R e v e r i e
by Politic X
 
 
5: dinner

 

Forty-five minutes later she's on my doorstep, brown bags in one hand, briefcase in the other.  Her hair is drenched from the downpour and her eyes are twinkling.  She fairly shines with excitement.  "Is this what motherhood does?  Keeps a hot babe home on a Friday night when she should be out breaking hearts?"

A hot babe?  This is trouble I've never encountered before, wondering how to take being tagged a 'hot babe.'  Not only has no one ever referred to me as such, but I'm not sure how chaste Monica's compliment is.  Lesbians can make verbal passes at other women quite innocently, I realize.  Monica can call me a babe and I don't know if she's complimenting me as a pal or coming onto me as a pal who wants to get into my pants.  "A hot babe?" 

She grins.  "You know you're hot."

"Yes, but I didn't know you realized it," I say as I take the bags from her.  Two can play at this flirting game.  

"Oh."  Her cocky smile dims a watt or two and she licks her bottom lip nervously.  "Yeah.  Hmm.  I definitely realized it." 

Chaste, no.  My heart pounds.  Monica is easily one of the prettiest women I've ever seen, and that little thing she does – licking her bottom lip – is both sexy and endearing.  "Cajun?"

"Yeah."  She sets her briefcase by the door and shrugs off her overcoat, hangs it, then follows me to the kitchen.  She's wearing what she had on earlier at work: a baby blue, ribbed cashmere turtleneck, chocolate low rise slacks, darker chocolate chunky shoes, silver earrings, chocolate belt with a large silver buckle, and the ever present silver rings, one on each hand.  She's casual but professional, hip but not in the least bit immature, trendy but not fake; and, when she catches me staring at her, she's self-conscious but not embarrassed.  I imagine Monica is accustomed to being stared at. 

As I open one of the bags, her eyes travel from the wine bottle that's still on the table to my half full glass.  "For some reason I expected you to be drinking coffee."

The woman is psychic; I just have to accept it as fact.  I smirk at her.  "I started to put on a pot of coffee when you called.  I know how long-winded you get." 

"Dana," she says in mock seriousness.  "When have you ever known me to be long-winded?"

"Only when you have an audience."  I remember the long, long trip to Democrat Hot Springs, Georgia, where William was born.  Monica drove me there.  I remember dozing off and on, slipping into and out of consciousness, and every time I woke up, Monica was talking.  She talked so much that I even dreamt of her talking.  And if this had been anyone else on the face of the earth, I would have been annoyed tremendously.  But it was Monica of the Soothing Voice, and so I was quite content to let her talk as much as she wanted. 

Even back then I wanted her, although my fantasies were more innocent.  I would stare at her lips, wondering how it felt to be kissed by her, imagining her kissing another woman, imagining her kissing me.  If I'm ever bold enough to make a move on her, it will probably be while she's talking.  I'll probably just lean over and kiss her lips and then urge her to continue saying whatever she's saying.  I love her voice.  I love the things she says.  "What'd you get?"  I pull out a Styrofoam container.

" Po ' boy for me; jambalaya for you.  Hope you weren't expecting a good night's sleep."

The irony of her innocent statement isn't lost on me.  "Where'd you go?"

"Bardia's.  You like jambalaya, right?" 

"Yes."  She knows this; she remembers the time I drooled over hers.  It was a day that I took the results of an autopsy to her office while she and Doggett were there eating lunch.  I was starving; every bite Monica took made my mouth water.  She noticed, and as they continued discussing the case with me, Monica quietly scooped some jambalaya into her empty coffee mug, wiped the spoon she'd been eating with, and stuck it back into the Styrofoam container it had come in.  Wordlessly, she passed the container to me. 

She ate what she'd saved for herself – a significantly lesser portion than she'd given me – from her cup after digging around in her desk drawer for a utensil.  She found a broken plastic fork and made do with it.  And she didn't say a word.  I was so moved by her kindness that I didn't know what to say.  I simply thanked her, and she smiled.  I've had trouble keeping myself grounded since then.  Monica is kind to everyone; I shouldn't take it personally.

