Welcome To The Harem

Some Things Never Change (Part 2 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.


"Dr. Parenti?" Monica repeated. The name sounded familiar, but
she couldn't place it.

"He's the best," Barb continued. "He was so good to us when you
donated your ova to help us have Teresa..." For the first time,
Monica saw a crack in Barb's facade. Barb gulped, then briefly
turned to check the doorway. "We owe you and Brad everything,
Monica. We can never repay you for giving us the family we've
always wanted. And of course, I can't do for you what you did
for me. But, if the problem turns out to be Brad's..."

"Barb, please," Monica held up her hand in an effort to silence

"No, Monica," Barb pressed on. "Please hear me out. If the
problem is Brad's, it would be okay with me if you asked John for
a donation."

I don't want to hear this, Monica thought. This was getting just
a little too personal. "Barb, please..." she repeated, unable to
think of a response.

At the sound of John's footsteps on the stairs, Barb whispered,
"Just think about it. It would mean a lot to me. To *us.*"
Then she winked and hurriedly added, "As long as it's in vitro.
I'm not *that* generous!"

The two women looked up at John when he burst through the
doorway. "Boy, Teresa can spin a yarn!" he said gleefully. "She
could have kept going all night!"

"What was it this time?" Barb asked.

"Barbie and her friend went camping, then there was this bear..."
he chuckled then turned to Monica and asked, "Is that what you
two were doing earlier?"

"Something like that," Monica replied nostalgically. "Did Ken
rescue them and take them home in a boat?"

"That's the story!" John grinned. He flopped down in front of
his laptop, draped an arm over the chair between him and Monica,
then sighed. "She made it seem so real, like it really happened.
How much of it was your doing, Mon?" he asked.

"Well, I'll let you two get back to work," Barb said pointedly.
She turned to John then said, "You can have the bedroom, John.
I'll sleep in Teresa's room. Which bunk did she take?"

"The top," John answered. "She said she likes it up there."

"She was hoping you'd take the bottom, Monica," Barb said. "But
for the sake of a peaceful morning, I'll do it. And Monica,
please don't sleep in Mon-Mon's spare bunk. There'll be hell to
pay if you do." She stood and gave John a possessive peck on the
cheek, then looked across the table at Monica. "I'll put some
fresh linens on the couch for you."

After Barb left, John was still grinning from his experience with
Teresa. "She's a great kid, Mon," he said, reaching for her
shoulder and rubbing it affectionately. "You did a great thing

"Thanks, but *I* didn't do it," she said, sighing. "John, don't
get too attached. We need to go home."

"Ya know, Monica," John said, closing his laptop. "I was
thinking... We've been assuming that there's some point in time
when universes diverged, but what if there's only one time line?
If we activate that thing we'll just be changing the time line
again, we won't be restoring it."

"John," Monica sighed. She knew where this was headed, and she
didn't like it.

"Now hear me out, Monica," he insisted. "What if the reality we
knew was gone forever and this reality is the only one?
Something changed in the past -- we'll never know what -- and
now there's a new time line. This could be it, this could be our
new reality!" He lowered his voice to a whisper and added, "We
could still be together. I'd divorce Barb. You can divorce

"John, this isn't about us, and you know it," she said sternly.

"It's about reality, Monica. It's about what's real, and well,
this all seems pretty damn real to me," he challenged.

Her voice softened but he could still hear her determination.
"John, this is one reality, but it's not *our* reality. It's not
right for *us.* We have to go back."

"But just what if trying to go back would only make things
worse?" John started to argue.

"And what if there *are* multiple universes and some other
version of you has landed in a place where he's childless again?
Losing one child was devastating enough. What would losing two
more be like?" Monica countered.

He thought for a moment, then said, "It will be terrible."

"It will, I know," she said, reaching for his hand. "And as bad
as it will be for you when we go back, imagine what it must be
like for him now."

