thought. Here we go... "Why is it you're on a first name basis with Monica's parents and we only heard of her yesterday?"
"It can't be that complicated."
"It is actually," John grumbled. Monica winced at his angry tone and gently touched his hand in such a way as to prevent Jane and Arnold from seeing. He took a deep breath.
"It's okay, John," Monica stated as they walked out of the FBI and back to the car. "He doesn't like to talk about it in case it upsets me," she explained plainly. Well...it was kind of true. Kind of. Why is it they told their parents so many white lies? To protect them? Maybe. "I was in a car accident a while ago and my parents came up and met John then."
"Is that it?" Jane asked. John looked over at Monica and nodded, wide-eyed.
"Yeah, that's all," he replied, getting the idea.
"Oh well what's so complicated about that? Was it a serious accident?" Monica immediately hesitated, taking in a steady breath.
"That's the bit I'd rather not go into," she said. "If that's okay with you."
"Of course," Jane stated. "Of course." She looked on, concerned, as John held open the front passenger seat for her. She saw the moment of hesitation in Monica but also the smile that crossed Monica's face as she got in and did up her seatbelt, as John closed her door for her.
"Mum, dad, stay here," John stated clearly as they pulled up alongside Monica's place. "We won't be long."
"Can't we come up?"
"It's not safe," John insisted.
"John," Monica reasoned. "He's probably not there. It won't take long and we'll cover them. I just need to pack a few things and take the phone apart- "
"Okay," John replied, turning to his parents. "Okay, but stay behind us until we get inside okay?"
"Sure son," Arnold stated. "Whatever you say. Sometimes you can be such a cop." John shook his head as they all got out and made their way up. John took Monica's keys for her and opened the door as she readied her gun to go in first. He followed so that he could be closer back towards his parents. Monica swung inwards and together they canvassed the floor quickly, holstering their weapons. Monica walked into her bedroom and grabbed an overnight bag, throwing in several clothes and a couple of toiletries. She found her wallet and snapped her credit card in half as she walked back out, her bag hanging off her shoulder. She put it on the couch and left the snapped plastic on top of her television. John was digging in the bag of decorations. The phone was already pulled apart and just as she'd thought - there was a bug in it.
"Were you ever gonna do this?" he asked, motioning to the tree.
"Yeah, probably once I came home tonight, alone and maybe a little drunk." John chuckled, pulling out some tinsel.
"So you could play with the sparkly stuff or so you could drown in your sorrows?"
"The latter. Didn't see your tree anywhere-"
"That's because I don't have one this year."
"Why not?" John wrapped the tinsel around the tiny plastic tree.
"You said it. They're messy and they die as soon as you put them up!" She shrugged.
"Where will you put your presents then?"
"What presents?" John asked. Jane and Arnold had been listening to the conversation as silent observers and it was their impression the two of them had forgotten they were present. Jane was only just realising what John and Monica's lives were about... Not much. They really didn't have much other than work and each other. It broke her heart. "Presents are few and far between-" John was continuing, but a look of horror came over Monica's face.
"I almost forgot!" She ran back into her room and returned carrying a large department store bag.
"What's in there?" John asked, trying to peer in, but all he could see was plastic and paper and ribbon.
"Presents," she explained softly.
"What are you, Santa Claus?" Arnold asked. "That's a massive bag!"
"It's a massive present," she replied, picking up her overnight bag as well. "Okay I'm good let's find a motel."
"You're kidding right?" John asked, taking her overnight bag for her.
"Monica it's Christmas. You're staying with us."
"Oh, I couldn't. John that couch looked so uncomfortable this morning."
"And yet I was asleep until you woke me up with your damn finger." Monica grinned.
"Well... The guy said I shouldn't be alone-"
"What guy? Is this that man you were telling me about before you hung up?"
"Yeah. He's kind of like my mystery neighbour. He knows things."
"Like my name."
"Maybe they know each other." Monica shrugged as they left, John's parents in tow.
"So who've you spoken to on your phone since yesterday?" John asked as he and Monica walked in the shallow snow early that afternoon.
"Just you," Monica replied. "I still don't know how I called you. It was off, batteries near dead, and I was about to turn it on when I was hit."
"Could you have landed on a couple of buttons?"
"I don't think so... Maybe. But I have a feeling that someone called you for me."
"I'm not sure. Where are we going?"
"You'll see." Monica shrugged. John had suggested the walk so they'd dressed as warmly as they could, John lending Monica one of his extra warm water-proof ski jackets, considering she hadn't really packed anything like that.
"I'm dying to ask but I'm not sure I should."
"What?" John asked.
"What do the parents think of your partner?" John pretended to think.
"Well they got the distinct impression she's pretentious, too independent for her own good, hates children-"
"Oh sure!" John laughed.
"What do you think? Mum thinks you're 'a sweet girl', but they can't imagine you being a tough FBI agent. Seeing you holster a gun so casually shocked her I think." Monica nodded, silent with her thoughts for several minutes until she and John entered a Christmas tree yard. "Change your mind John?"
"Well, it's not just me any more is it? I thought we could decorate it tonight before we leave." John looked over at her. "What do you think?"
"I think...that tree over there's a good size. Not too big. We can lug it back easily." John smiled, as Monica made straight for the tree. She walked around it. "Looks good to me but I've only ever had to choose one of these so I wouldn't really know-"
"No, you've got a good eye." John pulled out some money and paid for the tree. "Which end do you want? Bugs or bark?"
"I'll take the bugs, John," she replied in her best game-show-contestant voice. They walked back with the tree and Monica almost dropped her end when she saw Brad Follmer's car on John's footpath. John didn't notice and Monica didn't mention anything except a couple of choice words under her breath as she saved her end from crashing to the ground.
"We're back!" John called loudly from the front door as they manoeuvred the tree in, leaving a trail of snow in their wake. "We've got a surprise!" John stopped in his place when he saw Follmer speaking with his parents. "Follmer-" John turned his head back to Monica, who shrugged. "Uh...okay just a second. Dad can you go get that pot-"
"Sure son. We'll leave you to discuss work for a while." They both left and John and Monica continued to hold the tree between them as Follmer looked them both over.
"Are we playing happy families?"
"Brad what are you doing here?" Monica asked.
"You have no right to be in this house!" John exclaimed.
"Your parents invited me in. I've been trying to get hold of Monica considering what happened yesterday."
"I'm fine Brad. You can go home now."
"I was going to offer the bureau's resources, but I think you've got your protection all sorted out." Brad walked right up to Monica and she looked back. "Merry Christmas Monica."
"Merry Christmas Brad, I'm fine," she replied as he kissed her cheek. He left, and as soon as the front door opened and closed behind him, John's parents returned.
"Listening in the hallway mum?" John asked.
"Of course not John," Jane replied, as Arnold positioned the pot. They moved forward and tipped it in, before Jane filled it with potting mix.
"This is making a mess of your floor," Monica observed. John shrugged.
"We'll clean it later. This is how it's always been done." Monica laughed. Disorganised. That didn't strike her as a tradition John would enjoy keeping even in his younger days when his life had been more full, but it was Christmas, and she guessed the holidays always helped people relax. Either that or it made them extra stressed - holidays had always done that to Brad... She sighed. "Don't let him get to you," John sensed her dissatisfaction.
"I don't. Sometimes I wish I could slap him though, and not get suspended."
