|Primary Characters:||Skinner, Doggett, Margaret Scully, Monica Reyes|
|Warning:||m/m sex, f/m/m sex, bdsm|
|Description:||Doggett is beginning to realize that he’s not happy with the life choices he’s made. Monica Reyes is beginning to see what’s going on in Doggett’s life and decides to act.|
He woke up, for a second not quite sure where he was. There was a momentary sense of dislocation, then he realized why he didn’t want to remember. He was lying in Margaret Scully’s bed, right on the edge of the bed, while the owner of the bed was lying, arms possessively wrapped around her lover, A D Walter Skinner. They had most of the sheets, while Doggett was lying naked, and by now, around dawn, shivering slightly.
He looked around for his clothes. They lay scattered all across the floor from the door right up to the bed. Making sure he didn’t wake his superior and his lover, he got up and as silently as possible began to put on his clothes. Somehow, it always seemed to end up this way. After the thrill of surrendering himself to a man of authority, he inevitably ended up feeling cheated. As if this wasn’t what he’d been looking for, after all.
There was a feeling of emptiness, of not being satisfied – emotionally – physically, he usually was, but there was something missing, and he didn’t know what it was. He sneaked outside and into the street, too late recalling he’d arrived in Skinner’s car. Now he’d have to walk, or catch a cab, which at this hour might be close to impossible. He tried to look for a bus stop, but couldn’t see one anywhere in the well-to-do residential area. Margaret Scully’s late husband had done well for himself.
Doggett decided to keep walking. He knew he’d find himself closer to some sort of transportation within – twenty minutes or so, if memory served. Maybe the exercise would be good for him. The sun was coming up and he could hardly remember the last time he’d had time to admire the sky at this hour. Not that it was something that figured high on his list of priorities.
Suddenly, his cell phone began to purr in his pocket. Thinking it might be Skinner, calling him back to serve him once again, he almost didn’t pick up, but remembering who he was, he fumbled inside his jacket and managed to close his fingers around the phone, before it stopped ringing. But when he pressed the call button, there was nothing. Whoever it was had given up. He almost put the phone away, feeling relieved, but his conscience struck him and he looked at the number.
When he realized who it was, he snapped to attention. Agent Reyes – Monica – Subconsciously, he smiled. Monica was – great. It was always easy to work with her. He liked her and trusted her. There was something about her that made him feel – he could let go a little – without losing authority or – surrendering, as he liked to do with Skinner.
He forced his mind away from his partner’s personal qualities, recalling that the only reason she’d call this early would be something work-related. The thought barely had time to register until the phone began to throb and vibrate again. This time, he didn’t waste any time picking up.
“Are you ok? I tried to reach you at home, but you didn’t pick up.”
“Yes, yes. I’m fine. What’s happened?”
“An X file?”
“Officially? No. As you know, we’re on probation. Unofficially – there are some odd circumstances. Where are you? Can I pick you up?”
Pride struggled with necessity and the latter won out. He’d have to think of an explanation for his presence out here, but at the moment his mind was a blank. Or – he’d be forced to tell her he wasn’t well after all and risk causing all kinds of questions.
“Yes. If you would. I’m in -”
He told her the general area and what street he was on, but it had been a while since he last saw a street sign and didn’t know at what number she would be able to find him. The next crossing was so far away he almost couldn’t see it, for all those houses. Besides, he’d need to find a major road, to be able to get his bearings.
There was a puzzled pause, then nothing more.
“Ok. No problem. I’ll be there in – fifteen minutes. See you then.”
That was another of Monica’s virtues. She didn’t ask any awkward questions. Deep down, Doggett knew she was doing that out of consideration for him. Probably connected with his past and the reason for their having met in the first place. Even so, he appreciated her kindness. He never felt she was patronising him.
He kept walking, since he knew he’d be meeting her at some point along the street he was on. Just as she’d promised, she showed up, about twelve minutes later. She smiled and waved and opened the door for him.
