Welcome To The Harem

Some Things Never Change (Part 1 of 3) by Scifinerdgrl
Summary: After accidentally activating a mysterious device, Doggett and Reyes find themselves in a world where neither has broken off their previous relationship. Even if they can figure out how to restore their reality, will they want to? PG13. Doggett/Reyes, Doggett/Barbara, Follmer/Reyes.

From: "SciFi NerdGrl"
Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2003 22:35:49 -0600
Subject: NEW: Some Things Never Change by Scifinerdgrl
Source: direct

Title: Some Things Never Change
Author: Scifinerdgrl
Rating: PG-13
Classification: SRA
Spoilers: S9
Keywords: Doggett/Reyes Relationship, Doggett/Other (Barbara),
Follmer/Reyes Relationship (married), X-File, AU, Mytharc

Summary: After accidentally activating a mysterious device,
Doggett and Reyes find themselves in a world where neither has
broken off their previous relationship. Even if they can figure
out how to restore their reality, will they want to? Rated PG-13
for adult themes and a little violence. If you don't know how
babies are made you won't understand this story.


John Doggett looked across the office to his partner. "Almost
quitting time," he said suggestively.

Monica Reyes looked up from her computer. "Yeah?" She checked
her watch then said, "Since when is one more hour 'almost?'"

"You think anyone would notice if we left early?" he asked,
smirking suggestively. For the past six months they had found
that hiding their relationship was surprisingly easy, making them
wonder if it wasn't a matter of their fellow agents not noticing,
but of not caring.

"Probably not," she agreed, presenting a deliberately
professional demeanor except for a slight smirk. "And we *were*
up late on that stake-out last night."

"Good point," he said, stretching his arms in a badly faked yawn.
"I should get to bed early tonight."

"Awww," she said with mock disappointment. "I was going to
invite you over for some authentic home-cooked Mexican food."

"Aw, gee, Agent Reyes," John said, feigning disappointment as
well. "I'd love to, but Mexican food always keeps me up."

"Well, then..." she said, standing up. She walked to his desk
and put her hands on it, then leaned forward until her face was
only inches from his. "I *definitely* think you should come

He looked into her eyes, but one hand went to the cleavage that
was really on his mind. Running the tip of his index finger just
under the hem of her V-neck sweater, he urged her forward until
their lips were just brushing together. "That sounds like an
offer I just can't refuse," he whispered.

"I'd better leave now, then. The frijoles might take awhile."
Reyes sighed and closed her eyes as his finger continued teasing
her neckline.

"Can't have bad frijoles," he agreed.

"No, can't have that," she whispered.

"But I'll need a ride. I left my truck at home this morning...."
He let the knuckle of his finger graze the skin of her chest,
then trailed it upward until it was stroking the underside of her
chin. "I got a ride to work with a friend."

"Sure," she sighed, then let him pull her chin that last
millimeter toward himself for a tender, breathless kiss.

When they pulled apart, neither had any sense of how long the
kiss had lasted. It could have been a second, could have been an
hour. Time had been stretching and bending like that a lot
lately. He pulled some keys from his pants pocket and held them
out for her. "Here, you'll need these," he said.

She made a point of covering his hand with her own while she took
the keys, and electricity surging from the touch of the other's
hand made them smile and the linger over the feeling. Though
they had been together for six months the long wait before that
incredible first touch made every touch after that as magical as
the first, and like teenagers in the flush of first love, they
lingered over every sensuous moment that passed between them.

Time stood still as the pair held their breaths, their eyes
closed as they focused their attention on the feel of the other's
hand. But suddenly the touch felt almost painful, and Doggett
pulled his hand away, leaving Reyes holding what should have been
car keys, but instead was a small, oddly shaped metallic object.
The object buzzed loudly and vibrated in her hand, then became
silent when she raised it to get a closer look.

She looked at Doggett in amazement. "How did you do that?"

"I didn't do anything," he answered, trying to see what she was
peering at.

"Is this a gift?" she asked coyly. "A toy for tonight, maybe?"
She smiled then turned what looked like a tiny knob.

The object hummed, then buzzed, then let out a high-pitched
electronic whine that made the two partners instinctively cover
their ears. Monica dropped it, and when the object fell to the
desk it started to glow, its light growing until it was so bright
that they had to close their eyes. When they opened them again
the object looked as it had before, and it was silent again.

"What the--" Doggett started.

"You didn't do that?" Reyes asked cautiously.

"No," he said, reaching for the object. From the corner of his
eye he noticed a picture frame sitting on his desk, one that had
never been there before. He moved his hand away from the strange
object and picked up the frame instead. "And I didn't do this

He turned the frame towards Reyes, showing her a studio-style
family photo of Doggett, his ex-wife, Barbara, and two young

Their eyes locked over the picture for a long moment, then Reyes
went to her desk and looked at the pictures she found there. One
stood out. It showed her and her former lover, Brad Follmer,
standing under a rose-covered arch, their hands locked and their
faces radiant with joy. She'd never seen a more beautiful wedding


"Monica?" a voice rang out from the doorway.

The two partners looked up. "Brad," Monica said nervously. The
last she knew, Brad had gone into the witness protection program
after murdering a mob hit man. He would never risk his life to
show up at the Hoover Building.

"Follmer," said Doggett carefully.

"Am I interrupting something?" Brad asked innocently. "I need to
see my wife, if you don't mind." He turned toward Monica then
said, "Got a minute?"

