Welcome To The Harem
Absence Of Sun by Megan Reilly
Summary: Jeffrey and Marita pass the time. Post-One Son.
From: Megan email@example.com
Date: 28 Feb 1999 00:53:42 GMT
Subject: NEW: Absence of Sun 1/1
Disclaimer: not mine
Set after Two Fathers/One Son.
Absence of Sun
by Megan Reilly
February 26, 1999
The shadow stretches long across the ground.
I haven't had sex in so long I can't remember what it's like.
Rita knows exactly what I'm thinking when I turn and look at her.
"Yahtzee," she says, and not for the first time. I hadn't heard her. I
glance at the dice on the dusty wood floor of the cabin before she
scoops them back into the blue plastic cup and makes a note on the
little notepad. She's beating me, as usual. She's cutthroat.
She hates it when I call her Rita. But she hates it more when I call
her "Mary Margarita Covarrubias," rolling my r's as I do it. I think
that's part of what makes the flamboyant declaration of her name so
amusing to me.
She shoots me a dark look with those damaged irises of hers and I yearn
to slide my palm down over her eyes and make her close them until
they've healed. But they never will. We all have scars now and as I
understand it, the war hasn't even begun. I shift and don't make a
sound as I wince against the twinge between my ribs.
Rita starts to clean up the game. There's too much time for games,
hiding here, and not enough mirth or life to keep them going. It's
going to be dark in another hour or so. I should go and check on the
firewood before the sunlight goes. But as Rita places the lid on the
box, I don't move. She looks at me again.
"It wasn't easy growing up in the Puerto Rican slums of New York City
to become what you see today," she informs me, raking a hand through her
blond hair. It's gotten to be a darker shade of blond, more natural,
since we've been here. It's a beautiful shade that looks like honey.
No roots. "My grandmother was Rita. I was named for her. She had her
first child at fourteen. We were so poor."
I nod and wonder if anyone else knows this about her. "But you did
it," I murmur encouragingly.
She nods bitterly. "I spent half of college on my back." She moves my
hand from her shoulder. She doesn't want me touching her. I was only
trying to be friendly. Honestly. But she doesn't believe it.
"And the other half?"
"I had two educations to get. There was no Henry Higgins," she
pronounces precisely. Her accent never surfaces, not when she's angry
or sick or dreaming. "I have an MBA," she says and breaks into twisted
"How did you end up involved in all this?" I've been watching her
carefully this entire time, while her eyes dart from the floor to her
hands to the snow drifts outside the window, looking anywhere but at me.
"I wasn't going to go home. I didn't want to manage a Tylenol factory
in Indiana," she informs me. "It took a lot of ambition to get where I
was, Jeff, don't you understand that? With my background..."
"They approached you," I finish for her.
She nods. "I speak five languages fluently and know three more
casually. Why would I be interested in you?"
"Because I'm safe. Because I'm here," I answer. I don't really want to
sleep with her. She's beautiful, but damaged. If she weren't, she'd be
incredibly intimidating. Now she reminds me of my mother. And after
recent events, I've finally been cured of my Oedipal complex. I don't
want to find another woman exactly like her. I want a woman that's
nothing like her.
"Tell me something about yourself that I don't know," she prompts, as
though she's changing her mind. There's a fairy tale in here somewhere,
the prince wooing the haughty princess. But I'm not a prince and I'm
not really wooing. In all honesty with myself, I'm probably the frog.
I don't say anything. "I worked with them, Jeff. I know more about you
than you do."
"Then tell me." There's so many pieces to the puzzle that I don't
have, that I'm not sure I want to have. My mother and my father...and
some unbelievable alien project. I don't want it to be true. The
stories she told me when I was a child and even as I turned from her as
an adult...I don't want them to be true.
"I could have been Diana Fowley," she says with a bitter smile. "And
you could have been Fox Mulder."