He looked toward the ceiling, moving his gaze from one girl's
room to the other, then said, "Yeah." He hated it when she was
right, and she was often right.

"But," she said soothingly. "Let's hear what the expert says
tomorrow before we decide, okay?"

He couldn't help himself. It had become habit, and even if it
hadn't been, he would have leaned over and kissed her for saying
that. One arm went around her shoulders as the other reached for
her jaw. He felt no fight when he turned her face to his. And
just in case he didn't get the message, Monica whispered, "I love
you," as he pulled her towards him.

It was a brief kiss, and afterward he was about to repeat her
words when they heard a little voice say, "Aunt Monica? Can I
have a nite kiss too?"


"Mon-Mon!" John leapt to his feet and ran to the little girl,
stooping to her eye level. "What are you doing out of bed?"

"I want a nite kiss!" she answered, looking at Monica. "Pweese?"
she begged.

"Aunt Monica, do you want to give Mon-Mon a nite kiss?" John
asked over his shoulder, but it was unnecessary. Monica was on
her way.

Mon-Mon accepted her kiss then wrapped her arms around Monica's
neck and refused to let go. "Mon-Mon," Monica gasped.

John started pulling her off, but the little girl shouted,

"What do you want," John sighed, letting her go.

"Tuck me in Aunt Monica?" Mon-Mon's voice asked breathily.

Monica grimaced at John over the girl's shoulder, but John just
smiled. "Well?" he asked. "I don't think you have much of a
choice, Aunt Monica."

"Thanks," she hmphed.

John stood Monica struggled to free herself from the little
girl's grasping arms. "Mon-Mon," she whispered. "It's okay, I
won't let go."

"Pwomise?" Mon-Mon begged.

For an answer, Monica tightened her grip around Mon-Mon's waist.
This seemed to satisfy the child, and the two walked slowly up
the stairs behind John. Monica tucked the girl into her bed,
gave her a 'nite kiss,' and returned Mon-Mon's whispered "I love

"Aunt Monica?" Mon-Mon asked when Monica turned to leave. "Read
me my story?"

"Yes, Aunt Monica, read Mon-Mon's story," John said. He picked
up the book and showed Monica the cover.

Monica eyed him warily. He hasn't given up, she realized. He
wants me to feel what he does. But though she knew he was
manipulating her, she went along with it. As she read the story,
John tip-toed downstairs, leaving the two Monicas alone to bond.

"John," Monica sighed when she returned to the dining room. "You
did that on purpose."

"Yep, I did," he grinned. She moved to his side and looked down
on him accusingly.

"You want me to consider staying here," she declared.

"Did it work?" he asked unabashedly.

She sighed again and tears started to well in her eyes. "We can't
just come crashing into these lives and turn them upside-down,
even if they *are* our lives in a sense. It wouldn't be right."

"I wantcha to see something, Monica," John said, turning his
laptop to face her.

"What?" she asked skeptically, sure it would be a picture of the
children. Instead she found a freemail window, and a list of
messages from John to one of his old friends in New York. He
clicked on one and she read:

"I'm gonna have to ask for a transfer. One of
these days I'm gonna lose control and just throw
Monica down on the desk and ravish her. And damn
if she isn't lonely and wanting to get pregnant
to boot. Shit, I'd be doing her a favor! And I
swear sometimes it seems like she wouldn't mind.
I may be imagining things, but sometimes when
she looks at me I could swear she's thinking
the same thing. It's just a matter of time."

"Well," he asked, triumphantly. "Ya see? Some things never

Monica wasn't sure what to think. One hand went to his shoulder
as the other clicked on other messages. It was true. John the
devoted family man was in love with his partner. "John, this
doesn't mean..."

"Check your e-mail," he nodded to her computer. "See if it
really is just a matter of time."

