Welcome To The Harem

Indian Summer by Sylvia Tremblay Part 1 of 2
Summary: Deslea's rec: "A very well-researched, well-characterised casefile. Doggett and Reyes' friendship is explored in the light of Monica's inimitable point of view. Wonderful story told with warmth and a sense of humour."

Title: Indian Summer
Author: Sylvia Tremblay
Rating: PG for language
Classification: S
Keywords: Doggett and Reyes friendship, Reyes POV.
Spoilers: Through Season 8 (including the finale)
Summary: Reyes joins the X-Files and hijinks ensue.
Whaddaya want from me? Be advised this is not the whale-
singing flake from the season finale, but the Reyes we saw
earlier in the season and will hopefully see again in season
9.
Archive: Anywhere your little heart desires! Just let me
know, please.
Website: nope.
Feedback: welcome at poutinette@canada.com.
Disclaimer: The characters of Doggett and Reyes and the
X-Files themselves belong to Chris Carter, 1013, Fox, et al.
I derive no remuneration from this insignificant little effort.

Author's Note: This is my first X-Files fic so I apologize in
advance for any inaccuracies in the canon. I felt a little
intimidated about writing an M/S or typical XF story; there's
just too much water under the bridge for me to do it justice.
But Doggett? He presents a veddy intevesting
enigma....what to do, what to do....






"You wanna shake my hand, darlin'? I thought we already
met."

"I want your keys, not your hand."

"They're in my pocket. Come 'n get 'em."

"You don't want me to do that."

"Sure I do. Now c'mon...that's it....OW!!!"

************

I have a theory.

Wait, before you jump, legitimately mind you, to
conclusions, let me say that it isn't that kind of theory. No
grey aliens or conspiracies here. This theory is much more
mundane, but still near to my heart. I call it the Theory of
Elfin Women.

It may sound like one of those low-budget videos or a
cutesy comedy with Ashley Judd, but it's quite scientific,
developed over years of observation and direct
experience. I've seen it in operation many a time, along
with its corollary, the Theory of Regular-Sized, Boring
Women With No Particular Mystery.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Elfin Women, as you can surmise by their appellation, tend
to be petite physically, the perfect girl sized girl for man
sized men. They are not necessarily gorgeous or helpless
or in any way hampered by those Victorian ideals of
womanhood themselves, but for some strange reason they
tend to inspire those feelings in the men surrounding them.
Civilized men become Neandertals and frog princes
Lancelots around these women, bringing out all the
caveman and chivalric impulses of the male of the species
and rolling it up in one big rollicking, tongue-wagging
bundle.

I can't even count the number of times I've seen teams of
opposite-sex partners in the FBI or the local PDs with this
sort of dynamic. The man always has a physicality you'd
never see him display with a woman nearer his size. He's
always guiding her, aware of her. He's got his hand in the
small of her back as if she stays upright only through his
suffrance or touches her shoulder to draw her attention to
something rather than actually communicating by
speaking like most humans who were not raised by wolves
might do. And 100% of the time, without fail, the woman is
tiny, dwarfed by him.

I'm not saying there's something sinister or consciously
sexist in the men's behaviour; on the contrary, I don't think
the poor so-and-sos are even aware of what they're doing.
There's something in the sex differential that just screams
out to his reptilian brain, protect this female. Don't think
about it, just do it. Be her rock, her blanket, hard and soft
all at the same time, drape your big ol' body around her
until she couldn't get out even if she wanted to, until she
just subsumes into you like an appendage.

I sound like I'm bitter. I know. I never used to be. It was
always more the scientific observation of an outsider, a
woman possessed of slightly above-average height who
will never be swept into her partner's arms even if she is
shot or otherwise hurt. I could bleed out through my
femoral artery on the sidewalk and no man would risk his
sciatic nerve to so much as elevate the leg. I'd made my
peace with my admittedly lanky frame a long time ago; I
liked being able to keep pace with the fastest-striding
sexist beat cop, liked being the one who could run down
the bad guy. The level of comfort I've always had in my
skin is quite high, and at the risk of sounding like a self-
help tape, I like me. Still do.

But yesterday when the High Priestess of the Elfin Women
Dana Scully walked back into her old office and I saw my
partner's eyes light up like beady little blue novas...well,
that was...

But I get ahead of myself again.

I met John Doggett five years ago, when he was still with
the NYPD. He worked on his first X-File then, but he wasn't
aware of it. You can hardly blame him, because
considering the case involved the disappearance of his
son, he wasn't aware of much of anything, some days not
even his own name, I imagine. I remembered him as a
driven, haggard man, intensely focused on a goal he knew
in some private hell he was never going to reach. When I
encountered him again last year in the search for Fox
Mulder, I registered for the first time that he was also quite
nice to look at, in his way. I'd just broken up with my lover
of three years, a drop-dead beautiful man who I should
have known wasn't mine to keep forever--his kind are
never anyone's to keep--and I felt as though I was
squinting in the sunlight after being in a long tunnel.
Doggett's ice-blue eyes and honest Irish-American features
have never been my style, to tell the truth; I've always
gone for the more exotic types. His face is a little too Bing-
Crosby-gone-wrong for my taste, although he is built like a
brick shebeen and the ears that yearn to fly free from his
skull are strangely endearing, a little-boy touch on an
unquestionably grown-up man. I did my job and enjoyed
the view at the same time, along with the view at the
construction sites and the coffee shop and the gym.

Then a few months after that Mulder is back from the dead-
-yes, I say this almost mundanely, but walk a mile in my
shoes and you'll be blas? too--and I make a visit to D.C. to
open up Doggett's still-bleeding heart. The case I was
investigating at the time was tied to the murder of his son,
and I pulled him into it without a thought to his pain. No,
actually that's not true; I acknowledged that it was there
but I reasoned there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it.
I became involved in the paranormal because I knew from
the time I had conscious thought that there were forces
afoot in the world that others could not see but that I
could. There was no choice for me; the gift, for want of a
less pretentious term, chose me. And when I encountered
people, like Doggett, who refused that gift when so few had
it, I turned off my sympathy, became hard and unforgiving.
I forget we all have the same failings, that there's nothing
invulnerable in my makeup either. There is a choice made-
-to fight with the tools you have or to lay them down, and
who was I, who had never known the feel of her own child
lifeless in her arms, to pass judgment on his decision?