"He seemed nice enough to us," Jane stated. "Was talking quite candidly." Monica tried not to wince.
"About what?" Having released the tree a while ago, Monica realised she was covered in snow and a jacket that was dripping water onto the floor. She quickly unzipped it and walked back to the entrance to hang it up, before returning.
"He said he was your boss-"
"First things first," John mumbled. "Boss. Hah!"
"And that he was worried about Monica. We mentioned that it was very considerate of him and he said he cared for you very much Monica."
"Yeah, I used to believe that one too," she whispered. "Excuse me." She walked into John's room, found her ID and pocketed it while she'd remembered. She sighed, walking into the bathroom and leaning sideways against the mirror, parting her hair and trying to get a look at the stitching. The lump was still there but the pain was going away. Either that or she was getting used to it. Must be the cold. She turned to look at her face in the mirror, stepping back slightly, when a soft knock came on the door. John, she guessed. "Come in," she spoke freely, surprised when Jane entered. Monica smiled. "Oh hi."
"Just checking to see if you were all right."
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just got a bit of a headache."
"I'm sure we can fix that. Listen, I'm sorry about letting that Brad in here. We didn't know- He seemed genuinely-"
"He is genuinely concerned about me, but just doesn't understand sometimes that I'm not genuinely concerned about him any more."
"It was a long time ago. He took a bribe from the man who killed L-" Monica stopped. Woah, too much information. "And wouldn't let me in-" She saw a flicker of recognition across Jane's face but the woman didn't follow up.
"So your friend Dana. It's okay if we come tonight?"
"Of course." Monica nodded, smiling, glad she didn't have to answer questions yet. "They're a wonderful family."
"You looked very natural with her son this morning." Monica blushed.
"Oh, I'm not really. I've helped look after William since he was born." Delivered. By me, she thought, remembering with a smile.
"You like children?"
"Yes I do," Monica replied.
"Why don't you have any then, I mean, if I can ask? Never been married?"
"No," Monica replied, turning back and glancing at herself briefly in the mirror, before facing Jane again. "I've never been in love. I guess I've loved, but I've never been in... Oh, you know, it's silly."
"No, it's not." Monica shrugged.
"Well anyway, one day I might have children, if it's not too late." A grin spread across her face. "Otherwise I'll just have to play nanny to William." Jane laughed as Monica moved forward. They left the bathroom together.
"Did you ever play nanny to Luke?" Jane asked suddenly. They'd reached the living room and Arnold and John stopped their conversation, turning toward the two women. Monica had stopped dead in her tracks.
"No," Monica's eyes widened.
"But you know all about him, don't you?"
"Mum, what is this?" John asked, sensing Monica was feeling a little trapped. Hell, he was feeling trapped and he wasn't under his mother's suspicious eye!
"She said that Brad man was on the take from Luke's killer while she was going out with him." She turned back to Monica. "Were you involved in it?"
"In what?" Monica asked, needing clarification before she answered.
"In his death." Monica's mouth fell open.
"How could you suggest that?" she whispered. "No."
"Mum that's enough!" John exclaimed. Arnold was looking between all three, not game enough to intervene.
"No!" Monica exclaimed, this time more forcefully. John heard her shakier than usual voice and couldn't bring himself to look her in the eye.
"Then would somebody please explain this, because John, she seems to know an awful lot about your past that-"
"All you know she knows is that my son was murdered," John cut her off, his voice rising in anger and sadness. "Look," he tried to calm himself by speaking more softly. "Monica was the FBI agent on the case. She convinced me to go to Quantico. She's the reason I didn't kill myself long ago!"
"What?" Jane cried. "My God!" Monica remembered that John had said they were bitter that the police and feds hadn't done a better job.
"Mum she found Luke, and she found the people responsible. How dare you suggest she had something to do with his death!" His voice filled with emotion. "How dare you!" He turned and stormed out the front door, and after a moment still frozen to the spot, Monica walked quickly after him.
She grabbed his arm and spun him back to her in the centre of the driveway.
"Nice one Jane," Arnold grumbled as they stood at the window watching Monica approach John.
"What was I supposed to think? They didn't tell me anything," Jane replied.
"It wasn't your business to be told!"
Outside, Monica and John stood opposite each other, breathing heavily.
"She had to ask," Monica stated. "It's okay."
"You don't have your coat on," John mentioned. Monica shook her head.
"No, I took it off." He nodded, stepping forward and taking her hand.
"I'm sorry for that."
"Are you all right?" Monica asked. He nodded.
"I should be asking you-"
"I've been confronted by worse."
"Really?" John asked. She smiled.
"Maybe not." They started laughing. "Thankyou for explaining. I don't think I could, but I know it was hard." She took a deep breath and shrugged at him openly.
"I couldn't let your reputation be soured so quickly!" John smiled sadly. "You've done so much... They have no idea." Monica mirrored his glance. "Really, Monica. They wouldn't be visiting their son at his house if it weren't for you." Monica took a step forward and they embraced tightly.
"Thankyou," Monica repeated against his cheek, her lips pressing to his skin gently.
As it turned out, the tree hadn't been decorated that afternoon. Monica and John returned inside and sat down, speaking with John's parents seriously for the next hour or so. By the time Monica neared the end of her explanation, she was speaking of standing at the beach, waiting for John and Barbara, she almost broke down. Jane and Arnold were touched. This wasn't the boy's mother, or any other relative. This was someone who'd never known this child as living. All she'd ever seen were photographs, and a body.
"Why didn't you tell us what really happened?" Jane asked by the end of it. "You let us continue thinking the police had done nothing."
"Wasn't it enough they found him? Barb and I were angry and were having problems and filling you in on all the details was the furthest from my mind."
"But son you never even told us you had a partner, let alone that you had a history together." The excuses turned into drawn-out, complicated explanations of several incidences back around the time of Luke's disappearance.
After it had all ended, Monica was rifling through her overnight bag that had been brought into John's room when there was a knock on the door.
"It's me," John called. "Can I come in?"
"It's your room," Monica replied. John opened the door and walked in, opening his cupboard. "What are you wearing?"
"Shirt, pants, jacket-"
"Yep, what about you?"
"Think it'll be cold?" she asked, glancing back at him and realising that he was currently without a shirt. She smiled at his flexing back muscles as he reached into the cupboard, but caught herself before he turned around to answer.
"Um..." He put on the shirt, and would ordinarily have been nervous, but upon seeing Monica's expression, he got the impression she was terrified, and suddenly he wasn't worried any more. "I'm almost certain the house is heated." He grinned. "Why? Should I be asking what you are wearing?"
"No because I haven't decided yet." John shook his head.
"You couldn't have packed that many combinations into that bag."
"Well, I did think of this and I did put something in, but-"
"Does it have sleeves?"
"Then you probably won't be cold. Just wear it. I'll let you get changed and go see how mum and dad are going."
"Thanks," Monica replied as he shut the door behind him. Oh well, she thought, pulling out her new top and skirt: her Christmas present to herself.
Arnold and Jane were sitting at the kitchen bench talking when Monica emerged.
"Where's John?" she asked, feeling naked without her gun, but Mrs Scully's wasn't the place for it. "We're going to be late." She walked to her leather jacket, which was flung over a chair, and shrugged it on, making sure her ID was tucked safely into its zip-lock pocket.
"I'm here," John called from behind her. "Holy God," she heard him mumble. She turned and smiled.
"Good, let's go."