Still, Bardia's New Orleans Café has this special memory attached to it, and I'm touched by the meal she brought tonight.  I'm wary, too, of looking foolish if I make a fuss over it.  She probably just stopped there because she loves the food.  I know she didn't stop there because it was convenient – she had to leave Georgetown and go to Adams Morgan and come back to Georgetown

I get two plates from the cabinet and open the refrigerator.  "What do you want to drink?"

"Got beer?"

"Coffee, wine, beer... put a neon sign over my head and call me a convenience store." 

She grins and pulls a chair out.  "Oh, I'm sure I could think of better things to call you." 

"And what might those things be?"  She winks and opens her mouth, but I stop her short.  "And they better not refer to my height."

"Oh.  Well.  What's the fun in that?"  And she begins eating from one of the containers.  I prefer using china, myself.

I hand her a Heineken and a glass, and sit across from her with my jambalaya.  It looks good, but I smell something even better.  "What's in the other bag?"

"Beignets," she says, swallowing beer from the bottle.  "They're for you."

I delve into the sack.  "Beignets?"  

"Ever had 'em?"

I shake my head, no. 

"Donuts.  Louisiana style."

I'm not wild about donuts, but if she brought them especially for me, I'll try them.  I pull out a Styrofoam container and two small plastic ones.  They're filled with some kind of topping.

"One's praline and the other's fudge, to dip them in.  I should've brought you some café au lait.  You need to drink a good coffee to truly appreciate them."

I appreciate them already just because they were her idea.  When I open the container, my mouth waters.  Square pastries covered in powdered sugar, warm.  I could kiss her.  I look at her for a moment and actually contemplate it.  "Thank you."

She grins, then frowns when she sees me using silverware.  "You know you want to eat it with your hands."

I shake my head, cutting the beignet with my fork and dipping a piece into the fudge.  Oh, God, it's heavenly.

"No, look."  She reaches over and tears a bit of one of the beignets, dunking it into the praline sauce.  She holds it just long enough for it to drip on the table, then pops it into her mouth.  Sugar dots her sweater.  "It's better my way."

I imagine most things are better her way.  "It's messier your way."

She resumes with her sandwich, watching me continue with the fork.  We pass a few minutes quietly, me going from the beignet to my jambalaya and back again.  She's got me all out of sorts; I can't even decide what I want to eat.  But something's going on with her as well.  Monica's usually a slow eater, taking her time to enjoy every bite.  Tonight, she swallows large bites of bread and oysters as if she's famished. 

"Guess what I found out?" 

"About the case?"

She nods.

"Is it something I'll see when I go through the file?"

She nods, popping chips into her mouth.

"Then don't spoil the surprise."

She swallows and smiles behind her beer bottle as she tilts it to her lips.  "That's the thing.  There's too much about this case, too many elements.  I can't see the forest for the trees."  

"I'm sure you can feel it, though."  I give her a gentle smile, teasing her.  Monica's so sensitive I imagine she can feel the stars coming out at night. 

She shakes her head.  "I can't feel the case right now."  The look she gives me suggests she's feeling something else entirely.

"Really.  What do you feel?"

"You."  It could be a very sexual come on if Monica didn't look so worried.  Her large brown eyes are full of concern.  "Something's wrong, isn't it?"

Her eyes reveal so much that I can't bear to look into them.  She treats everyone as kindly as she treats me.  I know she does; I've seen her compassion too often not to realize this.  Why then does my heart take it so personally?  

"I've been worried about you."

"Why?"  I look over my glass of wine at her.

She shrugs.  "Bad feeling.  Are you okay?"

"I'm fine."

"Have you been having nightmares?" she asks.

"What?"  My wine goes down the wrong way and I start coughing. 

"You've got circles under your eyes."

"Monica..."  I sip from my glass carefully, trying to squelch the coughs.   

