Welcome To The Harem

Some Things Never Change (Part 3 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.


"Awwww," Brad pouted. "You started without me." He reached for
her hand, but Monica leapt over the side of the tub, pulling part
of the shower curtain with her.

"No, that's okay," she gasped. "I'm finished. The shower's all

She grabbed a terrycloth robe from a hook near the door then
dashed into the hall, where she saw a king-sized bed through the
one open door. She dashed inside then slammed the door, putting
all her weight against it as she tried to decide what to do.
Hearing no footsteps in the hall, she took a deep breath. He was
probably finishing what *he'd* started, she thought.

After taking a deep breath, she grabbed the bedside phone, which
she was happy to see had the Doggetts' phone number
pre-programmed. "John Doggett," she was heartened to hear.

"John," Monica gasped. "I have to get out of here! Come get

"Monica, what's wrong?" he asked. Teresa sat at the table,
coloring quietly. John took the phone into the living room for
privacy. "What did he do?"

"He wants to have sex," she whined. It wasn't like her to whine,
but she couldn't help herself. "John, he really does want kids.
I don't think I can hold him off much longer."

John glanced at the Barbie set-up in the corner and smiled
wistfully. Who wouldn't want kids after seeing that?

"John?" she asked when he didn't answer.

"Sorry," he said, still looking at the Barbie set-up. "It's only
a few hours. Can't you just have a headache?"

"Monica?" Brad's voice rang out in the hall.

"Got to go," she said hurriedly to John, then hung up before he
could answer. She opened the door to see Brad, his hair wet and
tousled, wearing only a towel around his waist.

"What's this?" Brad demanded, holding up a folded piece of paper.

Monica crossed her arms and sighed. "I don't know," she said.

He tossed the paper on the bedside table and said, "Your
temperature was perfect yesterday when I came to your office, and
just now..." He crossed his arms and studied her face. "What's
going on, Monica?"

"It's just this case," she said, pulling on the knob of a closet

"Is that why you're wearing my bathrobe?" Brad asked.

The closet door swung open, revealing a neat row of men's suits
and shirts. Monica slammed it shut then hung her head and
sighed. Brad came up behind her and put his hands on her
shoulders. "What is it honey? I thought we told each other

She whirled to face him and said, "Is that so?"

"Why?" he asked nervously. "What did you hear while I was gone?"

Leaning against the closet door, Monica studied Brad's
expression. She could almost see the cogs in working in his mind
as he concocted his cover story. "We tell each other
everything," she reminded him. "What could I hear that I
wouldn't already know?"

He stared at her for a moment then said, "There is something."
He took her hand and led her toward the bed. "Sit down."

She looked at him expectantly, breathing shallowly as she watched
him compose himself. "It's something big," she said.

"Yes," he admitted.

"There's someone else," she suggested.

"Oh, no, Mon..." he sighed, putting an arm around her shoulders.
"No, I could never... there's nobody... Oh, Mon, I can't believe
you thought that..." He pulled her head to his chest and held
her tightly, kissing the top of her head. "I love you more than
life itself," he said when he'd let her right herself again.

Her eyes were shining in sympathetic relief for her alter ego's
sake. "But there's no task force... I thought..."

He shushed her with a finger to her lips. "Monica, honey, I've
been meaning to tell you this. Really, I have." He took a deep
breath then looked into her eyes, perhaps judging her readiness
for the truth, perhaps judging her willingness to believe a lie.
She wasn't sure.

"Monica," he said, taking a hand in his. "Remember seven years
ago when you donated half your ova for the Doggetts to have
Teresa?" Monica was taken aback but nodded for him to continue.
"Well, Dr. Parenti didn't take half your ova, honey. He took all
of them."

"All of them?" she repeated hoarsely. "I'm sterile?" she
whispered, looking away, but not at anything... or maybe just at
endless blackness.

"Honey," Brad said, squeezing her hand.

"And you knew? You knew all along and let me... let me
believe...????" she cried, pulling her hand away from his. She
stood and looked down on his terrified face. "You played along
with this," she said, angrily picking up the temperature chart.
"All along you knew it was impossible? And you let me

"That's why I've been timing my trips, honey," he said lamely.
"I couldn't stand to see you disappointed month after month."

"So these trips? This fake task force," she spat out. "It was
all a lie? Everything was a lie just to keep me from finding out
something I had every right to know?" She started pacing as her
'husband' contritely sat on the bed, listening to the diatribe he
fully expected and knew he deserved. "Oh thank you," she
sneered. "Thank you very much!" She went to the dresser and
started pulling at drawers, finding only Brad's clothes in the
first two.