"Sure," Monica answered. She followed Brad into the hallway,
glancing over her shoulder at John as she turned the corner into
the hallway. As soon as they were alone, Brad grabbed her head
and pulled her in for a long, passionate kiss. Monica pulled
away, saying "Brad..."

"What? A guy can't kiss his wife after almost a week away?" he
said, laughing. "Look around, Monica. Who's going to see us?"

She glanced around, and noticed that everything seemed different.
Different files stacked in the storage area, older ceiling tiles,
stained and scuffed paint on the walls... This couldn't be fake,
she realized. "The fire..." she gasped, stroking the walls that
should have been repainted a few years earlier.

"What fire?" Brad asked.

"The fire in the X-Files office..." She inspected the boxes, and
when she opened one she found files dated 1994, files that should
have burned. "It never happened."

"No," Brad said, wrinkling his brow. "There's never been a fire
down here." He grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her to
him, then playfully pushed his hips against hers and said,
"Except the ones we've started."

Before she could answer, his lips engulfed hers for a passionate
yet oddly tender kiss. He paused for a moment to whisper, "God,
how I've missed you," then tangled his fingers in her hair and
kissed her again.

Despite her initial revulsion her body began to respond and she
found herself playing along, wrapping her arms around his ribcage
and massaging his shoulders. By the time she felt the breath
from a very loving sigh brush her cheek she had been transported
over three years into the past, to a time when she was sure he
was the love of her life.

Looking lovingly into her eyes, he stroked her hair, smoothing it
back behind her ears. "Did you miss me too?" he asked.

Hearing his voice brought her back to reality, and she pulled
back in horror. "Brad, what...?"

He pulled her closer as she struggled to break free, then said,
"You didn't miss me?"

The hurt in his voice betrayed the playful smile on his lips, and
Monica realized this was no joke. "Of course I did," Monica
said, looking down and placing her hands on his chest.

The palms of Brad's hands moved to her jaw line, where they could
tilt her face toward his. She reluctantly looked into his eyes,
then remembered. His eyes. They'd had such power over her once,
and he seemed confident that they still did. She managed a
slight smile and he smiled wistfully back at her. "That's my
girl." He kissed her again briefly then added, "I'm afraid I
have some bad news. I know I just got back, but I have to go to
Chicago tonight. More task force business."

She sighed with relief then caught herself and feigned
disappointment. "When will you be back?" she asked, rubbing his
chest in imitation of a woman missing her man.

"Tomorrow, if everything goes well," he answered. He grabbed her
left hand then brought it to his lips and kissed her knuckles
tenderly, so tenderly that Monica almost forgot to feel
revulsion. "I know you need me to be home with you, but it can't
be helped. What was your temperature this morning?" he asked
solicitously. "Is it time? Because if it is, we can go back to
my office, and..." Brad interrupted himself to look down on her
hand. For emphasis, he turned it as he held it. "Where are your

Monica pulled her hand away and put it behind her back. "I must
have taken them off to do the dishes," she said.

"Is something wrong with the dishwasher?" he asked. "You should
have told me..."

"No, just washing a few things..." she stammered.

"Honey," he said with saccharine sweetness. "I can't help
wondering what people will think if they don't see your rings.
There have to be dozens of guys in the bureau eating their hearts
out that the most beautiful woman in the world is married to a
chump like me..."

He kissed her knuckles again, and she couldn't help blushing.
"You're not a chump," she said as she pulled her hand away. "And
I'm sorry about the rings. I'll wear them from now on."

He stooped slightly to look more directly into her eyes. "That's
my girl. And I want you to know I've thought about what you said
before I left. You're right, it does seem like I leave town when
you're fertile. But it's just coincidence, I promise. If it
makes you feel better, I can make a little deposit with your
doctor in case this happens again." He smiled, expecting her to
smile back. She knew that smile. It was the habitual smile of a
lifelong charmer trying to get his way, and she couldn't believe
there could be a version of herself who hadn't learned to see
through it. She smiled weakly, and he continued, "I want this as
much as you do, Monica. In a year we'll be parents. You'll

Tears came to Monica's eyes as she felt the gravity of what he
was saying. Parents? She and Brad would be parents? She
prayed silently to wake up from her nightmare, and Brad, noticing
her expression, pulled her into a tight hug, whispering, "I adore
you, Monica. You'll make a wonderful mother. But no matter what
happens, I want you to be happy..."

She pulled away and said what she knew he wanted to hear. "I am
happy, Brad. Really."

He smiled smugly then ran a thumb under her eye, wiping away a
tear. "Glad to hear it. And soon you'll be even happier." He
looked at the moisture on his thumb then rubbed it against the
tip of his index finger. He looked more closely at her eyes, his
lips gradually pursing in disgust. "But let's look happy, okay?
Just because I'm out of town, don't let yourself go. No make-up?
Your hair isn't done? And this sweater..." he said, fingering
the yarn as if it were strands of mucus. "You can do better than
this. We've set a standard, Monica. Let's live up to it, okay?"

She nodded then asked hopefully, "See you soon?"

"That's my girl," Brad said, pulling her in for another kiss.
"I'll call you."

She pulled away from him as quickly as she could, and returned to
the X-Files office. Her partner was examining the contents of
his desk, and he looked up when she entered. "Something tells me
we're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy," he said.

