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Chapter Notes: Written for the schmoop_bingo prompt "Sunburn".


Chapter 8 :: Earth Day
By A. Magiluna Stormwriter


++ Dana ++

(04-22-06)

The sun is just starting to go down as we place the pot holding the last columnar apple tree in the fruit grove. I remember when Darya started going on and on about these apples; it was after a conversation she'd had with her father last month. She did all the research and swore that we'd have apples this first year, based on what her father had told her of his own experiences with them. Stepping back to survey the progress we've made, I heave a sigh of relief and watch Emily and Cubby dutifully going around to water all of our new transplants, either in the ground or in pots. There are still a good deal of plants and flowers to get in the ground yet, but we really wanted to focus on getting all of the trees done today for Earth Day.

"All right!" Dace says with a loud clap of her hands. "I think it's time for a round of baths" -- I chuckle as all of the children groan at this point -- "and then we can meet in the Great Room and see if Auntie Kerry has something yummy to eat for dinner. A little fairy told me that there might even be some homemade ice cream waiting for dessert."

That certainly gets all of the kids to change their minds on baths. There is momentary chaos as the kids all run to their respective grownups and clamor for the chance to have some ice cream. It takes a few more moments before they can be calmed down enough to help put tools and hoses away before heading off to their various homes.

William is no different than the others, but he's getting tired and clingy. Monica easily scoops him up into a bear hug, and I smile at his delighted giggle. Turning to face me, she grins and stretches out a hand toward me.

Waving our temporary goodbyes to the others, we head toward our apartment. The fatigue weighs heavily on me with each step, but I know I need to make an appearance. I am not about to miss out on Kerry's homemade ice cream; it's the stuff of legends and one of my most favorite parts of living here at the Ranch.

Stepping into the apartment, I immediately head for the kitchen and dig out one of the Gatorades chilling in the refrigerator. In one long drink, I manage to swallow over half of the bottle, but it only takes the barest edge off the headache beginning to pound behind my eyes. Leaning against the counter, I take my time finishing off the bottle and listen to the sounds of Monica helping William with his bath.

"Baby? You gonna shower first or should I?" Monica calls out from the main bathroom.

I flush hotly at the memory of what happened the last time we were on a schedule and showered together. It was a lot of fun, but Sam still hasn't let me live it down yet, and it's been nearly three weeks already. I fear having to talk to Garcia again, but I'm not one hundred percent sure that she didn't know what was going on that day.

"Dana?"

"Sorry, Mon!" I call out, grabbing another bottle of Gatorade before I head into the bathroom.

"Hi, Mama!" William chirps happily, slapping at the water.

"Hey there, handsome," I reply, dropping down to sit on the toilet, and open the second Gatorade. "Did you have fun today?"

"Yeah! Mama red!"

At his words, Monica turns sharply to look at me. "Oh my god! Dana, you're pretty red. You feeling okay?"

"I guess?" I reply honestly. "Iím a little warm, a little thirsty." I pause for a moment, the conversation of the last couple of moments replaying in my head, before I turn to look at myself in the mirror. What in the hell happened to me today?

"How much water did you get today?" When I shrug, Monica clucks her tongue at me. "And you forgot sunscreen after that first dose this morning, didn't you?"

Eyes closed momentarily, I think back over the events of the day and nod reluctantly. "I was so worried about making sure William didn't burn. No wonder I'm on my second one of these," I say before taking another drink from the bottle.

"And you completely forgot about yourself. That's really smart, Dana," she teases lightly. "Finish that bottle and then take a cool shower. Once you're done, I'll rub some aloe vera on your skin."

"I'd rather have the Noxzema," I admit, preferring the cool creaminess.

"I know, but we can do that after we get back from dinner and ice cream," she replies, pulling William out of the tub and starting to dry him off. "Unless you want to make it even more obvious what happened. You know that Kerry is gonna be on your behind for this."

I groan at the realization that she's right. Kerry is definitely going to kill me. Stroking a finger down my own cheek, I can feel the heat emanating from my skin. I really should know better than to do something this stupid. I took the time to make sure my son doesn't get a sunburn, focused on it with the passion of a mama bear. But did I think to shed a little of that focus on myself? Nope. And now I'm going to pay for it. Sighing, I turn to press a kiss to Monica's cheek, hand stroking through William's damp hair.