A pair of panties appeared before her eyes, and Brad said,
"Looking for these?"

She snatched them away and started working them up her thighs,
then started pulling at drawers looking for a bra. He came up
with a bra, too, and while she clasped it under cover of his
robe, he sat at the foot of the bed and said, "Are you going to
leave me now?" he asked.

"I don't know," Monica yelled, moving to the door she supposed
was her closet. She was wrong. It was a door to a small

Brad jumped up and grabbed her shoulders, gently leading her
toward her own closet. "I understand why you're upset," he said.
"You have a right to be..."

"It's not that you kept *this* secret from me," she whirled,
throwing off his hands. "It's that you kept *any* secret from
me! You just don't get it!" she sighed when he shook his head in
confusion. "Why didn't you trust me? Why couldn't you tell me?
I would have been there for you, didn't you know that? I can
handle the truth no matter where it comes from. But lies... lies
coming from you...?" She turned around then pounded her head
against the closet door, letting her head come to rest on it. As
she blinked back angry tears, she stood silently for a moment,
then said softly, "You could have told me, Brad." She felt his
hands on her shoulders again, and this time she let them stay
there as she breathed deeply. "I thought we told each other
everything," she said finally.

He moved his hands to her waist, then wrapped his arms around her
tentatively. "I wanted to," he whispered.

"No you didn't," she said dejectedly.

He turned her around, and although her body was limp in his arms,
her features were still hardened in anger. "What do you mean?"
he asked, letting her see the hurt in his eyes.

"You like sneaking around," she stated matter-of-factly. "You
like the lies and the secrets and the cover stories. You liked
it when we were first seeing each other, but now that..." she
paused, looking around their bedroom for the first time. It
brought her up sharply, as she realized she was venting against
*her* Brad, the Brad who was on the take, the one who had taken
bribes while they were dating, the weasel who wouldn't even admit
to his wrongs when she confronted him about them three years
later. "And when you didn't have to keep secrets *about* me, you
started to keep secrets *from* me." She turned back to the
closet and grabbed a pair of underpants from a shelf. "And now
that I know this, there'll be something new..." she sighed. Brad
stood by as she started getting dressed, keeping her back to him
and working a pair of slacks over her legs under cover of his
robe. She reached for a blouse then sighed, realizing she would
have to shed the robe. He helped her off with it then put the
robe on himself and helped her with her blouse as she kept her
back toward him.

"Don't you want to know what happened to them?" he asked quietly
as she fastened the blouse.

"Happened to...." she started to ask.

"Your ova," he answered. "Don't you want to know what Dr.
Parenti did with them? I've been tracking them down for almost
three years."


"Three years?" she repeated.

He nodded. "Every time I think I've found the last of them, I
find more. But after this last trip, I really do think I've
found the last ones. And, honey," he added optimistically. "The
ones I found yesterday haven't been used." He exhaled, smiling
broadly. "I had them sent to a different doctor, in a

"What? The others have been used?" she asked. "Used how?"

"Fertilized, Monica," he said seriously. "You're the biological
mother of dozens of children."

"How many?" she stuttered.

"Last count? he raised his eyes as he counted for a moment.
"Seventy-three. I've met a few, too. They're beautiful," he
sighed. "Just like their mother."

Monica sat down on the side of the bed and sighed. "Over
seventy? Who are the fathers? Do the mothers know? How did you
find them?"

Brad sat down next to her and draped an arm across her shoulders.
"I know you have a lot of questions. See why I didn't tell you
right away?" he asked hopefully. "I wanted to be able to bring
you some good news too."

"Which is...?" she asked, then remembered. "Oh, the ones you
found yesterday..."

He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head. "Anytime
you're ready," he whispered. "But the sooner the better."

She pulled back and looked into his eyes, which were glistening
with joy and hope. His eyes. They were starting to have some
power over her again. "Okay," she whispered, but not right now,

He hugged her, burying his face in her hair. "I was so afraid
what you'd do," he sobbed. "I've been holding this in for so
long...." A broken sigh blew her hair away from the back of her
neck, making the skin underneath goose bumpy. "After seeing
those other children... I know ours will be beautiful too."

"About those other children," she asked, trying to free herself
from his grasp. "Tell me more. Over seventy? That sounds like
a lot."

"I've wondered that myself," he said, composing himself. "Too
many, in fact. Like I said, every time I thought I'd tracked down
the last, I found more. I thought there might be some kind of
cloning program going on, but they're all perfectly heathy,
Monica. No birth defects, no learning disabilities, no physical
deformities. Cloned babies shouldn't be this healthy. I don't
understand it."

