TITLE: Permanence

AUTHOR: Little Red (mylittleredgirl at gmail dot com)

RATING: PG-13 for kisses and skin


SUMMARY: An indefinite proposal.

DISCLAIMER: I disclaim everything.

FEEDBACK: Feed me back at russiandeptwench@hotmail.com, and ease the pain of sad, sad, Sunday nights.


He held her close to him, suddenly aware of how thick and soft her brown hair felt against his neck and shoulder. She fit around him in an odd way, a perfect way, so that even the bed and the sheets felt extraneous -- like all he needed for a good night's sleep was her. Even with his ex-wife, sleep and sex had been things separate and defined, so that they were close for moments and then apart, with Barbara's every move a frustration to him. It was different with Monica. He could not get close enough to her.

He was content to lose himself in whatever was between them. It was the brief moments apart that drove him to distraction.

Both of them had expected it, but he suspected that he had fought it more than she had. She liked doing what felt natural, and sometimes didn't understand the way he thought through consequences and based his actions on expected outcomes. She understood, in theory, the way he avoided things that had burned him before -- things like women -- but was unable to execute that theory in her own life. She desired whatever was real and true and, although he could find no good reason for it amid her talk of astrology and cosmic energies, she desired him. He had resisted falling for her because he knew it was a bad idea, for all the usual reasons, and because he suspected his fall would be a hopeless one. He doubted he had ever met another woman -- another person -- who could understand him as she did. Not that he felt he was complicated. He would never claim something as dramatic as that, but what complications he had she leafed through like a book and she gave herself up to him anyway.

In some ways, he wished he had done it right. He wanted to have wined and dined her, to have courted her in the ways appropriate for an FBI agent in the naught years, but all of that would have been artificial. He had done it right with Barbara, and everything had ended up all wrong. He'd loved her, maybe, and maybe she had loved him, but when it came right down to it they couldn't stand one another. Their divorce had been messy, and the death of their only son had hardened them both. He knew where she was and sent her flowers without a note on their son's birthday because he didn't know what else to do. He worried that things with Monica could somehow go that badly, and was yet unwilling to get up from the bed that had become theirs. He did not know how to treat her. He didn't know her the way she knew him, and he suspected she enjoyed that.

"John," her husky, half-asleep whisper made him look down. Her big brown eyes stared up inquiringly and she offered him half of a smile, the way she did to reassure him when he worried.

"Are you all right?" he asked her. She nodded slightly. She reached up a finger to stroke the worry lines between his eyebrows.

"What is it?"

"What are we doing here?" he murmured, feeling that she would know, or at least know what to say.

She propped herself up on one elbow, and the space created between their chests felt cold and unnatural. "Do you want me to go?" She had nothing but a sheet around her, but looked as though with even a nod from him she would disappear onto the streets of D.C.

"I don't want that." He hadn't expected her to say that, and felt like physically rooting her to the bed.

"Then we're fine." She looked at him for a moment to cement the seriousness of her statement. "This is okay, you know."

"What?" he asked. "What is this?"

She moved even closer to him and he drew his arms around her naturally. "I hate morning," she whispered.

He understood. "I know." Morning meant they were back in suits, in offices, in roles which kept them at a professional distance lest the higher-ups discover their terrible secret and separate them at work. Not that it mattered, not really. They both had other opportunities. But somehow not being able to define themselves as partners would force them to define this as an entity of its own. Doggett wasn't sure what they were when they left the office and she would reach from the passenger seat of his truck to touch his sleeve as he drove, the smallest symbol of possession which made his whole body nearly drop through the floor. It all seemed so natural, but when they talked about it they were as vague as they could be. She was his lover, yes, but was she his girlfriend? Could he classify her like that? He cooked for her, or tried to, dinner and breakfast if they didn't go out and didn't stay late at the office, and she rewarded him by being close. She knew his fluctuations of mood almost before he did, and could comfort him with a glance. Her eyes promised him everything.