At any rate, the case was something of a turning point for
me. The tortured face of John Doggett stared back at me,
hovering behind my closed eyelids as I tried to sleep for
weeks afterwards. He had gotten past the walls I had so
carefully erected to block out the noisy emotions of the
world, and I was struck by the irony of it. I had joined the
FBI to make some use of my talents, to help and to protect,
and my own fears had been working against me all this
time, diluting those same talents until I couldn't even
connect with another human being on a level of simple
empathy. It would have been funny if it hadn't been such a
punch in the solar plexus.

So when I was shanghaied--I can't say transferred because
it was unlike any transfer I'd ever had--
to Washington last month to work as Doggett's partner on
the X-Files, let's say I had some mixed emotions about the
prospect of working with him. He'd caused me to rethink
my entire world view and take a good hard look at myself
in the bargain. To top it all off, during one of the more
horny episodes in my post-pubescent life his ass had been
the focus of a good deal of ogling. By contrast, he barely
knew I was on the planet. Such disparity makes it a little
difficult for one to think up casual topics of conversation
over morning coffee in the office.

*************

"Hey."

"Hey what?" I glanced over at him as I maneuvered his
pickup through the streets of Alexandria to see him
studying me much as an entomologist might a new species
of bug. I wasn't entirely confident that the directions he
had given me were reliable, but what else did I have to do
on a Friday night at 11:30 but drive aimlessly through an
unfamiliar city?

"You're pretty."

I jolted to a stop as the yellow light in front of us turned to
red and barked a laugh at him. "That's an adjective I don't
get a lot. Don't you mean to say 'statuesque' or 'willowy'?"

"Couldn't pronounce either of those right now. Sorry.
Besides, I like my word better." He flashed a sheepish
grin, and ridiculously I stifled a gasp. Even dimmed by
copious quantities of alcohol, his smiles should have
required a permit. Of course, it didn't help that it was the
first one he had directed my way.

The light turned green and I cleared my throat. "Right or
left?"

**************

She clicked in on her high heels, although maternity leave
had caused her to shed her professional suits in favour of
more casual jeans and soft chambray shirt. From the
moment she walked in, I recognized her natural ownership
of the place. Doggett still hadn't seemed comfortable at
his own--scratch that, Mulder's desk--since I first took over
as his partner, but she suffused the air with energy. And
damn it all if Doggett didn't spontaneously combust with it.

Since Mulder was something of a legend in the realm of the
paranormal in which I trod, I had of course heard of Scully
long before I met her. She was his skeptical but
nonetheless good right arm in the murky search for truth,
and while the other fibbers I knew in DC thought they were
both nuts, they were highly regarded in my circle. After our
first meeting, she became the shining example of the Elfin
Woman; without rancour, I conceded that she had the
presence to make men into malleable beings, shaping
them to her specifications without even realizing she had
done so.

After about a minute in Scully's presence the partner I had
assumed was carved out of stone was a puddle on the
floor, and I knew exactly what had happened. All these
weeks I had assumed he still harboured a grudge against
me from our last encounter; he hadn't been rude but he had
been distant, reserved. Not really knowing him personally,
I wasn't sure what conclusions to draw from it, but one
look at the positively goofy grin on his face as they
exchanged pleasantries said it all.

The poor so-and-so was so besotted with the
personification of the unattainable ideal standing in front of
him that he couldn't even see straight. And her leaving had
put him in a dour mood of which I was the prime recipient.
I was tempted to tap him on the shoulder and discreetly
scream that this woman was Mulder's, always had been
and always would be. The depth and complexity of her
feeling for him had breached my barriers and drowned out
the emotional noise of every other person, myself included,
when we first met. I had no idea whether or not they were
lovers; I'd seen that kind of connection before between
family members or married couples, but it's unlikely in
mere coworkers, even in our line of work. Whatever their
relationship, it was clear to me from the start that whether
or not Mulder was ever found, their bond extended beyond
the garden variety 'til-death-do-us-part kind.

"So where's William?" Doggett's sandpaper voice broke
into my reverie.

"Mulder took him for the afternoon to visit the Gunmen.
Have you met them?"

"You might say that. Next time you see 'em, tell 'em Agent
Dogbert says 'woof'."

Scully raised an eyebrow and smiled a smile fit for an icon
of the Madonna. Her gaze skidded to me, and her
expression opened up, shedding its ethereal quality. "It's
good to see you again. How are you finding Washington?"

"I'm not looking forward to the winter, but so far so good."

"Agent Doggett tells me it's been pretty quiet here since
you started."

"I am eager to get out in the field, but this has been a great
opportunity to familiarize myself with some of the old
cases."

"Any time you have any questions, I'd love to help." She
pulled a card from her purse and reached down to take a
pen from Doggett's desk, which she used to scrawl on the
back. "Here's my home number." Idly, I wondered if she or
Mulder would answer when I called.

"When's the best time to call? You must be up all the time
with the baby. I don't want to impose--"

"I am up all the time, so it's no imposition. Who needs
sleep?" She smiled again, and I was struck by the fact that
she was completely genuine, without guile or artifice to
maintain her. No wonder Doggett had fallen for her.

She said her goodbyes to us, and Doggett watched her go,
as he no doubt had on many occasions, usually on the
metaphorical arm of Mulder. For an instant, I considered
lowering my guard to try to read him at this moment; I felt
as though I had been seeing this man completely through
my own self-serving perspective and I wanted to
understand him better on his terms. I quickly trampled the
thought, however. Besides being against my personal
code of ethics, I reasoned that if he refused to use his gift,
I would too, at least where he was concerned.

His gaze turned from the open door to me and flickered
over me consideringly, as if he knew about my internal
debate. I felt a chill, then a flash of heat I couldn't explain.

"I'm gonna go grab some lunch and bring it back. I want to
finish getting this damn place organized the way I want it
before the next case is dumped on us. You want
anything?"

"No," I mumbled, "I think I'll go out if that's okay. I'd like to
see the sun for a little while."