"Uh...a skirt?" Monica suggested. John simply nodded. What the hell was she wearing? He asked. He'd never seen that on her before! She was wearing a black skirt, relatively tight around the hips but straight down to her ankles, and a red top underneath a black lace cover of some sort. "Don't look surprised John. I think it's the only one I have at the moment." John raised his eyebrows. "Do you have William's present?"
"Uh, yeah-" He walked over to the couch and picked up a wrapped gift.
"What is it?" Jane asked.
"Baby clothes," Monica replied. "They're gorgeous."
John kept glancing across at Monica as he drove. After the sixth or seventh time she couldn't keep a straight face, and burst out laughing.
"What are you looking at?" she asked.
"Nothin'," John replied.
"Nothing my bum. What is it? Am I missing an earring?" She fingered both ears and discovered that both silver earrings - her favourite - were in place. She glanced down at her ring. Yep, that was there too, and she ran a finger along the chain at her neck. A silver pendant. Yep, that was there too. So what on earth?
"Are you sure having your hair up's not hurting the stitches?"
Oh, Monica thought. Find a way to mention the hair and sound considerate. She grinned. Her hair was up in a loose ponytail that had been hooked underneath itself, and she'd wrapped a bit of red ribbon around the makeshift bun.
"Yeah, not a problem so far. If it gets annoying I'll just take it out."
"You haven't worn your hair up since..." John drifted off. "Since..." Ever, John thought with a smirk, but she actually had an answer.
"Lukesh," Monica whispered, not wanting to bring it up.
"What?" John asked, not hearing her clearly.
"Lukesh," she repeated louder. "Remember, that day-"
"Polish sausage day?" John asked. Monica nodded, biting her bottom lip.
"Oh," John replied. They hadn't mentioned it since then, and it was still awkward. Monica had tried to explain. John had tried to believe. Seeing her so upset... He knew something had happened that he hadn't been privy to, but he couldn't for the life of him work out exactly what, no matter how many times she tried to explain. She'd even cried, dammit, and he hadn't been able to say anything to make it better.
"Polish sausage day?" Jane asked from the backseat. "What's that?"
"A stand around the corner from where I live, on M Street," Monica explained. "John thinks best in the city."
"I don't think. I know."
Best in the city. Do you believe? Prove it.
Monica bit her bottom lip and looked out the window again. John knew she was thinking back and didn't interrupt, instead flicking through a couple of radio stations.
Dana greeted the four of them at the door and led them inside.
"Mrs Scully," John said as he went to shake her hand. Dana's mother grabbed him and kissed his cheek.
"Enough of that. You're not at work here. Merry Christmas. Come on, I'll introduce you to Bill." Dana winced as she hugged Monica, who ran a hand gently across William's small head. Dana smiled as Monica handed her the present.
"This is from John and I, for William."
"Thankyou," Dana began. "You didn't have to-"
"Dana, I have a link with this baby."
"I know you do," she replied, holding up the package to William. "Look at this!" she said in a shocked voice. "What's this?" William reached out and touched the paper, his face lighting up. In the time it took for that conversation to take place, Mrs Scully had already returned and dragged Jane and Arnold into a group of her friends, introducing them around.
"How's the family?" Monica asked.
"Good. Bill's behaving so far. At least, to me he is. When I'm not around I'm sure he's cursing Mulder as far as-"
"I can imagine," Monica replied, grimacing along with Dana.
"You look nice tonight Monica. How's the head?"
"Good, thanks. I thought it would be more painful actually."
"Twenty-four hours and you're as good as new. How was your afternoon?" Monica sighed and rolled her eyes and Dana got the feeling she was in for an intriguing story of the Doggett family. She beckoned Monica upstairs and they sat in one of the bedrooms, William falling asleep on his mother's lap as they sat on the bed, Monica retracing the afternoon.
A few moments after Monica finished the door opened and Mrs Scully looked in.
"Dana, Monica, I thought you'd be downstairs socialising."
"William-" Dana began.
"He'll be all right here. I'm just putting my coat away and I'll take care of him."
"You do too much mum," Dana replied. "It's okay, I'll-"
"Dana, go and have some fun! It's Christmas." She and Monica shrugged at each other as they got up and walked back downstairs. They spotted John and his father talking with Dana's brother. They made their way over.
"Where's my favourite nephew?" Bill asked, grinning at his sister. Dana smiled.
"Okay. I'll speak with you later John, Arnold." He was about to brush past them when he saw Monica. "And who's this?" Monica outstretched her hand.
"Monica Reyes," she introduced. "I'm John's partner." Bill turned and raised his eyebrows at John, grinning.
"Well, well, a pleasure!" he left then, heading upstairs to spend some quiet time with William. Scully took his place beside John.
"How's he doing?" she asked.
"Not a word about our infamous partner in crime," John replied. They smiled at each other. Monica felt a stab of jealousy in her chest.
"Who wants a drink?" she asked around. Jane had declared that she would drive home so that John and Monica could have some drinks that afternoon and Monica was suddenly grateful she'd have a chance to get some alcohol into her, what with the events of the last day or so still very fresh in her mind. John and Arnold both agreed, Dana declined, and so Monica went off in search of the kitchen, to find where John had deposited the wine they'd brought along.
Mrs Scully met Monica in the kitchen, and got her some fresh glasses and pointed her in the direction of the alcohol stash. As she left, Monica realised that she was the only person in the kitchen, and she decided to sit down for a little while, suddenly feeling very awkward. She closed her eyes momentarily and when she opened them she was no longer alone. A woman stood opposite her. Monica remembered the description. It was the mysterious, non-existent neighbour who'd told John where she was. Long blonde hair and blue eyes, and around fifty, the woman smiled at her.
"Why so glum?"
"Am I hallucinating?" Monica asked.
"No, you're not hallucinating." The woman laughed, smiling widely. "What's the matter?"
"I was just thinking."
"You know John?"
"Of course." Monica's brow creased.
"Do you know another man? With dark grey hair and eyes that you can-"
"See the whole world in? All its fears and hopes?" Monica nodded. "Yes."
"Who are you?" Monica asked. "And why are you here? You just appear, don't you? You're not real."
"We're as real as you and John."
"What's John got to do with anything?"
"If he doesn't matter, why are you in here, afraid that he'll push you away if you make a move. He hasn't so far, and you've made plenty of moves. I have to go."
"Wait. Do you know who broke into my home?" The woman looked at Monica seriously.
"Don't be alone," she echoed her husband's words. "He's watching you."
"I can't tell you more I'm sorry."
"You're not helping me unless you do. What's your name?"
"I have to go. Kris needs my help." She turned and walked away, and vanished before Monica's eyes. Monica groaned. This was not happening. This was NOT happening. She let her head rest on the table. This is not HAPPENING! She was going insane. She was hallucinating. It was the concussion.
Monica knew how absurd that was. She'd seen the man before she'd been hit over the head, and she knew enough about the supernatural, and believed in enough, for this to be real for her, but she didn't understand their purpose.
She sighed. Loudly.
"Mon?" She didn't look up at John's voice and soon heard his footsteps and felt his hand resting on her back. "You okay?" She lifted her head and looked over at him. "Tired?"
"Yeah," she replied. "What are you doing here?"
"The drinks never arrived, and I got to head the search party." Monica smiled.
"You found me." Monica tried to hide her surprise when John moved his hand, letting his fingers run through her hair, underneath the hair tie.