He smiled his appreciation but couldn’t think of anything to say. She’d be wondering what he was doing out here. If he was out of luck, she’d make the connection with Margaret Scully. That was something he couldn’t, just couldn’t deal with right now.
When she realized he wasn’t going to say anything, Monica began to speak.
“The case – we’re looking at a number of deaths, actually, but only one certain murder. Three other deaths, one possibly from natural causes, one potential suicide and one seemingly clear accident. The odd thing is they were all found in the same building. They were neigbhors, only not on the same floors. So far, we’ve found no other connection between them. Just their address.”
He was grateful for her cool, professional behavior. It helped him switch back to being an FBI agent.
“Causes of death?”
“One unknown. No external marks on the body, no apparent explanation in the apartment. That’s a man, in his late fifties. Lived alone. Professional. The suicide looks pretty straightforward, and though I don’t believe in coincidences, it might have been. It’s a big building. Hundreds of people live there. But what are the odds of all those people dying on the same night? The ME won’t commit himself, but it seems no one could have died before ten last night. No one’s been seen or heard from alive later than one a m. Natural causes, heart attack. Elderly male, late seventies. No surprises there, yet. The accident: someone slipped in the bath. A young woman. So was the suicide. Late twenties, early thirties.”
“Did the suicide – which one of them was it anyway? – have any earlier indications she wanted to kill herself?”
“The one in the early thirties. A doctor. She worked in a hospital. Her boyfriend left her a couple of months ago, but she was dating again. I don’t know. That’s all I’ve been able to find out from her room mate who got home around midnight to find her dead in bed. She’d taken an overdose of barbiturates.”
“Right. What about the accident? Why would a seemingly healthy – I assume she was – twenty something woman slip in the bath? Of course, it’s been known to happen, but -”
“I know what you mean. She had diabetes, but it was a very mild case and she was taking good care of herself. It’s possible she had a problem related to that, but again, the M E wouldn’t say.”
“So what else is new? Anything else?”
“The man, the one withs no apparent cause of death – he had a minor connection with Bill Mulder.”
“It’s extremely tenuous, but I thought I’d mention it. They were at college together and knew each other, but not closely. From what we’ve been able to tell – as you know – there isn’t much left of the Mulder family – they haven’t had any contact at all since their graduation.”
“Ok. I don’t believe in coincidences either, but – who knows? That doesn’t seem reason enough to find it suspicious. Besides, the cause of death might be something totally mundane and we’ll find out as soon as the M E feels at liberty to speak.”
They arrived in front of an apartment building, where already, uniformed local police officers had cordoned off the immediate vicinity.
She was regarding him with a look of concern on her face. He felt a a hard knot form at the pit of his stomach. What was he supposed to tell her? She was such a kind, considerate person and he valued her professional qualities as well, but – if she asked him any awkward questions, he knew he might snap at her and he didn’t want to do that.
“Are you ok?”
That one was easy. All you had to do was say yes and the polite questions would end. He didn’t disappoint her.
“Of course. Shall we?”
She shot him a look that clearly told him she was humoring him, but he was too relieved to resent that. Besides, he knew she only had his best interests at heart. He wanted to tell her he appreciated that and her friendship, but at the moment, he couldn’t bring himself to do it.
They went upstairs to get started. The four different crime scenes and the interviews with neighbors and colleagues kept them busy until well into the afternoon. Around two, they broke off for lunch. They sat down at a deli and had a couple of sandwiches. Doggett was more of a coffee and donut man, but Monica always insisted on having a proper lunch. Rye bread. Salad. Mineral water. That sort of thing.
During their short break, she didn’t once try to ask him any awkward questions. He appreciated that, but he knew she hadn’t let the matter go. She kept studying him, gravely, as she had her sandwich and finished the mineral water.
This was it. Sooner or later he’d need to confide in her. Explain himself. Excuse himself. After his divorce, Monica was really all he had left. If he didn’t talk to her, there was no one else. Just not right now. He had to think of a way to tell her. She’d be baffled, he was betting.