She logged on to a freemail site and tried the name and password
she was using in her world. They worked, and she found messages
to and from her college friends, friends from New York, and a few
from Mexico. She clicked on the latest message and read aloud:

"Brad's out of town again. Secret mission again.
This task force that I know doesn't exist again.
I don't know what to think, Mandy. He says he
wants a baby, but every month, just when he
should be staying home, he goes away. Something's
up. I don't want to believe he could be cheating
on me, but what else could it be?

And lately John's been giving me *that* look
again. I swear, Mandy, if Brad keeps this up,
one of these days I'm going to jump John's bones.
When I look at Teresa and see what a wonderful
child John and I produced together, it makes
me want him all the more. I'm not sure how much
longer I can take this. I've been thinking of
asking for a transfer."

"Ya see?" John repeated enthusiastically. He reached around her
waist and pulled her close. "In any reality, in any universe, we
were meant to be together! We wouldn't be changing something that
isn't already destined to happen. It's fate!" he added, pulling
her closer.

Monica closed her e-mail. "John, we don't know what they'll do.
One of them might get a transfer. Brad might start staying home
more. You might work things out with Barb."

"And maybe you and I will fall in love," he suggested, nuzzling
her neck.

She inhaled deeply, then caught herself and said, "Not here,

At the ringing of the phone the pair reluctantly pulled apart,
and John grabbed the phone. "It's Brad," he said, holding out the
cordless phone.


"Hi honey," Monica said softly, looking away from John's
inquisitive gaze.

"Hi sweetheart," Brad said. "I missed the plane. I won't be
coming in tonight after all, but they put me on the first flight
out. I'll be in DC by ten."

"Oh, okay," Monica said, trying to sound disappointed. "See you
then, I suppose..."

"Wait!" Brad said. "Is that it?"

"Oh, sorry, honey," Monica murmured. "John and I are still

"Monica, those cases... Nobody will care if you don't solve
them," Brad sighed.

"The victims will care," Monica replied. She leaned back in her
chair and looked at John, letting him see the full force of her

Brad sighed loudly then said, "I know you care, sweetheart, but
your health is more important. You need your rest, your
vitamins, your work-out..."

"I'm fine, Brad," Monica snapped.

Brad was silent for a moment, and Monica sulked, refusing to
break the silence. She won, and Brad said, "Monica, love, I've
had a major break in my case. This task force should be wrapping
up soon, and I'm going to want to make up for lost time."

"That's good," she said noncommitally.

"You don't sound happy about it," he said accusingly.

Monica rested one elbow on the table, and put her free hand over
to her forehead. "Brad..." she sighed. "I am, I'm just

"Can you meet me at the airport?" he asked hopefully.

"We have an appointment in the afternoon," Monica said. "And
anyway, I don't have a car. John drove."

"Where's the Mercedes?" he asked in a panic. "Did you leave it
in the garage?"

"No, I just..." Monica stammered. How could she explain
misplacing a Mercedes? "Brad, can you just wait until later?"

"I'll pick you up," Brad said with parental condescension. "I'll
rent a car, and then you and I can have a little talk. See you
at ten-thirty."

Monica sighed as Brad disconnected the phone. "He's angry," she
announced. "He'll be here in the morning to 'have a little talk."
She turned off her computer then said, "I'm tired. Let's hope
tomorrow we get some answers." She gave him a peck on the cheek
then said, "Nite, John."

"Nite," he said. He watched her as she left the room, wondering
whether having her here drove his alter ego as crazy as it was
driving him.

John lay for hours in his bed, studying the cracks in the
ceiling. They were all there, right where they were supposed to
be. And just as he'd done many sleepless nights before, he found
his mind returning again and again to Monica. Was she sleeping
well? Did she miss him? Was she as hungry for his body as he
was for hers? And what about his other self? Did that John lie
awake thinking about Monica? Did he plan to stay with Barb? Did
he really have any hope of forgetting about Monica, even if he

A sliver of light appeared on the ceiling, then grew wider.
John's eyes followed the sliver until they came to the door,
which seemed to be opening by itself. He gasped and raised
himself up on his elbows, ready for anything, then sighed when he
looked down.