"You look like I do when I'm having nightmares.  You look so tired, Dana.  Not the kind of tired that I'm accustomed to seeing since William was born, either.  More tired.  Too tired."  She takes another bite of her sandwich and pushes it away. 

"I haven't been sleeping well," I admit, poking at my jambalaya.  

She nods, encouraging me to continue. 

"I fall asleep fine, but then I have a bad dream and I wake up, only to find I can't fall asleep again."  I wipe my hands on a napkin.  Monica, of all people, knows what it's like to have nightmares.  She knows what it is to be afraid of sleep.  "It's frustrating."

"You've lost weight," she murmurs.

My appetite is suddenly gone.  I want to eat just to appease her, but the food would never make it past my mouth.  "A couple of pounds," I say, staring at my plate.  "My sleep pattern's been interrupted.  It throws everything off."

"You've lost more than a couple of pounds, Dana."

I shrug, trying to appear nonchalant, but she's right.  I've lost twelve.

"You didn't need to lose it to begin with; you didn't have any weight to lose.  You're too thin."

"I'm fine."

She hardly acknowledges this, just moves on.  "How long have you been having nightmares?"

"Not long."  I push my chair back.  

She questions me with her gaze.

"A few weeks."  I begin putting the uneaten food away.

She runs her thumb over the label on her beer bottle.  "You know, I've taken sleeping pills occasionally, but... nothing's worse than not being able to wake up from a bad dream." 

There's something Monica wants to say to me, but she's struggling with words.  I finish clearing the table and wait by the sink, watching her.  She's been nervous since she got here.  She looks as if she's giving this careful consideration before speaking.

She clears her throat.  "And alcohol, that never solved anything."

It's not what she says so much as the tone of her voice that gets me.  She's warning me.

"How much did you drink tonight before I got here?"

I feel the blood rush to my face.  "What does it matter, Monica?  It's Friday night, can't I have some wine?  William's at Mom's, I haven't been sleeping, you're here, and I just needed to relax.  I wanted to unwind."

"I'm here?  What do you mean?"  She's pushing her chair back and walking to me before I can respond.  "Dana?"

I turn again to the sink.  "Nothing."

Her hand is on my waist, just above my hip.  Not a sexual place, but an intimate one, nonetheless.  A place she shouldn't be touching.  "I don't want to make you nervous," she breathes.  She's saying this when her fingers are resting on a spot she's never touched before.  And she suddenly seems to realize it, because she withdraws her hand. 

"You don't," I lie.

"Good."  She moves away so quietly I don't realize she's no longer directly behind me until I hear our chairs being pushed to the table.  "It's none of my business how much you had to drink.  I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry.  I've just been so worried."

"I'm a big girl," I say lightly.  Or I try to say it lightly.  I'm still burning from the contact her hand made with my body.  "I've taken care of myself for a long time.  I'll be okay."

"But you've always had Mulder to help....  You always had somebody there, riding shotgun." 

I can finally look at her.  She's so earnest in her concern for me that I just want to hold her and let her know I'll be all right.  But that's not the only reason I want to hold her.  Her touch sent shivers up my spine.  "You really think Mulder helped?"  The man was my ball and chain.  "I carried him for eight years, Monica."

She nods, as if this is something she knew all along.  "But still, he was by your side through everything.  Your love for each other... it must have been of some comfort."

I top off my wine and get another beer from the fridge before replying.  "I do love him very much, but maybe not in the way you think."  She is so completely focused on my face that she doesn't notice I'm handing the beer to her until I wave it in front of her eyes.  "I love him like you'd love a brother who's mentally ill."

"But....  William is his child, isn't he?"

"Maybe 'brother' isn't the right word.  He's my best friend, was my only ally for a while, the only person outside my family that I could trust.  I watched him lose his mind, Monica.  That's the kind of love I have for him – the kind of love that tries to save someone from himself.  Love for a drowning man.  You know he's going under, but you try to give him hope."  I'm getting emotional thinking about this.  I don't want to think about Mulder right now, not with Monica here.