"Yeah." His voice was tight. And then he was gone,
leaving me to my churning thoughts.

**********

The next day was Friday. I never used to live by the TGIF
principle of the modern office worker but after a month in
the basement with Doggett it was starting to gain a certain
appeal. In the elevator I ran into an old colleague from
New Orleans, and he encouraged me to come out after work
with some of his buddies to a happy hour at one of the
local bars. I've never been much for drinking with the
boys. My friends are not generally other agents; I lean
instead toward the company of artists, musicians and
fellow students of the paranormal, but I agreed this time. It
was nice to have a reminder of better times.
When I reached the office that morning, the forlorn look on
my partner's face was worse than ever. I had a mixed
reaction to this--my maternal instinct kicked into overdrive
but I also felt an enormous swell of rage at being put into
this untenable situation. If something didn't break soon,
we would never be able to work together effectively as a
team in the field.

"John, what are you doing this weekend?"

"Thinkin' about the weekend at eight o'clock in the a.m.?
This is gonna be a slow day." He meant them as a joke but
tossed off as they were without even a glance in my
direction his words just made me angrier.

"Okay, I'll try again. What are you doing tonight?"

He actually made eye contact this time, and it was like
being hit with a blast wave. He was as pissed off as I was,
though not about the same things, I'd wager. "Nothin'," he
growled.

"I saw one of the old gang from New Orleans and I'm getting
together with him and some of his colleagues for happy
hour at O'Manion's. I thought you might want to join me."

His eyes narrowed. He knew my last sentence was about
more than just asking him out for a booze-up. "Okay," he
murmured finally, returning his attention to the file before
him.

That was sixteen hours ago. In between, we growled at
each other all day, then we both hopped in Doggett's
pickup to head for the bar, since he reasoned he wouldn't
be drinking more than a beer or two. The silence in the
cab was palpable, but once we got to O'Manion's the
untamed roar of newly released white collar types washed
over us and filled in the gaping holes in our rapport.

Over by the bar I spotted Bill Harkness, the agent I knew
from New Orleans. I restrained myself from breaking into a run
to get away from Doggett. Introductions were made, and
the last man, a tall, lanky specimen in his mid-forties
named Reggie Dwight, obviously knew my partner.

"Johnny, old bean," he grinned, shaking hands warmly with
him, "Where have you been keeping yourself?"

"In the basement," retorted Doggett, his smile not quite
reaching his eyes.

"How is Spooky's lair?" This from a man identified as Bill's
partner, Agent Jefferson. "Found any bats?" I thought I
saw Doggett cringe, but no one else seemed to notice.

"Hey, did you ever--" Agent Dwight swung his arm
companionably around Doggett's shoulders and turned,
signaling the bartender for a drink and smoothly shielding
him from further sophomoric cracks. I was struck that this
was clearly a colleague Doggett knew well, yet it would
seem that they had lost touch with one another. Had he
been cutting himself off from his friends since joining the X-
Files? And if he was just a good 'ol boy pressed into
service in a cause he did not believe in, why had he not
requested a transfer ages ago? Scully alone couldn't be
enough reason to risk the ridicule of the Bureau and the
possible stagnation, if not ruination, of his career.

Oh hell, she probably could be. I turned to the bar myself
and ordered a tequila.

************

"Hey."

"Right back at you."

"This is my house."

"You're sure now. I wouldn't want to go knocking on
someone else's door at midnight."

Doggett shook his head vehemently. "Don' need to knock.
Nobody home. There's never anybody home."

My stomach plummeted toward my shoes. "Come on,
John. Let's get you inside." Slowly, painfully, we began to
make our way up the flagstone steps to a gorgeous storey-
and-a-half Craftsman house.

I had stopped drinking at the second tequila when I
noticed that my designated driver had graduated from
Budweiser to bourbon shots. Warily, I watched him out of
the corner of my eye as I chatted with Bill. After a few
minutes' observation, I was stunned to realize he appeared
to be engaged in some sort of whose-is-bigger contest with
Jefferson. As they conversed with other members of the
group, they idly downed matching quantities of hard liquor.

"Your partner is getting shitfaced." At this comment, I
returned my attention to Bill, who was also observing the
proceedings, a rueful look on his face.

"Yours, too," I retorted, cocking my eyebrow at him.

Bill avoided my gaze. "Yeah, well, he's never let it affect
the job. The first time it does, I'll have to take the next
step."

"What if the first time it affects the job you can't take the
next step because you took a bullet instead?"

Bill sighed. "Monica, even in today's FBI, the prime
commandment is, 'All you women and fags shalt not bitch
about thy he-man, G-man partners.'"

"I must've missed that memo. You'd think I would have
noticed a stone tablet circulating around the office."

"I don't hear you complaining."

Shaking my head, I watched Doggett knock back another
ounce of Jack Daniels. "He's not an alcoholic, Bill. I know
the signs. Besides, if he hasn't killed himself outright by
now, he isn't going to do it by half-measures."

As we reached the top step, Doggett started chuckling, the
sound vibrating the air around us like a VLF transmission.
"I don't believe it."

Fumbling and muttering over his keys as I tried to find the
one that would gain us entry, I made no
direct reply. Finally, I was successful and pushed against
the heavy glass-and-wood door. "Voil?," I announced, an
arm extending with a flourish to usher him in.

"Ladies first." Staring at him, I complied. It was the first
time I had heard that line uttered without sarcasm. Behind
me, Doggett flipped a switch and the front foyer and hall
were suddenly awash with light. On the left, broad stairs
led up to a landing and eventually the second floor; down
the hall, a kitchen with low, warm lighting and cherrywood
cabinets beckoned. Doggett motioned me toward the
living room, which opened up past a large archway on the
right. As I walked in, I was struck by the sense of
welcoming comfort that oozed from every overstuffed chair
and pile of well-thumbed books. It was lived-in without
being neglected, masculine without being Spartan. I stood
in the middle of the room and watched him turn on the
mica and imitation Tiffany lamps which together yielded a
muted glow.

Hands on my hips, I switched to safe, matronly efficiency.
"I'm going to put some water on for tea. What would you
like?"

