Welcome To The Harem

Denial by Winter Baby
Summary: Denial is just a word. Doggett/Reyes UST.

Title: Denial
Author: Winter Baby [ winter_baby@mad.scientist.com ]
Rating: PG-13
Category: SRA
Archive: Anywhere, but e-mail me.
Spoilers: none
Keywords: Doggett/Reyes UST
Summary: Denial is just a word.

Author's note: I wrote this before Release and before they ever gave
Doggett's wife a name, so I gave her my own name.
Website: www.geocities.com/winter_baby84
Feedback: Send anything to winter_baby@mad.scientist.com
Timeline: Right after Doggett finds his dead son.
Disclaimer: None of them are even close to mine.

+ Denial +

[ chapter one: a return to night ]

The house is dark, moonlight barely seeping in through the curtains but
I know that she's not asleep.

She hasn't slept in days.

I climb the stairs silently, not sure who exactly I would disturb, but
at this early hour and in this darkness I feel as if the tiniest noise
will wake the dead. I slowly push the bedroom door open and take
hesitant steps into the dark.

She's sitting at her dresser, staring so intently at the old coffee
stain on our carpet.

John, she says without looking up. It's just a word, a name - *my* name
- but it sounds foreign coming from her annd there's no meaning in it
anymore. I try not to sigh.

Lea, I answer, not to be cute or funny - this is hardly the time - but
because I don't know how else to respond. I look at her frail body
wrapped in her old pink bathrobe and wonder when was the last time she
left this room.

It's late, she tells me. As if I didn't already know. She catches my
gaze in the mirror and I can't help but stare at her pale reflection, a
ghost of the woman I should have loved.

I'm sorry, I reply. My apology is hardly sincere but I know it doesn't
matter how I answer her; she doesn't hear me anyway. The only thing she
hears anymore is Luke crying out for her in her dreams.

Sometimes I hear her crying out for me, for help, for rescue, for what?
I pretend not to hear. I turn my back to her because if I can't hear
her pleas then nothing is wrong.

Denial is just a word, a name - *my* name - but this one has meaning
and it's hardly foreign.

She says nothing more to me so I move towards the closet, undoing my
tie as I walk. The antiseptic smell of the morgue still clings to my
suit and I want to climb out of it as fast as I can. Lea follows my
movements with her eyes, watching me as if she were looking for

When I reach to turn on the lamp, I hear her gasp and then whimper. I
leave the darkness alone and blindly change into my sweatpants and old
NYPD T-shirt. Lea never takes her eyes off me. Her face is gaunt and so
pale that she almost glows in this darkness. Her short blonde hair
looks dirty and stringy, and her pale blue eyes are empty as she
watches me.

What did he look like? she asks me suddenly, quietly. I'm caught off
guard, unable to find the right words to answer her.

I can't tell her that her only son looked scarred and mutilated, that
he looked so much smaller than when he was still alive. I can't tell
her that his arm was broken in three places and that I ran from the
exam room when the doctors reached for the rape test kit.

But it doesn't matter that I don't say these things because she sees me
pause. Everything I couldn't tell her she knows anyway from my silence.

She's not breathing and I can see her wet eyes glittering in the dark.

In my head I say, Don't cry. For Christ's sake, please don't cry.


I try to comfort her but she cuts me off by turning away.

I sigh. I don't know how to deal with all of this anymore - Lea, her
tears, the medical examiners that gush out their sympathies but what
good does that do me? My son's still dead, lying so still and so cold
on that metal slab.

I close my eyes, slowly breathing in and out like Monica taught me. It
helps, she promised, to relieve the stress. But I use it not to relax,
only to escape reality.

Because if this works in yoga then this will work for me. Because if
reality is just a state of mind all I have to do is find another one.
Lea and her pale face surrounded by darkness fade away into a deep
nothingness where I don't have to think or even grieve anymore. All
that exists is my breathing. In. Out.

Hear Monica's voice say, Imagine a straight blue light of energy coming
from the sky, reaching your head. It goes down your spine, travels out
your feet, and finally into the ground. This blue light is the positive
energy of everything living around you, of nature, of yourself.