"Give me a few to shower and I'll take care of William while you shower," I say softly with a smile before heading into our bedroom.

Peeling off my clothes, I cringe at the extent of my sunburned skin. My only consolation is that it's only my face and chest that are affected. Hopefully, I won't have any issues with wearing any clothes while this heals. Stepping into the shower, the cool water feels so damned good on my skin. I just stand there under the spray, letting the water sluice down over my body for a few moments before I can even think about doing anything else. Moving to shampoo, I cringe at the surprising tenderness on my scalp. This is definitely not good.

+++++

"I think someone's going to need another bath," Monica teases gently as she gathers William up into her arms. "He's got to be wearing more ice cream than he ate!"

Before I can reply, a warm washcloth appears in my hand, and I find Kerry standing next to me with a smile on her face. "All of the kids have them," she explains, but I can tell she's studying me closely as I hand the cloth to Monica, who begins to wipe the worst of the stickiness from William's face and hands.

"I'm fine, Kerry," I reply automatically, feeling more than a little unnerved to be on the receiving end of that scrutiny. "When we get home, Monica's going to slather me up with Noxzema, and I'm planning to take some motrin and drink water until I'm floating."

Her hand moves up to press against my forehead, cheek, and the back of my neck. "I was hoping you'd cool down a little more by now," she finally says, a hint of worry in her voice. "Soak in a cool tea bath when you get back to your apartment, okay? Do it before the Noxzema. In fact, don't do the Noxzema, use lavender essential oil instead." I start to protest, but she holds up that same hand to stop me. "Just humor me, okay, Dana? I'd be recommending the same thing for anyone else that was stupid enough to forget the sunscreen on a day like this."

Wrinkling my nose at the extra attention that I don't feel is deserved, I nod in acquiescence. "Okay, okay, Mama Kerry," I reply, trying to keep the heaviest of the sarcasm from my voice.

She glances around the room before saying, "You are a pain in the ass, Dana Scully, MD or not."

Chuckling at her habit of checking on Fawn's whereabouts before swearing -- a habit we've all picked up to keep from further funding the little shark's college fund -- I know better than to contradict our family doctor.

"And if it gets worse, I'll give you a call," Monica reassures her. "Believe me, I know the drill."

Smiling in satisfaction, Kerry takes the dirty cloth and heads back toward the kitchen again. I press a kiss to Monica's cheek and motion for her to head home. Once we're in the apartment, we work in tandem to undress William and further wipe down the rest of the sticky sweetness from his skin. While Monica gets him into the Thomas pajamas he loves so much, I make sure that his Thomas plushy is in the crib where he can easily reach it in the night and turn the baby monitor on. Monica sets him gently in the crib, fussing with his blanket, and I can't help but just stand there and watch him sleeping.

Finally, she squeezes my hand and leads me out of the bedroom, grabbing the portable monitor on the way out. Once in our bedroom, she settles me on the bed and starts the tub running before starting the tea brewing that Kerry had reminded her of. Back in the bedroom, she smiles and leans over to press a gentle kiss to my lips.

With slow deliberation, Monica removes each piece of my clothing, tossing them into the hamper before she peppers the worst of my skin with delicate kisses. Her lips feel soft and cool to the touch, and I can't help the sighs escaping my lips with each one. Once naked, I shiver only slightly as she goes to get the tea and add it to the bath water. When it's cool enough for her comfort, I let her lead me into our bathroom and settle into the tub. She keeps the pitcher and pours some of the diluted tea over my scalp.

"If this dyes my hair, I'm going to be pissed, Monica Reyes," I warn her, absolutely no hint of anger or reprisal in my voice.

"I know," is all she says, continuing to pour tea over my hair for another moment or two. Satisfied, she grabs a washcloth, soaks it in the tub for a moment before wringing it out and placing it over my face. "Just relax, baby, and let the tea help pull the worst of the sting out. I'm gonna go find the lavender essential oil and get everything ready to massage that into your skin when you're done in the tub. Just holler if you need anything, okay?"