"Go on," she urged, her investigative curiosity taking over.

"Then it occurred to me that they might have cloned your ova.
There are clusters, children born at about the same time, as if
they'd been fertilized at the same time. And if they were
cloning, the cloned ova would be mature at the same time..." he
shook his head. "It's the only explanation."

"Are they all coming from the same labs?" she asked.

He nodded, then added, "The same *few* labs, which is how I know.
I've had a little help hacking into their computers, and I've
been tracking their activities. And then yesterday..."

"You found more?" she queried with raised brows.

"They were about to fertilize them. It was our big break, and we
did it!" he announced triumphantly. "We broke in, and..." "We?"
she asked. "I thought you were working alone?"

"I've had some help," he admitted. "Three paranoid geeks who
were investigating Dr. Parenti too. They hacked the computers and
helped me, um, rescue your ova."

"The Lone Gunmen," she said softly.

"You know them?!?!" he asked.

"I've heard of them," she said cautiously. "So," she said,
changing gears. "That's everything? The truth? the whole truth?
and nothing but the truth?"

Brad gulped then said, "There's one more thing..."

She waited, expecting the worst, expecting to hear about his mob
connections, expecting his excuses why it was justified, or how
nobody could prove it.

"Mon-Mon's one of them," he blurted out.

"Mon-Mon!" she gasped, then thought back to the sweet little face
she'd so recently grown to love. "Yes," she said when she'd
caught her breath, "I can see the resemblance..." She searched
his eyes, silent questions in hers going unanswered by his. The
power of his eyes was still one-way, she realized, not like the
mutual communication she had with John.

"Why didn't I bring her home for us?" he asked on her behalf. "Is
that your next question?"

"Well, I..." she whispered.

"John is her biological father," he said. "She and Teresa are
full sisters," he smiled, then grew more animated as he proudly
debriefed her on his hard-fought findings. "Dr. Parenti and some
other doctors were experimenting, and they liked Teresa's DNA
profile. Mon-Mon's profile is the same."

"They're sisters?" Monica repeated. "Or is Mon-Mon Teresa's

"When we took Mon-Mon's blood to match DNA with Jane Does who
might be her mother, I compared with Teresa's. They're full
sisters, but not twins. Not clones."

Monica sighed. "She was fertilized with cloned ova?"

"It's just my theory," he said. "...based on the number of
children. There are girls *and* boys, hon. They can't be clones
of Teresa."

"And Mon-Mon's mother?" Monica asked.

"I don't know what happened to her, or how," he said, with
growing concern. "Or why your nightmares are so similar to
Mon-Mon's memory of that day." He stroked her back and smiled.
"But from now on I'll be home every night."

"You'll keep the mares away?" Monica asked.

"Nothing but sweet dreams every night," he assured her, then
kissed her cheek tenderly. "Feel better now?" he asked. "I'm
sorry I was so secretive, but now that you know everything," he
said, his hand moving in sensuous circles on her back. "We can
get pregnant." He nuzzled her neck, making her sigh in spite of
herself, then kissed the hollow of her collarbone. "And now that
we don't have to worry about your temperature, every day is a
good day for..."

She leaned back into his embrace, feeling a little dizzy.
"Brad," she sighed as her head lolled backward. "There's
something you should know."


"What, honey?" Brad asked, making a trail of tiny kisses upward
from her collarbone to her earlobe.

Monica sighed then remembered herself and jumped up. "Get
dressed. I can't tell you in here," she said, then ran out of
the room.

She stood in the kitchen, hugging her coffee mug and staring out
the window over the sink. How could she have let him tell her
all that, she wondered, yet not tell him who she really was? She
prayed for John to rush in and rescue her from this nightmare,
but she heard only the sound of warbling songbirds in the
branches near the window. No knight in shining armor. Well,
turnabout's fair play, she thought.

She took too big of a sip and burned her tongue. She had to tell
him, she told herself. The other Monica would be returning to a
Brad who thought she knew his secrets. For both their sakes she
had to do the right thing. But for her own sake, she wished she

He came down the stairs dressed in a light purple polo shirt and
khaki chino pants. She smiled in recognition of a
long-forgotten difference between him and John. Ever the
preppie, Brad looked like he'd just stepped out of an L.L. Bean
catalog. In contrast, on his days off John always looked like a
Levi's ad. She preferred the Levi's style, but she had to admit,
Brad was a handsome man.