"Mon-Mon," he sighed. "What are you doing up again?" The tiny
door-opener padded to the bed then jumped onto it with practiced

"Daddy?" Mon-Mon asked, pausing halfway in her crawl toward
parental comfort.

"Are you looking for Mommy?" he asked gently. "She's in Teresa's

"Can I sweep here?" Mon-Mon asked. "I had a mare."

"A mare?" John repeated.

"A night mare," Mon-Mon said, taking pains to enunciate.

"Tell me about your mare," John invited, reaching out an arm and
pulling her to his side.

He listened as Mon-Mon described a bright light, then the
disappearance of Aunt Monica. "It was just like what happened to
my first mommy," Mon-Mon announced.

"What?" John asked, then when the little girl nodded seriously,
he swept her into his arms and ran downstairs to the living room.

"John?" Monica called out cautiously in the dark.

After setting Mon-Mon down John ran to Monica. "You okay?" he
asked in a panic.

"Sure," she said. "Fine. Why?"

"Tell Aunt Monica about your dream, Mon-Mon," John urged.

Monica sat up, which Mon-Mon took as an invitation to climb into
her lap. She told the story of her dream, this time with more
elaboration. After she was finished, Monica said, "Wow! That
was a scary dream! But see? I'm okay. I'm right here, and I'm
not going anywhere."

Mon-Mon's arms flew to Monica's neck, and the two namesakes
hugged each other tightly with John soon joining the hug.
"Everything's okay, Mon-Mon," he whispered, though he was
reassuring himself as much as her.

"Aunt Monica?" Mon-Mon asked sweetly as she pulled away. "Can
you sweep with me tonight? You always keep the mares away."

Remembering Barb's warning, Monica said, "No, sweetie. I'm
sleeping downstairs tonight. Maybe daddy can keep the mares
away," she suggested.

"You take the top, I'll take the bottom," John added. "I'll make
sure the mares stay away." He was looking into Mon-Mon's face,
but his hand was stroking Monica's back, telegraphing his

"I'll be fine here," Monica said, looking at the pair. "I have
my gun. I'll shoot anyone who tries to take me away!"


Monica awoke with a start, not sure where she was. She heard a
thunderous rumble on the stairs, accompanied by high-pitched
screams and shouts. "The monster's coming! The monster's coming!

Two little girls in pajamas ran down the stairs and grabbed her
by her arms. "Aunt Monica! Save us from the monster!"

She let them pull her to her feet, but their giggles told her who
the monster really was.

"I'm gonna get you! Here I come!" John growled as he came heavily
down the stairs."

The girls' screams rose another notch, and they clung to Monica's
shirt. "Save us!" they giggled.

Monica couldn't help giggling herself when she saw John. He had
pulled his T-shirt up over the back of his head, and he had
shaving cream smeared on his face.

"Stay back, girls," Monica ordered with mock seriousness. She
turned toward John, held up her hand, and shouted, "STOP! I'm a
federal agent!"

"I'm a monster! I don't stop for federal agents!" John growled,
taking many quick, noisy steps toward the girls but making little

"I have a gun!" she countered. "I could shoot you!"

"Guns can't kill me!" he growled. "I'm a *monster* remember?"

"Well, girls?" Monica asked. "What do you think?"

"I know!" Teresa giggled. "Let's tickle him!"

"Yeah!" Mon-Mon added. And within seconds, the three girls had
their monster pinned on the floor, his legs thrashing wildly as
they tickled him.

"Stop! Stop! Stop!" John cried out finally. "I'll do anything you

"GIRLS!" Barb shouted over the din of the giggling group. The
girls instantly stopped tickling their father, and looked up.
"And you, Monica, I can't believe you're encouraging them.
Honestly, as it is it's like having three children..."

"Sorry," Monica said, surreptitiously winking at Teresa.