"William?  That's the hope you gave him?"

"I didn't plan on getting pregnant; I'd tried already.  I just assumed I couldn't, and we weren't careful."

"I didn't know.  I didn't even know for sure that you and Mulder... that you two....  Well, I thought you were, but...."  She trails off. 

"We were just too wrapped up in each other to leave it at the office.  And it isn't like anyone else was interested in me.  You know what they used to say about Mulder and me."

She looks blank. 

"Mulder was always considered ... different, and at first everyone looked at me sympathetically.  But after a few years in that basement, it wasn't just Mulder that people talked about.  We were freaks, Monica.  Circus freaks, that's what everyone thought of us."

"That's not what I understand.  No one has ever spoken less than highly of you two –"

"You weren't here.  You didn't see it.  Just give yourself a few years on the X Files.  People will talk about you and Doggett, too.  And you'll rely on each other more and more, like Mulder and I did.  You'll live in an insular world.  When I got pregnant, he was overjoyed.  I was worried about having a baby – after everything I've gone through, Monica, all of the damage that's been done to my body – I was worried William wouldn't be healthy.  But he is healthy.  He's my miracle child."

"He is," she murmurs. 

"When he was born, I realized how much time and energy I'd been spending on his father.  I don't think I truly realized until then."

Our eyes lock.  "I'm sorry," she says, almost whispering.  "I had no idea it was so bad for you."

Returning her gaze, it's easy to think her empathy is meant just for me.  She would be concerned for anyone under these circumstances, I remind myself.  "I know I've let Mulder down.  He's out there, wrestling with his inner demons, and I've closed myself to him.  I let him see William sometimes, but...."  I shake my head.  "I can't do it anymore.  I can't carry Mulder and raise William at the same time."

She wordlessly pulls me to her in an embrace. 

"He's so heavy, Monica."  I'm fighting tears.  I had no intention of sharing this with her, yet here I am, pouring my life out.  "He needs so much and I can't give it to him anymore.  He needs me and I can't help him."  My voice cracks; she rubs my back. 

"You are amazing," she says in my ear. 

No; she is amazing.  After what I've just shared with her, that Mulder needs me and I can't be there for him, she still respects me.       

"Thank you for trusting me with this."     

I pull away again and look at her.  She's so serious, so concerned, stroking my hair, pushing it away from my face.  She's thanking me.  Monica gives and gives to me and she's thanking me for trusting her.  She smiles at my gaze, her eyes looking into mine.  And something occurs to me, not about Mulder and me, not about Monica and me, but a reason for this empathetic woman to take the case so personally.  "You had a vision, didn't you?  About the case."

She jerks her hand away, flinching.  I wonder why; it's certainly not news to me that she has visions.  "Yes."  She pulls on her beer, a deep swallow, and walks to the living room. 

I follow with my wine, once again watching her walk, staring at her back when she bends to pick up her briefcase, at her hair as it falls over her shoulders.  She sits on the sofa. 

"Tell me about it." 

"Just a vision," she says, dismissing it as if it's insignificant.  "Let me show you these files."  She rests the beer on a magazine that's on the coffee table and unlocks her briefcase.

"Don't change the subject."

She cuts her eyes at me. 

"Did you have it before or after you saw the CNN report?"

"Before," she says quietly, pulling out a manila folder. 

I sit beside her.  "Tell me.  Did you see the women?  Did you see someone dying?  Cutting herself?"

"You."  Monica swallows and looks at me.  "You were in a forest.  You had something."  Her voice grows so soft I can barely hear her.  "I didn't understand.  You had my keys and you cut yourself with them.  And the forest caught on fire.  It started burning."

"And where were you?" I almost whisper.  She and I are sitting close, as if we're best friends sharing secrets.  At this moment, I guess we are.  I've been more intimate with her in the past fifteen minutes than I've been with any woman.  I feel as naked and vulnerable as I did when I gave birth.  I trusted her then.  I trust her now.