I nod slowly, eyes closing under the towel, and sigh happily. The water feels incredible, and the tea's making me thirsty suddenly. "Hey, Mon? Can you make me some of the chamomile tea with honey?"

"You got it, baby. I'll have it ready for when you're out of the tub."

Looking forward to that treat before bed, I shift slightly to relax back into the water, mind wandering through a variety of topics as I let the tea do its job. Part of me tunes in to listen to what Monica's doing in the bedroom, but eventually even that fades into the background hum of my day to day life. I don't know how much times passes as I lay there in the tub, but I know I don't quite fall asleep either.

Eventually, Monica comes back into the bathroom and gently murmurs my name before touching my shoulder. She peels back the washcloth covering my face and smiles down at me. When I smile back, she reaches over to begin draining the tub before helping me to stand up.

"How you feeling, baby?"

"Pretty good, actually. I'll have to thank Kerry for reminding me about the tea thing. That was an incredible sensation." Monica chuckles softly, knowingly, and I stretch out a hand to slap at her shoulder lightly. "Oh shut up, smartass."

"Okay, when the water drains, go ahead and hop under the shower to quickly rinse off any extra tea. I've got everything ready for you in the bedroom, so come on in when you're ready, okay?"

Nodding, I turn the water on, squeaking slightly at the coolness of the water. Not bothering with any soap or shampoo, I let the water rinse off any remaining traces of the tea for a couple of moments. Toweling off is a little more of a chore than normal, and I delicately get my hair twisted up in the towel on top of my head. Thankfully, I don't feel nearly as warm as I did before, and the telltale tightness of sunburn has left my skin for the most part.

Padding into the bedroom, I watch Monica come back in with two cups of chamomile tea. Her broad, unfettered grin upon seeing me is such a beautiful sight. Setting the cups on the nightstand, she grabs my towel and gently blots a little more of the water from my skin before motioning to the bed. Still wrapped in my bath sheet, I settle on the edge of the bed and take a sip of my chamomile with a happy sigh.

"Comfy, Dana?"

At my nod, Monica picks up the bottle of lavender essential oil. She takes her time pouring the oil into her hands and gently spreading it over my face, neck, shoulders, arms and chest. Any spot that might have gotten the slightest bit too much sun is glistening with lavender oil by the time she's done, and I'm surrounded by a cloud of the heavenly scent.

"That smells so good," I finally say, taking another deep lungful of the fragrance. "Thank you, Monica."

"Don't thank me, baby. Kerry's the one that told me what to do."

"No, not that, thank you for doing it."

She leans in to press a light kiss to my lips. "Do you really think I wouldn't be helping out like this? You know I hate it when you or William get hurt in any way."

"I know. I feel the same way about the two of you."

"Besides," she adds with a smirk. "I just wanted the opportunity to spread oil all over your naked skin."

Laughter bubbles up from my diaphragm and I cup her cheek gently. "You are incorrigible, insatiable, and incredible, Monica Reyes. I hope I never have to live another day of my life without you in it."

"I hope I never have to do that same thing, mi corazon. Te quiero, Dana."

"Te quiero, Monica."

Sighing contentedly, I lean into her touch, craving the closeness. We sit there for a few minutes more, sipping at our tea, as the oil soaks itself into my skin. Finally, Monica reaches for a pair of panties and one of the old, worn, soft tank tops that we both adore sleeping in. Standing, I let the bath sheet fall to the floor before slipping into the comfortable clothing. Monica makes short order of the towels and comes back with my wide-toothed comb as I bend over to towel-dry my hair a little bit. She exchanges the comb for the towel and waits as I run it through my hair in an attempt to stave off any snarls, then returns both towel and comb to the bathroom.

As she comes back in, she grabs the baby monitor from my nightstand to set it on her own as we climb into bed. Yawning, I push my tea mug further back on the nightstand, ready for bed finally. Monica turns off the bedside lamp, plunging the room into relative darkness until our eyes adjust. It takes a little longer than normal to get comfortable on my side, but the minute I am settled, Monica eases behind me, body molding along the length of my own.

"Sweet dreams, baby," she whispers, lips brushing my shoulder.

"You, too," are the last words I say before succumbing to Morpheus' somnolent song.