"Do you want something else?" he asked her, knowing she was still awake and not intending to go back to sleep, no matter how rhythmically she breathed. He knew that she had a state between sleep and activity that she indulged in whenever she could, when she looked asleep to the world but was really awake and delighting in the sensations of the sheets against her arms, of her own blood in her veins, and in the way he felt next to her. He'd asked her about it once, and she had said it was the time she took to regroup herself, to really stop and figure out who she was going to be that day.

"I'm happy."

"I'll marry you." He said it and it was a surprise to him. He didn't know what had forced him to say it. Marriage meant hushed whispered fights and a deep seated bitterness which left him cold and angry and lonely. Monica meant none of those things, and yet he had said it. She had never asked for marriage. He knew she had never been married before, and that her few relationships had either been short lived or dramatic failures, and yet here he was, tempting her to make a dramatic failure out of this too. "If you want."

She didn't squeal and cry and make a big scene, as Barbara had when he'd proposed to her. Things had been different then -- everything had been right: the fancy dinner, the kneeling, the ring. He'd been right, then. Monica's silence conveyed that she understood the gravity of his statement, but other than a tightening of the muscles in her shoulders she remained still.

"Everyone will know, then," she said finally. It was a question, a reminder of the secret, inappropriate nature of their liaison. She had to remind him because it didn't feel inappropriate. Nothing felt right anymore when she wasn't around. When she spent nights at her apartment to keep their cover, few though those nights were, his house felt empty and unnatural, and he felt the same way.

"I don't want you to ever have to go home," he wanted her to tell him what he meant, to tell him that he loved her in a way he'd never quite been able to phrase, to put it all together as she did so well with him. He wanted her to live here, to forget about the charades they played for anyone who cared, about her car being in the shop or her apartment being fumigated seven days a week. His house, formerly a measure of homeowner's pride but something he regarded with general indifference had become something else -- a place where he could be with her without all the games.

"You don't have to marry me for me not to leave," she turned to face him, and spoke with her voice muffled in his chest. "I'll stay here for you."

Her words struck him. She wasn't always so, but for moments at a time she transcended what he ever could want or need from her. He tightened his grip around her and she relaxed into it. After a moment, he released her and she sat up and glanced at the clock. It was already five-thirty, and the night was wasted.

"Do you want coffee?" she asked.

"Not yet." He liked being caught between night and day with her like this.

She wasn't awkward about her nudity, not around him, and the light played shadows on her so that she could have been a painting. Her eyes fell deep into contemplation, and he wished he could read her mind. "Marry me," she said finally. "Sometime. It doesn't have to be now."

"Why?" he asked her. Anyone else might have become indignant, or laughed and said that it was his idea in the first place, but she knew better.

"Because it's you," she smiled beautifully. "And because you don't laugh when I say that."

He reached out to touch her arm, gently, the kind of possessive touch she used in his truck each evening to remind him that she was still his, no matter how she pretended to be at work. "You know things. Do you know about this? That this won't be a disaster?"

"It won't be a disaster," she promised, and leaned over to kiss him between the eyebrows, along the worry lines she teased him about. She paused for a moment before flinging her arms around him fiercely and hugging him hard, as though she wanted to crawl into his skin. "Thank God," she whispered, shaking against him with an intensity he hadn't expected. He could do nothing but hold her and agree.

The phone rang. She pulled herself away from him and wiped her eyes. "It's got to be Dana. No one else is up this early."

"You answer it," he said, handing the phone to her. She gave him a look of surprise for only a moment before picking up the phone.

"Hello, this is Monica."

There was a pause on the other end of the phone, as Doggett and Reyes exchanged smiles. "Agent Reyes? I'm sorry, I was trying to call Agent Doggett... I guess I misdialed. I didn't mean to wake you."

"It's all right, Dana, you didn't wake me. Agent Doggett is here -- is there something we can help you with?"

