Title: Comfort And Joy
Author: Meg Brown, aka Andromeda Valentine
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Feedback: Yes, please!!
Date in Calendar: 29 December 2005
Fandom: The X-Files
Pairing: Monica Reyes/Dana Scully
Status: New; complete (12/27/05)
Word Count: 4350, excluding header info
Summary: Scully and Reyes draw closer as Monica tries to chase away Dana's holiday blues...
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW05
Archive: The FSAC DW05 site only until 1/6/06. After that, feel free to ask.
Other Websites: Crimson Redd - http://www.angelfire.com/goth/crimsonredd
Disclaimer: Not mine, unfortunately - still Chris Carter's And Fox's... I'm only borrowing 'em for my own nefarious purposes.
Note: Written for the FSAC DW05. My first real X-Files fic - I'm so proud...
Chapter titles and quotes are drawn from various Christmas songs and chosen to fit each chapter. Also, this is a little AU, as I've altered the Season 9 timeline a bit, and pretty much ignored the events of 'William'...
I - Cast Off All Doubtful Care (December 16, 2005)
Cast off all doubtful care, exile and banish tears;
To joyful news divine lend us your listening ears...
"Hey, John," Special Agent Monica Reyes poked her head into the break room after catching sight of her partner John Doggett there, "I'm making those Christmas tamales this weekend. You never did tell me if you wanted chicken, pork, or beef."
Doggett just smiled at her. "Beef, the same as every year, Mon. But I won't be back 'til after New Years, so you'll just have to hang onto them for me."
"If you were anyone else, John, Iíd be insulted - lucky for you, they'll keep until you get back." Monica quipped, before John's words sank completely in. "Wait - Barbara asked you to go away somewhere for Christmas, didnít she?!"
John nodded, and Monica rushed to give him a hug - she was glad to see that his hopes of a reconciliation with his ex-wife were on solid ground. She'd been there with them both as the marriage fell apart after their son's murder in 1992, and it had hurt her deeply to watch it happen.
That, and the fact that she'd been the lead investigator on the case yet gotten nowhere with it, had a lot to do with why the feelings Monica had developed for John in the years since had never really crystallized. Now, though, little Luke's murderer had been caught and killed after years of waiting, and she'd found she was actually thrilled to see John and Barbara begin to finally rebuild their lives.
"You all right, Mon?" John asked her, mistaking her brief reverie for some sort of upset.
Monica nodded, smiling. "Just thinking how happy I am that you and Barbara are starting to work things out. I really hated seeing you two fall apart like you did."
If it had been anyone else, Doggett would never have believed them - he was all too aware of how awkward and painful the unspoken attraction he and Monica felt for each other could make things. It was pure Monica that she could stand there and be nothing but happy for him and Barbara despite everything, and was definitely one of the things he admired most about her.
Besides, he reminded himself with a slight smile, Monica's heart had apparently been claimed by someone else these days...
"You're going to be here to stay with Dana, right?" John asked, his voice going pensive despite his smile. "She really shouldn't be alone right now."
Monica just nodded, her face lighting up the way it always did when Dana Scully was mentioned. "I'm going to show her how to make tamales - maybe it'll take her mind off things for a while."
Dana - John's partner for about the space of a year before she transferred back to teaching at Quantico, and now a close friend to both John and Monica - seemed to be having an even rougher time of it than usual.
Of course, having her partner and lover, Fox Mulder, in hiding and out of reach while she tried her best to raise their miracle child alone made her holiday blues perfectly understandable - and that was the *least* complicated aspect of it all.
Monica and John were convinced that there was more to her sadness than Mulder's absence alone, but Dana kept them at an arm's length about a lot of things still, and it had just never felt right to ask her about it.
Monica, as if reading John's thoughts, sighed and murmured to herself. "I just wish she'd let me in, even a little..."
John, smiling wryly, put a hand in her shoulder. "I've told you before, Mon - if you like her, just tell her. I'm pretty good at reading people, and my guess is she likes you too - you should use your vacation next week to spend some time with her and see what happens."
Monica started to protest, but he just held up a hand. "Talk to Mulder first, if it makes you feel any better. After everything you've done for him and Dana, I donít think he'd object too much."
Monica had, after all, been the one to ferry Dana into hiding when her as-yet-unborn baby had been threatened just as her due date arrived, and Monica had also played midwife when little William decided to make his appearance while they waited.
