PLEASE SEE INDEX PAGE FOR DISCLAIMERS & OTHER CHAPTERS
Chapter Notes: Written for the schmoop_bingo prompt "Anniversary - miles apart".
Inamorata: Chapter 2 :: Fourth Anniversary
By A. Magiluna Stormwriter
++ Dana ++
Excerpt from the personal journal of Dana Scully
I'd really like to just cry right now. No, I think I'd rather beat that Fox Mulder over the head with a large rock. Someone over at the BAU contacted him after reading his paper on the Sentinel Project. Why that man is still trying to take credit for this project is beyond me. He was called in on one case four years ago, and he wasn't even an integral player at the time. That Dace didn't really like him certainly made it easier for me and Monica to work together, that's for sure. And now he's called in a favor from Monica. How in the hell did she end up owing him a favor? Because he picked her for that case? Which he didn't really do.
It's the principle of the matter that I hate him right now. Because of him, Monica is off at Quantico, working with the BAU because they have a suspect that Mulder thinks could be a Sentinel. Mulder's not even working with the BAU, so I have no idea how he came across that information in the first place. And we couldn't both go because of William and Alexis. And the luck of the draw -- or is that bad luck? -- had her flying out of here at some ungodly hour last night. I got Kat to sit with William while I took Monica to the airport. She'd turned down Anastasia's offer of the private jet, saying that it could be a longer trip than she expected and she didn't want to keep the jet tied up unnecessarily.
It was a long drive home from the airport. I fought back the tears the entire way. Monica would kill me if I got into an accident because I was crying over this. It shouldn't be a big deal, but it is. Today is our anniversary, damn it! And that bastard had to take her away from me on this one day that means more to me than any other. Monica had even tried to work out some sort of teleconference, so she could be here with me today, but Mulder was adamant that she had to be there in person. He'd best hope he's never anywhere near me again. I can't be sure that I could be stopped from trying to rip him to pieces for this.
Why the hell couldn't she have said no? And if the BAU wants her assistance so badly, they can ask for her. Jason Gideon doesn't need Fox Mulder's help in getting anything he damned well pleases. Maybe that's the problem I'm having with all of this. If the request had actually come from the BAU, from Jason Gideon personally, or someone on his team, I don't know that I'd have had nearly as much of an issue with this whole situation.
I just… I want Monica to be home, damn it! Four years ago today, Fox Mulder introduced me to Monica, so we could work on the Snake Eyes case. We haven't been apart since then. Once the case was over, she started looking into continuing to study the Sentinels, Dace and Emily in particular. Oddly enough, I didn't even hesitate in agreeing when she asked me to work on the project with her. That's completely out of character for me, and yet it felt like the most normal, comfortable thing in the world for me at the time.
And I don't regret a single minute of it either. Yes, we've had some rocky times over the last four years, but none of that matters. In the beginning, we weren't sure what we were, but I knew I couldn't be apart from her. We tried the friends with benefits, but it became pretty clear that both of us wanted more.
Damn it! Monica should be here and I should be telling her this, not writing it in this damned journal. This is complete and utter bullshit! Fox Mulder is officially persona non grata from this point forward.
A knock at the door startles me out of the wound up reverie I've fallen into while writing in my journal. Glancing up, I can see Alexis standing there, a broad smile on her face. Curiosity tears me away from my murderous thoughts toward one Fox Mulder, and I motion for her to come in. She and Tory practically bounce into the office. It would appear this is another good day for Alexis. Fantastic!
"Delivery truck coming," Alexis says, chortling like a child on Christmas morning.
She does love when the packages come to the Ranch. She treats each package like a puzzle, a chance to test her Sentinel abilities. It's a game she's taught the children, and one that Dace encourages in all of them. Dace tends to send a variety of packages to the Ranch with the sole purpose of continuing the game and skills it teaches. I'm guessing that's what this will be.
Just as I'm about to ask if she's positive, the phone linked to the front gate rings. Alexis' smile broadens and she emits a tiny squeal. Fighting the urge to chuckle at her, I move to answer the phone. The man's voice on the other end of the line confirms a delivery for me. Alexis is not pleased that she can't go with me to get the package, but she knows better than to get anywhere near a strange man. Besides, she loves it when I let her and Tory keep an eye on William for me.