"Sorry Mommy," Teresa said contritely.

"Sowwy Mommy," Mon-Mon chimed in.

"Sorry Mommy," John couldn't resist adding.

Barb stood at the foot of the stairs as her brood stood up, then
said harshly, "Teresa, help Mon-Mon into her gymboree clothes.
And you," she nodded to John. She opened her mouth to speak, but
then closed it again and just shook her head and followed the
girls up the stairs.

John was still panting, but he managed to grin broadly at Monica.
"Good morning, Aunt Monica," he said.

She grabbed a pillow and swatted him across the stomach with it.
"What a way to wake up!"

"Better watch it," he joked. "If I don't get tickled again, I'll
turn back into a monster."

Monica glanced toward the top of the stairs. "Better not," she
said impishly. "I'll do more than tickle you if you let me touch
you again,"

"Yeah, like what?" he asked moving toward her.

"Ewww!" she cried out. "Get away from me with that stuff on you?"

He dipped a finger into his shaving cream, then smeared some on
her face. "This stuff?" he asked.

"Yes!" she said, pushing against his chest. "Get yourself cleaned
up before *I* turn into a monster!"

After scooping up another gob of the cream, he threatened her
again, and just as he was about to smear her other cheek, the
doorbell rang.

"That's my husband," she said, her face immediately serious
again. She stood still as John wiped the cream from her cheek,
then added, "I guess I need to let him in."

"I'll so it," he said. He pulled his shirt down and went to the

"John," Brad said stiffly.

"Brad," John returned the compliment.

"May I come in," Brad asked when John didn't move. John responded
by opening the door fully then stepping aside. "Thank you," Brad

"Brad," Monica said timidly.

"There's my girl!" Brad said with exaggerated enthusiasm. He ran
to her and swept her into his arms, lifting her several inches
off the ground.

"Brad, put me down!" she laughed.

He obeyed, and his mouth was immediately on hers. Monica opened
one eye to check John's reaction, and saw him trying to look away
as he closed the door. Brad's hands moved to her hair, combing
through it sensuously as his lips tried to force her mouth open.

She pulled away and scoldingly whispered, "Brad...," nodding to

"John, don't let us keep you from finishing your shave," Brad
said, waving him toward the stairs. John obeyed grudgingly, and
when they heard him reach the top, Brad said, "It's not like he
hasn't seen us kissing a million times before, honey."

"I know, but we're in his house," Monica said lamely.

Brad studied her face for a long moment, trying to decide what
was different about her, until they heard a brief series of
footsteps coming down the stairs.

"Uncle Brad, Uncle Brad!" Mon-Mon called out. Brad turned and
reached for her, letting her jump into his arms.

"There's little Mon-Mon, my favorite little Bon-Bon," Brad said
gleefully. "How are you this morning?"

Mon-Mon said, "I'm good!" She kissed him on the cheek then said,
"How are you?"

He kissed her on the cheek then said, "I'm good too."

Monica was struck by the genuineness of Brad's smile and the
gleam in his eye. His talk of children had seemed so phony to
her, but he seemed so delighted to see Mon-Mon, and they seemed
to have a long-standing game going.

Still, something wasn't adding up. It was just an instinct, and
she didn't plan on staying around long enough to see, but Brad's
fondness for Mon-Mon intrigued her. Could he have been sincere
about wanting children?

She watched as he let Mon-Mon crawl all over him, and couldn't
help smiling at some of their well-choreographed routines. A
favorite seemed to be for Brad to hold his arms outstretched, his
hands firmly gripping Mon-Mon's, as she walked up his legs, then
his stomach, then his chest, then did a back-flip, landing on the
floor to repeat the whole procedure.

From the corner of her eye, Monica saw Barb coming down the
stairs, and found herself tensing in anticipation of the scolding
Brad and Mon-Mon would receive. Instead, she saw Barb smiling.


