Little Red (mylittleredgirl) wrote,
Little Red

Fic: X-Files, Doggett/Reyes, "Compass"

Title: Compass
Category: X-Files, DRR, post-ep for “The Truth”
Rating: PG-13
Summary: After “The Truth,” John and Monica are adrift.
Author's Note: Thank you ficgate for grammar-geeking and pellucid for fixing the first line! :)

- east -

After three or four hours, she starts to feel like the sound of tires meeting desert highway is the only thing she’ll hear for the rest of her life.

Monica wants to talk, to scream, but John is stone quiet in the driver’s seat like their unknown enemies can hear him even breathing. His jaw is tight and his eyes flick between the road ahead and the rearview mirror, watching for pursuit.

She thinks up questions and then tosses them out before voicing them - Where are we going? Do you think they made it? Do you think Skinner’s okay? What the hell happened back there?

John doesn’t know any more than she does.

She turns around for the hundredth time to look out the back, but there’s nothing behind them.

- fugitives -

Like a pot of water boiling over, all of Monica’s words come out at once.

“We need to find a town,” she says. “Someplace too small for traffic cameras. Lay low overnight, get as much cash as we can as soon as a local bank branch opens and then head in another direction.”

John flicks a glance at her. Something’s boiling in him, too, about to break the skin.

She adds, “We should change cars.”

“Jesus Christ, Monica, you make it sound like we’re some kind of damn–”

She raises her eyebrows, daring him to say it aloud.

He turns back to the road, squinting. Outside, dusk is bleeding into night. “You can sleep for a bit.”

I’m not there yet, she hears. I need some time alone to think.

She leans her seat back and curls toward the window, where stars are winking on all over the sky. She considers herself an amateur astrologist, but she’d need charts and maps and reference books to read anything prophetic in the stars above them. She has none of those; in fact, she has nothing but her clothes, her gun, and John.

She says, “Turn your lights on before you hit something.”

If he thinks he can make sense of this alone, God bless him.

- north -

She knows it’s bad when he doesn’t even give her shit for buying cigarettes.

John’s filling up the tank, buying a map and sandwiches and whatever coffee dregs he can get at this hour. Monica’s not dressed for the desert at night, but she sits at a cold picnic table and watches headlights come and go through the tangled highway interchange outside. If she squints, she can see the pattern forming a lattice of light trails, briefly intersecting in a truck stop parking lot before spreading out in all directions.

Monica smokes three in a row and lets the desert wind blow the ashes around the table.

She turns her phone over and over in her free hand. As soon as she powers it up, every cellular tower between here and D.C. might as well be broadcasting her face and name. She turns it on anyway.

It’s 3 a.m., she tells herself on the third ring, pinching the filter of her cigarette between her thumb and forefinger. If it goes to his voicemail, it doesn’t have to mean the worst, it doesn’t mean–

“This is Skinner.”

Her arms go weak, and she tightens her grip on her cell before she can drop it. “Oh, thank God.”

He sounds as relieved as she feels. “I could say the same. Dana?”

Dana’s her friend, a sister on this strange and paranormal adventure. Even without proof, Monica should be able to feel if they made it safely out of there, if Dana’s still alive, but: “I don’t know.”

There’s a pause, then: “Agent Doggett isn’t with you, is he?”

The hairs prick up on the back of her neck. “No,” she lies for whoever’s listening. “We got separated. But…” She can’t leave Skinner to worry. “He was alive when I last saw him.”

She hears him let out a breath. “We’ll add him to the list. They can’t find the boy either.”

Gibson. At fifteen, he’s already an expert at disappearing; any assistance they could offer would probably just slow him down.

Skinner continues, “You probably can’t check email where you are, but before all this happened, I approved your vacation request. However, given what happened with Mulder, the Bureau would obviously like you to return immediately.”

She hasn’t requested time off since joining the X-Files, save the disappearing act she pulled when John ended up on the wrong side of a Mexican drug cartel.

“I understand, sir.” She translates silently: Lay low for now, but not forever. Don’t go to D.C. They’re monitoring your email.

She watches an 18-wheeler wind its way in from the northbound off-ramp. The driver leaves it running when he heads inside.

“Don’t worry, Monica.” The intensity of Skinner’s voice tells her that worrying is exactly what she should do. “John’s one of ours. The Bureau will use everything they can to find him and bring him home. They’d do the same for you.”

She feels a thousand eyes on her, every person in the parking lot a potential danger. She never expected to be on this side of a manhunt, and she knows too much about the Bureau’s resources and strategies to see a clear way out. She only knows that they need to keep moving. Her cell phone is broadcasting her location, and if she stashes it in a vehicle heading the opposite direction…

“Agent Reyes?”

She wonders if this is the last time anyone will call her that.