His usual behavior was considered overbearing and pushy, he knew that. Somehow, it was as if he had to take control of every situation, because when he’d been the victim of a crime, or rather a loved one had been, he hadn’t had any control.
That was why he’d felt it necessary to overprotect Dana Scully and potentially hurt Leyla Harrison’s feelings. Because he felt he needed to protect them. To make sure no one else got hurt. When Dana was gone, he realized how utterly foolish he’d been. She was eminently capable of dealing with any type of situation she ran across, professionally or privately. And Leyla Harrison – well, she’d been young and inexperienced, but at least she’d saved the day. If he’d given her time to grow, to spread her wings, who knew if she might not have been able to become a good field agent in the end? But he hadn’t given her any chance.
All that would jar with the image Monica must have of him. He knew that, for some reason, he never tried to overprotect her. In fact, if he allowed himself to consider it, he also knew exactly why, but usually, he never let his thoughts go there.
If she found out about his – weakness – she’d change her opinion of him. She’d lose her respect for him. The loss of dignity would be hard to bear, but what if she found his behavior unworthy? Ridiculous? Disgusting? At times, he felt he was all of those things. But when he was near Skinner, all those doubts vanished and he just couldn’t help himself.
He sighed, and immediately regretted not keeping himself in better check. The last thing he needed at this point was to draw attention to himself and his personal life. His problems.
She again shot him a glance that told him she knew what he was doing, but that she understood. Except how could she? This was something he’d never be able to explain.
“You know it’s not going to get better on its own. Sooner or later -”
“John. Don’t do that. I’m not an idiot. You’re obviously going through a hard time, for some reason I haven’t discovered yet, but when I do, I hope you realize that nothing is quite so bad, you can’t talk about it. This is me. Not some Bureau shrink out to put you on desk duty. How about giving yourself a break?”
“Monica. Please. Ok. I give up. There’s something, but I can’t talk about it. It won’t affect my work performance. Just let me – try and work this out on my own.”
“Your work performance isn’t what’s worrying me at the moment. It’s you. I hate to see you like this. Do you really think it’s going to change the way I feel about you?”
He started. It was as if she’d been able to read his mind. Damn. He had to get better at masking his emotions.
“I just – I don’t know how to explain it to myself, so how could I explain it to you?”
“Maybe I could explain it. Give me some credit.”
“I know you’re brilliant. I have every faith in your work. It’s just that this is – personal. I don’t mean it’s none of your business. It’s just so – hard to -”
She placed her hand on top of his and left it there. It felt reassuring. Comforting even. But it only made things worse. All her affection made him feel even more unworthy.
“It’s ok. Take your time. Just don’t feel that – whatever it is – is so terrible I won’t be able to deal with it.”
No. Maybe not. She really seemed prepared to accept just about anything. For a second, he began to waver. What if she could tell him why he was behaving in such a – He closed his eyes and for a moment tried to imagine how it would feel if she could help. If she could make him a better man. Or at least explain why he was doing what he was, and reacting the way he was. But no. It was impossible.
His eyes gazed at her filled with such anguish, her heart went out to him. She was going to get to the bottom of this and she’d fix it. Somehow. Whatever it was. And if someone was doing this to him, she’d make sure whoever it was paid for it.
“It’s ok. I can wait. Are you finished?”
“Yes. Let’s go.”
Over the next couple of weeks, Monica tried to keep an eye on Doggett. She made a point of calling him at home and asking him out or over to her place for dinner. Usually, he accepted, but there were times when he just wasn’t answering his phone. On one such occasion, she went to his place and rang the doorbell. There were no sounds coming from inside and his car was gone, so she was pretty sure he wasn’t at home. At that hour of the night. Something was going on.
She even considered doing a stakeout to see where he went or who he was seeing, but the thought of violating his trust held her back. They had to be able to count on each other and no matter how much her actions would be motivated by loyalty, they’d still equal betrayal.