The walk out to the gate is good for me. The late morning sun is warm, but nowhere near as brutally hot as it would be if this were August instead of January. A flash of light to my left makes me smile when I see the remnants of the ornaments from last Yule on the Gifting Tree, as Alex calls it.
The delivery man hands over two packages designated for me after I sign for them. The long, narrow white box gives away the general idea of what is inside, and my heart begins to melt because it must be from Monica. The other box is smaller, square in shape, and heavier than the first. Curiosity burns hot in me as I walk back home.
Alexis greets me at the door, bouncing on her toes in anticipation. As I near her, she leans closer, nostrils flaring as she sniffs at the air. "I smell roses!" she says, delighted satisfaction in her voice. "Are they from Monica?"
I can't help but mirror her broad smile. "I certainly hope so. I'm not sure who else would be sending me roses on my anniversary."
"I would," comes her suddenly soft reply. "But I would pick them from the garden for both of you. I'll do that when Monica comes back home."
Stepping back into the front room that serves as living room and office, I set both boxes on the desk. Alexis and Tory stand to either side, watching me undo the ribbon from around the longer box. Lifting the lid, I suck in a breath to see a dozen long stemmed, blood red roses, interspersed with virginally white baby's breath, and tied together with a silk ribbon the same shade as the roses. Leaning in to smell their heady scent, I pluck up the card nestled atop the greenery.
My dearest Dana,
Happy anniversary, mi corazon. May we still feel as much for each other in twenty years as I feel for you today and every single day of the last four years.
You own my heart, Dana.
"Aww, that's so sweet," Tory says, blushing as she realizes she's just admitted to eavesdropping over my shoulder, so to speak. "Can I get you a vase for them?"
"Under the sink," I reply, pressing the card to my heart for a brief moment, feeling the keen loss of my lover again. Fox Mulder really must die for this injustice.
When Tory comes back with a particularly lovely crystal vase that Anastasia and Tessa gave us last year for our anniversary, I smile and take a few moments to arrange the roses and baby's breath within to look just right. Finally satisfied, I let her add water to the vase before directing her to set it on the kitchen counter, where they'll sit until Monica comes home. Once she's seen them and been properly thanked for them, I'll give them to Alex and Rachel to preserve for me.
Which leads me to the smaller, but heavier box. It's white like the other box, but definitely a heavier cardboard construction, and approximately a foot square. Curiosity can no longer be denied, and I use scissors to slit the tape open. Lifting the flaps slowly, I find a smallish vase filled with a beautiful bouquet of perfectly blooming pink and blue hydrangea, white roses, and pristine calla lilies. I actually take the time to set this particular vase on the counter with the roses from Monica, before opening the card that's accompanied it.
Agent Reyes made a firm request that I send flowers as an apology for taking her away from you on your anniversary. I wouldn't have done it if it wasn't absolutely necessary.
Please accept my sincerest apology.
Pursing my lips in disdain, I fight the urge to get rid of the flowers and the card. Instead, I set the card with the flowers and take the offering for what it is. Fox Mulder is still firmly placed in the top slot on my shit list, but he's lucky he took Monica's advice in this instance.
"Who're they from, Dana?" Tory's voice startles me for the briefest of moments. The renewed anger at Fox Mulder eclipsed my memory of my houseguests temporarily.
"Agent Mulder sent them at Monica's request, apparently."
"So maybe you don't want to dismember him quite so badly?" Alexis' soft question makes me study her face for a moment. "It's what I'd want to do if someone wanted to take Tory away on our anniversary and wouldn't take no for an answer. Well, maybe I'd want to do more than that, but you know what I mean." Her sheepish grin brings a chuckle to my lips.
"Thank you both," I finally say. "This has been a rough day, to say the least." Before I can say anything else, a yawn overwhelms me and my jaw cracks from its intensity.
"Have you slept at all since she left?" When I shake my head, Alexis rolls her eyes and grabs my arm, heading toward my bedroom. "You need to sleep, you know. You'll be to both William and Monica if you don't. Tory and I can listen for William while you do." She pauses outside my bedroom door and meets my gaze frankly. "I promise that I'll call someone else over if I start going… feral."
No matter how far she's come since making the Ranch her home and finding Tory, Alexis Barnes is still a dangerous and unpredictable animal trapped in a woman's body and mind. That she has more normal and lucid days, and can more easily recognize when the madness descends again, is a fantastic improvement. She knows her limits and has been very good at communicating them with us.
