R e v e r i e
by Politic X
 
 
9: beautiful Monica

 

Monica stands in the airport calmly while others rush around her.  She's serene in the midst of chaos, calm and certain and very womanly with her silver earrings and pink lips.  Some of the tightness in my shoulders and chest begins easing.  I'd like to rush into her arms because this is what today is about, this gorgeous woman who's smiling at me.  I'd like to rush into her arms, but I'm too reserved for that.  I make my way to her unhurried.     

"I'm so glad to see you," she says, throwing her arms around me.  I'm caught completely off guard by her unabashed affection, and I would normally become tense from such a demonstrative greeting, but now I welcome it.  She notices and holds me tighter.  So much warmth, and she saw me just yesterday.  I'm glowing. 

"What did the doctor say?"  She asked me this already, when she called this morning.  She had also taken the opportunity to inquire about my sleep, how I felt and if my mother had stayed with me all night.  Monica's inquisitive by nature, and tenacious, too. 

I don't want to lie, so I paraphrase once again, sidestepping direct answers.  I pull away from her and head for my luggage.  "That I need to get more rest.  That sort of thing."

I can feel the weight of her gaze as I go to baggage claim.  She follows me, picks up my suitcase as I'm reaching for it, and continues walking with me in silence.  When we're seated in the rental car, she turns toward me.  "What else did the doctor say?"

Goosebumps race across my arms.  If anyone in the world has e.s.p., it's this woman.  "Not a lot.  What have you found out since you've been here?"

She's mute.  Her eyes seek out mine, but I can't meet her gaze. 

"There's been another one, hasn't there?  Another death?"

She nods.  "Rachel Gusolitz.  Thirty-seven.  Geologist.  She was found at seven-thirty yesterday morning, three hours after she died."  She hands me a manila folder stuffed full of photographs and copies of suicide notes, preliminary autopsy reports and crime scene details. 

"And the manner of death?"  I rifle through the case file, skimming its contents.  I don't want to try to read while she drives.   

"The same." 

It grows quiet in the car as Monica maneuvers her way out of Spokane .  She turns onto an interstate and exits a few miles later.  "We're officially on the case.  Spokane branch contacted Skinner.  Wanted an expert on, and I quote: 'weird shit', to act as a consultant for their field agents.  They specifically asked for Mulder."

I nod.  They always do.  

"So.  I need your help.  I want you to examine the bodies, but only if you feel up to it."

"That's what I'm here for," I tell her dryly.

"Oh, so that's why you’re here."  She grins and winks, but her sexiness is too light for the thick air between us.

It would be very easy to slip into the indulgent feelings she provokes.  I should get this back on track; we have the case to work on.  I look at her warily.  "What do you expect me to find?"

"Implants."

Shock numbs me instantly.  "Implants?"

"Their ova were harvested."  She says this as if it's the answer to everything. 

"Their ovaries were missing, Monica.  To suggest that they were harvested is making a leap that's both illogical and paranoid.  Don't tell me that you're going to follow Mulder's direction."  I say a silent prayer:  please, not Monica.  "Don't tell me you're going to start blaming the Consortium for everything." 

"I believe the leap I'm making is more like a step," she says mildly.  "A logical step.  None of them had ovaries.  Tell me how likely that is."

It isn't likely at all.  "Just because their ovaries were missing, it doesn't mean they were harvested.  The most likely scenario is that they had ovarian cancer and were treated by undergoing bilateral oophorectomies."

"Surgical removal of their ovaries?"

I nod.

She furrows her brow.  "So you think we're looking at four women who had ovarian cancer and each of them dropped everything in their lives to move to this small town on the tip of the United States in order to commit suicide."

"I admit it isn't very plausible, but –"

"My explanation is sound." 

"Your explanation is paranoid."

"My explanation accounts for your nightmares."

My heart stops beating, and then begins again, alarmingly fast.  "How's that?"  I ask quietly.

Monica licks her lips nervously and glances at me.  "You...  What they did to you when you were abducted..."

She has no idea what I went through.  She can't.  She won't. 

"This is a very personal question, and if you don't want to answer, I'll understand, but...  Did they... do you...?"

"My ovaries were damaged at the time, not removed."

"Oh."  Something crosses her mind; I see it on her face.  "Then William wasn't such a miracle child after all, was he?"

"One of my ovaries was almost totally destroyed, and it was causing complications that couldn't be resolved without removal.  The other was damaged to a lesser extent.  If I removed it, I would have immediately begun menopause."

She looks at me sadly.