Then, when the body of the man who had once gone to college with William Mulder disappeared from the morgue, before it was due to be released to his next of kin, she had to call not only Doggett, but Skinner too. The man’s brother-in-law was someone up on the Hill. A member of the President’s administration. Skinner would have to make the decision of whether or not to inform Kersh. Reyes couldn’t go over his head and see his superior.
When Skinner and Doggett arrived together, looking tense somehow, awkward, something just clicked inside Monica’s mind. Suddenly, her vague suspicions coalesced into something more solid. Was it possible that Doggett was sleeping with his boss, A D Skinner? That didn’t seem possible. Monica had heard on the Bureau grapevine that Skinner was seeing Margaret Scully, Dana Scully’s mother. This just didn’t add up. Unless – Either Skinner was betraying his lover with another man, or –
Monica felt a searing anger towards the people who were making John look almost as dejected as when he’d lost his son. She didn’t stop to analyze her own feelings. If she had, she would have realized that she had a personal stake too, not just a professional duty to her partner and a man she’d helped through one of the worst experiences a human being can go through. That of finding out that his child was missing and would never return home.
They dealt with the emergency and she saw Skinner vanish into Kersh’s office, then returned downstairs to her own temporary offices. Doggett still wouldn’t talk to her or meet her gaze. This couldn’t go on. His earlier reaction to her probing hadn’t been encouraging, so Monica decided to dare to confront Skinner himself. So what if he felt he had to fire her? She could always go back to doing what she had before the FBI had recruited her. Seeing John suffer like this, made her want to do anything it took to make him feel better again.
She encouraged Doggett to return home and get some rest. He really looked as if he could use it. His eyes were red-rimmed and he walked unsteadily as if he was exhausted or in pain. She couldn’t smell any alcohol on his breath and she absolutely refused to believe his behavior was caused by drug use. Besides, all Bureau employees were required to be tested regularly, so if it had been something like that, it would have been discovered by now.
He didn’t argue with her, something which helped her decide. Normally, he’d refuse to leave before she did. Now he merely nodded as if he didn’t have the strength to deny it.
Monica went up to Skinner’s office and knocked on the door. If he hadn’t returned from Kersh’s office, she’d just wait. The secretary hadn’t arrived yet and it was still only about half past six in the morning. But Skinner’s voice reached her through the closed door and he told her to come in.
She walked up to his desk, a fierce look in her eyes, but underneath all that, there was a touch of steel.
“Sir. May I speak to you about a personal matter?”
“Go ahead, Agent Reyes. Is anything wrong?”
She knew he meant was anything wrong with her, but she ignored that.
“Are you sleeping with John?”
Skinner blinked in confusion, taken aback at the vehemence of her tone. He certainly hadn’t expected such a blunt question from Reyes. She was normally a very smooth, polite person. Someone easy to work with.
“What makes you ask me that, Agent Reyes?”
He could have hidden behind his rank, but he knew that since his secret was up, it was no use pretending. Now all depended on Reyes’ intentions. Everything – his rank, his position, his work.
“John isn’t himself. He’s – I’ve never seen him this distressed since – his son disappeared.”
“I see. Has he told you that we – he and I – are -”
“Are you or are you not sleeping with John?”
“Frankly, I think you should ask John that question.”
“I’m asking you.”
“Bureau regulations aside, isn’t that our own business?”
“I see. So you are. I thought you were seeing Margaret Scully.”
“I see, nothing is private here. Yes. To answer your question, Margaret Scully and I are – friends. I frequently go and see her at home. Occasionally at my place and – at times we go out together. I don’t need to answer to you, but since you asked. Yes.”
“That wasn’t my question. What I’d like to know is what you’re doing to John and if Margaret Scully is involved.”
“That’s none of your business, Agent Reyes. You’re out of line.”