I nod slowly and let a broad smile curve my lips up, only to have it marred by another yawn. "Just for a couple of hours. I want to be up if Monica calls later."
A couple of hours turned into six hours of deep, dreamless, uninterrupted sleep. Stumbling blearily out into the living room, I am greeted by the aroma of roasting meat and vegetables mingled with the flowers' heavenly scents. There are paper chain garlands strung up on the windows and the breakfast nook into the kitchen, and a water glass filled with wildflowers has joined the two bouquets from before. A DVD of Looney Tunes shorts is playing, taking up the attentions of the six people in front of the TV. Alexis, Tory, Michel, and William are happily coloring in the large coloring books from Christmas, while Alex and Rachel cuddle on the couch and keep an eye on them.
As if cognizant of my thoughts, Rachel turns to smile broadly at me. "Look who's finally decided to join the land of the living," she teases. "How you feeling?"
"Hungry," I reply, my stomach rumbling to punctuate the point. "What is all of this?"
"Mama! We dec'rated!" William crows delightedly as he runs into my embrace.
Scooping him up, I breathe in the clean, wholesome scent that is my son. Tears prickle behind my eyelids at the whiff of Monica on his clothes. She should be here, damn it! "I see that, handsome. Thank you."
"An' cookeded food! Hun'ry, Mama."
"It does smell good, doesn't it?" I ask in a stage whisper, and echo his enthusiastic nod. "Is it done yet?"
"An'lex? Food done yet?"
Alex chuckles and extricates herself from Rachel's embrace to head into the kitchen. Without hesitation, I follow her, breathing deeply of the heavenly smells emanating from the oven. Glancing over her shoulder, I can see the pot roast with all of my favorite vegetables cooking in what appears to be fantastically thick, luscious gravy. And then I notice the apple pie cooling on the countertop.
"Dear god, woman, are you trying to fatten me up or what?"
"I am following strict orders from Dace, who got them from Monica," Alex replies, pulling out the roasting pan.
"I stopped by earlier when you were napping," she explains. "I wanted to get an idea of when you'd be ready to eat, so I could bring the roast over to finish cooking in your oven. And I needed Rachel's help to bring everything over. Plus, she needed to bring the pie over so that the Monkey Twins wouldn't get into it while we weren't looking. Michel came with her and he wanted to color with William, so we just settled in to wait for you. I hope that's okay."
Those tears that had prickled earlier are now blurring my vision slightly. Pressing a kiss to William's cheek, I let him down to go back to his cartoons and coloring with Michel, armed with juice boxes from Alex. My eyes fall on the roses again and I sigh heavily.
"This sucks," I mutter.
"I know it does. That's why Monica left such explicit instructions with us via Dace. She didn't want you to be alone while she's gone."
I snort indelicately at that. "I'm a big girl and I can handle being separated from Monica."
Alex's arm around my shoulder is comforting and I lean into her body. "I know that, and she knows that, but this is different. So you get some company and some good food out of the deal. Hell, you don't even have to clean up after this meal. That's all on me and my minions out there."
"I don't really have a choice here, do I?"
"Nope," she retorts happily.
"Fine," I reply, dramatically rolling my eyes at her. Honestly, I'm grateful for the company and the attention. I really don't want to be alone tonight. "I guess I'll just have to accept it then."
"That's a good girl."
Dinner was a complete hit, and I have procured Alex's culinary services for a special dinner once Monica's come back from Quantico. I want to repeat this meal when we can actually celebrate our anniversary together, no matter how late it is.
The conversation over dinner was amusing and distracting, just as it should have been. I don't know who had me laughing more: the boys or Alex and Rachel. Alexis and Tory did their best to egg the others on to more and more hilarity, and I felt as good as I possibly could with Monica gone.
A soft sound pulls my thoughts to the present and I can see Alexis standing there with Tory. Both look exhausted, but happy, and I set my wine glass aside to stand and offer them both warm hugs.
"Heading back down to your rooms?" When Alexis nods, I pull her into another hug. "Thank you both so much for helping out today. It is greatly appreciated and I'll make sure Monica knows all about this. But you both look pretty worn out, so go on to bed and I'll bring some breakfast down for the two of you tomorrow morning, okay?"