"So it's not just about me being gone so much, is it? There's
something else wrong, Monica," he stated, challenging her with
his eyes. "Whatever it is, you can tell me. I'm a big boy. I
can handle it..."

After the way he'd snapped when he found out that Regali had
killed Luke Doggett, Monica knew better. If this Brad were
really the same Brad, and so far he seemed to be... She shook
the thought from her mind, then took a stenciled seat and went to
set her coffee on the table. Just more rationalization, she
thought. Looking for an excuse not to tell him. She mustered
her courage and said, "Sit down, Brad."

Brad poured a mug of coffee then took a seat, the one she'd sat
in earlier. He looked at her appraisingly. "Something's
different since I've been back. It was different yesterday,

"Yes, I tried to hide it, but you know me too well," Monica said
with a hint of appreciation.

He nodded slightly, as if confirming his own suspicions. "Now
that you know you're infertile, you don't want to have sex
anymore," he concluded. "Our sex life... Jesus, our whole
marriage... it's just about having children. It's not about *us*
anymore." He took a gulp from his coffee then added, "Maybe it
never was..."

"I don't know," Monica answered. "I'm not your wife."

"What?" Brad said, spraying coffee onto the table. "You want a

"No, that's not what I said," Monica said, reaching for a towel
to wipe up the mess. It came far too naturally to her, she
thought, but she couldn't help herself. It was *her* kitchen
somehow. "I'm not your wife," she insisted. "Another Monica
Reyes married you, and I've taken her place."

"You mean," he said, trying to hold his rising anger in check.
"That you've changed, and you don't feel married to me anymore?"

"I mean," she sighed. "Something strange happened at work
yesterday. John and I activated some kind of device that must
have opened up a parallel universe. In my universe, I'm not
married to you. We've never been married. *I've* never been

Brad stared at her, his shoulders rising and falling as he
struggled to control his breathing. Like a true investigator, he
was waiting for her to give herself away, but he knew that she
would be waiting for him to give himself away too.

After staring back at him for a long moment, she said, "I realize
this must sound crazy to you, and it was hard for John and me to
accept. But it's true. We don't belong here." She glanced
around at the homey kitchen, then said, "I have a loft in
Georgetown that my parents helped me buy. John lives in the same
house, but he lives alone. No wife. No kids. Teresa and
Mon-Mon don't exist there."

Brad stared at her in disbelief. "Monica, if you want a

Monica sighed. "Why do I even try?" she said to herself.

"You've come up with some outrageous ideas, honey, and I've even
believed some of them, but this..." he stood and started pacing,
waving his hands as he spoke. "This takes the cake. You expect
me to believe that my loving wife doesn't love me and isn't my
wife? That's just great... just..."

Momentarily speechless, Brad huffed around the room, running a
hand through his hair. She knew from experience that he would get
his tongue back if she just remained silent, so she remained
silent, watching him with detached concern.

"Do you want a divorce? Is that it?" he said finally. "Because
if you do, if you *really* do, I won't fight you. I love you
with all my heart, but if you'd be happier..."

"Please, don't make this any harder," Monica said.

"Harder? Oh, that's rich, Monica. This is hard for you? The
love of my life announces that she's from some other galaxy and
doesn't want to be married..."

"Another universe," she said patiently. "Your Monica is probably
in my universe, trying like hell to get back home."

Brad sat down, laying his arms across the table and capturing her
hands. "Honey, what year is it?"

Monica rolled her eyes. He was giving her a field test for
insanity? "2003," she answered.

"And who is the president of the United States?" Brad asked.

"Oh come on, Brad..." she protested, but his eyes bored into
hers, telling her he was serious. "George Bush," she answered.

Uh-oh, she thought. Wrong answer.

"Honey," he said tenderly. "Al Gore is the president. The
Supreme Court..."

"Voted against him where I'm from," she said. "Five to four.
Want me to quote Sandra Day O'Connor's comments about stupid
people who don't know how to vote?"

Brad swallowed, hard, and his eyes began to tear. "Honey, Sandra
Day O'Connor was assassinated three years ago. Don't you

"That didn't happen where I'm from," she said. "I'm telling you
the truth, Brad. Haven't you ever heard of parallel universes?"

"So where you're from," he said slowly. "What else is

She sighed. "You don't want to know, Brad. All you need to know
is that John and I want desperately to go home."

"And where is this magical device?" he asked, giving her hope
that he might be coming around.

"John has it," she said.

"How convenient," Brad sneered. "And this all-important
appointment you have with some doctor?"

"Doctor Schulmann, a physicist who works at the Department of
Energy," Monica corrected.