His task completed, Doggett collapsed into a chair.
"Coffee, please. I've got some instant in the cabinet over
the sink."

I was relieved to note he was already sounding more
coherent. "You've got it," I replied. "Don't pass out."

Doggett's voice followed me down the hall. "Damn, and I
was looking forward to that."

Returning a few minutes later with two steaming cups, one
with two heaping teaspoons of instant coffee dissolved in
it, I found him sitting forward in his chair with his head in
his hands, studying the floor. An open copy of Whitman
poetry was sitting face down on the table in front of him.

"That bad, huh?"

He raised his head carefully to look at me. "When I close
my eyes, the room spins. When I read a book, the room
spins. When I stand up, the room spins."

"I'm familiar with the feeling." I handed him the coffee,
which he took with a smile. "What don't you believe?"

He stared at me for a moment, then comprehension
dawned. His eyes darted as if he was slightly embarrassed
to tell me. "Didn't realize I said that out loud. What I was
thinkin' was, I don't believe I got myself in a pissing
contest."

I sipped my black tea before speaking. "Don't tell me that
was your first one."

"The first one since I was a green Marine."

"What made you stop tonight?"

He smiled. Damn it all if I didn't decide right then and there
that I liked watching him smile. "I noticed I was losin'."

I hesitated, then decided I wasn't betraying any
confidences. "From what Bill told me, it's a good thing you
did. You were competing against a pro."

His eyes searched my face, and the earnestness in his
expression nearly undid me. "Monica, I don't want you to
think this is somethin' I do every Friday--"

"I know, John. Don't--"

"I would quit before I put any partner of mine in that kinda
situation. I swear to God--"

"John, I know you're not an alcoholic," I stated firmly,
holding my palms out in a quieting gesture. "Believe me, I
have had enough experience to spot one fairly easily." I
paused. "My brother is a recovering alcoholic. We've been
through a lot together."

He nodded seriously, his gaze never leaving my face. I
hadn't been the focus of his attention for this long a period
of time since we became partners; somewhere, a small
part of me was rooting for him never to sober up.

It was that moronic thought that alerted me to my
situation. I was starting to fall headlong into those smiling
Irish eyes and I didn't like the sensation. Or perhaps I liked
it too well. The last thing I needed was to get a dewy-eyed
crush on this complicated, wounded man who also
happened to be my partner. With new resolve, I told him,
"Listen, I should let you get some rest."

"Naw, don't worry about it. I wouldn't be able to sleep until
the spinning stopped anyway, and I'd just be sitting here,
staring at the wall by myself. It's nice to have company."
He paused, then added self-consciously, as if aware his
loneliness had just shown itself a little too clearly, "But you
must be gettin' tired yourself. You've got a drive ahead of
you."

There it was; the perfect excuse, provided for me. But I
remained glued to the chesterfield, and no force of will
could budge me. "Well, I'm actually still pretty wired," I
heard myself lie baldly. "Let me know when the spinning
stops and I'll get out of your way."

"Deal." He smiled again, and my mind battled for distance,
objectivity, sanity.

"John, why did you want me to work on the X-Files with
you?" The question came out in a rush, unexpected by
both of us. He didn't answer right away, and the look on
his face told me this was probably the first time he'd
thought about it. Instantly I felt a sinking sensation in my
gut: he hadn't thought about it because there had been no
thought involved. I was there and I could be trusted. End
of story. Feeling a complete fool, I blurted, "Sorry, you
don't have to answer that. Forget it."

He shook his head. "No, it's a fair question. You were
dragged into this thing, you deserve to know why."

"I'm not complaining. After all, for someone with my--
leanings--it's an ideal position." Another asinine
statement. I was batting one oh oh oh.

Sighing heavily, Doggett leaned back in his chair, then
seemed to notice the presence of his tie for the first time
that night. "I can't believe I'm still wearin' this noose," he
muttered, loosening and yanking it off in one smooth,
practiced move. He rubbed his eyes, and when he spoke
again I could barely hear him.

"I knew where you were, y'know." At my puzzled
expression, he elaborated. "When I called you at the
airport, told you to come to the Federal Building to take
Scully away and keep her safe. I knew you were in D.C."
He did not look at me. "Nobody told me you were in town.
I just--when I thought of someone to call for help, you came
into my mind. *Into* it, d'you understand? Do you
understand what I'm sayin'?"

I wasn't sure if I could breathe, but I managed it. "I think
so."

"That makes one of us." He smiled, but there was no
humour in it. "When you came to try to solve that case of
yours from New Orleans, I--goddammit, I was mad at you.
Boiling mad. I felt like you were tryin' to dig up my son
again--" He trailed off when he heard my breath hitch in
my throat, but still did not raise his gaze to mine. In
contrast, I couldn't look away from him, even when the
tears started to veil his image. After a moment, he
continued. "Took me a while to realize I was really mad at
myself. Thing is, if I deny that I have this--ability you say I
have--then I can keep on believin' I did everything I could
to save Luke." His jaw clenched, then released. "But
that's the coward's way out. And the things I saw when we
were trying to keep Billy Miles from finding Scully...well, I
can't keep denyin' what's been staring me right in the face
this past year. Whether I believe it all or not, there's stuff
out there I can't explain in conventional ways, and if I've
got somethin' in me that can start to explain some of it, it's
my job to figure out how to use it. And I think you can help
me do that."

I willed the tears not to spill from my eyes as he finally
looked up to pin me with his gaze. His hand reached out to
me and I moved to take it, nodding mutely. The instant his
fingers coiled around mine, I felt it; an electrical charge
that singed my nerve endings and brought another slight
gasp despite my anticipation of it. This man had a gift, and
even in its almost completely latent state it had a kind of
power that spoke to mine. What would he be capable of if
he truly let himself open up to its possibilities?

Finally able to trust my voice, I told him, "I will help you any
way I can, John."

***********

I awoke in a strange bed.

Startled by the unfamiliar sensation, I sat bolt upright and
took in my surroundings. I was still in my clothes from the
night before, although my jacket had been removed and lay
folded on a chair across the room. Swinging my legs over
the side of the queen-sized mattress, I threw back the
coverlet and was just about to stand up when Doggett
poked his head in the door to his bedroom.