“Don’t use that tone with me, sir. I’m not intimidated by that sort of behavior. Fine. You won’t answer my question, but I know you’re doing something to make John feel this way. I’ll tell you another thing. I’m not going to stand for it. Since I couldn’t help him bring his son home, I’ve made it my business to keep him safe from other painful situations. You won’t get away with this. One way or another I’m going to protect him. So you might as well let him go. It’s not right.”
Skinner felt his shirt sticking to his back, but he was cold, not hot. When Reyes had confronted him, he’d risen from his chair behind the desk. Now he sank down onto it, suddenly feeling weak. This woman held his career in the palm of her hand, but that wasn’t what was bothering him. She was one of his agents and she’d laid bare one of his most shameful secrets. He didn’t relish the sensation.
“Reyes. I -”
“Monica. This – it’s something I’ve never been able to fully accept and embrace. I’ve been living with it since – my college days, but – You’re right. It’s unforgivable of me. I – won’t – John is free to – I mean – he came to me. I didn’t – force him. it was a mutual thing.”
“I see. And you’re still prepared to let him go?”
“I – we – I – Margaret -”
Though Skinner hadn’t been able to even complete the sentence, Monica thought she knew just fine what he was trying to say. He loved Margaret Scully, but he’d merely been using John for his sexual gratification. She ought to be outraged, but suddenly, she was filled with pity towards this man, who clearly had so many inhibitions and issues to sort out.
Maybe he was right. There might have been something in John that had craved the approval and affection of an authority figure – or – his odd way of walking somehow suggested the idea to Monica – punishment for some error or defect he felt himself guilty of.
“I see. Well, as long as you promise to leave John alone, I won’t mention this again. You don’t owe me any explanations. Just be aware that – John’s well-being is my responsibility. Anyone who causes him pain will have to answer to me.”
Skinner looked up and suddenly found that he could collect himself enough to produce a reply. It was obvious, once you became aware of it. Monica Reyes was in love with Doggett. Her fierce protectiveness of him proved that.
To his surprise, it made him feel relieved. Since he hadn’t allowed himself to analyze what he was doing, he hadn’t felt guilty, but Monica’s claim that John was miserable had caused him to reconsider. It had been cruel to take advantage of Doggett’s weakness. He would leave him in Monica’s hands, to do with as she pleased. She obviously only had the best of intentions towards him.
“Thank you, Monica. I appreciate your understanding. Would you -”
“Walter. I think this calls for a first name basis, don’t you?”
“Walter. You were saying -”
“Would you – apologize to John for me?”
“I’ll – yes, I’ll tell him.”
“If you won’t be needing me anymore, I’ll just -”
“Oh, of course. Go on.”
She nodded amiably and left.
Skinner remained sitting at his desk, deep in thought. He’d need to tell Margaret that not only was Doggett out of reach but someone had guessed their secret, even if he’d managed to avoid confirming Monica’s unspoken but obvious suspicions. Still, something told him that Margaret would be more pleased than anything else, that from now on, there would be just the two of them again. He had a feeling she liked to keep her men to herself. The thought of that excited him and it helped him get over the embarrassment of what had just occurred.
She went straight over to John’s apartment. He opened the door and let her in, looking wretched, but also resigned to his fate.
“Yes. I’ll tell you what it is. I can’t go on like this.”
They sat down on the couch, Doggett gingerly, as if he was favoring an injured limb or – as Monica had suspected earlier – in pain.
“It’s ok. I’ve guessed most of it. Tonight, I – confronted Skinner. He confirmed my suspicions.”
Doggett cast her an agonized glance, then appeared to slump down. His face looked stricken and his shoulders drooped.
“Hey. Take it easy. I told you it wouldn’t change how I feel about you. Can you tell me – why? What it is you – what about it that appealed to you?”
He took a deep breath, as if bracing himself, but though he looked as if he was casting about in his mind for an explanation, no words came out.
“Take it easy. It’s ok. This isn’t an interrogation. If you can’t tell me, I’ll accept that. I just don’t want you to feel bad about it. This is you. It is. Nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Yes, it is. I – humiliate myself. I enjoy being – I let them -”
“John, is this some kind of dominance thing? S/M?”