"THE Doctor Schulmann?" Brad asked. "Nobel Prize winning Doctor

Monica nodded. "He's our best hope of getting home."

They heard a rap on the window of the kitchen door, then turned
to see John, Teresa in his arms, smiling broadly through the
small panes.


Monica looked to Brad, hoping for some indication of how he was
feeling, but he had already closed himself off. Nobody would
ever know what had just transpired between them. That's Brad,
she thought. She took a deep breath and tried to create the same
emotional shield, but instead found herself sniffling.

After Brad opened the door, John said cheerily, "I hope I'm not
interrupting anything. Teresa and I wanted to hit the road so we
wouldn't miss our appointment with ..."

"Don't worry," Brad said coldly. "You'll make it."

John set Teresa down and she ran immediately to her "Uncle Brad."

Brad lifted Teresa into his lap then turned his cheek for the
little girl's kiss. "Something wrong, Uncle Brad?" Teresa asked.

He hugged her tightly then relaxed his grip and smiled his most
charming smile. "Nothing's wrong, honey. Aunt Monica and I were
just talking about some serious things before you came. Nothing
for you to worry about, though."

When John and Monica exchanged glances, John saw that she had
told Brad everything, and when Brad could saw their exchange he
realized what the missing piece of her story was.

Teresa seemed oblivious to the silent communication of the
adults. "That's good," Teresa said, apparently satisfied. She
jumped off his lap and ran around the table to give "Aunt Monica"
a kiss.

Monica smoothed the little girl's hair and asked, "Did you bring
your scrapbook with you?"

"Yup" she answered, then dropped her purple backpack to the floor
and fished out a piece of paper. "And I brought this!"

Monica unfolded a piece of child's drawing paper, then smiled at
what she saw: chunky outlined people with John's handwriting
labeling Uncle Brad, Aunt Monica, Teresa, Mon-Mon, Daddy, Mommy.
"Thank you, Teresa!" Monica exclaimed. "It's beautiful!" She
showed it to Brad, then folded it up and put it in her pocket.

"Aren't you going to put it on the frigerator?" Teresa asked

"No, honey, I want to be able to look at it again later. I'm
going to keep it with me," Monica asked, rubbing the girl's arm.

Teresa beamed and looked at her father. "Daddy's is in his
pocket too."

John and Monica exchanged wistful glances, glances that told Brad
this pair really did intend to leave this universe behind them.
The question remaining in Brad's mind was whether Monica's other
universe was real or metaphorical.

"Brad," John said, throwing himself into a chair with exaggerated
casualness. "Do ya mind watching Teresa while Monica and I are

"I'm coming with you," Brad announced. "I can watch her there."


Dr. Schulmann hunched over the odd object, studying it with a
jeweler's glass and saying "hmmm" and "hmmm?" at random intervals
as John and Monica looked on.

Brad and Teresa sat at the doctor's dining room table, Teresa
coloring and chattering happily and Brad keeping an eye on his
wife and her partner in the adjoining den. He'd been surprised
to see there actually was an object, but still wasn't convinced
of Monica's story.

"Come on, doc," John said in exasperation. "Can't you tell us

"It appears to be just what you described on the phone," he said
to Monica, ignoring John's sense of urgency. "But if it does
what you say it does, we can't test it to see..."

"See, Monica?" John said triumphantly. "Think we should just let
well enough alone?" He reached for her hand and said under his
breath, "I'll start divorce proceedings first thing tomorrow. You
want to start yours too?"

Brad jumped up, ran to the den, and pulled John's hand off
Monica's. "So that's what this is about? You two? You're....
How long has this been going on?"

Monica took a deep breath. "Brad," she said with almost
condescending calmness. "Where we live we're both single. But
yes, we've fallen in love. We've been together..."

"Six months," John finished, reaching an arm around Monica's
shoulders. She gently laid a hand over his and smiled at him.

"And I just let it happen?" Brad asked in disbelief.

"She broke up with you over three years ago, and you're in the
witness protection program now. Don't worry. You'll find someone
new," John said. "Everything else has turned out for the best."
He glanced at Teresa, who had looked up from her coloring.
"Well, almost everything," he added.

Brad snatched the device from Schulmann's hands. "If this is
true, if any of this is true..." Brad's hand started shaking and
tears came to his eyes. "It has to be true," he said to himself.
He couldn't imagine John denying Teresa's existence. Monica,
maybe, but never John. And the two of them gazing into each
others' eyes right in front of him? "Monica..." he pleaded.
"Tell me this is all true, and that you'd never cheat on me..."