"Sorry. Forgot socks." This nonsequitur was followed by a
sheepish glance toward the floor, which my own gaze
followed, though not before taking in his damp, slightly
mussed hair, his form-fitting gray t-shirt and his faded
jeans. He had obviously just stepped out of the shower, as
evidenced by the bare feet which lent an air of vulnerability
to his compact, muscular frame. "I was headed down to
the corner store to get some milk 'n stuff. I don't have
much for breakfast."


"Uh," I managed intelligently, "that's okay. Why don't I
take you out to IHOP or someplace? It's the least I can do
after the--hospitality." Frantically, my mind tried to recall
the rest of the night after our conversation. We had
wandered onto discussions of psychic visions and other
manifestations of ESP, but after that I had no memory of
how I got here.

"I couldn't let you sleep in the guest room. That cot's like
iron." He gestured toward the bed. "I changed the sheets
before I brought you up here."

I shook my head. "Brought...me?"

He broke eye contact with me and moved toward the tall
chest of drawers beside the window. "You were out like a
light. Figured you were too tired to drive, and I wasn't in
any shape to get you home safe."

"But how did I get up here?"

Socks successfully retrieved, he sat down on the edge of
the chair, taking care not to crush my jacket. "I didn't want
to wake you, so I carried you."

I stared at him in disbelief. "You--"

"Yeah." He darted a look at me, as if afraid I would be
angry. "Don't worry, I didn't, ah--"

"No, no," I stammered, forestalling his awkward words.
"I'm sure you didn't. Thanks."

He nodded and stood. "Look, I'll let you get freshened up.
Bathroom's through there," he offered, gesturing at a door
opposite the bed. And then he was gone. I sat there
paralyzed and staring after him for a full minute.

My lovely theories had just been shot to hell.


end part 1/5

I hate waiting by the phone for a man.

I become Sandra Dee with that statement, I know, but for some
reason on this Sunday afternoon, as I try to focus on eliminating
gargantuan dust bunnies from my apartment, the thought seems
appropriate. And since the cleaning tasks I perform, many for
the first time since I moved in, are completely mindless, I can't
keep my brain from speculating on exactly why John Doggett
should make me feel like a bee-hived debutante. I'm not even
sleeping with the SOB.

Since that night at his house when Doggett had admitted, at least
in theory, the existence of his latent psychic ability, I had begun
working with him on his terms and on his schedule. Our sessions
were therefore often erratic, not because he was a disorganized
person--quite the opposite--but because he was reluctant to
explore this side of himself. I tried to be as patient as possible,
and let him come to me. But my patience was wearing thin
since we hadn't had one of our meetings in over a week now.

I didn't talk with him about it at the office, sensing he wanted to
compartmentalize his life into work and "other", and exploring
his psi abilities definitely fit into the "other" category in the
Doggett universe. I'd managed to convince him to work on the
Zener cards found on the Internet--at least he claimed to be
following my daily regimen--to help him to hone his skills. For
people wishing to develop their ESP, much like people wanting
to memorize their multiplication tables, practice was the key, but
it was repetitive, often boring, and could take time. The greatest
danger, I knew, was that he would fail to see results quickly
enough and thus convince himself he had been mistaken, or
hallucinating, during his earlier clairvoyant experiences.

I sprayed lemon oil on my oak dining room table and began
rubbing it in with a cloth. I only do this Def Con Four level of
cleaning about once a year; Susie Homemaker I most definitely
am not. Most of the people I entertain at my home aren't the
type to worry about the mundanities of lint and floor wax, so my
apartment's usual genteel state of decay isn't a problem.
Eventually, however, it gets to the point where even I can't
stand it any more. For me, the Great Clean doesn't accompany
a particular season, as with most people; instead, it surfaces in a
period of frustration, whether professional or sexual.

I wondered which this was.

Damn the man for being well-mannered and delicious at the
same time. The words "Southern gentleman" for me used to
conjure an image of an elderly Colonel Sanders in a white suit
and questionable tie, and now they only bring to mind an intense
fibber with a steel blue gaze and biceps that can crack walnuts.
Worse than a harmless bit of lust, little things he does are
beginning to endear him to me, and I'm not the type to be easily
endeared to men, let alone children or small dogs. I've watched
him in his living room as his eyebrows knit together during a
psychometric exercise, or caught him in an unguarded moment
as we drove by a playground when the loneliness bled through
his facade, and I've repressed an urge to reach out and stroke
something on him. And I'm not a stroker. Furthermore, I've
never been one to be attracted to someone so clearly opposed to
everything I believe in and so emotionally and professionally
off-limits, but something about him has gotten under my skin
like an army of lice. Not a pleasant allusion, but then it's not a
welcome sensation. I don't want to complicate my life further at
a time when I'm hitting the most complicated point of my
career. Handling the X-Files and everything that goes with it is
stressful enough; adding lascivious and ickily sentimental
thoughts about my partner are liable to cause my head to
spontaneously explode.

Just as I was gathering the chutzpah to grab the phone and give
him a piece of my mind for backing out on our sessions, the
doorbell rang. Wiping my hands on the cloth, I ambled toward
the intercom and punched it. "Who is it?" I enquired tersely.

"It's Doggett," the devil answered. "We got a case. Can I
come up?"

I looked down at my threadbare track pants, the t-shirt whose
faded letters still proclaimed me the property of the Storyville
Athletic Club and Whorehouse, and the bare feet now covered
in dust smudges, and imagined similar decorations adorning my
face. "Yeah. I can't imagine a better time." My middle finger
stabbed the buzzer.

A minute or two later, Doggett arrived at my front door in his
weekend uniform of jeans and second-skin gray t-shirt. The heat
of the day hadn't fazed him one bit, while with all the physical
exertion of washing floors and scrubbing bathroom tile I looked
only slightly fresher than Mulder after a few months in the
ground. The bastard took in my appearance with a look that
under other circumstances would have caused a flush to sprout
over my entire pale body, but only caused annoyance this time.
He politely refrained from comment, so I felt the need to fill in
the silence.

"Spring cleaning."

He nodded. "I gathered."