"So, I didn't remove it."  I stare at my hands in my lap.  But even concentrating on something other than her face can't stop me from opening up to Monica.  I don't mean to talk; I just do.  "Sometimes...  since the nightmares began, I think I'm going through premature menopause.  The insomnia."

She's quiet for such a long time that I finally look at her.  She seems to be trying very hard not to cry. 

"Hey.  I've gone through a hell of a lot worse than menopause."  It's meant as a joke, but a tear slides down her face. 

"You've gone through too much," she finally says, her voice hoarse.  "It isn't fair."

Monica is the most sensitive, most beautiful person I think I've ever known.  Her care and concern for others, her capacity to love, is amazing.  I roll my eyes at myself and my silly hope.  Even if I were perfectly healthy, I wouldn't stand a chance with her.  I simply have nothing as wonderful to give as she does.  "So G-woman," I say glibly in an effort to cheer her.  "Has it crossed your mind that we're dealing with a serial killer?"

She smiles, and this causes the remaining tears that have been pooled in her eyes to finally fall.  "Can't be a serial killer."  She wipes her face.  "Locked doors.  No one saw anyone."

"Maybe he was good at his job."

She shrugs.  "I won't shoot it down.  A death a day for the past five days, all in Aural.  Could be a serial killer.  No indication of one, though."   

"They're dead.  Suicide isn't possible.  They couldn't have done it, Monica.  No one is physically capable of wounding themselves like that.  The cuts were even, from what I could tell from the pictures, not some hatchet job.  It can't be suicide.  It has to be murder."

"There's a pattern here that we're not seeing."

"Monica, you said it yourself the other night.  There are lots of pieces to this puzzle.  Sorting through them is going to take time."

"We don't have time, Dana.  Every day, someone dies."  A lock of hair falls into her eyes.  She clears her throat.  "You want to tell me what this is?"

I'm startled by her tone of voice.  Her gaze remains on the highway, but her palm is open and something plastic and metal lies in it.  "It's a fire starter, Monica."

Her look, when she takes her eyes from the road for a second, is dense.

"It's a utility lighter for fireplaces or barbecues."  I take the object from her hand and press a button.  "You know, a fire starter."  I flick it on and off a couple of times.

Her brow is furrowed, as if from concentration.  "Do you remember Friday night at all?" She whispers this to me as if we are lovers. 

"Not much, but I already told you that."  I click the fire starter on and off, trying to distract myself from the tremor that rolls up my spine, but the flame is gone.

She casts another glance at me.  "What do you remember?"

I know she's not testing me; still, it feels that way.  "I left work early.  I cleaned house.  You came over with dinner and we discussed the case."

"Do you remember falling asleep?"

"I remember sitting on the sofa.  You were watching The Weather Channel."  I shake the wand in my hand and click it again.  Nothing. 

"Let me fill in the blanks for you."  She flips the radio station off and grabs the lighter from my hand, holding it.

The car is suddenly quiet, save the muted whish of tires flying over asphalt.  I stare at her, dreading what's about to come.

"I was watching tv on the couch.  You were beside me, asleep.  I was only half awake myself; I'd been flipping channels.  I must have dozed off, because the next thing I remember is your scream.  I jumped up and saw you standing in the kitchen doorway, staring at me."  She shivers slightly.  "You were yelling for me.  You were just standing there yelling.  When I calmed you down, you said things that made me realize you were sleepwalking."

My fingers pick lint from my jacket while her words filter through me.  It's coming back now, the part of the dream that included her.  The emotion of it is coming back, the fear.  The desire.

"You were having a nightmare, Dana.  You were dreaming that you'd cut your arms up."  She holds the lighter.  "Like this was a knife."

I swallow and blink my eyes.  This isn't how I had planned discussing my dream with her.  "Monica, I -" The nightmare looms before me.  She had been there, she'd witnessed it.

"You held your arms out to me like they were a prized possession.  There were marks where you ran the lighter up and down them."  She places the fire starter on the seat. 

I take my eyes from her and stare through the window, contemplating the easiest way out of this conversation.

"So are you going to tell me what you're dreaming at night?  Because I've got a good idea, Dana.  You're slashing your body just like the victims did."

I reach for the bottle of water that rests beside the lighter and take a sip, buying time.  "Monica," I finally say.  "The dreams are metaphorical.  My counselor believes that they point to personal issues."

