by Deslea R. JuddJohnny PG 1/1 Deslea R. Judd Copyright 2002 DISCLAIMER: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine. ARCHIVE: Sure, just keep my name and headers. RATING: PG. Pretty harmless. CATEGORY/KEYWORD: Vignette, Doggett/Reyes UST. SPOILERS/TIMEFRAME: Existence post-ep/missing scene. SUMMARY: "This was a game they had played for a long time. To see just how intimate they could be and still pretend that they weren't. One day, she thought, John would have to accept that just-friends didn't hold hands walking down the street. Just-friends didn't watch TV with their heads in one another's laps." Deals with Reyes' decision to transfer to the X Files. DEDICATION: To Kelly, who inspired this one. You know how. FEEDBACK: Is cherished and answered - eventually. ::blush:: email@example.com MORE STORIES: http://fiction.deslea.com AWARDS/ELIGIBILITY: Spooky 2002 eligible. Recommended, IOHO, July 19, 2002.
The hand stroking her head stopped for a moment, wavered, then sank comfortingly back into her hair again.
"What is it?" John's voice came, distorted, above and behind her. It was disorientating, but she was too comfortable to move.
"This is big, isn't it?"
"Now, what gave you that idea, Monica? Was it the shape-shifting people or the bumpy-neck people or-"
"I meant the corruption, actually."
He was silent for a long time. She let him be, and passed the time by stroking his thigh with her hand. This was a game they had played for a long time. To see just how intimate they could be and still pretend that they weren't. One day, she thought, kissing his thigh through his jeans, John would have to accept that just-friends didn't hold hands walking down the street. Just-friends didn't watch TV with their heads in one another's laps. But she had stopped longing for that day. Their own peculiar brand of intimacy had become as comfortable and comforting as a pair of slippers at the end of a hard day's work.
"Yeah, it's big," he said finally. "Bigger than the FBI, even. There are cases in Scully's files - Defence, FEMA, lots of agencies. It's all linked together." Guilt coloured his voice. "I shouldn't have brought you into this. It'll ruin your career."
"John, I'm an expert in ritual and Satanic crime who sometimes solves crimes with 'feelings'," she said with a self-deprecating laugh. "It's not like I was on a fast-track to Director."
"You shouldn't talk about yourself like that, Mon. You've got a good solve rate. You're a good agent. I wouldn't want you watching my back if you weren't."
"I know," she said, kissing his thigh again. "I just mean- well, you know what I mean."
"Yeah, I do."
"I'll call New Orleans tomorrow," she said abruptly. "I'll get my roommate to pack my things and ship them out. Can I crash with you until I can find a place?"
"Course you can. It's not like you need to ask." He was quiet for a moment, and then he wondered, "You sure about this, Mon?"
"Of course I'm sure, Johnny," she said, laughter filtering through her voice - but it was laughter she didn't feel.
"But you're scared."
She turned in his lap, looking up at him. "I am not. I've got bigger balls than you, John Doggett."
"You've called me Johnny twice tonight."
"So? It's an-" endearment, she almost said, then thought better of it. "It's a nickname," she finished lamely.
"And you've only ever used it three times. On three really bad cases. And tonight."
Her smile faltered.
"I know I'm asking a lot, Mon. You don't know anyone in DC. You might not have a career when we're done here. But is that all there is?"
She sat up, facing away from him. "I - no, but-" she broke off, sitting there, hugging herself.
"Is it me?" he wondered, turning her to face him. "Is it how we-" he faltered, cupping her shoulder with his hand and trailing down to her wrist. There was a forlorn kind of desire etched into his features. Hell, Johnny, she thought, you only have to ask. Is it really that hard?
But she didn't really want to have that conversation. Not tonight.
"No," she said at last. "It isn't you. I want to be with you, John." Electricity seemed to hum lazily on the air between them then, and she amended hurriedly, "I want to be there watching your back."
"Me, too," he admitted, holding out his arm. "What, then?"
She settled into the crook where his arm met his body. She hesitated. "Well," she said after a moment, "there's something I never told you about when I quit New York."
"Thought you wanted to get away from the dickless wonder."
She smacked his arm. "John! That's so mean! What did he ever do to you?" But she thought she already knew. Brad was lacking in many ways, but he had the one kind of courage John had lost. The kind that lets a man take a chance on the woman he loves.
"Sorry," he said amiably.
"No, you're not," she said, grinning. She snuggled in deeper, and his free arm closed around her. She felt his lips on the top of her head and sighed. She closed her eyes.
"He was on the take, John," she said at last. "He was on the take, and I couldn't turn him in, but I couldn't be part of it either. And so I couldn't stay."
"Oh, Monica," he sighed. She couldn't tell what he thought from his voice. She wondered with a pang whether he was disappointed in her, but then he kissed her hair again, chasing her fears away. "Are you afraid we'll get something on him?"
She shook her head. "No. And if we did, I'd deal with it. It just - pushes my buttons, you know? People you thought you could trust-"
"I know," he said. "When I found out Knowle-"
"Yeah." She frowned. "I don't want to turn out like Scully." John drew away a little, and she amended, "I mean, I like her. I like her a lot. But John - she's scared of everything."
"You think so?" he said. "I never saw her like that, Monica. I don't get that from her at all."
"I'm not explaining it very well. I don't mean she's cowed. But she's always looking over her shoulder, you know?" He nodded, drawing her close again, and she went on, "There will always be bad people in the world, and we have to fight them. But I want to believe most people are good. I need to believe it. I can't lose that."
"You won't, Mon." He kissed her hair again. "We won't."
She looked up at him, smiling. "Thanks, John."
He smiled back, tucking her hair back behind her ear. "Hey. It's late. Come to bed?"
She got to her feet and followed him to his bedroom. When they got there, he took off his shirt. She started to take off hers, but to her surprise, he stopped her, crossing the room and unbuttoning it for her. She held his eyes with hers, frowning a little, as he undressed her down to her underwear.
"I think this is a crossroads," she said as he worked her buttons free.
He held her gaze in the dim light. "Yeah. I think so too."
"It's one of those choices that changes things, and you can never go back. It sets the path for the rest of your life."
He cupped his hands over her shoulders, sliding his fingers beneath her bra straps, and she thought for a moment that he might work them free. He didn't.
"Yeah," he said again.
A smile touched the corners of her mouth. "You scared?"
"Not at all. Johnny."
Warmth filtered through his voice. "Come to bed, Monica."
So they went to bed, him in his track pants, her in her bra and panties, and he held her, just as chaste as he'd held her a thousand times before. But his hands slipped beneath her straps again, and she pressed herself a little closer to him, and she was more than a little afraid, because what they had was comfortable and warm, and for a long time, it had been enough.
But change was coming. And she was ready.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I've wanted to see the conversation that led to Monica's decision to join the X Files for a while. How did John convince her to move cross-country and compromise her career? What dynamics between them led him to trust her with such a request? This isn't exactly that conversation, but I think it teases out what I wanted to know, regardless.
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Deslea R. Judd
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