“I’m here, sir.” She walks toward the northbound truck that the driver left idling, looking for a spot to plant her phone. The truck has Maryland plates; maybe part of her will be going back to D.C. after all. She says, “The Bureau can reach me on my cell if they need anything before I get there.”

Skinner says a lot of things in three seconds of silence. The only words he says aloud are: “Safe trip.”

- sunny side -

She’s too exhausted to do much beyond order the “House Special #3” and drink coffee in silence. Easy listening from the ’70s and clinking dishes fill the diner.

When John’s breakfast arrives, the eggs are wrong, and he sends the plate back with a level of frustration he usually reserves for Monica’s psychic theories. He gets angry whenever he’s pushed off-balance.

Monica offers their waitress, Susan M., an apologetic shrug. Susan M. returns the gesture as though to say, I’m not the one who’s stuck with him.

Or maybe the waitress isn’t thinking that at all, and Monica’s just projecting. It’s hard to be confined with John non-stop when he’s this frantic. She gets bound up in his emotions like a balloon tied to his wrist, dragged along behind, buffeted by every wind that passes. She wants to soothe him with her words or her heart or her body, but she needs time alone to catch her breath.

John doesn’t look too pleased with his second batch of eggs either and looks like he’s about to complain again. Monica jumps in, congratulates Susan on the totally average diner coffee and prevents John from getting a word in.

When the waitress leaves, Monica turns on him. “Eat. There’s nothing wrong with your food.”

“Is it too much to ask for one damn thing to go right?”

“You’re alive, aren’t you?”

John stabs a link of sausage so hard the plate rattles.

Breathe, Monica tells herself. In, out. She imagines herself melting into the plastic booth lining, the picture of calm.

She chooses another tack, one that doesn’t require John to place any value on his own life. She can address his self-sacrificial issues at another time. “I’m alive,” she says. “I’m here with you. I’m not hurt, and right now, I’m safe.” She lays her left hand on the table in front of him, fully prepared to eat her breakfast one-handed until he accepts her offering.

She’s almost done with her mediocre huevos rancheros when he finally takes her hand. His fingers are hot in hers and squeeze too hard. He doesn’t look at her face, but he doesn’t need to; whenever he touches her, his emotions barrel through her like electricity running to ground.

She feels anger from him, burning over a bottomless fear.

- run -

She doesn’t know where they’re going or what they’re going to need on the way, so she starts in the camping section and stocks up on apocalypse essentials: warm sleeping bags, non-perishable food, jugs of water. She grabs generic, loose-fitting clothes that won’t need to be tried on. When she tosses a pack of men’s underwear into her cart, she has a flash of being a newlywed. She pretends for a minute: she’s buying him clothes because they’ve just moved in together. They’re honeymooners in love, not federal agents hiding from alien forces embedded within their own organization.

While she plays house in K-Mart, John is kicking tires at a backyard car lot advertised on handwritten notes stapled to telephone poles around town. He didn’t want to go, even after she passed on Skinner’s coded warning to drop out of sight. John’s reaction is always more conservative than hers. Draining their checking accounts and paying for gas in cash is one thing; trading cars without proof of clear title is another.

“You’re paranoid,” he told her. His default response any time she annoys him is to accuse her of losing her mind.

Ultimately, she only got him to go to the car lot by threatening to assign him the task of shopping for their necessities. She knows he’d rather bend the law than sift through K-Mart’s delicates section looking for a bra her size.

She turns over a first-aid kit to check the contents. Would they even need six types of band-aids and individually packaged alcohol wipes if a Super Soldier caught up with them?

Yes, she decides, grabbing the oversized family pack. It's important to stay positive.

She’s three carts away from the front of the checkout line when a hand grips her arm hard enough to bruise.

John’s alarm surges through her like a live wire, choking off her startle reflex. Shadows of images and thoughts shove into her mind, painting a disorganized picture of what happened: he saw someone, something, right outside, they’re out of time. The latent ESP he denies is always strongest when he feels danger snapping at his heels.

All he says aloud is, “Leave it,” and then she’s following him out a service door into an unfamiliar pickup with a mis-matched camper shell.

Energy rolls off him as he floors it toward the open desert highway. The arid landscape spreads out in front of them, and she already misses the jugs of water still sitting in her abandoned shopping cart.

“John, what happened? Who was it?”

He shakes his head. “I’ve seen him before.”

“FBI?” Didn’t they used to be the good guys? “Super Soldier? Who?”

He jerks the wheel to avoid a burst tire in the road, and Monica grips the seat underneath her. Flashbacks of a drunk driver, glass and crunching metal make bile rise in her throat.

She cranks up the AC in her face to quell her nausea and tunes back in as he’s saying: “-black jeep. Didn’t see a plate. No reason for anybody we know to be out here.” He looks over at her. “Jesus, it only took them-”

She nods. She accessed her bank account less than two hours ago. Whoever it was must have already been in the area.