More hugs and thanks are exchanged before they head out to their own living quarters in the bunker. Glancing back, I can see that Alex and Rachel are quietly holding the sleeping boys, long since passed out after dinner and more cartoons. Just as I'm about to take William and put him to bed, my cell phone rings, playing the cheesy mambo that reminds me of Monica.
"Mon?" I ask, heart trip hammering in my chest.
"Happy anniversary, mi corazon."
"Happy anniversary, amante." Movement in my periphery draws my attention to Alex and Rachel standing up gingerly with the boys, coming toward me. "Hang on a sec, Mon."
"We're just going to put William to bed and head home, so you can have some privacy with Monica," Alex murmurs as Rachel takes William into his bedroom. "If you need anything, just give us a call, okay?"
"Thanks, Alex," I reply and move to sink back onto the couch. Clearing my throat, I return my attention to my phone. "Sorry, Mon, I was saying good night to Alex and Rachel before they leave. They're putting William to bed right now."
"Oh good, they stayed with you until I could call," she replies, relief flooding her voice. "How was dinner?"
"Fantastic! Alex made the most amazing pot roast and Rachel brought an apple pie she baked. They've already agreed to repeat the meal when you get home, so we can enjoy it together."
"I can't wait to taste it." She grows silent for just a moment, and I can feel a strange tightening in my chest. "I miss you."
"I miss you, too." This time, I don't bother to fight the tears prickling like fire behind my eyelids. "I wish you were here."
"I know. But it looks like I should be able to come home either late tomorrow or maybe the day after. I don't think this guy is a Sentinel, but I'm not a hundred percent sure, so I want to do a little more digging for the team."
"I hope they realize how lucky they are to have you. I was feeling very murderous thoughts toward Agent Mulder earlier today."
Monica's delighted laughter eases some of the bands constricting my heart. "Yeah, about that… Well, first off, did you get the flowers?"
"Yours and Mulder's, yes. They were all lovely. Thank you."
"What did he send you?" When I describe the bouquet to her, she lets out an obvious sigh of relief. "Oh good. He should have spent more money, in my opinion. A whole lot more."
That certainly piques my curiosity. "Oh?"
"Well, according to Agent Gideon, Mulder kind of volunteered me to the BAU, but I wasn't necessarily as in dire need as he made it sound. Agents Gideon and Hotchner both apologized for getting us involved in Mulder's weird political agenda, and the whole team's really trying to get me out of here as soon as possible, provided this really isn't a Sentinel that they're looking for."
The reality of her words finally sink in. "I really am going to kill him, Mon."
"No, it's okay. I have promises from both Agent Gideon and Agent Hotchner that they will contact me personally if they need my assistance in the future. They were pretty adamant that I could have very easily done this as a teleconference, like I tried to get Mulder to agree to. Their computer analyst is gifted in ways that you just can't imagine, and said she can get us a secured connection that is practically impenetrable.. I told her I'd have Sam contact her for that kind of technical mumbo jumbo, because we'll probably need it at some point. That's when she started fangirling all over me just because I happen to know 'the great and powerful Sam Carter'. And yes, I did my best not to laugh at her; well, when she started mocking herself, I did join in."
Chuckling, I shake my head and let my eyes close. "You are incorrigible, amante. You really need to tell Sam that story when you get home. Okay, maybe not right when you get home. I get you first."
"I think I can handle that." Her next words are cut off as I yawn loudly, jaw popping from the effort. "Have you slept at all today?"
"Yes, dear, I slept for about six hours after the flowers were delivered."
"If you're still tired--"
"I don't want to go to sleep without you," I whisper, cutting off her words. "I hate it when you're gone like this."
"Oh, Dana, mi corazon, I don't like it anymore than you do. But we both need our sleep. Think of it this way. The sooner you get to sleep, the sooner I come home. That help?"
Pouting even though she can't see it, I finally sigh in resignation. "Not really, but it'll have to do. You tell Agent Gideon and his team that once you come home, they can set more normal times to conference with you, and not for the next couple of days. I want you all to myself."
"Yes, ma'am." The silence stretches between us for a moment or two until I yawn again. "Go to bed, Dana. I will visit you in your dreams."
"Okay. I love you, Monica."
"I love you, Dana. See you soon."
"In my dreams."