"Hi Barb," Brad said cheerily as he hoisted Mon-Mon into his
arms. The girl wrapped her legs around his ribcage and her arms
around his neck.

"Hi Brad," Barb said warmly, moving to take Mon-Mon.

Mon-Mon shook her head vigorously as Barb held out her arms.
"She's no trouble, Barb," Brad said, pulling Mon-Mon to one side
and supporting her with his arm.

He leaned forward to give Barb a peck on the cheek then said, "I
can spend a few minutes with my favorite nieces before we go

Barb looked at Mon-Mon with maternal pride. "She's so fond of
her Uncle Brad."

On cue, Mon-Mon kissed Brad on the cheek and said, "I love you,
Uncle Brad."

He hugged the little girl and said, "I love you too, sweetheart."

Thundering footsteps down the stairs and cries of "Uncle Brad's
here!" heralded Teresa's arrival. She took the last few steps
two at a time, then ran to Uncle Brad and stood before him,
jumping up and down. "Uncle Brad! Gimme kissy!!!"

He obeyed, leaning over although precariously unbalanced with
Mon-Mon weighing down the other side. Teresa turned her cheek
for him, then quickly gave him a peck on the cheek in return.

As he straightened, Teresa held up her arms to be picked up and
when she tried to grab onto him, Mon-Mon batted Teresa's head
with her free hand. Teresa retaliated by pulling Mon-Mon's hair,
making the little one squeal in exaggerated agony until Barb
pulled Teresa back and swatted her backside.

"She started it!" Teresa yelled. She ran towards Brad and
Mon-Mon and managed to yank her sister's foot.

Mon-Mon screamed, making Brad take a step backwards and bring her
round to his front. He patted her back, saying "there, there,"
as Barb pulled Teresa backward and swatted her again.

"I hate you!" Teresa screamed, then ran up the stairs.

"Sorry about that," Barb said to Brad, oblivious to Monica, who
stood by awkwardly.

"She's still adjusting," Brad said compassionately. "It'll take
time." As if to reinforce his words, he hugged Mon-Mon tighter
and whispered into her ear, "It's okay, she went upstairs." When
Mon-Mon continued crying, he asked her, "Want your Mommy?"

"No," Mon-Mon sniffled, hugging Brad's neck so tightly he had to
pull one arm away.

Barb sighed, then looked toward the stairs. "I'd better check on
Teresa," she said quietly.

"Barb," Brad said gently. "I still can't imagine a better home
for Mon-Mon."

"Thanks," she said, glowing under the spell of his charm. She
turned back toward the stairs and tiptoed up with a slight spring
in her step.

Monica wanted to vomit. She went to the kitchen and started
packing up her laptop, making a point of not looking toward the
doorway. When she couldn't justify turning her back any more,
she looked up, and was surprised at her own disappointment at not
seeing Brad. She picked up her bag and poured a cup of coffee,
then went to the living room to see him lying on his side at the
Barbie set-up, examine Mon-Mon's trees.
"Monica," John whispered from the bottom of the stairway.

She jumped then tip-toed to her lover. They stood together,
watching her *husband* playing with Mon-Mon. Brad seemed
oblivious to anything but the little girl and her toys. John and
Monica exchanged glances then tip-toed to the kitchen.

"He's here to pick me up," she whispered.

"I know," John said, looking into her eyes as if he might never
see her again. "Want me to talk to him? Make sure we get to our

She raised her eyes to his, giving him the look that never failed
to melt his heart. Did she know she had that effect on him? Did
she know that every time she looked at him he went weak in the
knees? He resolved to tell her sometime, but for now merely
said, "Okay, I'll do it."

In the living room John found Barb standing a respectful distance
from the Barbie set-up, her arms folded across her chest, smiling
broadly as she watched the pair. Brad asked all the right
questions, and Mon-Mon seemed happy to answer them.

"Where's Teresa?" John asked.

"In her room, sulking," Barb said with disgust.

"You know, Mon-Mon *did* start that fight," John pointed out.