She sucks her bottom lip into her mouth.  I touch her arm.  "I was there," she says.

"What were you doing?"

She shakes her head.  "I couldn't get to you quickly enough.  I watched you bleed."  She blinks her eyes.  "And behind you were these women.  Their arms and legs... they were just... tattered.  Tattered human beings.  Hardly there.  The wind blew right through them."  She makes a small noise like a whimper and tries to cover it by clearing her throat.  "It scared me."

It scares me, too, maybe more than my dream.  Monica's visions have been known to be premonitions. 

"Tell me about your nightmares."

"I'd rather talk about the case."   

"Do they have something to do with it?  With the case?"

"It's possible."

She looks at me thoughtfully, reading me.  "When you can talk about it, will you tell me?"

"Yes."  I lean back, turning toward her.  "What information do you have?"

Monica begins shuffling through the papers and photos of the file.  When she has them sorted, she speaks in her business voice.  But it's still a lovely voice, warm as honey.  "All four of the victims were found either in their homes or places of business.  No one noticed anything unusual in their lives, no depression, nothing to indicate that these women were about to commit suicide.  No unusual activity was suspected on the day of death.  No strange visitors, phone calls, mail.  One day they're teaching students, having dinner with their neighbors, seeing patients, and the next they're dead by apparent suicide.

"The fourth victim is 34 years old; she was an attorney."  She rifles through her stack of paperwork and hands me a picture.  "My contact sent me digital pictures."

I brace myself before looking at them.  The victim's arms are strips, amazingly clean and evenly cut.  Nausea.  I breathe.

"She was found in her home at 2:00 this afternoon; the time of death is estimated at 4 a.m. "

"Is there nothing at the scene?  Fingerprints, hair, anything to suggest that someone else was in her house?" I ask.

"The local p.d. has really just begun analyzing it - she was found at 2:00 Pacific time - so I don't know yet.  The man I'm in contact with, Detective Richard Heitt, sent me an email this evening.  He attached the image and the few facts he has on Jamie Tosou -- that's her name.  I printed them out.  There are pictures of all of them."  She hands them to me and quietly peruses the file.

I can't look at the photos again.  "Were any of them married?"

She shakes her head, no.

"Children?" I ask.

"No.  But guess what?"

"Is this the surprise you referred to earlier?  The one you said I'd find if I looked at the file?"

"Yes."

"I don't know.  What?"

"Every woman had missing ovaries."

I feel a headache forming.  "Oh."

"I don't have the autopsy notes on Tosou, so I'm not sure about her, but...."

But she's going to leap to the conclusion that today's victim will have the same physiology as the others.  I rub my forehead.  "And what else?  You said they left suicide notes."

Monica nods.  "Not really suicide notes, but that seems to be the catch phrase for them."  She hands me one of the documents.

It's a scanned image of a note found at the first victim's house.  The handwriting is a scrawled mess.  "Care to decipher this for me?"  I ask.

Monica takes the page.  "It's her name, over and over.  And then she wrote: 'Listen'."

"And that's it?  That constitutes a suicide note?"  A distinct impression is forming in my mind that the Aural police department hasn't been thorough in its investigation.

Monica nods.  "It was written on the back of an a.t.m. receipt and was found clutched in the victim's left hand.  Her right hand held the razor blade that cut her up.  There was a message written in blood on several walls in her home.  The blood was hers.  There's a partial print on the razor blade that's hers."

"What was the message on her walls?"

"The only legible words were her name."

"What weapons were used on the other victims?"

"Knives; she's the only razor.  And all of them, Dana, even Tosou, moved to Aural within the past two years.  They dropped everything - their careers, homes, cars - to move there."

We peruse the files for an hour, until I grow so weary that black spots dance in my vision.  Three of the victims had been found in their homes.  The other had been in her backyard.  The suicide notes are mostly the same – the women's names and a declaration ('be quiet', 'go away', 'listen') to suggest mental illness.  The notes written on scraps of paper.  The pediatrician had written on her prescription pad.