Dana, not quite sure how to express her gratitude for something so monumental, had settled for asking Monica to be William's godmother - which Monica still considered a great honor - and Mulder, devoted as he was to Dana and their son, was just as grateful, and hardly likely to refuse anything that would make Dana happier in his absence.
Monica gave John a doubtful look as she considered his advice - there was no way she'd want to share Dana if she were Mulder, grateful or not - but John's words still lingered even after they parted company several minutes later.
Sighing, Monica finally decided that nothing ventured really was nothing gained, and pulled out her cell phone. "Mulder? It's Monica Reyes. Can we talk about Dana for a minute?"
II - The Blasts Of Chill December (December 16, cont.)
The blasts of chill December sound the farewell of the year,
And night's swift shadows gath'ring round o'er cloud the soul with fear;
But rest you well, good Christian men, nor be of heart forlorn;
December's darkness brings again the Light of Christmas morn...
Monica pulled up to Dana's apartment, Mulder's words still echoing in her ears.
The conversation had been odd, to say the least - she'd expected Mulder to be surprised, at least, but he'd acted like he'd actually been waiting for her call.
It made her wonder if John and Mulder had been talking more than she'd realized...
In the end, though, Mulder's response had boiled down to this: one, he couldn't deny Dana the chance to find some happiness in his absence, and, two, if he couldn't trust Monica to take care of Scully after all she'd done for them, then who *could* he trust?
She hadn't known what to say to that, which had seemed to amuse Mulder to no end. He had actually been laughing even as he'd advised her to play it quiet and low-key to get past Dana's defenses without scaring her.
A chill blast of wind as she made her way into the apartment building made Monica shiver, and brought her attention back into the present. Shaking her head, she decided to push any thoughts of pursuing Dana into the back of her mind for now - at least until she'd had some time to gauge the situation.
Never mind that she'd been hashing and rehashing it in her mind since she'd first met Dana years ago...
Knocking on Dana's apartment door, she was surprised to be greeted by Dana's mother Margaret, who immediately beckoned her inside with a smile, a hug, and a "Merry Christmas, honey."
Returning the hug and the greeting, Monica went over to say hello to little William, who smiled up at her and cooed happily.
"I was hoping to talk to Dana, Mrs. Scully - she was going to help me with some Christmas cooking." Monica said, turning to look at Margaret. "Do you know when she'll be back?"
Monica couldn't explain why she was always so formal with Dana's mother, except that that Dana's strength and spirit had so obviously been given to her by this small, intense woman, and Monica felt a certain deep respect for her and her devotion to her family.
Margaret, setting out a cup of coffee for Monica, shook her head. "Please, Monica, call me Maggie - I'd say you've earned it by now. I'm afraid I donít know when Dana will be back Ė she went to the cemetery, so she could be a while."
Monica blinked at that. "Cemetery?"
Maggie just nodded. "She goes there every year at Christmas to leave flowers at our family plot. I'd go with her, but she always insists on going alone. Too strong for her own good sometimes, I think." Maggie concluded, shaking her head.
Monica nodded. "She told me she had a sister, Melissa, who was killed a few years ago Ė and I know your husband died not long before that. It must make the holidays a little bittersweet."
Maggie Scully just watched Monica for a long moment, as if weighing something. Monica felt more than a little uncomfortable under the scrutiny, and began to wonder if she been wrong to mention Dana's sister and father.
Finally, as if deciding something, Maggie spoke up. "Dana's at Holy Cross Cemetery - it's not far from here. I think she could use a little company, to tell you the truth."
It was a hard hint to ignore, and Monica found herself parking at Holy Cross just a few minutes later, hoping that Dana wouldn't be angry at having her solitude disturbed.
Dana wasn't hard to find Ė even under the grey, overcast sky, her red hair stood out against the equally dismal rows of stone and snow. She seemed a little surprised to see Monica, but, thankfully, didnít seem angry.
"Your mother told me where you were." Monica offered by way of explanation. "She seemed to think you could use the company."
Dana smiled at that, but it didn't quite reach her hazel eyes. "She doesn't like my coming here alone."