"How's the head?"
"Okay, I was going to take it out-" She didn't have to continue, because John did it for her, untying the ribbon and easing the tie out of her hair, before smoothing it gently down. He shoved the ribbon and tie in his pocket as Monica ran her own hand through it.
"Good as new." Monica nodded, her body begging for his hand to be running his fingers through her hair again, massaging her scalp. "Monica, what's going on?"
"I saw that woman. I think she's some kind of match making ghost," Monica covered.
"She disappeared into thin air this time. I saw her, and then I didn't. Poof!"
"Poof, hey?" John asked. Monica shrugged. "Let's call it a night."
"I was thinking the same thing."
Jane and Arnold led the way into the house and stopped so suddenly that John and Monica almost ran into them.
"What's this?" Jane asked, turning to John and Monica. They walked further into the house and saw that the Christmas tree had been decorated. It was magnificent, Monica thought, it was...
"Oh my God," she whispered, walking right up to it. She reached out and touched the purple heart with the silver lining. It was exactly like the tree from the department store window, the one she'd stopped in front of the previous night. "Oh my God," she repeated as she walked around it.
"What is it?" John asked.
"I saw this tree last night, in a shop," she explained as she turned to him, eyes wide. "I wished I had a tree just like it. This is...it's a replica." John looked around. "This is just like my apartment." Monica's skin paled. "Oh my God," she repeated. John thought she was about to faint and walked to her, taking her arm at the elbow and helping her sit down.
"What is it?" he asked.
"I wished for that too."
"I went to talk to Kevin and Dave and as I went back inside I wished it never happened, and that the apartment was clean. It wasn't but the next morning it was..."
"You think it's these ghosts?" John asked.
"Ghosts?" Arnold exclaimed. "Ghosts?"
"I'm not sure," Monica answered softly. "Maybe."
"Well it looks beautiful," Jane cut in. "Whoever did it. Let's put the presents underneath and call it a night." Monica nodded and stood up like the rest of them to get her bag of presents, but stopped herself, suddenly feeling childish. She returned with only one present, much smaller than what everyone else was expecting.
"Where's the bag of goodies?" John joked, but stopped when he saw her face. "This disappearing act's really got you stumped, hasn't it?" She nodded, putting her present under the tree.
"Yeah, oh well I'll...sleep on it," she replied. "Goodnight Jane, Arnold. Night John."
"Goodnight." After Monica left, Jane and Arnold turned to each other.
"She had something much larger in that bag, didn't she?"
"Coulda sworn it," Arnold replied, shrugging. "She okay John?"
"Yeah. It's called holiday-induced-depression, and I know the feeling."
Monica lay on her side in John's bed. She was dressed in John's shirt for the second night in the row, and his smell all around her, against her face as she lay in his pillow, was enough to cause a couple of tears to spring free. She was surrounded by a family, but it wasn't her family, and even if she were in Mexico, Monica knew she'd still feel alone. She wanted John. She wished she had him. There, she'd said it. If someone was granting her wishes that was her big one. She didn't want to be lonely any more. It had been too long, and waiting for John to respond to her 'moves' was enough to drive any woman to insanity. The woman said he hadn't pushed her away so far, but he hadn't exactly embraced her either. They enjoyed each other's company, of course, but Monica wanted more. She wanted all of him.
Don't be alone. He's watching you.
Monica felt a fear in her chest. She'd forgotten about that until just then. What was it that had made her remember? A sound? She slowed her breathing and glanced warily around, trying to remember where she'd locked her gun away. It was in John's chest of drawers. Top draw. She had a sudden urge to go and get it.
John was sitting on the couch, watching the tree sparkling because of the lamplight poking in through the curtains, when he heard it. A shuffle.
Monica had walked over and was in the process of retrieving her gun when she felt a foot brush against her own heel. She jumped a mile high as an arm snaked across her mouth. Not that she would've been able to scream anyway. The shock had winded her, and now she struggled to get her breath back as her heartbeat accelerated and she went into fight mode, since there was no immediate chance of flight. Although...the gun was still in her hand. There was a house full of people. She had a chance.
With her left elbow Monica pushed back into the shadows, jolting forward as she hit a stomach. The hand was off her mouth but she didn't call out, instead raising her gun. Once it was pointed, Monica's mouth opened in shock to discover there was no one there. She was pushed off her feet, however, as someone tackled her around the legs, throwing her over them onto the bed. She cried out but got the gun aimed again. This time they fought her, grabbing the barrel and twisting her arm back onto herself with one hand, and covering her mouth again with the other, stifling her cry. She tried to kick out but whoever it was, was coming from over the top of her head, and she couldn't do anything except keep the gun away from her. She felt her arm twisting and realised it would break if she didn't ease up.
Monica gave in, letting the gun be pointed in her face. Shit, shit, SHIT! They swung around and pinned her hips to the mattress. Surprise, surprise, it's a man, she thought cynically to herself. He ran a hand over her left breast. Right-handed, Monica's profile continued. She considered biting his fingers, but she didn't think it would work since there was a gun in her face, her own finger curled around the trigger but controlled by this man. Her mind worked overtime to work out what to do as she felt this person unbuttoning John's shirt. Jesus, he was going to assault her in a house full of people. As the man's hand touched the bare flesh across her stomach and chest, flesh she didn't allow just anyone to touch, she'd found enough anger to strike out over her fear. With her free hand, instead of trying to push his chest away from her, she reached up, grabbing the hand on her mouth and digging her fingernails into his hand. It worked and he pulled off. Monica threw her head back and as loudly as she could she yelled for John. The man grabbed the gun and thrust it against her breast, against her heart.
John's thoughts were interrupted even after the shuffle as he heard Monica urgently call his name. It was almost a scream. He glanced in the direction of his room, worried, preparing to go to her, when he heard it. A gunshot.
Just one. John's heart stopped. He reached for his own weapon amongst his jacket from earlier in the night and raced down the hallway, switching on lights as he went. The spare room door remained shut. John was certain that his parents could not have slept through that gunshot, even if Monica's scream had barely woken them. He just hoped they were too scared to come out.
John readied his gun and threw open the door to his room, letting light from the hallway guide him. His breathing was so heavy he could hardly make out his own thoughts. There was a body on his bed. And a gun. John walked forward. The man was lying face up and there was entry wound through his chest. Straight in the heart, he thought, but where was Monica?
He spun on his heel at the soft sigh he heard coming from behind him. She was pressed against the wall next to the door. John walked over and switched on the main light and they both blinked to adjust to the brightness. Monica was silent, staring at him as he stared right on back. After they broke eye contact, John's eyes drifted over Monica to make sure she was all right. He noticed his shirt was open, revealing the edges of her breasts, her abdomen and her underwear. He reached out, pulling the shirt together and beginning to button it up.
"He do that?" he asked. She nodded, still silent as John made it to the buttons at her chest and settled the shirt back on her shoulders. "Say something Mon."
"Yeah," she sighed, nodding. "Yeah." John squeezed her hand and left. Monica followed him, not wanting to be left alone with the body. John knocked on his parent's door.
"Mum, dad, are you awake?" There was no answer. John tried the handle but it was locked. Figured. "It's okay, it's John. Could you open the door please?"
John heard the lock click and his father opened the door.