The Aural police department is dead wrong.  "A - it's not physically possible to do that to oneself.  B - a victim everyday for the four days sounds like a pattern to me.  It wasn't suicide, Monica." 

Her voice is full of regret.  "You're going to have nightmares about this tonight, aren't you?" 

"I'll have them regardless," I tell her quietly.  "I distinctly remember you saying that the Spokane branch of the Bureau told you to stay out of this, so is Detective Heitt consulting with you or what?"

She purses her lips.  "Detective Heitt doesn't know I'm not with the Spokane division." 

"Monica!" 

She winks at me. 

"What are you going to do when he finds out?  And when Spokane finds out?  And when Skinner finds out?"

"I see no reason for any of them to find out, but if they do, I'll deal with it."  Her face becomes serious.  "I can't just leave this alone knowing that you could be involved."

"But I'm not even in Aural.  I'm across the country.  The victims are all in the same town there."

Monica looks down at the file.  "There aren't any forests in D.C., Dana.  In my vision, you could have been in Washington State." 

"Okay, suppose the Aural p.d. doesn't find out that you're not with Spokane, and suppose Spokane doesn't find out you're investigating the case, which is, as you must realize, quite unlikely.  But just suppose nobody on that end finds out.  What are you going to do when Skinner finds out?  Or Follmer or whoever." 

"Dick-of-the-Day won't know.  I wasn't planning on telling anyone else about the case.  Care if I watch the weather?"  She doesn't wait for me to answer, just picks up the remote, turns the tv on, and beings flipping channels.

"Investigate it from here, right?  And hope that nothing catches up to you?  Don't be so dense, Monica."

"What do you want me to do?  Sit around and do nothing?"

"Yes, that's exactly what I want."

She scowls.  "Is that what Mulder would do if he thought your life were at stake?"

"I'm not in any danger."  I smile at her concern.  Such a warm person.  I'm lucky to have her in my life.  And then the smile freezes on my face; I'm always one step behind Monica, I think.  She's not watching the weather to see what's in the forecast for D.C.  "You're not planning on going there."

"I intended to, yeah."

"You said you weren't going unless Brad approved it."

She shrugs.

"Is Doggett going?"

She glances away from me.  "No.  He's working on a case with the DEA.  It's got him pretty tied up right now.  My workload is okay.  Besides, there's nothing pressing in the X Files as far as the Bureau's concerned.  Everything will be there when I get back."

It's not her workload that concerns me.  "There is no way no one will find out."

"I'll take a personal day."  She looks at me.  "No one else needs to know.  Just me and you."

"I don't want you going there."  I stifle a yawn, lean back and curl up. 

"I have to."

"Please don't."  Something flashes before me.  A woman runs across the room behind Monica.  She runs so quickly that she's just a dark streak in my vision.  I'm frightened for half a second, and then I realize it's just another hallucination.  I've been having them the past few days.  Not often, just when I'm especially tired.  I rub my eyes.  

Monica turns to me.  She lays her hand on my arm and leaves it there, gently stroking.  "I'm so worried about you, Dana."

"I'm okay."  My eyes drift shut at the touch of her fingers.     

"You can't keep going like this.  Not getting any sleep, trying to work full time and raise a child on your own.  Without the benefit of a second parent."  At this last bit, her voice gives away her ire with Mulder.  I'm beginning to think she really can't stand him.

"What is your problem with him?"  I open my sleepy eyes and see her staring at me.  

"You need him and he isn't around."

"I explained that to you.  He's not really... he can't be around, Monica.  He's not himself."

She shifts and holds my hand.  We're sitting too closely.  Her knee bumps mine.  "There are circles under your eyes," she says solemnly.  "You're exhausted."

I haven't had someone so worried about my welfare in a long time.  It's a wonderful feeling. "I'm okay." 