Well, so much for that conversational gambit. "Can you wait
ten minutes?" I demanded, not bothering to wait for a reply as I
headed for the bathroom. "Make yourself at home," I tossed
over my shoulder. "Kitchen's on your right, living room through
there."

After the quickest shower in recorded history I combed my still-
damp hair back ruthlessly and threw on a pair of freshly washed
jean shorts and sleeveless top. When I reappeared in my living
room in just under the specified time, I found Doggett sitting on
the couch studying a file he had spread on the coffee table.

"Is it another one?" I asked.

He looked up, belatedly taking in my transformation and
pronouncing it good with another sweeping gaze that seemed to
linger for an extra second on my legs. "Pretty much," he
agreed. Sighing, I flopped down beside him.

While Deputy Director Kersh was under investigation, the bozo
they had put above us temporarily was doing nearly as thorough
a job of destroying the X-Files as Kersh could have hoped to do.
There didn't seem to be a sinister conspiracy behind it, only
incompetence. The new guy was used to telling his agents
where, how much and how often he could screw them, and he
was using his tiny equipment on us with alarming frequency. He
culled our cases from the finest tabloid headlines and forced us
to follow up on these ludicrous leads over our protests. Two
nights ago I had woken up in a cold sweat from a nightmare that
could only be described as the Case of the Nine-Hundred Pound
Baby. I can't stand to go into more detail than that.

"It's in Virginia, so we don't have to go far, at least. Somewhere
near the Wilderness."

I looked at him. "The Civil War battlefield?"

He looked back, his face registering surprise. "You've heard of
it?"

"Pretty good for a girl, huh? I minored in American History,
sugar." He appraised me a moment longer, then his eyes
refocused on the file.

"Well, this one's definitely history. There've been stories
'round there for years about ghosts of soldiers, both sides,
marching all over the place. But Friday night somethin' a little
different happened."

He dug out a couple of photos from under several pages of typed
reports and handed them to me. I studied a b&w of a man lying
in a hospital bed, then a closeup of a wound, presumably his.
"Tourist went walkin' in the woods near the historic site when
he claims he felt his right leg give out from under him. After he
hit the ground, he realized he'd been shot."

"Hunting accident?" Even as I said it I knew it couldn't be
right. The wound was a mess, the flesh around the entry hole
looking like it had been blown out.

"Not likely. He was hit by a Minie ball."

I drew in a breath.

"Yeah," he ground out with a touch of sarcasm. "Put that in
your history book and smoke it."

The soft lead Minie ball, named after its designer, a Frenchman
named Mini?, had been the round of choice in the Civil War.
The wound made sense now; a modern high-velocity round
would probably have sailed right through his leg without even
looking back.

"Let me guess," I ventured. "There's no exit wound."

"You got it. Spent itself inside the leg, shattered the bone then
rolled around a lot, tearing up the tendons and muscle. They
think they're gonna have to amputate."

"What about re-enactors?" In this part of the country, the
woods were full of people whose hobby it was to dress up like
their ancestors and play at being soldiers from various eras.
They spent thousands of dollars to fit themselves out with
clothes and authentic-looking accessories, including
reproduction rifles and ammunition.

"Already checked. There are a few guys in the town who do the
Civil War thing, but they all have alibis."

"And what does our esteemed superior think makes this an X-
File?" I enquired sweetly.

"The victim didn't hear a report, no sound of any kind. 'The
woods were as still as death,' he said."

There was a pause while I digested this. "That's it?" I finally
demanded.

"Yup." Taking the photos from me, he gathered up the file and
rose. "You got anything you have to do at the office?" I shook
my head. "Okay. I'll pick you up here at eight tomorrow?"

"Sure." He started to move, and sensing the 'work' part of the
visit was over, I decided to broach the 'other' topic that had
been left unsaid. "John, I don't want to pressure you, but I was
wondering when you might want to try some of those exercises
again."

He stopped but did not look at me. "I been pretty busy..." he
began, and alarm bells rang in my head. How to approach this?
I wasn't used to preaching to the unconverted.

"I understand." I took a deep breath. "John, I told you you
might not see a change right away. Please give it a chance."

"Yeah. I'm trying." He stood there like a small boy called
before the principal, and I knew he was too polite to make his
escape without my permission, since I had initiated this.

"Okay, then. I'll see you tomorrow."

He nodded and a few seconds later I was staring at my closed
front door and quietly cursing.


***********


I will not smoke I will not smoke I will not smoke I---

The litany ran through my mind as we whipped down the I-95
toward our destination about a hundred clicks from Washington.
I'd had a couple of lapses, most recently during Scully's and my
trip to Nowhere, Georgia. Carrying the pack around with me
was my sick, masochistic way of building my willpower, and it
was working ninety-nine percent of the time. My mother, a
steady chain smoker for forty years, had died of complications
following the removal of a tumour from her lung last February.
It hadn't ever been that constant a habit for me, but I vowed
then to give them up. Occasionally, though, the beast raised its
head, as it did now when the smell of freshly dried tobacco
assaulted us from a processing plant situated near the highway.

I didn't realize I had groaned until Doggett looked over at me.
"Tryin' to quit, huh?" he asked.

"Yeah. It's been a little over a year. How did you know?"

"I started smoking when I joined the Corps. Gave it up ten
years ago, and I still feel it sometimes."

"Great," I drawled. I reached into my purse and pulled out the
nearly-full pack of Morleys, then depressed the power window
button. Sticking my right arm out straight, I released the
cigarettes into the wind. I looked over at my partner to see him
staring at me. "Guess it's the patch for me, then," I told him
brightly.

A sign announcing the exit to Fredericksburg caught my eye.
The area we were headed to was soaked with blood: within a
fifteen-mile radius were the sites of four major battles, two of
which, Spotsylvania and The Wilderness, were among the worst
of the Civil War in terms of casualties. I'd spent Sunday night
on the Internet reading over information on the battles. Before I
started into a case involving the paranormal, I tried to get a
sense of the place, and in this instance the time in which the
events in it occurred. Last night I studied maps of troop
movements and read accounts from both sides. They rendered a
tale so like a hundred other battles throughout the war, one of
confusion, delays, heroism and thousands of terrible, terrible
deaths.