"You can come out, it's okay." John turned back to Monica as his parents emerged. She was biting her bottom lip, and turned, walking back to his room. John didn't know whether to stay with his parents - thank God neither of them had had a heart attack, he thought - or go with Monica, who seemed to be in some kind of shock. He turned to his parents, who were standing at the door, looking terrified. "I want you to follow me, all right?" They nodded, complying. John stopped at his bedroom door and swung it open further, revealing Monica slipping on a pair of jeans. Jane and Arnold peered in.
"Oh my God is that a-" Jane began, staring at the body. Monica kept John's shirt on and turned to them.
"It's cold," Monica said to John, catching him watching her. He walked inside, then up to the body. Jane and Arnold watched in a mixture of horror and awe as John knelt down beside the body, checking for a pulse. Monica had emptied the rest of the chambers of her gun and it was lying on the bed where it had originally fallen after she'd managed to push it away from herself. Her eyes focussed on the gun while John's eyes drifted over the body. He'd never seen him before. They both looked for ID, but found none.
Monica heard him swear under his breath and she turned to him.
"Fucker," he mumbled. Monica followed his gaze to the man's jeans, which were unzipped.
"Literally," Monica replied. John looked up at her sharply.
"Not funny, Monica," he scolded. "We're going downstairs, we're calling Homicide." Monica seemed to blush and duck her head, and John grabbed her arm. "Hey," he softened, squeezing her arm as gently as he could. She smiled, glancing up at him.
"Yeah," she said, walking down the stairs, the unspoken support for each other flowing between them.
Monica signed her statement as the last of the forensics team left, carting the body with them.
"James Ray," the detective who'd handled her break-in the previous night. "Escaped from prison two days ago."
"Didn't waste any time," John grumbled as he sat next to Monica.
"You put him away Agent Reyes-"
"I, I don't remember." Monica was lying. She remembered the name and face, but that night she hadn't recognised him.
"That's probably why he was so pissed. Think he had a friend in the force but we can't prove anything. Found you quickly though, and there was no hesitation, so he's been planning."
"He got help," Monica cut in. "This isn't a one man job. You saw what he did to my apartment."
"We know, and we're looking, but you killed him, so it makes getting questions answered much harder-"
"I don't care what it takes," John exclaimed. "Got it? You get these arseholes."
"We'll do our best Agent Doggett. I've called your Assistant Director, uh...Skinner. He's visiting family interstate but he's making calls as we speak, getting some resources together for our use."
"Good," Monica replied. "Is that all?"
"Sure," the detective stated. "Listen, Agent Reyes, I'm sorry he came after you so quickly-"
"So am I," Monica said.
"Uh, I'd wish you a Merry Christmas but-" They were interrupted as the phone rang. John excused himself and picked it up as Monica showed the detective out. When she returned, John was holding out his hand to her and she walked over.
"She's right here Dana." John handed her the phone.
"Dana," Monica managed. "Hi."
"Don't 'hi' me. Skinner just called and told me you shot an intruder?"
"Is that all he said?" Monica asked. There was a silence over the other end that spoke volumes and Monica had to keep herself and her emotions in check.
"Was it something more than that?" Dana finally asked. "Monica-"
"He was hiding under the bed," she started speaking. "Two nights in a row." Dana heard Monica's voice crackle with emotion and asked to speak to John again. John took her hand and held it carefully in his as she handed him the phone. Monica stared at their hands as she laced her fingers through his. He didn't pull back.
"You there John?"
"Yep," he replied, holding his eyes on Monica's face.
"Did he rape her?"
"No," John whispered, and heard an audible sigh of relief on the other end of the line. "My thoughts exactly," he added.
"He assaulted her though." She could hear it in his voice. "Did he touch her?"
"A little," he continued. "Dana we're going to try get some sleep."
"Of course. Try and get her to talk John, it seems as though she wants to."
"Yeah, thanks for calling."
"I couldn't sleep not knowing everything was okay. Your parents?"
"Shaken but fine."
"All right. For what it's worth, Merry Christmas." John glanced at the clock. Twelve-oh-seven.
"Merry Christmas Dana," John replied, hanging up.
"I don't think I can sleep," Monica whispered, still gazing at their hands.
"No one said you had to." John led her over to the couch and they sat next to each other, John reaching for one of the two blankets he'd been using, throwing it around them both. Monica pulled her side tight around her and pulled her knees to her chest. John's arm slid around her back and held the blanket in place against her side. His other hand was still grasped around Monica's, neither of them prepared to let go as yet. "Penny for your thoughts?" John asked after several minutes of silence.
"I'm still trying to make those two strangers."
"What are your theories?"
"Still can't get past the spirit-"
"Mulder and Scully had ghosts one year."
"They were haunting the place though, they messed with their heads."
"What makes you think this is any different?"
"You're saying they did all this to screw with us?" John raised his eyebrows. "Bad choice of words, sorry."
"No, because this was definitely a man who wanted to get at you, but they haven't been really trying to help. Have they? They didn't tell you what was happening."
"No, they didn't, but they seem... Nice." John shrugged.
"Well, it's all over now." His hand ran along her arm gently and Monica pulled a little closer.
"I hope so," she answered. "I really want an explanation though. Do you think we'll ever get one?"
"Maybe one day. In the meantime, do you want your present now or later?"
"Um..." Monica thought. "Now?" John smiled and stood, walking over to the tree and picking up a present, walking back to her.
"Merry Christmas Monica." Monica took the present and smiled. She opened it carefully, aware that John was watching her and the heat was rising to her cheeks. It was a book. War and Peace. Monica smiled.
"Open it," John chuckled. Monica opened it, prepared to read an inscription or something. Instead she found a gaping hole where the pages were meant to have been. Inside the square hollow was a small velvet bag. Monica looked up at John and he smiled. She took it out and tipped the contents onto her hand. A pair of silver earrings. "Everyone should have a hollow book around the house," John continued. Monica clasped the earrings in her hand and threw her arms around John's neck.
"Thankyou," she repeated. John hugged her back tightly, just glad she was all right and almost back to her usual self. "Jewellery boxes are just too obvious. No thief would even consider War and Peace!" John laughed, allowing her to pull away. Back to her usual self, he corrected. "I have to go and get yours," she said, standing and walking to his room. She returned after a few moments and dumped the huge present at John's feet, a grin slowly spreading across her face. "It's kind of a gag gift," she began as John stared at it carefully.
John took to the wrapping paper and in no time knew exactly what it was. He pulled out the stuffed dog.
"A golden retriever hey?" he said, grinning, as he stared at the toy. "Life size."
"A little less than life size. Just as soft and cuddly." They both laughed as John reached out and ran his hand through the long hair on the toy's ears. She was right. It was supersoft. John smiled. "I couldn't find any life size cats." John's attention was drawn to the string of material hanging off the dog's neck. He reached out, undoing the tie.
"This for me too?" Monica nodded.
"I can take it back if you don't like it. I wasn't sure-" John shook his head and stretched out an arm. She took his hand and moved to sit beside him on the couch.
"Come here," he urged as she sat next to him. "I love it, thankyou." He smiled.
"Because you gave it to me, and I was thinking about getting a pet, now I have one and I don't even have to feed it-" Monica laughed and hugged John tightly.
"I'm sorry I brought my trouble to your house."
"Your trouble is my trouble." John pushed her back so that he could look into her eyes. "Besides, you killed trouble." Monica curled a fist against his chest playfully, pushing him further back into the side of the couch. "And I would've done anything to keep you safe from that trouble. You're always welcome here. Got it?" She nodded.