"I'll say," she said, standing just inside the door. She
listened until she heard the sound of the elevator door closing,
then locked the office door and approached him. "What's going
on?" she sighed. "I could never marry him."

"Beats me," he answered, moving to meet her. They stood together
next to his desk, looking at the strange object. John's arm
automatically went to her waist, and she settled into his

"This is all wrong," she said, shaking her head.

"What did your *husband* want?" Doggett asked, pulling her around
to face him, his hands now holding her sides as if to keep her
from escaping. "Did he notice anything different?"

"I don't think so, except the rings are missing," she answered,
then when his quizzical eye questioned her sudden blush, she
added, "And he didn't like my hair and make-up..."

John's ire went up immediately, realizing she'd been insulted,
but not knowing how to soothe her, he took a deep breath, then
forced a weak smile and said simply, "Good."

"He's going out of town on a case," Reyes added, stroking John's
arms. "We don't have to worry about him until tomorrow."

"Let's hope we can set things straight before anyone notices,"
John said softly. He stroked Monica's hair as she nodded, a
gesture that had become habitual for him. He'd never paid much
attention to Barb's hair, but with Monica it was a magical,
almost spiritual gesture. Comforting her somehow comforted him,
which comforted her even more.

She smiled at the gesture, then picked up the object and said
slowly, "I turned this, but I don't remember how far..."

"It was 'on' when it arrived here," Doggett added.

"How did this happen, John?" Reyes asked, her brown eyes looking
for answers in his crystal blue ones. Even though she knew he
would have no answers, looking into his eyes as if he understood
everything made her feel safe and protected. She'd never needed
a hero before, but with him it was different.

"And where did it come from in the first place?" Doggett
interjected, picking it up and examining it himself.

"Or when?" Monica said. "Is it from the future? Or the past?"

"And why?" Doggett sat on the edge of the desk, looking into her
eyes. "Was it an accident?"

"It was an accident when we set it off," Reyes suggested. "So,
in a sense, we created this... this situation."

"Things don't just appear out of thin air, John," Monica said.

He smiled. "That sounds like something I'd say," he pointed out.

"Maybe someone sent this to us," Monica suggested. "Or maybe we
sent it to ourselves."

Before he could offer another theory, the phone on John's desk
rang. "Doggett," he said mechanically.

"Teresa's piano teacher is running late," his ex-wife's familiar
voice said. "I'll pick you up at the Metro at 6:00, okay?"

"Uh, sure, Barb..." John said cautiously as he set the object on
his desk. "Which station? West Falls Church?"

"Where else?" Barb said with an annoyed sigh that brought back
unpleasant memories for John. Some things never change, he

"Hey listen, Barb," John started, keeping his eyes on Monica's.
"Mind if Monica stays the night? We're working on a case, and
Brad is going out of town..."

Barb sighed loudly. "So what else is new?"

"So it's okay?" he asked hopefully.

"Sure," Barb answered. "Is she there in the office?"

"Yeah," John said, afraid he'd made a mistake. "Is there a

"We've talked about this, John," she scolded. "Brad doesn't want
her coming over so often. It's too hard on her."

"It's just for..." John eked out, but Barb cut him off.

"And I tend to agree. The last thing she needs right now is to
be around Teresa," she said in the authoritative yet uncannily
insightful voice John recognized from years of dead-on
neighborhood gossip. "But being all alone rattling around in
that big house can't be easy for her either, and if he's not
going to spend time with her..." She sighed again, and John
closed his eyes, picturing the face that went with the sigh. Even
after all these years apart, he knew this woman too well. She
sighed again when he didn't fill her silence, then added, "It's
okay with me as long as you take the heat when he gets back. I'm
tired of explaining ourselves to him."

"Works for me," he said cheerfully. "See you at six, then?"

"Fine," she said, not fooled by his false cheer. "Be at the Kiss
n' Ride at six."

After hanging up the phone, Doggett looked at Reyes. "I hope you
don't mind coming over. Apparently rattling around in that big
house is no fun for you."

"Big house?" she said, raising her eyebrows quizzically.

"I don't think you're happy here, Dorothy," he said, gently
touching her hair. "I don't think I am either."


For the next hour they pored over reference books, old files, and
the internet looking for clues about what had happened, but to no
avail. Theories of multiple universes abounded, but the
technology to switch among them seemed impossible even to the
most eccentric scientists, and nobody had made drawings or
prototypes that resembled the device.

Reyes pulled a Rolodex card from its roller and held it up for
Doggett's inspection. "He seems to be the best in the area. Let's
give him a call."

"DOE?" Doggett asked suspiciously. "I dunno, Monica... I can't
see how the Department of Energy would be making..."

"It takes a lot of energy to break the laws of physics," Monica
said matter-of-factly. She pocketed the Rolodex card then started
putting on her coat. It was a beautiful leather trench coat,
lined with silk, and topped with a fur collar. As John helped
her into it, she couldn't help but wonder if Brad had paid for
this coat with dirty money, but she loved the coat nevertheless.
She sighed as the coat wrapped itself around her, and John's hand
couldn't help rubbing over the sleeve as he let her go. "Nice
coat," he said.

They carefully packed the mysterious object in a worn leather
briefcase they found under John's desk, then squeezed both of
their laptops into a high-fashion bag they found under Monica's.
As they stood in the crowded subway they kept their eyes on each
other, each afraid that the other might disappear at any moment,
each wondering what the others' life was like in this reality.