"I never cheated on you, Brad," Monica promised. "You never
cheated on me, either."

"Then why?" he sobbed. "Why would it end? How could you..." He
took a deep, trembling breath, then pulled Monica's hand away
from John's and forced the device into it. "Go back!" he ordered.
"Get out of here!"

Before anyone could respond, the door swung open and a breathless
man, his arm in a sling, rushed into the room and snatched the
device from Monica's hand. "Thank you for calling me, Doctor
Schulmann," the man said.

Doctor Schulmann looked up from his desk and said, "My pleasure,
Doctor Parenti."

"Doctor Parenti?" Brad, Monica and John repeated in unison.

"THE Doctor Parenti?" John screeched. "Agent Scully's OB? The
*late* Doctor Parenti?"

"One and the same," the doctor answered smugly. "Late to your
appointment anyway, and I'm afraid I don't have any patients
named Scully."

"Teresa," Brad whispered from the side of his mouth. "Wait
outside on the porch." He moved to the door and opened it for
her, but Teresa rose from her chair and went to Brad, putting her
arms around his waist. "Teresa," he said under his breath.

Teresa looked up at him, forcing him to look into her doe-eyes,
which suddenly reminded him of his wife's eyes. "Please don't
make me go," she said.

"So you're the little lady that started this war," Parenti said,
taking a few steps toward Teresa. Brad instinctively blocked his
access, and Parenti responded by holding up his injured arm. "I
assure you, I'm no threat," he said. "Not to her," he added

"Teresa?" John asked, to nobody in particular. "What does she
have to do with..."

Parenti turned and looked at John. "She was the key that
unlocked a very special door. Before her, we didn't have the
recipe right. They all came out defective. Misshapen heads.
Tails. Toxic blood... Of course she's not the recipe herself,
but she led us to the key ingredient," Parenti paused to look at
Monica with a significant glance. "Once we found that key
ingredient, our program could get off the ground."

"Breeding supersoldiers?" John suggested.

"Close, Mister Doggett," Parenti said.

"Cloning?" Brad asked.

"If I told you, I'd have to kill you," Parenti joked. But of
course it was no joke.

"And Mon-Mon?" Brad asked. "What happened to her mother?"

Parenti looked at Schulmann, then said, "She went back to where
she came from. Our specialty is interdimensional fertility. Her
little girl just happened to fit our profile, so we kept her. Or
rather, we allowed you to keep her. Until we need her."

"Excuse me?" John interjected.

"It's a kind of genetic rehabilitation program that has been
going on for years," Schulmann said excitedly.

Parenti looked at Reyes and said, "Your genetic profile is
perfect! Every child has been viable, every one of them!"

"But how?" Brad asked.

Parenti held up the device and waved it in answer to the
question. "I usually work at night," Parenti explained. "So
when she returns she's still in bed, asleep."

"You've been doing *this* to my wife?!?!" Brad exclaimed, turning
his hand in imitation of Parenti's wave of the device. "But
you've already taken..." Brad started, then his face turned ashen
as he realized what Parenti had meant. "You're taking *other*
Monica's, bringing them here, and then...."

"Then your wife wakes up with nothing more than a nightmare for
her trouble," Parenti said proudly. "Smooth as glass."

"So her nightmares, her fear of being alone, her fascination with
abduction stories..." Brad grabbed Parenti by the shirt collar
and slammed him against a wall. "That was all your doing?"

"How many times?" Brad asked menacingly.

"Whenever we need a fresh supply." Parenti said nonchalantly.

"Fresh supply of...?" Brad asked, his eyes narrowing and his grip
tightening on Parenti's neck. The doctor began to choke and his
face was turning red.

"Brad!" Monica shouted. "Stop it! We need him!"

Brad scowled at Parenti then reluctantly let go of his neck,
letting the man slump against the wall. As he took a few steps
backward, Brad continued staring at Parenti under knitted brows,
now pinning the man to the wall with just his eyes.

"But we came here at four in the afternoon," Monica said. "Broad
daylight. Was that you too?"

"Ah, well, you see," Parenti blushed. "We had a little mishap,
well, theft actually. Someone broke into one of our labs and
stole the ova we were about to fertilize. And in order to stay
on schedule..."

"Schedule?" Brad asked, cocking his head as if not hearing right.

"Everything has to be timed just right, as I'm sure you know.
And this was our last chance." He turned his attention to Monica
and explained, "You'll be thirty-five next month, Ms. Reyes,
making you a less suitable donor." He smiled, and with something
approaching pity showed in his eyes. "I'm afraid there are some
things that even the best medical techniques can't overcome.
After you've made your contribution, your part of the project
will come to a close."