"Merry Christmas, John." He smiled at her, reaching out, running his hand along her jaw and urging her head closer. She obliged, and their lips met softly. "John," she began as the kiss deepened, and she moved to sit across his lap.
"Mm?" he managed as his hands massaged her back underneath her shirt.
"I wished for you this Christmas." John smiled, hugging her tightly.
"Well you got me. Monica, I..." Monica pulled back, looking into his eyes. So clear, so honest, she thought.
"I love you John," she said without another moment's hesitation. Tears stung her eyes as she waited for a reply. Only one escaped when he did.
"Monica, I love you too."
Jane handed Arnold a cup of coffee when he emerged the next morning and they wished each other Merry Christmas, kissing softly. Arnold walked over to the couch and found an open book that had obviously been constructed to hide something, lying open, and a big, hairy, stuffed dog. And a tie, and lots of wrapping paper, but no people.
"Where are they?" he asked. Jane grinned. "Jane," Arnold began, a warning in his tone.
"Follow me," she replied, walking to John's room. It was a good thing she'd changed the sheets the previous night while the police had been there, because the room had obviously been put to good use. She pushed the door open gently and let Arnold take a peek. John and Monica were wrapped in each other's arms, without clothes, and deep in sleep. Well, it appeared as though they were deep in sleep.
Monica heard the door click shut and her eyes swung open, her breath catching in her lungs until she realised John was still next to her. She was safe. She smiled, leaning forward and kissing him gently. When he didn't respond, she kissed him again, parting his lips with her tongue as she felt him begin to respond. His hand glided from its place against her hip up to her face and he pushed her back, opening his eyes.
"Good morning," he whispered, tracing her lips.
"I think your parents just looked in on us." John shrugged.
"Let them." He moved to lie on top of her as he started to kiss her, his hand slowly working its way down her body. They made love again, and kept their lips pressed together to stifle their cries as the passion built within them. John pressed himself into Monica as he felt her shudder, releasing within her. The only sounds were their heavy breathing and their muffled moans and whimpers as their bodies relaxed, their heads swimming. They lay together for several minutes, catching their breath and enjoying each other's soothing touch. When he felt he could, John pulled from Monica and sat up, taking her hands and pulling her with him. They kissed gently and broke apart, smiling.
"We should get up." Monica nodded.
"Yeah, this room's still kinda creepy." John laughed, whispering his reply.
"I'll make sure we check under the bed every night." Monica nodded. We. Every night. She bit her bottom lip, grinning, as John gently played with her new earrings that she was wearing.
After both showering and dressing, Monica and John emerged from the bedroom together.
"We see you started presents without us," Arnold mentioned as casually as possible.
"Last night, yeah," John answered, before wishing his parents a Merry Christmas and handing them their presents.
"How'd you sleep Monica?" Jane asked.
"Oh, well thankyou. Better than I expected actually." She blushed and Jane simply laughed.
"Well that didn't take the two of you long!"
"Actually it took too long," John answered under his breath, running a hand along Monica's back as he walked past her into the kitchen. "Way too long. What do you want for breakfast?" There were a couple of suggestions before pancakes were decided upon and John got to work. Monica picked up the phone and called her parents, wishing them a happy Christmas also.
"Yes I'm good. Um, it has been snowing, yes. Ahuh. No dad, I am 'not' calling from John's house. I'm not! What?" Monica sighed, looking over at John. "Oh, you got caller ID. I see... Yes I remember giving you John's number in case of an emergency. Yes, okay. Uh, yes it is pretty early in the morning. Okay, listen...maybe, okay? If you go talking to mama make sure she understands that no, there are no wedding plans because I slept on the couch." John started laughing. Well, it was half true! "Yes! I've discussed this with you both before, it's not how it works...Ahuh...Okay papa. Have a good day. I miss you both. Bye." She hung up and turned to John. "They just got caller ID so when they didn't recognise the number, they got mum's phone book and flicked through until they found it." John laughed.
"How ingenious!" he exclaimed as he warmed up the pan.
"Need any help?" Jane asked.
"No thanks mum. I'm right."
That afternoon John went for a walk around the local neighbourhood. Dana had called to talk to Monica and she'd taken the phone into his room, out of the earshot of his parents, who weren't up for listening to the details of what had happened with the prison escapee, James Ray. John wasn't sure whether Monica was going to tell Dana about what had happened between them after that however, and had decided to go for a stroll to clear his head.
It wasn't uncomfortable like he had thought it was going to be. For so long he'd been putting it off, ignoring his feelings, because he felt like they saw so much of each other, they shared so much, that it would be uncomfortable or awkward. It was neither. He'd never felt such a strong urge to be with someone like he'd felt last night. He hadn't even hesitated.
It also wasn't as complicated as he'd imagined. There was no confusion. They'd both known what taking this next step would mean. They'd both admitted their feelings, they loved each other, and so it meant they had to try for forever. John wanted to try desperately, even though the last time he'd promised a woman forever things had soured. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be, he reasoned. Maybe Barbara was never meant to be his forever.
John trudged through the snow. More had fallen overnight and it was light under his feet, which sunk heavily at each step. He looked up, spotting a woman sitting at a bus stop. John walked over to her.
"Won't be any buses today," he began, but stopped. It was that woman. The one from Monica's apartment, the one from Mrs Scully's house.
"Sit," she said, and he did.
"Who are you?" John asked. She didn't reply. "No one else can see you, can they? Just us?"
"That depends on whether we want people to see us or not."
"So you are uh...a ghost?"
"I'm a presence, I suppose."
"Can you explain it to me?"
"I've been watching you for a while."
"What's a while?"
"Since your son died. Kris has been with Monica since she was born."
"It's our job," she shrugged.
"No, why the difference?"
"You never needed anyone up to that point. You were happy."
"What about Monica? She was a baby, why wasn't she happy? If that's what you're saying-"
"Her parents didn't want her. Just gave her away."
"So you're...guardian angels," John stated, not quite believing it himself.
"Kind of." John just stared at her blankly. He was lost. "We weren't angels on earth, put it that way. So we were sent to do this kind ...work. And we're nearly finished."
"What are you nearly finished?"
"The two of you. You just needed some help to find each other."
"Are you trying to tell me you've influenced...us, the way we've lived?"
"Oh, no, no. We're not allowed to interfere and make choices for anyone, nothing like that. Everything has been of your own free will. We've been silent until..."
"Until we realised the intentions James Ray had this Christmas-"
"How do you know his name?"
"Kris was watching when Monica testified at his trial. She never told you about it?"
"No. Told me about what?"
"While she was walking up to the stand he jumped her and started working her over. She slammed her palm into his nose before she hit the ground, broke it. Took three guards to pull them apart. He really didn't like her."
"That I worked out for myself."
"Anyway Kris discovered him in Monica's apartment and knew she was on her way home and, well-"
"He called me, didn't he? He turned on Monica's phone and called me."
"Perhaps. We don't make decisions. In all likeliness she would've called you anyway, but sometimes we just enjoy prompting."
"Did you 'prompt' us in any way last night?" The woman smiled.
"Absolutely not. She's been in love with you a long time. The idea of you a lot longer." John didn't know what to say. He supposed on some level he realised, but he never thought of himself as Monica's Mr Right.
"So why aren't you finished yet?"