John almost didn't notice the SUV honking at the Kiss n' Ride,
but Monica noticed and tugged on his sleeve. When he opened the
passenger door John made a point of leaning toward Barbara for
the perfunctory kiss he assumed she'd expect.

"She's not looking," Barb muttered. "Save the show for later."

John looked over his shoulder. It was true. Monica was standing
at the rear door peering through the window at the two children
who were smiling at her. He rolled down the window and leaned
out. "Monica? Get in."

Monica squeezed into the rear between the girls then smiled
awkwardly at them. The older girl looked at Monica suspiciously
for a moment, then said, "Aunt Monica? Are you okay?"

"Yes, fine..." Monica said. "I did my hair differently today.
Like it?"

The younger girl broke in, saying, "You look pretty Aunt Monica."

"Thank you," Monica answered, smiling at the little girl.

Monica guessed the older girl was about six, and the younger one
four. They both had their father's dark hair and light brown
eyes. They were the opposite of Luke, who had his mother's blond
hair and his father's blue eyes. A good thing, she thought.
Best for the new children to be as different as possible from
their deceased older brother.

The younger girl wrapped her arms around Monica's and held it
tightly. "Are you going to stay over tonight?" she asked.

"She is, Mon-Mon," the older girl interrupted angrily. "And
she's staying in *my* room this time! I already put the sheets
on the bottom bunk."

"MOM!" the girl who was apparently named Mon-Mon yelled. "Tell
Teresa it's *my* turn!"

Monica squirmed, unused to being the center of anyone's
attention, much less small children's. John turned around and
smiled at the childish outburst, then his eyes lingered on each
child's face. Monica watched his features soften as he looked at
his newfound children, and her heart went out to him for the loss
he would have to suffer when they set things right. Suddenly,
John looked into Monica's eyes, and his own misted over as he
came to the same conclusion.

Barbara seemed oblivious to the silent communication between her
husband and her children's "aunt." "John," she sighed in
exasperation, the sigh that meant a problem was his to fix.

Teresa cried out, "It's not fair!"

"It's okay," Monica said awkwardly. "Don't fight over me. I can
sleep on the couch."

"Then where will Daddy sleep?" Mon-Mon asked.

"We'll work things out later," John said firmly.

Barbara pulled the SUV into the drive. John recognized it as the
one that he and Barb had bought just before their divorce, the
house that he still lived in. But once inside it seemed like an
entirely different place. The kitchen was cheerful, with
children's drawings on the refrigerator, cartoon-decorated
utensils, and brightly colored decorations. The two girls each
grabbed one of Monica's hands and pulled her toward a corner of
the living room where a Barbie doll house had been set up. John
started to follow them, eager to see what the rest of the house
looked like, but Barbara grabbed him by the sleeve and held him

"Did Monica leave Brad?" she asked bluntly, as only she could.

"No!" he stammered. "It's what I told you. He's out of town on
a case..."

"Don't lie to me," Barbara scolded. "No make-up? Her hair? And
those clothes? Monica would never leave the house looking like
that unless something were wrong."

Hair and make-up had never been John's strong suit, so he knew
the difference must be striking for Barbara to expect him to
notice. "Oh really?" he said, trying to be nonchalant as he
opened the refrigerator door, then used it to block his face from
her view. He found a twelve-pack of beer, his favorite brand,
and he took one bottle out.

Barbara pulled on his arm and whirled him to face her. "Come on,
John. What's up?"

"Brad was out of town, then he stopped by to tell her he had to
leave again. That's all I know," he said innocently. "I didn't
want to pry." He wasn't sure she would accept this, but at
least it was honest. He hadn't pried, and unless he was a very
different man in this universe, Barbara wouldn't expect him to
pry. That was her domain.

Barbara edged him out of the refrigerator space. "Having a baby
won't fix that marriage," she declared authoritatively as she
reached for food. "Just look at us."

He was relieved to find that the bottle-opener was just where it
belonged. He sighed inwardly after taking his first sip of beer.
It tasted just the way it should. Yes, some things never change.
He leaned back against a counter and continued taking small sips
as he watched Barbara puttering around the kitchen preparing

"She's just driving herself crazy wanting a baby," Barbara said.
A squeal of laughter came from the living room, and Barbara's
shoulders sagged. "And spending all this time with Teresa... She
shouldn't be here, John."

He watched in amusement as Barbara worked efficiently, moving
back and forth between the counter, refrigerator, sink, and stove
without missing a beat in her monologue. "Why not?" he asked

Barb wheeled to face him briefly, giving him one of her patented
"You're kidding me, right?" looks. Then she turned her back to
him again and continued her monologue. "I don't blame her one
little bit for wanting a baby. Every time I look at our two
little girls I realize how lucky we are, and who could blame her
for wanting the same?"

John nodded and took another sip. He knew she didn't need him to
answer. She never had.

Barb sighed heavily and turned to face him again. "Brad says
she's always down after spending time with us, but I don't
know... You know and I know and I bet Monica knows he doesn't
have to take all these trips. Wanting a baby, it's about more
than just being a mother for her. She'll expect Brad to stay
home more, like you did... But he won't..."

At the sound of more laughter coming from the other room, Barb
walked to the doorway and leaned against the frame. More to
herself than to John, she said softly, "Maybe this whole thing
was a mistake. We're not happy. They're not happy...."