"No, that's not it.  Every dream is somewhat metaphorical, but there's more to this one.  A lot more."  When I remain silent, she slams her open palm on the steering wheel.  "Dammit, Dana.  Why do you continue to close yourself to me?  You have to trust me.  You.  Have.  To.  Trust.  Me."  She punctuates each word my banging her hand.  "Don't you realize what an insult it is after all this time, after I've been there for you time and again, for you to withhold your feelings?"  A blush crosses her face quickly.  "I mean, stuff.  Withholding information.  The case.  What's going on."

Are my feelings that obvious?  If so, then she must know how I despise revealing so many weaknesses to her.  I don't want to tell her about the dreams because I don't want her to think that I'd put a knife to my arm.  Of all the people I know, Monica is the one whose respect means the most.  But if I haven't lost it by now, maybe I won't.    

I think of trees: green, black and resinous.  Bark that's mottled gray-brown and rust.  I think of cedars, pines, hemlocks and firs.  I think of slippery needles and rolling earth.  I think about music, rising in crescendo until it seems to beat within my chest.  I think about Monica, leaving me when I need her most, and the words begin falling out of my mouth.  "It always begins the same.  I'm in a forest, lost...."

At first, I can only look at my hands.  But as I begin losing myself to the dream, I stare out the window at cedar trees rushing past.  I can smell them. 


Monica's quiet.  She's been silent throughout my story-telling, as if she's detaching herself.  But the graying of her face gives her away, and I know that she's disturbed by what I've told her. 

"It's just a dream," I say quietly. 

Her lips are tightly pressed together.  She stares at the road ahead.

"It points to issues I have that need to be resolved."

She rubs one long finger against the steering wheel, but still says nothing.

"The manner in which these issues present themselves is unsettling, yeah.  They keep me awake.  I've tried taking sleeping pills.  I've tried running in the evenings rather than the mornings.  I've tried nightcaps; I've tried Nyquil - anything to knock me out, because once I wake up I'm too scared to fall asleep again.

"It's no wonder that I'm run down.  Monica, the main significance of the dreams is the manner in which they affect my body.  Now that William has finally begun to sleep through the night, I can't.  I'd give my right arm for seven hours of sleep without interruption."

She blanches.

I touch her elbow lightly.  "Freud would have a field day with my unconscious mind."

She pulls out her cigarettes. 

"Please don't."

Her glance is sharp. 

"Don't smoke."

She puts the cigarettes away and fumbles in her purse for gum.  "Dana," she says, popping it into her mouth and chewing mightily.  "All dreams are metaphorical to some extent, but don't get so caught up in the imagery of them that you miss the obvious warning signs, the clues that you're supposed to pick up.  You're reading too much into them.  If we were talking about one nightmare, sure, I can believe that it's metaphorical.  I might even buy it right now if it weren't for this case, or my vision, or your self-inflicted wounds –"

"I'm not wounded.  I haven't hurt myself."

"Only because the instrument that was handy was blunt.  If it had been even slightly sharper, you would have cuts.  Scratches, anyway.  But don't change the subject.  You have had nightmares for a month.  This is more than symbolism.  You've got to face this.  We have to face it together."

"That's what we're doing, isn't it?"

"You're here, that's something," she concedes. "But you need to open your mind.  Don't be so bullheaded."

"Bullheaded?  Excuse me?" 

Her smile is halfhearted for an instant, then disappears.  "Tell me something, Dana.  Why in the world do you think you tried to cut yourself with the utility lighter?  I mean, you were in the kitchen.  You have knives.  Scissors."

I shake my head.  "No, I don't.  I put them away a while back.  Packed them away."  All I use now are things too dull to do much damage:  butter knives, child's scissors. 

"Because you're afraid you'll hurt yourself."

I shake my head, no.  It's not me I'm afraid of hurting.

"William?"

"Yes, even though he's not in the dream."   

"But I am.  I'm in the dream, Dana.  Do you think you'd hurt me?"

She doesn't sound frightened; I don't think Monica is talking about knives or scissors or utility lighters anymore.  "Not intentionally," I murmur. 

She's silent for a moment.  "You know what it is about these nightmares that bothers me most?  Aside from your suicidal tendencies, of course."  Both hands grip the steering wheel hard.  "What bothers me the most is that I leave you when you need me."

Cherished.  This is the word I was looking for with Kosseff the other day.  When I'm with Monica, I feel more than safe and secure; I feel cherished.

She continues, her voice turning sarcastic.  "At least in my vision I wasn't leaving you; I just couldn't get to you in time."  When she glances at me, the sarcasm is gone, and her face is sad.   "Why would you dream that I leave you?"

"I don't know."  I try to smile. 

"I don't either," she says softly. 

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 Posted 10/31/03