"I never could have been Fox Mulder." My face is getting hot as I look
away from her for the first time, looking at the floorboards. He hit
me. The man I wondered about for twenty years hit me and told me he
wished another man had been his son. I would never be good enough.
It's strange. I have nightmares about a man melting into a green
puddle in front of me more often than I dream of being shot by my
father. His face was so blank, so cold. As though he didn't feel
anything as he pulled the trigger and left me there to bleed to death.
Gutshot is not a pleasant thing. I think I learned a lot about myself
that day as I felt the life spilling out of me and believed I was going
Rita leaves the game box on the floor and walks to the window. She
shivers as she stands in front of it. She doesn't know or care that the
weak light streaming through illuminates her thin body through the
white gown she's wearing. I was never a Victoria's Secret sort of guy
until they introduced their cotton line. "I wish Alex would get here."
She folds her arms and continues to stare into the snow until her
shoulders relax. It has a hypnotic quality to it, the acres of white as
far as the eye can see. We're low on supplies and it's two weeks past
when Alex said he'd get back for the next delivery. Next week we're
going to be living on cans of peaches. But that isn't why she longs for
"You and Alex had a thing," I say.
She nods. "I was using him." Her voice is hollow. "He was using me."
"You've changed since then."
"The black oil didn't want to go quietly," she says. That's why her
eyes are damaged now, from forcing the alien substance from her body.
"What was it like?"
"Symbiosis," she says. I wish I could see her face. I can only watch
her shoulders and her back and her thighs through the gown. "I imagine
it's what it's like being pregnant. But I guess I'll never know." Her
shoulders sag and she wraps her arms closer around her body. It's cold
there, by the window. The air seeps in around the glass. "I had a
miscarriage in college. Before I even knew, it was gone. Saved me the
trouble, but now I wonder sometimes..."
Rita, like the other abductees, can't have children. The men in the
project, the men she was helping, robbed her of that right. I can't
stretch my imagination far enough to know what that's like. I could
barely imagine the reality of the project. It took me a long time to
"I wish Alex would get here," she says again, with no impatience. I
stand next to her and she turns her head. There are no tears in her
eyes, and very little sadness. She doesn't let herself feel much
anymore. When she did, it nearly made her insane. There's no room in
this cabin for insanity. Her eyes flick over me. "Jealous?"
I shake my head. "I kind of have my eye on Agent Scully," I say,
joking. Almost. Lately when I think of her, I can barely breathe. In
the absence of reality, fantasy always takes over, even if it's
"She'd be good for you," Rita says, as though she has no idea that
Scully's in love with Mulder. Of course, Mulder has no idea either. He
didn't see her when he disappeared in Bermuda. So full of fire and
life. Scully amazes me. She's stronger than the rest of us put
"It's getting dark," I say and pick up the heavy flannel shirt to go
outside. It's work to bring in the firewood and chop more, and it makes
me warm quickly. I'm getting my strength back, but it's hard work.
Swinging an axe is harder than running the paths at Quantico. Rita
doesn't say anything and I let the door bang shut behind me.
The sun's almost gone. Soon the wolves will be howling. They must be
starving in this deep winter. I yearn to feel the heat of the sun on my
skin. When this is over, I'm going to the tropics. I might not come
I scream and grunt, adding power to the thrusts of the axe through the
splintering wood. If Rita and Alex are to be believed, I won't have the
chance for my tropical vacation. They say an invasion is coming soon.
Very, very soon. I push myself harder. I need to be strong when they
come. If they come. Aliens aren't going to take this planet without a
fight from me. They're going to pay for what they've put me through,
and no one else is going to suffer like me or Rita or Alex or my mother
And we need the heat of the burning logs to get us through the night in
the absence of the sun.
Please, please send comments.
"the faceless men are the rebel aliens. the black oil is their life
force... so why don't they have faces again? to protect themselves from
being infected by themselves?" - Jessica Zyvarek Taylor on "One Son"