John said lamely, "They'll work things out."

But Barb seemed not to hear him. With a faraway look she said,
"Teresa looks more and more like Monica every day, and she has to
be seeing that too. If she doesn't have a baby of her own soon,
she's going to start regretting donating her ova for us to have


John choked on his beer. Monica donated her ova?!?!? She was
Teresa's mother?!?! His face was almost purple by the time Barb
glanced over her shoulder. After deciding he would live, she
looked again at her children and mused, "And Mon-Mon will learn
soon enough the difference between being adopted and being the
result of a donation by her favorite aunt. She already feels
inferior to her older sister. After she learns the truth it will
be even worse for her..."

Before she could finish, Mon-Mon ran into the kitchen and grabbed
John around the knees. "What's wrong, Daddy?" she asked

He coughed the last of the beer out of his lungs and squatted to
be on her level. "Nothing, honey. Just choked a little is all."
Mon-Mon wrapped her arms around his neck, and instinctively, John
wrapped his around her tiny body. After an awkward silence, he
tried to pull her off of him, but she clung even more tightly to
him. "It's okay," he repeated. "Daddy's fine..."

But still, she wouldn't let go. Her desperation was so endearing
he wanted to laugh, but instead he looked to Barb for some sign
of what Mon-Mon expected. Barb closed her mouth, her lips
forming a tight seal, and marched to the stove.

"Mon-Mon," Doggett gasped. "What would it take for you to let go
of me?"

"Come see Barbie's new garden!" she whispered into his ear.

Somehow her breath wafted to his nose and he took in her milky
scent, and when she brushed her cheek against his and gave him a
delicate kiss his knees turned to jelly. "Okay, let's go," he
said, then stood up slowly. She allowed him to shift her to one
side, then together they lumbered toward the Barbie set-up in the
living room.

He found Teresa and Monica sitting in the corner, pink and purple
plastic doll accessories neatly arranged in front of them with
crude cardboard craft projects. Teresa was holding forth with a
running commentary on their dolls' activities as she acted out
the story. Monica, holding the brown-haired friend of Barbie,
followed along. Seeing them together, their outstretched arms
bouncing their dolls up and down in perfect synchrony, John could
see that they were mother and daughter, and he stood staring for
a moment, not wanting to intrude.

"Daddy?" Mon-Mon asked sweetly. "Don't you want to see it?"

He snapped to attention and smiled at the tiny face looking into
his. "Of course I do. Now, show me what you want me to see."
After setting Mon-Mon on her feet he followed her to the doll
set-up. He squatted in front of the elaborate set-up, and when
Mon-Mon leaned against him he put his arm around her tiny waist
and asked, "Now, whatcha got here?"

As Mon-Mon rattled off a list of her contributions to the set-up,
he couldn't help thinking about what it was like to have two
sweet little daughters. When he and Barb were trying to have
another baby after Luke, they'd fantasized about what a little
girl might be like. A few years before Luke's death they'd given
up on their dream of having another child, and John never thought
that those dead fantasies could come alive after fifteen years.
But here they were. Barbie dolls. Pattering girl-talk, so much
more descriptive and verbal than Luke's talk at that age. A
purple convertible instead of a red fire truck. Barbie's house,
not G. I. Joe's fort. It was beyond even Barb's ideas of what
having a little girl would be like.

When she was finished she took a deep breath and said, "What do
you think, daddy?"

Her eyes searched his for signs of approval, and her earnestness
tugged at his heart. He forced back the lump in his throat and
said, "It's wonderful, Mon-Mon!"

Without warning, Mon-Mon threw her arms around his neck and
kissed his cheek, then pulled back and said, "Thank you, Daddy."

Before he could respond, Teresa interrupted with a list of her
own contributions, each one apparently superior to anything
Mon-Mon could have done. Uh-oh, John thought. This is going to
go downhill. Teresa finished her monologue with a very
triumphant announcement that "Aunt Monica says my horse stable is
the best thing she's ever seen!"

"So what!" Mon-Mon cried out.

"It's better than your stupid trees!" Teresa shot back.

John looked down at the trees, which were misshapen and
threatened to fall over. He had to admit that they were clumsy,
but considering the age difference...

Mon-Mon broke free of his embrace and ran to the cardboard horse
stable, then kicked it over and started jumping on it. Teresa
screamed and started stomping on Mon-Mon's trees. And before
either John or Monica could interrupt, the two girls were in an
all-out knock-down wrestling match.

"GIRLS!" Barb shouted from the doorway.

The two girls instantly stopped fighting and looked at their
mother, wide-eyed with fear. "Sorry, mommy," Mon-Mon said in a
breathy, high-pitched voice.

"Me too," Teresa said, bowing her head.

"Time to set the table," Barb ordered. "Teresa you do the plates
and glasses. Mon-Mon you do the silverware." When the girls
didn't move she added, "NOW!"

The girls ran to the kitchen. Barb shot John a brief, angry
glance, then followed the girls, leaving John and Monica looking
into each others' eyes for a long moment. Monica took a deep
breath then started picking up the debris left by the dueling
daughters. John started helping her then leaned over to say,
"The Lollipop Guild isn't happy here, either, Dorothy."

"All sisters are like that," Monica said quietly. "Or so I've
heard." She reached for Teresa's ruined cardboard stable and
tried to straighten it, and John picked up one of Mon-Mon's
mangled trees.