Hear my own voice say, Imagine this because this is another reality.
Because it's fake and makes no sense but at least you're not thinking
about anything else. But most of all, just keep breathing.

Denial is just a word.

In. Out.

A name.

In. Out.

*My* name.

Yoga, I think, what a load of bullshit.

I open my eyes and Lea is the first thing I see. The suddenness of
everything around me hits me hard, like a slap in the face. I realize I
never left this reality; instead she's glaring right at me, the tears
staining her white cheeks.

Are you done *dealing*? she asks bitterly.

I don't want to fight, Lea.

My voice is hollow, defeated. I've already lost.

Well I do, she says tensely.

What are you talking about? I ask. I almost want to scream at her but I
am beyond capable, beyond tired.

I know where you've been all these nights, she accuses. I can *smell*
her on your clothes.

How could she possibly, over the stench of the morgue? I move towards


Don't, she says tersely. Her voice is on the verge of breaking and her
thin, fragile body is trembling. Don't you dare say my name. I want you
to leave. I want you to take all your shit and go back to that slut
because I don't want you in my house.

I can't move, her voice is that threatening. She screams Get out! and I
grab my jacket as I leave the room, throwing it on over my sweats.

But no matter how fast I run, I can still hear her sobs echoing down
the hallway.

[ chapter two: a truth unbound ]

Monica opens the door dressed in a white bathrobe. She looks tired.

Did I wake you? I ask, even though I know I didn't. She doesn't sleep

You're back, Monica says, only a little bit surprised. She lets me into
her apartment, staring at my T-shirt and sweats and bare feet in

What the hell happened? she asks with a yawn. I collapse onto her
couch; it still has its new furniture smell. Everything does in her
apartment obviously; she's only lived here for about a week now, ever
since she moved here and started working on this missing person case.
*My* missing person case.

At least she's not pouring out sympathy like everyone else I know. At
least she's real.

Lea kicked me out, I answer matter-of-factly, not really sure how to
act in this situation. Am I the victim, or is she?

Monica doesn't say anything as she moves to the kitchen. I hear her put
a kettle on the stove; she doesn't even ask if I want any tea but
Monica always presumes things like that, and most of the time she's
right. She shuffles back into the living room, holding a pack of
cigarettes in her hand. She knows by now not to offer me any and
doesn't, lighting up a lone cigarette and throwing the pack onto the
coffee table. She sits on the arm of the sofa, hovering above me.

Monica looks at me expectantly, gestures with her cigarette for me to

Lea thinks, I sigh as I speak, that we're having an affair.

Monica hardly seems surprised. Her smoke gets in my eyes, stinging and
rancid but I want the pain, something physical and less cerebral to
hold onto.

Are we having an affair? she asks frankly. I stare at her for a moment,
as if she's out of her mind.

I've never *touched* you, Monica.

My voice is defensive, maybe a little too much.

I know, she says as she takes a drag, but where was this leading

Smoke floats out as she talks, a cloud surrounding her face and maybe
it's a good thing that I can't see her expression too clearly. If she's
kidding, then ha, joke's on me; but more likely she's not and I don't
know if I can deal with that.

I stare at the coke stain on my old sweats, trying to remember the last
time I washed them. Monica stubs out her cigarette in the plastic
ashtray on the table and her voice is more blunt than I'd like it to

John, I know you don't want to admit this, but ask yourself why you
came here, of all the places. Your wife kicks you out for having an
affair with me and this is where you come back to?

Her logic is too accurate, too concise. I try to shrug my shoulders, to
show that what she's saying is having little effect on me, but I'm
frozen stiff. She places her warm hand on my shoulder, leaning in
closer to make sure that I hear what she says. Her breath is hot
against the side of my head, her soap smell filling my nose.

I'm not saying that what we have is love, she tells me with a small
smile. We're both too stubborn for that, I know.

I just shake my head, not refuting anything she's saying but trying to
shut her up. I'm not hearing this. Not this, not now.

But denial doesn't work with her like it does with Lea. I still hear
Monica's voice, telling me things I can't accept as truth because then
I would have to admit that I'm not as innocent of Lea's accusations as
I'd like to be.