Parenti tossed the device carelessly in his good hand. "So, you
two want to go home?" he asked. "There's just one small detail to
attend to first," he said. "Dr. Schulmann, are you ready for the

"What?!" Monica and Brad shouted together.

John pulled his gun and pointed it at Schulmann. "No procedures.
We go home. End of story."

"Assuming you both make it," Schulmann pointed out. "If one of
you has died on the other side..."

Schulmann nodded in the direction of the device. "It was a fluke
that you came here, Mister Doggett. Dr. Parenti was in Chicago
and sent me to get Ms. Reyes, but you surprised me and took my
place in the object's field after it had been activated. But
before you left I managed to grab your gun and pull off a shot."

"He's bluffing," Brad said. "He's never touched a gun!"

John and Monica looked at each other, each contemplating the
possibility that Schulmann wasn't bluffing. "We have to try,"
Monica said shakily.

"And if it works, my wife will be back?" Brad asked. "Right

"She'll be wherever she is now, but on this side," Schulmann
explained. "So will Mister Doggett."

"But first," Parenti said, glancing toward Monica, a smug grin
creeping across his face.

"Her part of the project ends NOW," Brad commanded.

"She has something we both want," Parenti said to Brad. "I'm
willing to negotiate."

"You're talking about me like I'm not even here!" Monica shouted.
"I have no part in this or any program, and there is NOTHING that
is negotiable here. Send me back. If my part of the program was
about to end anyway..."

"True," Parenti said, eyeing Teresa and taking a step in her
direction. "We could move on to the next phase today."

Monica looked at him in horror, then she heard a shot, and
Parenti flew backward into the wall. As he slid downward, blood
started oozing from the wound and he gurgled his last words:
"Fight the Future."

"What the--" John shouted, but when he looked in the direction of
the shot, he saw Brad, holding his gun in one hand, and with the
other hand pushed Teresa behind him.

"Go on," Brad said coldly to Schulmann. "Send them back." Brad
waved his gun like a remote control, making Schulmann grab the
device from Parenti's hand. "Now, do whatever you have to do,"
Brad directed. "Send them back where they came from!" He turned
to Teresa and ordered, "Teresa, go wait on the porch."

Teresa ran to John and wrapped her arms around as much of his
waist as she could reach. "Don't go, Daddy!" she cried.

John stooped to the little girl's level and looked into her eyes,
though his own vision was blurred by a thick layer of tears.
"Daddy's got to go, honey. But I'll be back. Uncle Brad will
take care of you, won't you Uncle Brad?"

Brad was wiping the blood spatter from his face with a
handkerchief but managed a nod.

Looking up at her uncle, Teresa's lower lip started to quiver.
"That man wanted to hurt me," she said. "But uncle Brad..." Her
eyes followed the path of her memory, and she looked at Dr.
Parenti. "He..."

With gentle hands, John directed her face back toward his.
"Uncle Brad protected you. And he'll take care of you when I'm
gone. I know he'd never let anyone harm a child. Now, do what
he says."

At these last words, Monica placed a hand on John's shoulder and
kneaded it soothingly. "You know *I* trust Uncle Brad, don't
you, Teresa?" Monica added.

Teresa wrapped her arms around John's neck, much like Mon-Mon
did, and held on tightly. Closing his eyes, John hugged her and
whispered, "Be a good girl, okay? And take care of your sister.
She loves you." The tears started streaming now, and he barely
choked out, "I love you too."

When sympathetic tears threatened to overwhelm Monica, she took a
few steps toward Brad, who was still pointing his gun at
Schulmann. "Here," she whispered, offering her gun in trade for
his. "Take good care of her," she said, nodding backward toward
Teresa. "And tell her about her sister." Monica took a shaky
breath then said, "And tell your wife the truth -- the whole

"I will," he promised. "And I'll track them down. Every one,
and make sure they're safe!"

"She's a lucky woman," she said softly. "But she misses you. Be
there for her." She turned toward John, then had another thought
and looked once more into Brad's eyes. "Be there for your baby,"
she whispered.

Brad nodded. "I will," he said with quiet determination.

"Ready?" John asked, taking Monica's hand.

She took a deep breath, then said, "Ready."

"Schulmann," Brad said, motioning to the device in the doctor's
hand. "Do it."

Teresa ran to Brad and held onto his shirt with one hand, then
waved shyly with the other. "Bye," she mouthed. "I love you."