Monica had the feeling she'd intruded into something very private, however well-intentioned her presence, and couldn't think of anything to say. Finally, she just held out the bundle of pink carnations she'd stopped for on her way. "I brought these for you to set out. I saw the pastel pink and thought maybe this place could use a touch of spring right about now."
That brought a genuine, if slight, smile to Dana's face. "Thank you."
Dana leaned down to portion the flowers out, and Monica noted the three headstones she placed them on. She recognized the names of Dana's father and sister, but the last one - Emily Sim - was unfamiliar.
Noting the dates on the headstone, Monica reached out to brush her fingers over the lettering. "She died so young..."
"My daughter." Dana said quietly. "She was only three..."
It was certainly startling - Monica had never even known Dana had had another child before William - but she'd also noticed the dates on which both Dana's father and daughter had died, and suddenly realized just why Christmas seemed so hard on Dana.
The poor thing had lost her father at Christmastime, then lost her sister a little over a year later. Little Emily had died around Christmastime as well, just a few short years after Melissa's death.
It was a series of blows that would probably have been crippling to anyone, and here Dana was trying to cope with the scars left by it all alone...
All Monica's questions died on her tongue as she reached out to take Dana's hand. "Dana, would you like to go get some coffee or something?"
The offer to talk the question carried was implicit, and it took Dana a moment to overcome her own wariness. Finally, still holding Monica's hand, she'd simply nodded. "I think I'd like that..."
III - Every Creature By Thee Made (December 18, 2005)
Every creature, by thee made, on thy Birth-day homage paid:ó
Angels lent thee hymn of praise, Heavín the star with silver rays,
Wise Men incense, myrrh and gold, shepherds wonder manifold,
Beasts the manger, earth the cave,ó We the Virgin-Mother gave.
Strangely, they had only made small talk over their coffee. Dana had looked so sad that Monica hadn't had the heart to press her with questions, or to disturb the shaky equilibrium Dana seemed to find after a few moments of silence as she sipped at her coffee.
After that, they'd talked of innocuous, inconsequential things - little William's latest accomplishment, case file anecdotes, Christmas plans. Dana had even recounted to Monica the time Mulder had succeeded in dragging her into a haunted house on Christmas Eve only to have the ghosts there get the best of both of them.
They'd laughed a bit, and Dana seemed happier for it, but they didn't really talk like Monica had expected they would.
Still, Dana had given her a grateful hug as she'd dropped her off at her apartment, and Monica couldnít help but feel that she might have finally begun to win her way through Dana's defenses.
Dana's mood when she arrived at Monica's apartment Saturday morning to help with the tamales seemed considerably lighter than it had been the day before, and Monica tried hard to keep things light and festive throughout the day they spent together.
She was happy to note that Dana's good mood when she finally crashed on her couch late that night was totally genuine.
Even better, it still seemed to be there Sunday morning as they chattered at each other over breakfast. It was the longest span of time the two women had ever spent in each others' company outside of work, and it seemed to surprise them both how much they enjoyed the sheer normalcy of it.
Dana, not quite wanting it to end, invited Monica over to help her with the cookies she wanted to bake for Christmas Day. Her good mood faded slightly as Sunday wore on, but it was mostly a touch of melancholy rather than the overwhelming sadness Monica had seen in her back on Friday.
That night, Monica, checking on William while Dana cleared dinner away, found Dana standing at the window with a glass of wine, just gazing out at the snow on the street.
Monica stood there watching her for a moment, and Dana started talking quietly without even turning around. "I never told anyone except Mulder and my family about Emily. It was... a little complicated."
Monica put a hand on her shoulder. "You don't have to tell me about it if you donít want to. I know it's painful."
Dana turned to face her. "I can't even talk about her with Mulder - did you know that? It just... hurts too much, for both of us."
"Was he Emily's father?" Monica asked, sensing Dana's need to finally talk, and trying to draw her out.
Dana shook her head. "I don't know who Emily's father was - she was conceived by in vitro fertilization using the eggs that were stolen from me when I was abducted, and carried by a surrogate. I never even knew she existed until she was three - just before she got sick and we lost her..."
Dana fell silent a moment, then picked back up just before Monica spoke to break the silence. "I think that my sister Melissa's spirit led me to her. I was at my brother's for Christmas, and I got these phone calls from Emily's house saying someone needed me - only, there was no way anyone could have called me from there."