There was another pause, longer, as Scully was evidently trying to reconcile the lack of death in Reyes' voice with her presence at Doggett's phone number. "No... I didn't realize the time when I -- is everything all right?"

"Yes, Dana, everything's fine. Are you all right?"

Doggett snatched the phone away from her. "Everything's fine, Agent Scully. Agent Reyes and I were just... talking." Monica tried to slip out of his grasp to begin dressing, since it was clear that Scully's phone call meant an early morning drive to somewhere. He tightened his grip around her in protest against the loss of body heat and against the beginning of the professional day ahead. "There's a report of what?"

Monica kissed his hand until he let her go.

"We'll be there in a minute," Doggett promised as he hung up the phone.

She smiled at him as she opened the drawer unofficially designated as hers to pull out clothes. "Her place?"

"No, she's at the office already. She's got the reports there." He grabbed her hands as she pulled on jeans, stopping her action. She stared up at him curiously as he traced his fingers up her arms, settling on her jaw.

"John..." she murmured, closing her eyes. She spoke as he got close to her mouth. "Is this going to change everything?"

"It might," he whispered between her lips.

She kissed him back for a moment before breaking away with a sigh, knowing they had to stop before they were completely distracted. "We have to go." She brought a hand to his chest to push him a few inches away, initiating the professional distance they had gotten so used to. "Dana's waiting."

He nodded and waited while she pulled a shirt over her head before smoothing down her hair, lingering a moment to tuck an errant lock behind her ear. "What are we going to say to Dana, about me being over here?"

He didn't respond right away, and she waited patiently for him to finish with a curious expression on her face, wondering why he seemed unwilling to back out of arms' reach.

"I want people to know," he said after a minute. "We should tell Scully, shouldn't we?" In all truth, it was a testament to Scully's naturally reclusive tendencies more than their discretion that she didn't know already.

"Kiss me like that in the office and she'll probably figure it out for herself pretty quick," she grinned impishly as she turned away, hunting for her ID badge through the clothing on the floor, remnants of their race to the bed the night before.

"Monica, I'm..." he sighed and watched her wade through fabric. "I don't want Scully, or anyone, thinking that... that I don't love you, when-"

She stopped hunting through her jacket pockets and slowly turned her head to look at him. He couldn't decipher her expression, didn't know how she would react to his emotions being dragged out from their silence and put on the table, made real and permanent even more than an indefinite proposal had done.

She stood up and kissed him, ID badge temporarily forgotten. "I love you, too," she confessed in a whisper as she kissed the edge of his ear. She pulled away and fixed him with a look that was both calming and enchanting all at once. "It'll be okay." He felt as though she was reaching into his mind and teasing out all his fears, offering that one promise as a blanket assurance for all of them. "I am never wrong about these things."

He smiled back at her as he managed a laugh. It would all work out. Honesty with her somehow made up for all the pretenses they created for everyone else. It would be okay.

"Shall we?" she asked, indicating his bedroom door and the world outside.

On impulse, he took her hand, feeling adolescent and proudly possessive all at the same time, and unsure that he would actually be able to bring himself to release her when they arrived at the FBI building.

"I'm going to get you a ring," he said.

"I know," she answered, nodding. It didn't surprise him that she knew that, knew how traditional he was, even when he pretended to be otherwise to make her laugh. She probably already knew what it would look like, even before he did. She squeezed his hand subtly, letting him know that if he wanted to go public, to show her off or just to clear his conscience, she'd go along with it. She made no move to pull free from his grip and waited for him to lead her.

They walked out the door together.


-The End-

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This (with a few corrections) was my First DRR Story Ever ("Little Red: The Early Years"). I was horribly lied to by so-called friends who informed me that I shouldn't watch Season 9 because there was "no love." After I saw "Scary Monsters" by accident, I freaked out, wrote this, and relapsed into my happy X-Files obsession. Kristine and Fyca (happy birthday, baby!) made me post it!


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