“Well,” she says, reaching for an up-side, “at least I’m not paranoid.”

- northwest -

They’re fifty miles south of Lubbock, parked under an old truck-stop sign missing half its letters. When Monica goes to get rid of John’s cell phone, he snatches it away from her like she’s trying to steal his kidney.

“It’s just a phone,” she reminds him, because he probably doesn’t see it that way. It’s government property, entrusted to his care. Monica loses objects all the time – her phone, her keys, her Blockbuster card. John doesn’t. “It’s not like you can use it now.”

His fingers go white with his tight grip, and her jaw tenses to match. He’s impossible when he doesn’t sleep. He’s barely acknowledged her all afternoon beyond grumbling about her taste in music and, once, slapping her hand away from the radio dials.

Three breaths later, he hands the phone over. He glares like she’s the one being unreasonable.

She hides it under a rig with British Columbia plates. They’ve been back-tracking for hours along numbered farm roads around the West Texas/New Mexico border, disguising their trail to nowhere, and she envies the long-haul trucker. He or she might be far from the Canadian border, but at least he has a destination.

Dana should have gone to Canada when she had the chance. Monica curses Mulder – just once he could have placed his own life above his capital-T Truth. She should curse Dana too, but Monica knows far too much about the hearts of women who chase after difficult men.

She returns to their pickup and knocks on the driver’s side window. “Out. My turn.”

John closes his fist around the keys. His back pops when he stands. “Just gimme a minute. I’m fine to keep driving.”

She’s had enough. “Tell that to oncoming traffic when you swerve into it again. Now stretch, go pee or whatever, and then get in the truck and take a nap before I strangle you.”

A smirk breaks across John’s mouth, surprising her after days of nothing but anger on his face.

He tips an imaginary cap. “Yes, ma’am.”

She sees John in that smile, sees home and new love and a life that was just starting to come together. She tries to hold on to that feeling even when the expression fades from his face.

- air -

The only motels that don’t require a credit card or ID are fleabags, but the truck seats don’t recline far enough to sleep well and they’re both desperate to get clean. Monica can’t remember the last time she was in a room like this that wasn’t a crime scene. She reflexively checks the carpet for pools of blood, but finds only dead bugs.

She stands on a towel in the shower, washes her shirt and underwear in the sink. Back in the main room, her fingers itch toward the dirty ashtray on the nightstand and she contemplates going outside in wet clothes and chain-smoking her way through the half-pack in her jeans pocket.

Instead of her wet top, she pulls on John’s dry shirt from the pile of clothes he threw on the bed. It reeks with two days of sweat and fear; she’ll wash it for him after she adds some cigarette smoke to the mix.

“What’re you-?” He opens the bathroom door just as she’s leaving, a threadbare towel around his waist and wet hair sticking straight up in the way she finds irresistible on their better days. His gaze falls to the cigarette she has already taken out of the pack. “You can smoke in here.”

“I’ll just be a minute. Go to bed; the sheets look pretty clean.”

He shakes his head, sending a few droplets flying. “S’okay. Just open the window or something.”

“You hate it.” Her voice comes out desperate. She needs space as much as nicotine, maybe more. “I’m armed, John. I’ll be fine.”

She can see the tension in his neck, muscles and tendons taut under beads of water. He looks like he’s going to argue, but he nods. “’Course you will.”

Outside, each passing car seems to slow down in front of the motel, coming to get them. Calm, she thinks with each exhale, imagining herself somewhere safe. Her mother’s kitchen. Her old apartment in the French Quarter with the windows open, letting in hot, jazz-tinted air. John’s arms, somewhere far from here.

She breathes out curls of smoke and looks for shapes, trying to tell their future.

- void -

He wakes her before dawn from an empty, dreamless sleep. There’s nothing but empty space in her mind, like the past five hours didn’t even exist. Like she doesn’t exist.

Her shirt is still damp when she puts it on, and she keeps mis-aligning the buttons.

Wait, she thinks when John reaches for the door. They have no stuff to collect, but she still feels the urge to go through her usual routine for leaving a hotel room: check the bathroom, drawers, under the blankets, closet, bathroom again.

She kisses him instead, pours her frustration into his mouth. Her fingers wrap through the belt-loops of his jeans and she tries to pull him back to bed.


“Just quickly,” she begs, which isn’t much of a come-on, but she needs something to feel good before she can do any more of this. “Please.”

He draws back, breathing heavy. His fingers knot in her hair, pulling, and she thinks she has him until he speaks: “You can sleep more on the road.” He hugs her, breath rough on her neck.

She wonders if he slept at all.

- bones -

They’re at a one-pump gas station in ranch country north of Fort Stockton, stretching and buying water. She crouches in the shade of the truck and unfolds their map on the ground, trying to see the bigger picture. She’s drawn east toward New Orleans for a familiar landscape, but going there would be stupid. If she were the agent in charge of trying to hunt down fugitive agents Reyes and Doggett, she’d have all their old haunts on watch.