Scully took a shaky breath, then pressed on as if determined to get the whole thing out. "I just recognized something in her the moment I saw her. I thought she was Melissa's daughter at first, though I couldnít say how that could be - she looked so much like Melissa at that age. I had them do blood tests to be sure, and it turned out that she was actually *my* daughter."
Monica put some of the puzzle pieces together in her head. "She was one of the alien hybrid experiments that you and Mulder told me about - like you thought William might be."
Scully just nodded. "They didnít get it right, though - she was a very sick little girl. We didnít understand exactly what she was, and she didn't get the treatment she'd been on until then because both her adoptive parents were killed and I had to wait for the adoption review before I could have custody of her."
Anger flared in Dana's eyes as she brushed tears away. "If we'd known, we might have found a way to help her. I thought I was doing the right thing by stopping her treatments. I just didnít know..."
The guilt and pain on Dana's face was so clear in that moment that Monica couldnít keep from wrapping her arms around her in the hopes of soothing that pain. "You did the best you could, Dana."
"Mulder told me once that maybe she just wasn't meant to be here. Maybe he was right - she was just so fragile..."
Monica stroked Dana's hair, still trying to soothe her, and that simple gesture seemed to break down the last of Dana's defenses. She broke down into sobs, and just stood shaking in Monica's arms.
Monica let her cry, knowing that it was cathartic, and probably long overdue. Eventually, the tension drained out of Dana as she quieted, and when she pulled away Monica saw that some of the tightness around Dana's eyes seemed to have gone.
Dana, embarrassed, tried to retreat back behind her usual stoicism once she realized how she'd broken down. Monica refused to let her, and placed a finger over Dana's lips when she tried to apologize. "Dana, it's okay - you don't have to be strong for me."
Scully just looked at her for a long moment, bemused, and touched her hand to Monica's cheek. "You are so sweet, Monica - I don't think I've ever known anyone so kind..."
Monica, about to make some glib quip to lighten the moment, reached out to brush a tear from Dana's cheek and froze at the electricity the simple contact suddenly created. Dana, for her part, stared at her with wide eyes but made no move to pull away.
Closing the distance between them suddenly seemed like the only logical thing to do, and their lips met with a slight snap of static electricity. Dana tasted like wine, and the raspberry lip balm she was so fond of, and Monica was loathe to break the kiss, even to come up for air.
When they finally parted, they just sort of stood there staring at each other, unsure of what to say or do. After a long moment, they both just smiled at each other.
Monica reached up a hand and touched Dana's cheek again, gratified to see how Dana leaned into the touch. "I've wanted that for a long time, Dana..."
Dana smiled almost shyly at her. "So have I - I just didnít know how to tell you."
Monica smiled back. "Do you want me to stay, or...?"
Dana's smile faded a bit. "Monica, I - I can't. Mulder..."
"It's okay - I've already talked to him. John told him that I was interested in you, and..." Monica trailed off as Scully broke into a grin and then started laughing.
"Why am I not surprised?" Dana asked, still laughing. "Those two are worse busybodies than my mother."
Monica had to laugh at that, because damned if it wasn't true.
With a strange sense of normalcy now returned to them both, Dana reached out a hand to take Monica's arm. "I - I'm not sure I'm ready for anything to happen yet, but you're welcome to stay tonight. It'll be nice not to be alone for once..."
Monica smiled at her and brushed a lock of hair from Dana's face. "There's time enough for that later, Dana. For tonight, I'll be happy just to stay here with you."
It was a touch awkward when they both settled onto Dana's bed a little while later, but they eventually found a position that was comfortable for them both.
When Dana fell asleep a short while later under Monica's watchful eye, Monica had no way of knowing that Dana was drifting off into the first calm night's sleep she'd had in many, many months...
IV (Epilogue) - One Night In Dark December (December 19, 2005)
One night in dark December, ere dawn of Christmas Day,
The sky grew bright with glory, Night's shadows were rolled away:
And over Bethlehem village the sounds of sweet music ran,
As angels sang their carol, "Good will from God to Man."
Monica woke the next morning to the sound of Maggie Scully singing Christmas Carols to William out in the living room. Panicked, Monica tried to think of some way to exit out of Dana's bedroom without the terrible awkwardness she knew would start as soon as Dana's mother saw her and started putting two and two together.