"A long time ago, before you and I met, Barb and I tried to have
more children," John said, rolling the tree between his fingers.
"And we always wondered what it would be like to have a

"This is a nice family, John," Monica whispered thoughtfully.
She stood up and surveyed the tornado-ravaged dream house.
"They're sweet little girls, despite what they just did."

John glanced toward the doorway then sneaked a hand behind her
back and stroked her hair gently. "Yeah, they are. There's just
one thing though..."

"John," she said, pulling away. "Don't..."

And then Barb appeared at the doorway and said, "Dinner's ready."


The seating arrangements at dinner had long ago been established,
to John and Monica's relief. Monica sat between the two girls,
with John attending to Mon-Mon and Barb keeping an eye on Teresa.
When Mon-Mon spilled her milk, John and Monica together mopped it
up, taking turns soothing the distraught little girl. This
seemed to have the effect of making Teresa look for ways of
demanding attention, but Barb silenced her with a glance every
time she whined or kicked the table leg. After dinner another
fight broke out as the girls loaded the dishwasher. Barb grabbed
Teresa and John grabbed Mon-Mon, leaving Monica feeling very much
the fifth wheel and John feeling very much at sea in his new

But all the girls' disagreements seemed forgotten when the
combatants went to their "corners," Teresa retreating to the
living room to practice her day's piano lesson and Mon-Mon
working quietly in the kitchen making new trees for Barbie, with
a little help from her mother.

John set up his laptop on the dining room table and started
making notes, starting with a list of "different" and one for
"same." "Most theories of alternate universes hinge on the idea
that individual events caused new time lines to branch out," he
said. "If we can just figure out what that pivotal moment
was..." He started typing notes in each column, and soon the
"different" column was twice the length of the one marked "same."

Monica sighed when she saw John's list. "Whatever it was, it
happened a long time ago. We'll never figure it out."

"Never say never," John whispered. "I used to think I'd never
fall in love again."

She flushed at his use of the L-word and wondered if she would
ever tire of hearing it from him. "Me too," she whispered back.
"You have no idea how much I want to kiss you right now!"

"I have some idea," he grinned.

They gazed at each other for a long moment, then Monica sighed in
frustration and stood up. "Be right back," she said, answering
the question on his face with a brief smile, then held up the
rolodex card she'd taken from the office, then left the room.

When she returned, she announced they an appointment to see the
DOE physicist the following afternoon. She set up her computer
next to John's and started going through "her" files. "Let's see
what history is in here," she said hopefully. But the files told
her nothing new about her life in this universe, and just like
her own files, they were boring to someone who hadn't lived them.
Soon her mind started drifting, and she found herself listening
to Teresa's surprisingly accomplished piano playing.

"Fur Elise," she sighed. "I played that when I was a little

"You played piano?" John asked in disbelief. Somehow he never
figured her for the musical type. After all these years, why
hadn't he known?

"It was something all little girls of a certain economic class
were expected to do," she admitted. "Along with ballet, tennis,
and English."

Movement in the doorway caught John's attention, and he saw Barb,
dish towel in hand, looking at him quizzically. "You knew that,
John. That's why Teresa had her heart set on taking piano

John glanced at Monica then at Barb. "Sure, I just..."

"Well, enough small talk," Monica broke in. "We need to figure
out what we're going to ask Dr. Schulmann tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?" Barb yelped. "You're working tomorrow too?"

John turned in his seat to look more directly into Barb's eyes.
"Yeah, is that okay with you?"

"No it's not okay!" she snapped. "You have to take Mon-Mon to
Gymboree and I'm taking Teresa to ballet class. Then there's
groceries, laundry, and you promised to take a look at the

"Can it wait?" John asked.

Barb crossed her arms over her chest, her dish cloth drooping
from one hand as if to signal her reluctant surrender. She
sighed and studied his face as he stared unflinchingly back at
her. Finally she broke the silence. "If it's absolutely
necessary for you two to meet with this..."

"He's a physicist," Reyes broke in. "And he's very busy. We
were lucky to get an appointment with him."

"A physicist?" Barb's eyebrows went up. "Well, I suppose it's
for a good cause if he's going to debunk one of those silly cases
of yours."

"So it's decided," Doggett declared.

"I'll take Mon-Mon to gymboree, you can take Teresa with you to
see this physicist. She'll behave herself, and she might find it
interesting," Barb said as she turned on her heel and left the

That's Barb, John thought. Gets in the last word and leaves
before I can open my mouth. Some things never change.

"That won't be so bad," Monica assured him. "If Teresa 's a
distraction she and I can go off somewhere and play Barbies."

John grinned. "You enjoyed that, didn't you?"

"Yeah," she admitted, a slight blush crossing her cheeks. "I
used to play with Barbies when I was her age. It brought back

John leaned across the table and whispered, "About Teresa,
there's something you should know."

She looked at him expectantly but before he could say anything
Teresa came running in with a scrapbook under one arm and a
purple backpack dragging behind her. She climbed onto the chair
next to Monica and threw the scrapbook on the table. "Mommy says
I'm going with you tomorrow!" she said excitedly. "Can we work
on my scrapbook and work on it in the waiting room?"

"He's not that kind of doctor," Reyes corrected.

"We're going to see a scientist about a case. I don't know if
he'll have a place for you to do a project," John explained.
"Aunt Monica thought you might want to take your Barbies..."