Her eyes are glued to my face.  She pushes the hair away from my eyes and traces a line across my cheekbone with her thumb.  Her look suggests surprise that she's doing it.  Or that I'm letting her.  "I wish I could...."  Her voice trails off, her eyes clouding over.

"What?"

"Help you."

"You already help me all the time, in so many ways."

"Not enough."

"What more can you do?"  I'm staring at her eyes and she's staring at my lips, and I'm just about to float away.  "Baby-sit?  You want to be my nanny, Agent Reyes?"

"William's nanny?  No.  But..."  She waggles her eyebrows.  "I wouldn't mind babysitting you."

If I weren't so tired, maybe I could come back with something equally as witty and sexy, but I can hardly stay awake.  "That's what you're doing right now, isn't it?"  I close my eyes and I'm sucked downward quickly; sleep is pulling me so fast that it makes me woozy.  I hate the sensation; this always happens when I'm too tired.  I open my eyes.  Monica's face swims in my vision.  "Listen to me, Monica.  I don't want you to go to Washington."  My voice is like a soft sigh, not authoritative or commanding like I want it to be.  I'll never convince her.

"Dana," she chides.  "Why?  What is so different this time?  I've investigated a lot of cases, you know."

"But...."  It's the only word I can get out before sleep pulls me down.  I'm sinking slowly, aware of her fingers caressing the hair away from my face.

I feel her shift, hear the tv being turned down.  And then I feel her lifting my feet, pulling my shoes off, and stretching me out on the sofa.  I look up at her when she tucks an afghan around me.  She meets my eyes.  "No bad dreams tonight.  Okay?"

I nod slightly, just staring right back at her, hoping she doesn't leave, but unsure of how I can ask her to stay. 

She touches my face again, looking at me anxiously.  Then she hears something on the tv that distracts her, and she turns away.  "No rain in Washington, but it's going to be raining here all weekend.  Bad storm.  I'll be lucky to get out," she mutters.  She turns back to me, and I'm still staring at her.  Her smile widens.  "Your eyes are just slits, Scully."

"Scully?"  It takes some effort for me to get my voice working properly.  It sounds and feels like it's coming from a deep well.  The room is gray around the edges.  I shake my head, admonishing her.  "Dana."

"You like that?"

"Yeah," I say sluggishly. 

"Okay.  Dana."  She leans in and kisses my forehead, her lips lingering on my skin for a moment before withdrawing. 

I open my eyes.  "I'll be okay if you want to go home."

Her disappointment is obvious.  "Do you want me to go?"

I stare at her.  "No."    

She caresses my cheek with the back of her fingers.  "Then I won't."

"I don't want you to investigate the case, either," I try.

She smiles. 

I'm serious.  "If you go to Washington, I'm going with you." 

"You need to stay home with your son," she says. 

"I need to be with you."  My eyes close, and I force them open again.  What I need is one night of uninterrupted sleep.  "When are you leaving?"  

"Tomorrow afternoon."

"Get me a ticket."  I can barely get the words out; I'm sinking.

"Dana."  Her face is inches from mine.

"Get me a ticket."  I can't keep my eyes open any longer, they're so heavy.  I wonder if Monica was about to kiss me.  She certainly seemed to be heading in that direction, with all of these touches and that little kiss to my forehead.  And the hug in the kitchen.  All of it combined is a lot of touching, even for Monica.  I wonder what her IT date would think if she knew Monica gave up dinner with her to be with me.  I wonder if Monica regrets it.  Mmmm.  She must not, because her lips are on my cheek.  I drift.  I wonder how long she plans to stay tonight, how long she plans to stay in Washington.  I wonder if I'll have to reschedule any appointments.  Kosseff wanted to see me again next Friday, but surely we won't be away that long.  Monica said she'd take a personal day if she needed to, so that means Monday.  We'll come back Monday.  I have to remember to call Quantico.

Some time later I feel the weight of the cushions sink down.  Monica's shifting, moving, but I can't find the energy to open my eyes.

I'm running.

 
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 Posted 10/31/03