Barb sighed. "Why am I not surprised that you're taking Teresa's
side again?"

John was taken aback by her response, and stared at her,

"Oh, come on, John," Barb said. "You can't pretend you don't
play favorites. And Teresa knows you'll cave in whenever she
appeals to you. It's a wonder Mon-Mon hasn't figured that out.
In ten years this house will be World War III."

"Sisters are like that," John said. "They'll be alright."

Barb shot him a skeptical glance then turned away from him and
walked up behind Brad. "It's almost time for Gymboree, Mon-Mon,"
she said cheerily.

"And Aunt Monica and I have an appointment to work on our case,"
John pointed out.

Brad and Barb exchanged glances, the kind of glances that John
and Monica frequently exchanged. The kind of glance that told
John that the two knew each others' minds very well.

"It's very important," Monica added. "Come to think of it, maybe
Aunt Monica should just stay here until..."

"No dice," Brad said, jumping up. "We haven't been together in
almost a week!"

"Brad," Barb warned, nodding toward Mon-Mon.

"I'm coming too!" Teresa announced from the stairway. Everyone
turned to look at her, which delighted the little drama queen.
"I'm grown-up enough! Mommy said so!"

Mon-Mon started to run toward Teresa, her hand raised for a
retaliatory blow, but Brad caught her by the sleeve. In one
smooth movement he lifted her to face him and said, "My Mon-Mon
will be a good girl today, won't she?"

Mon-Mon nodded contritely, and Brad added, "And Mon-Mon will be a
good girl at Gymboree?"

Again Mon-Mon nodded, and Brad set her on her feet. She ran to
her mother and reached for her hand. Barb smiled at Brad, whose
grinning gaze moved from daughter to mother. "Have fun, little
one," he added, then threw a kiss to her.

Mon-Mon threw a kiss to Brad then turned to John and threw a kiss
to him. "Bye-bye, Daddy!"

John waved meekly, suddenly aware that he might be saying goodbye
to her forever. He ran to her, then took her into a very
parental bear hug. "Bye, Mon-Mon," he sighed over her shoulder.

"Oh, for Pete's sake," Barb said, yanking Mon-Mon away from John.
"We're going to be late."


In the car Monica sighed frequently as she watched the neat
suburban lawns roll by. Haunted by the vision of John's
teary-eyed farewell to Mon-Mon, she knew what leaving this life
would mean to him. And Teresa... Monica couldn't help wondering
if she and John might produce a Teresa themselves some day. But
even if they went "home" things just weren't right for having
children, and they might never be. She sighed again, this time
more heavily.

"Monica? Monica? MONICA!" Brad shouted, finally getting her
attention. She snapped to, but just pursed her lips in an
awkward grin. "See," Brad scolded. "This is why I don't like
you going over there. It's always like this when you leave."

"Like what?" she asked, a little too dreamily for his liking.

"This," he said, not making any attempt to temper his
exasperation. "Mopey, weepy, depressed..." He sighed, a grand
sigh that mocked her latest one. "I know you're lonely at home,
and you've been having those nightmares, but at least when you're
home you're, well... you!" he finished.

"I'm sorry, honey," Monica said. She'd been saying that a lot,
she realized. She wondered if her other self did too.

"And you see what's going on between those two girls. The last
thing Barb needs is a wild card when she's trying to get Teresa
to accept Mon-Mon." He made the turns and lane changes on their
route absent-mindedly, as if it were a well-worn groove and the
car were just following its track. "Barb is an excellent mother,
Monica. But she doesn't need the competition," he paused,
thinking he may have erred, then quickly added, "I mean, the
complication, of having you over there so much."

"You're right," she sighed, though she wasn't sure she agreed.
"But John and I did work on our case. I think we have our
questions for Dr. Schulmann ready for this afternoon."

"And that's another thing," Brad said. "Since when does Mr.
Perfect Family Man work on the weekend? Wasn't that the whole
point of working in the X-Files office? To have cases that
didn't need solving?"