Teresa frowned and said to Monica, "But you *said* we could work
on it the next time you came over!"

"How about if we bring both and decide when we get there?" Monica

"I think we should work on it NOW!" Teresa demanded. "How can
you make me a book if my pictures aren't in order?"

John pulled the scrapbook toward his side of the table and opened
it to the first page. Barbara's careful handwriting captioned
the pictures of a lifetime, a very young lifetime, from a
sonogram print-out to a birth announcement, to pictures from her
christening... first birthday..... But soon the neatly
organized and captioned pages gave way to hastily penciled marks
followed by pages stuffed with photos and mementoes. Yes, this
would be a major project, John thought.

"John.... John.... John...." Monica's voice finally penetrated
his consciousness. "Let me look too."

With a wistful smile he slid the scrapbook to her side. "She was
such a beautiful baby..." Monica cooed.

"Of course," John said admiringly. "She takes after her
biological mother." He looked up from the scrapbook, his eyes
seeking hers.

Monica looked at him for a moment, then realized with a start
what he meant.


"It's Mon-Mon's bed-time," Barb interrupted. "She wants her

A sweet little face peeked at John from behind Barb's legs.
"Mon-Mon wants her story," she repeated.

John smiled at the idea. Bedtime stories. He hadn't done that
in years. He was on his feet in an instant, and Mon-Mon rushed
toward him, leaping into his outstretched arms. "So you want a
story, do ya?" John asked jovially.

"I want *my* story," she said emphatically.

John chuckled. "Any story you want, you got it. Just show me
the way!"

At the top of the stairs, John reached for the first doorknob and
asked teasingly, "Is your story in here?"

Mon-Mon giggled. "No, Daddy! It's not in Mommy's room!"

"Is it in here?" he asked, aiming for the bathroom.

Mon-Mon squealed, a little too loudly, right next to his ear. "No
daddy! Not in the bathroom!"

He took a few jaunty steps toward the next door, bouncing Mon-Mon
as he went. The girl was now giggling uncontrollably, and she
could barely get out, "NO! Not Teresa's room!"

After teasing her with the linen closet door and the door to the
attic, John went to the last and smallest room, then stood by the
door. "Is it this one?" he asked.

"YES!!" Mon-Mon squealed. She squirmed out of his arms, and ran
to her little bookshelf, withdrawing a computer-made book,
printed on thick paper. She presented it to him proudly then
threw off her clothes and wriggled into her pajamas. She leapt
into her bed and commanded, "Okay Daddy. Start reading!"

"The Story of Monica Doggett, by Monica Follmer," John read


"Mon-Mon adores her daddy," Barb sighed. "She's definitely
Daddy's little girl."

"What about me?" Teresa demanded.

"Oh, Teresa," Barb's face crumpled in sympathy. "I didn't
mean..." She went to the pouting child and smoothed her hair.
"You don't play favorites. You're Daddy *and* Mommy's little

Teresa seemed placated for the moment and asked, "Because I'm
your biological daughter?"

"Where did you learn that word?" Barb asked.

"Daddy," Teresa answered innocently.

Monica blanched and hoped Teresa wouldn't repeat John's exact
words. Barb stared questioningly into Monica's face for a long
moment, and was about to say something when their silence was
interrupted by a loud ring. She shot a warning glance at Teresa,
then picked up the phone.

As soon as Barb said, "Hi Brad," Monica started preparing her
story. It had been difficult enough when she could see Brad's

"Calm down," Barb continued. "She's right here... she's staying
the night..." There was a long silence, then Barb said sharply,
"You'll have to discuss that with John. It was his idea." After
another pause, she said, "You want to talk to her or what?"
After an exasperated sigh, Barb handed the phone to Monica and
said, "It's for you," then she turned to Teresa and said, "Let's
let them have some privacy and get you ready for bed."

After Barb had ushered Teresa out, Monica took a deep breath and
said, "Hi honey".

"Monica," Brad said, sighing his annoyance at her. "We've talked
about this."

"Talked about what?" Monica asked, turning the pages of Teresa's

"I'm a thousand miles away, you didn't have to sneak around,"
Brad said accusingly.

"Sneak?" Monica bristled. She came to the last filled-in page of
the book then closed it. "I wasn't..."

"Then why didn't you call me? I was worried sick," Brad said.
"Your cell phone isn't working, you weren't answering at home,
nobody's at the office..."

"I'm sorry," she sighed. "I wasn't thinking." She didn't even
have his phone number, she realized. "I'm glad you found me."

"The one place you shouldn't be," he scolded. "What are you
doing there anyway?"

"Working on a case," Monica said, a little more defensively than
she'd intended.

"That's all?" Brad seemed a little skeptical.

"Ate dinner, played Barbies with Teresa, started helping her with
her scrapbook," Monica said, though she wanted to say something
quite different.

There was a long silence, then Brad said, "Monica, she's not
yours. You have to stop doing this. She's Barbara's daughter."

"Please, Brad, spare me the lecture," Monica shot back.

After another long, deliberately exasperated sigh, Brad said,
"Never mind that we're trying to conceive our own. Just think of
what it must do to Barb when you go over there. I love those
kids too, but you have to give the Doggetts their space. Being
Teresa's biological mother doesn't give you extra rights to her,
just as I don't have extra rights to Mon-Mon for arranging her

Slack-jawed, Monica offered no resistance to Brad's continued
tirade. "We have other friends, Monica," he said, his tone
softening. "If you're lonely when I'm away, they'd be happy to
spend time with you..."