"It's too early to check in. You want to visit the victim in the
hospital first?"

I cocked an eyebrow at him. "How did you manage to finagle
us a hotel? We're only a little over an hour from Washington."

"I pulled a few strings," Doggett admitted. "I hate driving back
and forth on the Interstate. This case'll probably only be an
overnight anyway." He snuck a glance at me. "And I promised
it'd be cheap, so I got us a bed and breakfast. Hope that's OK."

"That's great. I love B&Bs." I paused, wondering how he'd
take this. "Do you mind if we see some of the battleground
before going to the hospital? I'd like to get a feel for the place
first." I didn't elaborate further, but I was pretty sure he knew
what I was talking about.

His jaw tightened for a fraction of a second, then he nodded.
"Sure. I set up a meeting with the sheriff there at two, but we
can meet him at the hospital instead. Maybe you can give him a
call. His name and number's in here," he told me, pointing to a
black notebook in the center console. I dug out my cell phone
and dialed the number. Sheriff Ritchie was quite obliging, and
we agreed to meet at the Fredericksburg hospital later on.

Half an hour later we were standing in the middle of Saunders
Field, the site of one of the first engagements of the battle. The
fighting in and around it had been so fierce that the powder and
shot being exchanged caused the brush to catch fire. Wounded
men, unable to escape, had been burned alive, their comrades
helpless to save them.

One hundred and thirty some odd years later, there weren't
many echoes left. The field was already starting to fill with
tourists, some reading the information over at the Wilderness
Exhibit Shelter, a few standing by the 140th New York
monument, one of many regimental markers in the park. I saw
one of them reach out and touch the cold stone inscription; a
connection made. For my part, I wasn't making any.

Then Doggett touched my arm, and the world exploded. For an
instant, I was overwhelmed by noise. My ears were assaulted by
a thousand deadly pops and my chest was impacted by the low
powerful thudding sound of artillery. My knees buckled and
dimly I felt his hand wrap tight around my bare upper arm and
hold on firmly, keeping me upright. The wall of sound grew
louder. I whipped my head around frantically, but I could see
nothing.

"Do you hear that?" I shouted. Through my hazing vision I saw
a couple of the tourists turn toward me. "DO YOU HEAR
THAT?" I couldn't hear my own voice above the din. Doggett
shook his head firmly, his eyes searching mine. He grabbed my
other arm to steady me, and over his shoulder I began to make
out shapes, and could feel heat licking at my legs. Finally I
realized what was happening.

"LET GO!" I yelled, twisting away from his hold violently.

Silence. A half dozen tourists were now staring at us openly,
one of them a big burly African-American man who looked like
he wanted to rip Doggett a new orifice for whatever horror he
was inflicting on me. I didn't feel like trying to explain it, so I
shot them a reassuring smile that belied my churning innards.
Slowly, they all turned away, though the man continued to keep
tabs on us now and then. I silently thanked him on behalf of
abused women everywhere.

Doggett stood at a respectful distance from me, arms hanging
loosely by his sides. "Are you OK?" he asked quietly after a
few moments.

"I will be," I breathed, fighting a wave of nausea.

"What the hell just happened?"

"I'm not sure yet," I murmured evasively. "John, did you hear
anything just now?"

"No."

"See anything?" He shook his head. In my weakened state I
couldn't keep the impatience from seeping into my voice. "Did
you sense anything at *all*?"

He shifted uncomfortably. "I thought--I smelled somethin'. But
it's gone now."

"What did you smell?"

"It wasn't any one thing. Mostly sulfur."

"What else?"

His eyes roamed over the tourists milling about at a discreet
distance. "I thought I smelled blood. And..." He trailed off,
and my last shred of patience snapped like a rotten twig.

"Dammit, John," I exhaled vehemently. His gaze locked with
mine, startled, then the sharp blue pupils darkened.

His words were staccato, like machine gun bullets. "Shit.
Human shit, allright?" Then as swiftly as the anger appeared, it
was gone. "Doesn't make any sense," he grumbled.

At first it didn't make sense to me either, but then a vaguely
remembered oral history account I had once read sprang into my
jumbled thoughts. My heart rate, which had almost slowed to
normal, started racing again. "Have you ever been around
hundreds of people whose intestines have just been ripped apart
by grapeshot and shell fire?"

He stared at me in utter shock for a good five seconds, then
started shaking his head slowly as comprehension dawned. "No
way. No way--"

"I was there, John, and so were you. Don't deny it."

"Nothing happened, so there's nothin' to deny."

"Well, something happened to me. And it started when you
touched me."

He blinked, and his eyes narrowed. "What are you tryin' to
say? That I'm some kind of friggin' spook antenna?"

"No. I'm saying that your power is stronger than you think.
You can't channel it yet, but when you're in contact with
someone who can--"

"I can't do this," he interrupted. I met his gaze defiantly, but I
knew he had already made up his mind. The confrontation I
hadn't meant to have had suddenly come and gone, and like the
soldiers groping through the dense thickets of the Wilderness, I
couldn't see my opponent well enough to score a decisive
victory. "I'm sorry, Monica. This is all a lot of mumbo-jumbo
to me. I know you believe in it, and that's fine for you, and it's
good for the X-Files, but I'm only a dumb ol' cracker cop. This
just isn't my style." His face showed a mixture of regret and
frustration, no doubt a mirror to my own. "I'll see you back at
the car. Take all the time you need."

And once again, I was left to curse him, myself and the whole
damned situation.

"Advance and retreat," I muttered to no one in particular.



End of part 2/5

After that, the day just got better and better.

Our victim, a William and Mary student by the name of Dave
Morgan, was barely coherent. The doctors had him heavily
drugged but they were taking him off the meds tomorrow, because
it looked like they were going to have to amputate his right leg
below the knee and they needed his permission. Once they wore
off, he'd still be incoherent, only it would be due to the absence of
sedatives rather than the presence of them. What exact difference
this made to his power of informed consent I wasn't sure. He'd
probably agree to have all four of his limbs whacked off if it
meant the pain would stop.

Too bad the poor so-and-so was attending college on a football
scholarship.