"Because if you noticed, Monica got three wishes." John smiled.
"I know you did. Anyway, it's your turn."
"So now you're genies?"
"We don't interfere in your lives until it's safe to do so, and we're allowed to interfere three times, to grant three wishes, so to speak."
"So...off you go."
"You expect me to make three wishes right now?"
"Actually you only have two left."
"I don't remember wishing for anything."
"I decided to surprise you."
"Now that I can't say."
"Well wait on. This genie thing's been done before, right, and you're not going to twist anything around, are you?"
"How do you mean?"
"If I say something like peace on earth, it's not going to turn ghost town on me?" The woman laughed.
"No, we're not that cunning. And I should tell you now that you can't wish to bring people back from the dead either. It can't work. But I know that's what you wish most of all. I'm sorry." John sighed.
"I understand. Listen, can't you just hang around until I come up with something?"
"No, because Monica's going to come and find you soon." Psychic too, John thought. Marvellous.
"Okay, okay, um... I wish..." He thought. That Dana, Mulder and William could be safe and grow up together as a family... Yeah, that was good.
"Done," the woman stated.
"What?" John asked, unaware he'd spoken anything. She tapped her head. "You can read minds as well as see the future?"
"Hmm, okay. What do you mean done?"
"I mean it's done." She shrugged. "You have one left."
"I'm curious about the other one-"
"Well I'm not telling you." John sighed.
"Then how will I know?"
"John," Monica called as she walked across the street, pulling her coat tightly around her. John looked to his side and the woman had disappeared. He'd thought he'd heard, "I'll take care of the other as well. Goodbye", but he may have imagined it. Damn paranormal. Who knew what was real any more? Monica came and sat next to him. "Did you tire yourself out walking twenty metres?" she asked, smiling. He laughed.
"No, I was uh, just thinking." She nodded and John looked over at her. "You're beautiful, you know?" Monica smiled, glancing over at him.
"Yeah, you told me last night, remember?"
"Oh yeah," John recalled, grinning. "Did you speak long with Dana?"
"I got off and came looking for you. Consider it my therapy session." John chuckled. "I tried to tell her that I'd had therapy last night but she wasn't listening."
"What do you mean she wasn't listening?"
"I started to tell her, but she got another call and had to hang up."
"Oh," John managed, having a slight feeling he knew what the call was about. "Did she say what it was about?" Mulder, John guessed.
"No reason," John replied, standing and taking Monica's hand as they walked back into the house. "I love this time of year."
"I thought you hated Christmas."
"I never hated it, it was just-"
"Yes, but I have a feeling that's going to change from now on."
"Oh?" Monica asked. "You planning on taking me back to your place every year for the holidays?"
"Just for the holidays?" John asked, turning to her. She shook her head, staring at him, breathless as he leant forward and kissed her. "Or for always? I never want to be alone again-" Monica buried her head against his neck as they held each other, snow beginning to fall lightly.
"Always," she choked back tears, pressing her lips to his once more as they stood contemplating their future. "You never will be."
* The End - Epilogue Continues *
EPILOGUE Two Weeks Later
Dana was sitting at her desk with the biggest smile plastered across her face when John walked in, fresh from their two weeks off work. Monica had been working through the second week to make up for the two weeks she'd taken off starting from that morning.
"Happy New Year's John," she greeted, even though it was way past it.
"Good morning Dana. Happy, are we?"
"I never thought I'd say it, but he's with Mulder. They're bonding...somewhere. He's picking me up for lunch in a couple of hours."
"So everything's going well?"
"Very, thankyou. Monica's left?"
"For Mexico, yes."
"Oh, right. In the meantime," she slid back into professional mode. "There's a package on your desk." John walked over and took a seat, his heart aching to see Monica sitting across from him, but he'd call her that night. It was a small brown box and John opened it only to see a smaller box and a card. He opened the card.
Maybe not a wish, though it will ensure you're never alone. Consider it a gift. Save for when the time is right. Kat
"Kat," he exclaimed. So that was her name!
"What?" Dana asked, looking up from her work.
"Oh, never mind." She raised an eyebrow in question but went back to her work. John brought the small box to his lap before taking out the smaller box and opening it. Holy shit, he thought, taking a sharp breath in. It was a ring - a perfect, sparkling, diamond ring. John put the box into his jacket pocket. John hadn't even considered proposing to Monica, because they had already been so open with each other that their intentions were clear. They wanted to be together, and they had been since Christmas. It felt like forever and it was only two weeks. It was too soon, he knew, but he would definitely put that ring in a safe place. Well that was two good deeds. The third continued to elude him.
Another two weeks passed and John and Monica spoke most days. She was enjoying her holiday but missed him, and couldn't wait to get home. He felt the same way, and told her a little about a couple of cases he thought they should take, as well as filling her in on Mulder's adventures as he learned of them.
Without telling anyone Monica took a flight home a day early. When she stepped into the office and saw only Dana, she smiled.
"What are you doing back already?" Dana asked.
"Surprise," she managed to sound mildly excited. "Uh, is John around?"
"He's in that meeting with Skinner."
"What meeting with Skinner? Why aren't you there?" Monica let her bag rest on her desk and glanced over at Dana.
"He didn't tell you? I assumed he would have um... You'll have to ask him Monica. I don't want to interfere."
"In what?" So far as Monica was aware, Dana had no idea about John and herself.
"He hasn't told me much and I don't want to put my foot in it. He'll be down soon. So why are you back early?"
"I, uh, felt like it." It was the best Monica could come up with on the spot. Dana raised an eyebrow, knowing there was more to the story but not in the mood to meddle, as she'd already pointed out. Monica was grateful for that fact. "Um, Dana I'm going to go get some fresh air. Can you get John to come look for me on the grounds when he's done?"
"Sure," Dana replied, still suspicious. "You okay Monica?"
"Yeah, I'm good. Just jetlagged."
"I know the feeling."
Monica was sitting by the fountain for fifteen, twenty minutes, before John's voice caught her.
"Hey, Monica!" She turned in the direction it had come from and he was striding towards her. She stood and managed a smile as she stepped forward, into his arms as he hugged her tightly.
Skinner was glancing out the window of his office and saw the exchange and sighed. So that was the reason... He closed the blinds as Follmer entered and quickly scribbled a signature across the application for transfer.
John was suddenly aware that Monica was holding onto him very tightly. He urged her back a step and they kissed briefly. Screw the bureau, John thought as he pulled back.
"What are you doing back a day early? I even took tomorrow off so I could come and pick you up and we could spend some time-"
"I couldn't wait," Monica cut in. She reached into her pocket. "I have something you need to see." She took out a small square of thin card and handed it to him. John stared at it, a photo, brow creased as Monica stood opposite him, watching him. She fought back tears as he reached out and laced his fingers through her hand.
"Mon, what's this?" he asked, looking up at her. Her voice shook.
"Well, um..." She squeezed his hand. "See that arrow-"
"Yeah," John said, his eyes drifting over the red arrow.
"And that grey speck it's pointing to?"
"Yeah," he replied, raising his eyes to meet hers. Monica couldn't get it out, so she just stood there, breathing hard and trying not to cry. John looked back down at the photograph. "Monica is this you?" he asked. He watched her carefully as she nodded, suddenly finding her voice.