After Schulmann had set the object John and Monica took it and
put their hands over it. As expected, it began to buzz, then
vibrate, and at the last possible minute, Dr. Schulmann grabbed
their hands.

Brad and Teresa to cover their eyes against the object's bright
light, and when they opened them they were all alone, except for
the glassy-eyed corpse of Dr. Parenti.


When John and Monica opened their eyes, they saw Dr. Schulmann.
All was quiet, except for the faint buzz of a flourescent light
over a plant stand that hadn't been there before.

"We made it?" Monica asked giddily.

Schulmann nodded his head.

"What are you doing here?" John demanded with a brusque nod of
his head.

"You don't think I would let you *keep* this, do you?" Schulmann
chuckled. "Now, if you'll excuse me," he said, turning his
attention to the dials.

Before they could stop him, he had activated the device, and it
began to buzz, then vibrate, then at the last possible second
John knocked it from Schulmann's hand. It clattered to the floor
and began to glow with an intensity they now recognized.
Schulmann seemed to be moving in slow motion as he reached for
it, and Doggett easily knocked him to the floor.

As John wrestled with Schulmann, Monica aimed Brad's gun for the
object and fired. It shattered into glistening shards that
filled the room then disappeared, like the dying embers of
fireworks. Monica turned the gun toward Schulmann but what she
saw nearly made her drop it.

Schulmann lay on the ground, his body shimmering with the same
dying glow as the shards from the device, and when the shimmers
around the room were all gone, he disappeared into darkness.

"I sure hope we're where we belong," John said, brushing himself
off as he stood. "Cause we can't go back now."

Monica put out a hand to help him up, and when he was upright she
squeezed his hand. "Me too. Let's see..."

She pulled out her cell phone, dialed her home number and smiled
when she heard her answering machine message. She put it to his
ear, and he smiled wistfully, remembering all the times he had
heard that message and hung up after losing his resolve. He put
his arm around her waist as he listened. Those days were over,
he reminded himself.

"Try mine now," he asked. They sighed together at the sound of
his message.

"Welcome home," he said, then kissed her on the lips.

"Welcome home," she repeated when they parted.

"Now, let's get the hell out of here," John said, taking her hand
and leading her to the door.

As John held the door open for her, Monica said, "I never told
you this, but there were times when I called your house just to
hear your voice on the answering machine."

"Ya don't say?" he said, smiling broadly as she passed under his
arm. Yes, they were home.


--Two Weeks Later--

Monica stood at her bathroom sink, combing out her wet hair and
thinking, as she had many times in the past two weeks, about the
children. *her* children... *their* children... John had no idea
how many times she'd pulled Teresa's crayon drawing from her coat
pocket in the past two weeks. And as she had every morning since
leaving those children behind, she hesitated before popping the
foil on the day's birth control pill. It had been a no-brainer
before, but for the past fourteen days it was taking longer and
longer for that little foil bubble to burst.

"Monica?" John's voice broke through her thoughts. "Gonna be
much longer?"

She opened the door to greet her lover, resplendent in all his
naked glory. He'd stayed over every night since their return,
going to his house only to pick up clothes and his mail. She
went with him sometimes, but the house felt too empty. She
couldn't help looking for the Barbie set-up, or expecting to see
a children's bunk bed upstairs in place of his universal gym.
She imagined that one day they could get past their reaction to
his house, but for now sharing her cozy condo suited her just

"Almost done!" she called out, then rushed to the door as she
heard him take a step away. "There's just one more thing..." she
said, holding up her birth control pill container. "Or is

"Mon--" John said, a catch in his voice.

"We haven't talked about it," she pointed out.

"What's to discuss?" John answered, stone-faced.

"John, tomorrow is my thirty-fifth birthday," she reminded him,
as if that should be enough.

He took her by the shoulders and marched her to the sink then
pointed her toward the mirror where she could see them together.
"You'll be a very young," he kissed her cheek tenderly. "Very
beautiful," he said into her ear, then kissed it, making her
giggle. "Very healthy," he continued, wrapping his arms around
her waist. "Thirty-five." After seeing her smile in their
reflection he turned her around and added, "We do things in our
own time, on our own schedule. I love you. Isn't that enough
for now?"

He nuzzled her neck, and his breath tickled her in a place that
even Brad had never found. Pulling back instinctively, she
thought about time. *Our* time, she thought, has just begun. If
John needed more time, she would give it to him, as she always

And yes, she realized, for now it was enough that he loved her.
She popped the pill, swallowed it quickly, then turned to kiss
him. "I love you too," she said.