Monica sighs as she pulls back from me. She says, It's probably not the
smartest thing for me to get involved with a co-worker, a married co-
worker while we're at it. And god knows you're going through more than
you can handle.

She pauses as if she's waiting for me to agree or something, but I
don't have anything to say. She continues.

John, all this emotional baggage that comes along with sleeping with
you - your wife, your dead son, your guilt - I know it all. And as
messed up as it is, I accept it all.

When she pauses again, it's not to wait for my answer but to turn away
from me and look out the window, into the black night. She sighs,
almost reluctant to go on but Monica has never been afraid to speak her

Without looking at me, she says quietly, Later, when this is all over
and you've gone back to Lea because I know you will, you'll blame this
on Luke, as much as you won't want to. You'll rationalize that whatever
you felt for me - sympathy, lust, compassion - was really because you
were so upset at what happened and you just couldn't deal with it any
other way.

I shake my head again but she ignores me. She turns back to me and
stares me dead straight in the eyes. Her voice is firm, not in a
commanding way but in a way that allows for no arguments.

She says, I'll know the truth, even if you'll be in denial. What we
have, this isn't just about grief or sex. It's something more.

I wonder what the hell she's talking about. But Monica, being Monica,
makes perfect sense to herself and most likely all this will make
perfect sense to me later, when everything is done and over with.

She's talking about an affair, although she'll never call it that, I
know. She's too spiritual to label relationships, especially negative
ones. She believes in too much to realize that this may ruin my whole
life, my whole marriage.

I'm embarrassed for her, for her truthfulness. How can she just openly
suggest something like this? Take the responsibility of being the one
who sets off what could only be called an affair, even if she won't
acknowledge it? I blame it on her youth, on how little she really knows
about relationships and people and marriages. But I know that's wrong.
Monica's too smart for that; she's not some ing?nue or silly romantic.
She's pragmatic, if not a little strange.

Monica answers my unspoken questions. She tells me, Life's too short to
dance around a subject, John. I want what I want, and I make no
apologies for them.

That's a convenient philosophy, I mutter almost resentfully. She slides
her hand off my shoulder, and I turn to look at her. She seems
frustrated with me.

You can sleep on the couch tonight, she says, abruptly changing the
subject. Monica moves off the couch to get blankets from the closet.

And tomorrow night? I ask, and she turns to face me at the doorway.

We'll see, she sighs, and then the teakettle starts to whistle. She
disappears into the kitchen.

When she comes back into the living room, we drink in silence. Monica
refuses to look at me, and I don't have anything to say to her, at
least nothing that will better this situation. I think I should leave,
that maybe I've outstayed, or worse, ruined my welcome here. But Monica
is not the subtle type. If she wanted me gone, I would already be out
on my ass.

The mugs are left half-full on the coffee table when Monica throws me a
pillow and blanket from the closet; they smell like her, or like her
detergent. Either way, they smell good.

Things won't be okay for a long while, Monica says to me as she turns
off the lights.

I ask her, What the hell is that supposed to mean?

She is just a silhouette in this darkness, a blurred image. Monica
shrugs and says cryptically, Just that this isn't over.

What isn't over? I demand. She doesn't answer and retreats into her own

I sigh out of frustration. She can be so damn weird sometimes. Maybe I
resent her for leaving me alone in this darkness. Weren't we supposed
to be having an affair of some kind?

Blackness fills the room, and this night is almost surreal, almost a

I shut my eyes, and how I hope that when I open them again I'll be home
with Lea and Luke. How I hope that these past few days have been
nothing but a really long, really bad nightmare.

But of course when I do open them I'm still in Monica's apartment,
lying on her new couch. I try to forget about her and her words, but
when I do, I begin to think about Lea, or worse, Luke.

I try, but not even denial can change this existence.

So instead I take the easy way out. I let this darkness cover me slowly
and drift into a sleep where I don't dream, where reality doesn't exist.
I still have some escapes.

I know now that denial isn't a word or even a state of mind.

It's only a name.

[ end ]