"I don't need a babysitter," Monica retorted. And having found
her voice, she launched into a tirade of her own. "And
furthermore, what I do when we're apart isn't any of your
business. Barb's fine, John's fine, the kids are fine, so I
don't get why you're upset anyway. I'm your wife, not your

It was Brad's turn to be silent for a moment, and when Monica was
finished, he said, "I'm sorry... But you know how I worry."

Monica hmmm'ed a very skeptical hmmm.

"I have some good news, honey," he said excitedly. "I think
we've had a real break in the case and I can come home earlier.
I'm going to try to catch a red-eye," he announced, then waited
for her to respond.

"That's good," she said, supposing it was what he expected.

She could hear the grin in his voice as he said, "And then we can
stop arguing about other people's kids and take another stab at
making one of our own." He paused, and when she didn't respond,
he added, "I love you Monica. Let's not fight, okay?"

"Um, okay," she said, looking up to see Barb peeking around the
doorway. "I love you too, honey. See you soon." She answered
his phone smooch with one of her own then hung up.


The Story of Monica Doggett, by Monica Follmer

Once upon a time there was a very nice lady who had a sweet
little girl.

Mommy and baby went everywhere together. They went to the store.
They went to the bank. They went to the park. They were very

Then, one day, the baby girl was in the park all alone, without
her Mommy. She cried and cried and cried because she wanted her
Mommy. The police came and said, "Little girl, what happened to
your Mommy?"

But the little girl was very little, and she could only say,
"mama" and "more!" and "NO!" The police took her to the police
station and tried to find her Mommy, but her Mommy never came for
her. So they called someone from the FBI to try to find her

"We can't keep her," the police said. "We only keep bad people
here, and this little girl is very good."

The FBI man said, "I know a family she can stay with. They have
a Mommy, and a Daddy, and a big sister for her to play with."

So the police let the FBI man take the little girl away to be
with the family.

"What a beautiful little girl!" the Mommy said.

"Little girl, you are welcome to stay here as long as you want,"
the Daddy said.

"Wheeeee! A sister!" their daughter said.

The Mommy picked up the little girl and hugged her, and right
away the little girl said "mama."

After a time, it looked like her first Mommy would never come
back. She couldn't take her to the bank. She couldn't take her
to the park. So the judge said the little girl could stay with
her new family forever. That's called "adoption."

The new family named the little girl "Monica," after the FBI
man's wife, who is also adopted. Her name is Monica Follmer.
And the little girl's new last name is "Doggett" because that is
the Mommy, Daddy, and sister's last name.


John turned the last page of the book and saw the family photo
he'd seen in his office, and in a gravelly voice read the
caption: "The Beginning." By now his lower lip was quivering and
his eyes had filled with tears. "Goodnight, Mon-Mon," he managed
to say, then stood and walked quickly to her door. "You forgot
something, Daddy," Mon-Mon's tiny voice said plaintively.

"What, sweetie?" he asked.

"My nite kiss!" she pouted.

He hesitated, wondering how he could bravely observe an autopsy
or stare down a suspect with a gun, but feared that kissing this
little girl would be too much for him. "Daddy?" she implored.

Reluctantly, he obeyed and bent to give her a peck on the cheek.
She surprised him by reaching around his neck and holding his
face next to hers. "I love you, Daddy," she whispered.

"I love you too," he responded, pulling away from her. "Now, go
to sleep."


"John's upstairs giving equal time to Teresa," Barb explained as
she took a seat across from Monica. "I thought we could talk for
a minute."

Monica felt exhausted suddenly. "Brad and I are fine, Barb,

Barb studied Monica's face intently, then asked, "So where are
your rings?"

"I left them at home," Monica stammered.

"And why didn't you drive here yourself?" Barb quizzed her.
"Where's your Mercedes?"

Mercedes? Monica did a double take but didn't answer.

"And why do you look like you just came from the gym? Why no
make-up?" Barb continued.

"It's this case," Monica sighed. "I'm not myself. I don't think
John is, either."

Barb's face tilted upward, as if she were listening for John's
voice through the ceiling. "Teresa's going to talk his ear off.
We have enough time for you to tell me what's really going on."

"I told you..." Monica started, but Barb interrupted.

"It's about your coming over here, isn't it?" Barb guessed. "He
doesn't want you to spend time with Teresa."

Monica nodded, then quickly added, "But don't worry. We're still

"Monica," Barb said gently, reaching her hands across the table
and capturing one of Monica's. "I know what you're going
through. Believe me, I know! When John and I were trying it put
a real strain on our marriage, and if it weren't for you, we
would probably be divorced by now."

"I don't know..." Monica said, trying to pull her hand out of
Barb's. "You have a solid..."

"Monica, you know it's not ideal," Barb admitted. "But we have
our kids, and that's what our marriage has always been about."
Barb paused, checking Monica's reaction. "Please don't take this
wrong, but it seems that you and Brad are going that direction.
What will happen if you two don't conceive?"

Monica pursed her lips defiantly, but Barb was undaunted.
"Monica, I'm saying this as a friend, as your *best* friend..."

"Barb, don't..." Monica tried to protest.

Barb leaned forward and said with sympathetic seriousness, "Maybe
it's time for you to see Dr. Parenti."