He looked horrified, then appeared to give up the pretense and nodded weakly.
“I guess you could call it that. I’m not gay. It’s just that – when I meet someone like Walter – there’s something about his authority that I’m drawn to. And when – at times – I can’t explain it, but sometimes I just like being punished. Physically. You might as well know the whole thing.”
“They? You said ‘they’. Does that mean Margaret Scully’s involved?”
“I shouldn’t be speaking about her, but yes. They’re lovers. I’m just – I guess – the hors d’ouevre – or dessert or something – to their main course.”
“The point isn’t that – we’re both men – but that – I – his authority -”
“You don’t have to make excuses. Being bisexual -”
“I don’t feel bisexual. If anything – I’ve never been able to put this into words – but – I think I’m – ok, I’ll say it – submissive – not gay.”
“Either way, it’s fine. I just hated to see you so – miserable.”
“I was – ashamed of myself. When you began to guess there was something going on, I just couldn’t – I could bear it you thought -”
“What? That you’re human?”
“Monica. I guess another thing I haven’t wanted to face is the fact that I – love you. Well, now you know.”
She suddenly found it hard to think of anything to say. Until now, all she’d been willing to admit to herself was that she was going to protect John from anything or anyone that could cause him pain.
Any other reasons she might have had for her concern for him, she’d kept at the back of her mind, feeling that she had a responsibility to him, but no right to feel a personal attachment.
Now she could no longer put off the knowledge that while in the past their roles had been different, now they were equals. Two agents working together. If she felt something personal for John, she had a right to.
She looked up and met his eyes, sensing a suppressed need for reassurance, or possibly for something more. At that point, she decided to stop analyzing and just allow herself to be a human being, a woman.
“John, I – first I want you to know that – I’d never judge you.”
He smiled, but was still fixing her with his pleading stare, that she found hard to resist. Without thinking, she reached out and placed the palm of her hand against his cheek.
“I – don’t know when I started to feel this way about you, but – for a long time now, I’ve been – holding it back, thinking that – you weren’t ready or that – you needed me more as a friend and – but – now that you’ve finally told me how you feel, I can’t deny it any longer. I love you too.”
“I know you’ve been absolutely fantastic. Always looking out for me and that – even more than – Skinner’s authority or Margaret’s firmness – it’s meant everything to me. It’s all that’s stood between me and – insanity. You saved me, when my son – Without you, I wouldn’t be here today. I just can’t believe you’d still feel the same way about me, now that you know what a despicable, pathetic wreck I am. I’ve – done things – things you wouldn’t – and I enjoyed it. I – derived pleasure from -”
“Sh. It’s ok. You don’t owe me any explanations. If you need to tell me, that’s fine, but you don’t have to.”
“I just don’t want you to think -”
“I don’t know. That I’m worthy of your love. That this – what I’ve done – is all there is to me. I don’t know.”
“I know. It’s ok. Whatever you and Walter and Margaret did, it’s fine. As long as you don’t still miss them -”
For the first time, his smile seemed genuine and to contain some cheer.
“No. I think, I’m done with all that. That was before I knew – how you felt about me.”
She pulled him into her arms and held him. Feeling him respond, she couldn’t help smiling contentedly. This was what she’d wanted for such a long time. She just hadn’t wanted to face it. But it seemed John’s ex had known about it before she did, before he did too. What she’d said, which didn’t seem to make sense at the time, must have meant she knew.
At least John was free now, of his old marriage, of his entanglement with Walter and Margaret, even if she didn’t dare to hope that he’d ever be free of the pain of losing his little boy. There were some things she couldn’t fix for him. She would just have to learn to live with that. In the meantime, after tonight, at least they’d have each other.
It was amazing how good that made her feel. Even the vague hints of an uncertain future to come, judging by what she’d learned from the X files, couldn’t deflate her elation. John was here with her and that was all she needed right now.