I approached the third floor waiting area after a quick trip to the
hospital snack bar. After an intense clairvoyant experience, I
always needed large amounts of Gatorade to restore my
equilibrium. Oddly enough, the electrolytes in those kinds of
sport drinks worked as well for psychics as they did for marathon
runners. I thought idly about offering some to Doggett, but
figured he wouldn't appreciate the gesture. He was sitting fresh as
the proverbial daisy in one of the vomit-green plastic hospital
chairs speaking quietly with Sheriff Ritchie and Morgan's buddy.
The tow-headed young man had probably saved his friend's life
by calmly stanching the gunshot wound, using his cell phone to
call an ambulance and hauling him bodily out of the forest.

As I came nearer, Doggett's whiskey voice washed over me.
"--sure you didn't see anything? A flash, a puff of smoke?"

The kid shook his head. "No sir. As I told you, I wasn't
concentrating on anything but getting Dave out of there. When I
heard him yell, I came running, and then I didn't look around after
that."

"Weren't you afraid of whoever had shot him?"

"At the time, I just figured it was a shot from a stray hunting rifle.
It never occurred to me that someone might be aiming at us." That
cinched it. I'd already placed his accent as Mississipian; now it
seemed he was a country boy to boot. What urban-dwelling
American has never expected to be a target?

Doggett sighed, then leaned back in the chair, which creaked
alarmingly. The sheriff, a gangly man in his early fifties who
reminded me of Sam Shepherd, spoke next. "Son, we know you
were in there looking for trophies. I already told you the park isn't
pressing charges. If you can remember anything--"

The young fellow shook his head sadly, and I could tell he was
being completely honest when he murmured, "I wish to God I
could, sir. But that's all I know."

"Thanks, Elliott," Doggett rumbled. "Go ahead and visit with
Dave if you want. I think I've got all I need." Thanking him, the
boy stood and headed back down the hall to ICU. I watched him
go, then walked over to Doggett and Ritchie.

"Trophies?" I asked.

Ritchie nodded. "It's killing this park and a hundred other
historical battlegrounds. Hikers leave the trails and walk all over
the entrenchments, slowly wearing down what's left of the original
topography. It's too tempting for some of the less responsible
Civil War buffs, especially when bits of uniforms, bullets, even
rifles and bone fragments come up out of the soil every year."

"Still?"

He nodded grimly. "There's a lot of debris that gets left behind
when one hundred and sixty thousand men come together and try
to kill one another."

I aimed a look at my partner. "Tell me about it." I thought I saw
him flinch slightly and was inordinately pleased.

"Look," he began, in what I now recognized as his no-more-
bullshit voice, "we know this had to have been a reenactor.
Probably huntin' out of season, playin' soldier, whatever. Didn't
mean to hit the kid, and now he's scared to come forward."

Ritchie exhaled. "It wasn't anybody local. I know all those fellas.
They have too much respect for the park and for weapons safety
to be trying anything like that."

"A tourist, then. He was out Friday night havin' his own private
battle and one of his shots went long."

Ritchie shook his head. "It's not possible for any shot to go long
in that forest. Hell, it's so dense in some places you can't see thirty
feet in front of you. And even if you could, that was a fairly
close-range shot, maybe a couple of hundred feet; it did way too
much damage to have been from any further away. Minie balls
spend themselves after about two hundred yards, two fifty tops."
He dug around in his shirt pocket and fished out an object which
he handed to me. The weight and size of it startled me; it wasn't
ball-shaped at all, but cylindrical, sloping to a wide, blunt nose
about half the diameter of the base.

I turned it over in my palm. "This is a reproduction?"

"Yeah. Got it from a guy in the Wilderness Preservation Society.
Ugly, isn't it?"

"It's much heavier than a modern round." I passed it on to
Doggett, dropping it into his hand to avoid direct physical contact
with him. Even after several hours, I still felt as though an army
of ants were performing drill maneuvers over the surface of my
skin.

"Fifty-eight caliber," Ritchie told me. "It was designed to kill and
to maim, which in that time was pretty much a death sentence
anyway. At point-blank range with seventy grains of black
powder it'll take your leg right off."

Doggett perked up at that. "There's somethin'. What if he double-
charged the rifle? That would've increased the range."

Ritchie chuckled. "Yeah, and it'd make our jobs real easy if he did.
'Cause then all we'd have to do is find a moron with a broken
collarbone."

Doggett grunted. "So what you're saying is, somebody took a
deliberate potshot at that kid."

"Seems that way."

"Maybe a reenactor who considers it his personal mission to
preserve the park?" Both men's gazes swung toward me at my
blurted statement. It was the first time Doggett had made eye
contact since our little argument, and annoyingly I felt my face
heat.

"Could be," mused Ritchie. "I think I'll go back to the barn and
search the database for anyone who's been charged with weapons
offences using repro or antique firearms. It might get us started."

My partner sprang to his feet. His energy level was really starting
to get on my nerves. The three that weren't fried, that is. "I'm
gonna go and check out the local hotels. See if any of the staff
might have seen anything."

I tried to spring to my feet, but I only made it halfway before
slowing dangerously. "Where's the tourist bureau? I think I'll do
the same with the RV parks and campgrounds."

Doggett's gaze flicked over me, then returned to Ritchie. "When
you want to regroup?"

"Tomorrow morning? About ten?"

"Okay." And with a curt nod to me, he was gone. No plans for
the two of us to meet later, nothing.

"You kids have a spat?" the sheriff enquired laconically. I whirled
around to face him, ready for battle, but there was no malice in his
expression. Usually, such questions from fellow cops were more
crudely worded and meant to belittle the work of the women they
addressed. I'd been classified as a camp follower or comfort
woman too many times to count. But Ritchie just appeared
genuinely interested, like a doting uncle.

"In a manner of speaking," I admitted drily.

"Yeah, well, it's none of my business, Agent Reyes, but your
partner is running from something. And I've usually found it's
better if cops run toward something instead of away from it. They
tend to solve more crimes that way."

I blinked at him, momentarily startled by his perception. "He's
running, all right," I finally acknowledged. "But he's running
from himself."

Ritchie nodded. "He's gonna need some of that Gatorade,
then."


***********

CONTINUED IN PART 2