She had no idea if Dana had told her mother she liked women, and she was pretty sure that outing Dana to her mother accidentally wasn't the best way to start off their relationship...
Dana, of course, was blissfully asleep still, and Monica was pretty sure she wouldn't be waking up any time soon.
A smile plastered itself across Monica's face as she remembered Dana waking her up not long after she'd finally fallen asleep, all trace of her earlier reticence suddenly vanished. Monica had fantasized about what Dana might be able to do with that pretty mouth of hers, but it had in no way matched up to reality...
Still smiling, she decided to just deal with the awkwardness and maybe make Dana some breakfast.
Dressing quickly and tidying up her hair as much as she was able, Monica took a breath and stepped out into the living room.
Maggie Scully, much to Monica's relief, only gave her a brief look of surprise before going back to tidying up with a cheery "Good morning, dear."
Monica, nonplussed, just blinked and replied automatically as she poured herself some coffee. "Good morning, Mrs. Scully."
"Oh, for heaven's sake, Monica," Maggie said in mock exasperation, "if you're going to be sleeping with my daughter, you can at least call me Maggie."
Monica promptly spit her coffee all over herself. Maggie Scully just patted her on the back as she then proceeded to choke on the coffee she hadn't spit out.
A short, if rather surreal, while later - and after assuring Maggie that Mulder was well aware of Monica and Dana's involvement - Monica had whipped up a small breakfast for Dana, and even found a cute little tray to put it on.
Dana woke as Monica walked into the room, and graced Monica with a sleepy smile. "Morning, you..."
Monica smiled back as she set the tray down. "Sleep well?"
"You know it." Dana said, grinning around her coffee mug. A moment later, her eyes settled on the small wrapped box on the tray. "What's this?"
"Your Christmas present, a few days early." Monica answered, sitting down on the edge of the bed. "I decided I wanted you to have it today."
Dana opened the box carefully, somehow managing to not even tear the paper. Her eyes went wide as she opened the jewelry box and lifted the rosary out of it. "Monica, that's..."
It was beaded with amethyst, opals, yellow topaz, and Madeira citrine, with the links and crucifix in gleaming silver.
Monica just beamed at Dana as she explained. "I had a friend put a rush on it after I saw on Friday that your rosary was broken. The amethyst is for you, the opal is for Mulder, the yellow topaz is for William - and the Madeira citrine is for Emily..."
Dana stared at her, eyes tearing up. "Monica, this is beautiful. I - I don't know what to say."
"I think your expression says it all." Monica told her, still beaming. "You should see the look on your face right now..."
Dana set the rosary and tray aside, then reached into the drawer of her nightstand. "I had planned to have this wrapped before I gave it to you, but a gift like that one deserves something in return."
Smiling, she held a small jewelry box out to Monica. Opening it, Monica saw a necklace with a small cross identical to Dana's, and drew a shaky breath. "Dana, this was Melissa's. I can't..."
Maggie Scully's voice came from the open doorway. "Dana and I want you to have it, dear. Melissa never had much use for it, but she'd have been happy to see you wear it."
The elder Scully crossed over to Monica and brushed a lock of hair from Monica's face. "You really do remind me of her, dear. I think the two of you would have been the best of friends if you'd met."
Dana just grinned at her mother. "Can you imagine? They'd drive us crazy."
For once, there was no pain in Dana's voice as she spoke about her sister - just the easy smile shared with her mother at the fond memories Melissa's name conjured up. A couple anecdotes later, even Monica was laughing until she cried at stories of some of the scrapes Dana and Melissa had gotten each other into as kids.
Right before lunch, Monica got a call about a lead on an open X-File, and had to excuse herself to go meet a contact, promising Dana that it wouldn't take very long.
Dana followed her to the door as she grabbed her hat and coat, pulling her in for a hug and a quick kiss. "Thank you."
Monica just smiled at her. "For what?"
Dana's smile brightened even further. "For bringing me a little Christmas cheer. I needed it."
Monica, not sure what to say, just pulled Dana close and stroked her hair. The last thing she heard as she exited the apartment was Dana and her mother singing a Christmas carol to William along with the radio - the one with Barenaked Ladies and Sarah MacLachlan, it sounded like...
Smiling, she couldnít help joining in under her breath as she closed the door behind her.
"Oh, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy... Oh oh, tidings of comfort and joy..."