"I, I just came from the doctor's. I came back early because I wasn't well and I'd missed my period and I just couldn't be away any longer..." John nodded, handing her the sonogram photo. She put it back into her jacket pocket. "I missed you," she added as he took her arms in his and held her tightly. Pressed against him, Monica didn't want to be anywhere else. Ignoring the fact that people were probably watching, she let herself start crying as John tried to soothe her. They went and sat together on a bench a little more out of the way. Monica composed herself and they sat in silence for a little while.
"First things first," John began quietly, glancing her up and down. "Are you healthy? Is everything okay?" She nodded, smiling.
"Yeah, I'm good." John looked away, exhaling.
"I'm so sorry John," Monica started. "I should've stopped it until we had protection-"
"Not over Christmas we didn't," she replied sadly. "Remember?"
"How could I forget?" John smiled over at her and watched Monica's cheeks redden slightly as she broke into a gentle smile also. "Mon-"
"Do you regret this?"
"No," she answered. "I love you John." He reached out and took her hand.
"Then why are you crying?" Monica turned to face him, slipping one of her legs under the other so they hung off the side of the bench.
"This is so fast, I didn't expect... And I was so scared. I still am, that I'll make a wrong choice."
"What do you want to do?" John asked her, starting to get scared himself.
"I, uh, I want to keep working, for as long as I can. Then... I don't know."
"Well, um, I was going to surprise you, but... I've applied for a transfer out of the X Files."
"What?" Monica's mouth fell open. "John. Why?"
"I was going to tell you tomorrow night, over dinner, and I was going to try to explain it by giving you a ring." Monica watched him as he felt his pocket. "Which I left at home today, coincidentally." He smiled, reaching over and wiping a few stray tears of Monica's cheeks. "I missed you. Too much, and I never want to miss you again." Monica leant forward and kissed John fiercely, her arms wrapping around his neck. When she pulled back to catch her breath, she looked deeply into John's eyes.
"Are you saying you want this baby with me, even though we've only been intimate well...two weeks total?" John nodded.
"Yes." It was Monica's turn to nod, slowly, in agreement. "Mon, one day...will you marry me?" Monica smiled, running a hand along John's cheek, rubbing her thumb over his lips.
"Yes," she answered softly. "I would love to marry you." They looked at each other as Monica's hand brushed over John's chest. "You think, um, you could take the afternoon off?" John grinned.
These weren't hard decisions, like they usually were. It surprised Monica, but it shouldn't have. After all, she reasoned, they weren't getting any younger, they'd survived so much already that it seemed natural to continue to become closer. They were in love, and there were currently no obstacles that couldn't be overcome, and both of them knew that with their histories, adoption and abortion were both out of the question. It went without saying.
Dana looked up from her work when she heard typing. She looked around. John and Monica were nowhere to be seen, and her computer was off. It was coming from their desks. She stood and slowly walked over to John's computer. The keys were being pushed down one by one. Oh great, she thought. We're haunted. As suddenly as it had started, the typing stopped. Dana walked around the other side of the desk so that she could see the screen as well as the keyboard. A blank page was open. At least, it had been blank. Dana read it thoughtfully, before printing it. She would get this to John on her way home that night.
Dana smiled as Monica opened John's door.
"Hi, Dana," she began. "Is everything all right?"
"Yep, is John in?"
"Sure, come in. Hi William," she greeted the boy in Dana's arms. Dana smirked. So she had stopped off at home first to pick up the baby. That worked too.
"You want to go to Auntie Monica?" Dana asked William, who smiled. Monica took him easily and they walked into the house, Dana closing the front door behind her as she entered. John was in the kitchen, making dinner. He turned as they entered.
"No, William and I just popped in to say hello. How was your holiday Monica? I never really got a chance to ask this morning."
"Oh, it was good."
"That's good. Um, John, I had an experience today. I thought maybe you might know something about it." Monica went and sat on a stool, William in her lap, as Dana reached into her pocket and unfolded the printed sheet of paper. "I think your computer was temporarily possessed today."
"Possessed?" Monica asked.
"I was sitting, minding my own business, when John's keyboard started...typing. On its own."
"Are you sure?" Monica asked.
"Oh yes." She handed the paper to John and he read it. "This is what it typed."
"What's it say?" Monica asked as she saw John's face pale a little. He handed it to her and she read it quickly, holding William with one hand as he squirmed.
You always wished you could get your son back, and I told you that was one thing I couldn't help you with. Your daughter, however, will be born on September 30, healthy and safe, and you can have another chance. You might have another son one day, but that's not my place any more. That's three. Goodbye, Kat. PS. Since I can read minds and see the future - as you pointed out - don't be scared. You'll be happy.
Monica slowly looked up at Dana, resting the paper on the bench top.
"Anyone care to explain?" Dana asked. Monica looked back down at William, who wanted to go back to his mother. Dana took him quickly and looked from John to Monica, who were both silent.
"John, is Kat-"
"Blonde hair, blue eyes, you remember?" She nodded. Dana cleared her throat.
"Is there something perhaps John you'd like to tell me?"
"Like?" John asked.
"Are you pregnant, John?"
"Dana, um," Monica answered. "I am. I'm due September 25." Dana looked at Monica, who seemed nervous. Dana softened, remembering the feeling.
"Christmas Day?" Dana asked. Monica nodded, glancing at John. "Well, I uh, I never would've guessed. How did the ghost find out?" Monica smiled, laughing.
"I look forward to hearing it. I should probably go. You both have lots to talk about. Uh...does anyone else know?"
"No," John replied. "We were going to keep quiet until we were clear of any early problems-" Dana nodded.
"Good idea. I won't tell anyone then. Um, Skinner said to tell you he signed the uh-"
"Transfer request," John said, letting Dana know that Monica already knew.
"You must have put them in before you-" John nodded.
"Yeah, nothing was planned and yet, everything fits," he answered. Dana looked at them both quietly. John was looking at Monica, and they smiled at each other, quelling Dana's fears that this was an unwelcome event. They were just being shy.
"Well Monica, whatever you need, you know where to find me."
"Wait Dana um," Monica began before she left. "I think you should know, John's asked me to marry him and well-"
"You're engaged too?" Dana asked, unable to hide her surprise. Monica nodded, smiling.
"No immediate plans but...one day."
"Can I share that news then?" John nodded.
"Go right ahead. It's what I told Skinner. They don't hesitate so long if you write 'I'm in love with my partner and I'm going to ask her to marry me' on the form."
"Funny-ha-ha," Dana commented, smiling and shifting William to her other side. "Well, have a good night. I'm going to go and try to explain this shocked yet elated expression on my face to Mulder."
After Dana left, John explained to Monica the significance of the letter, and told her about his talk with Kat that Christmas Day.
"September 30th hey?" Monica managed finally. "Does that feel weird to you? Knowing? You think it's true?"
"Everything else so far has been true. Why not something as simple as a day?" John shrugged. "It's not weird, it's...exciting." Monica raised her eyebrows.
"You're forgetting that you've had a baby before. I haven't, and it's not as though I was given much time to um, mentally prepare myself." John wrapped his arms around her.
"I know it can be scary, but you read the note. Everything's going to be fine. With us, with this baby- You won't be going through any of this alone." Monica smiled, hugging him back as he kissed the top of her head. "And who knows, maybe Dana will return the favor and deliver our little girl-" They laughed. Yeah right, Monica thought, a grin spreading across her face. It'll never happen. John was right, though. This was kind of exciting.