Monica's nostrils flared to accept the deep breaths her rising
anger demanded. "Well, *this* case needs solving," she
countered. "And soon." She crossed her arms and leaned against
the window. "The sooner the better," she sighed.

When they arrived at their 'big' house, Monica was stunned to
find it only slightly bigger than the Doggett home, much in need
of repair, and far away from the prestigious subdivisions of

Brad pulled to the rear, where a Mercedes, *her* Mercedes sat
where a garage might have been years earlier. It was an older
model, but clearly well-loved and cared for.

Brad eyed her curiously. "You forgot that the car was at the

"Brad, let's not fight," she said, grabbing her bag and opening
the car door. "I just want to take a shower and get ready for..."
Brad ran around to her side and took her elbow as he closed the
car door gently.

"I love you, honey," he said, the saccharine tone of his voice
making Monica's stomach turn.

"I know," she said meekly. "Don't worry about me. This case is
distracting me, and I didn't get much sleep last night. Mon-Mon
had a nightmare and woke me up to tell me about it."

"Mon-Mon's having nightmares?" Brad asked with concern. He opened
the door with gentlemanly bravura then ushered her to the kitchen

The kitchen had clearly been decorated by a different Monica
Reyes, but she liked it. Ferns hung in the windows and potted
herbs sat on the windowsills beneath. The cabinets had been
stripped and whitewashed, letting previous generations of women's
thinking seep through just enough to give the cabinets a homey
glow. Stenciled ivy and floral patterns decorated the borders,
and mismatched knobs completed the look. Garage sale furniture,
stripped down and whitewashed to match the cabinets, gave the
impression of a true set, and the tabletop sported some of the
same stenciling as the cabinets. It was a far cry from the urban
sleekness of her Georgetown loft, but somehow she felt instantly
at home. Children would feel at home here too, she thought.

Brad made a beeline for the coffee maker and asked, "Want some?"

She nodded and sat at one of the chairs, making Brad scowl
slightly. Uh-oh, she thought. Which of these chairs is 'mine?'

After starting the coffee, Brad came around behind her, nuzzling
her neck in his favorite spot. "Brad..." Monica protested.

He hummed into her ear. "This is the effect being around children
has on *me* but if you'd rather wait..." He sat down opposite her
and asked, "What kind of nightmare did Mon-Mon have?"

Monica described the dream briefly, and Brad responded with a
despondent shake of his head. "Now she's having your nightmare?
Really, Monica, you need to spend less time with her too."

"She said it was what happened to her real mother," Monica
replied defensively. "I don't think I had anything to do with

"You're sure?" he demanded, his forehead knotted in confusion.

"Thanks for the coffee, Brad," she said, standing with both hands
around her mug. "I'm going to take my shower now." She knew it
was a non sequitur. She knew he wouldn't be satisfied. But she
also knew she couldn't fake this. He seemed a little more attuned
to his spouse than Barb was. The less time she spent with her
'husband' the better her chances of keeping up the charade.

Before he could react, Monica had found the stairway, and once on
the second floor found their quaint, old-fashioned bathroom. The
tub was a classic cast iron model with claw feet, and the shower
was an add-on, surrounded by a shower curtain that hung suspended
from the ceiling on copper tubing. She quickly stripped off her
clothes and stepped under the steaming spray.

As she ran a soapy hand over her breasts, she remembered the last
soapy had that had run that course. Only a day earlier, she had
shared an intimate and sensuous shower with John, the perfect end
to a morning that had begun with languid groggy morning sex.
Without meaning to, she started retracing the path of John's
soapy hands, sending her hands, then her fingers, into the
sensitive places that yearned for his touch, doing the things he
would do if he were there...

And just when she thought she would lose control, the shower
curtain flew open, and there was Brad in all his glory, sporting
what she used to affectionately call his "flagpole."