John’s shadow cuts across Arkansas and Mississippi. He hands her a bottle of water and then squints into the sun, looking both ways down the deserted road.

“We could head toward Louisiana,” she says. They would avoid New Orleans, but there are plenty of dirt-poor communities amid the bayous where no one – probably no one – would think to look for them. She wouldn’t think to look for them there.

John grunts in response. She hears, What does that get us?, but she’s not sure if those are his doubts or hers. Neither of them are very good at being useless.

She answers the silent thought aloud. “We’re not doing any good driving in circles.” She has sensed his reluctance to stray too far from New Mexico, and she takes a stab at why: “We have no idea where they went.”

John glares down at her, and Monica bites back an old jealousy. Dana’s her friend and she’s worried about her too, but right now she’s more worried about Dana’s ability to cloud John’s judgment even when she’s not around. The beautiful Agent Scully derailed John’s career two years ago, and he’s been following her lead – and Mulder’s, by extension – ever since, with Monica trailing after all of them. Those are hard habits to break.

She says, like an apology, “We can’t help them.”

“You drive, then. This shit’s out of my league.” He tosses her the keys and slams the passenger door behind him.

She sighs and folds up the map, swallowing the prickle of tears in her throat. John takes things out on her because she’s strong, because she’s there, because she can always read through his anger to the man underneath. She’s seen worse, and she never walks away. She found his son’s body nine years ago; after that day, Monica will never tell him to feel less.

There’s a tiny skeleton half-buried in dirt she didn’t see before she laid the southwestern United States on top of it. A lizard, she identifies, with a crushed skull. Facing east.

It’s as good an omen as any, so she scratches Louisiana off the list.

- west -

John’s thinking himself around in circles – Monica can tell just by watching the shifting tension in his jaw. He hasn’t said a word since the last gas station when they switched places again, so she studies the map and looks around for black cars in pursuit. She should appreciate the silent break from his bad mood, but it’s a bad sign when John is too stressed to yell at her.

She can’t let it alone. “This isn’t working for me.”

His laugh is harsh. “What? Being on the run?”

Well, actually, “Yes. We can’t keep this pace.” Without killing each other, she doesn’t say aloud.

“I’m open to suggestions, Agent Reyes.”

“It’s not a suggestion. For the next-” she checks the map, “-ten miles, we’re not on the run. We’re just taking a scenic drive through ranch country. We’re on a case. Vacation. Whatever.”

“What kind of plan-”

“Argue and it’s twenty miles.”

He whips his head toward her. “You’re crazy.”

She raises her eyebrows. He turns back to the road without further comment, and she can tell the moment she has him.

His next breath is deeper, slower. He doesn’t smile, but his frown cracks a little. “Better make it twenty-five.”

- home -

They don’t risk a motel again. They make a more successful supply run, and just before dark, John takes the truck off-road into the New Mexico desert and parks behind a rock formation that will block their campsite from view.

Monica feels like week-old bread and can’t look much better, but she feels John watching her as she makes a fire from old cigarette cartons littered by the campsite’s previous occupants. John bought a small axe for cutting tinder, but there isn’t much to find. His gaze on her back doesn’t feel angry, so that’s something.

She’s arranging sleeping bags in the back of the truck when he says, “I’m thinking about Mexico.”

Yes, she wants to say, take me home. She longs for familiar food, familiar language, the safety she used to feel in her mother’s kitchen. Corruption in Mexico breaks her heart on better days, but now that the FBI has turned on her, the lawless streets of Ciudad Juárez sound like a safe haven.

They could keep going south, past the border, past the capitol, past the family she won’t endanger, all the way to the other end of the country until no one would think to look for them. She wants to get lost in Yucatán, to wander among the jungles and ancient temples until the magic there restores her sense of direction.

Reality cuts across her fantasy like barbed wire and border patrol. “We’ll never make it.”

He’s still talking it out: “The border won’t stop Super Soldiers, but they’ve got to be using government resources to track us. If we get out of FBI jurisdiction-”

“Our names must have been flagged. There are armed patrols at every checkpoint.” The last time John was in Mexico, he was almost beaten to death in a Juárez border town. It took a miracle of timing and Federales and Walter Skinner to save him; she doubts they’ll get that lucky again. “They have video cameras, guns–”

“Yeah. Pointing the other way.”

She takes a few deep breaths and reminds herself that the border looks different to someone raised on the other side of the Rio Grande. She used to dream about dying of dehydration in the desierto de Chihuahua before every trip to visit her grandparents in Texas.

Now, she tries to think like Monica Reyes, Special Agent. “We definitely can't cross together. We'll get caught.” She told Skinner she was alone, but she and John are partners; the FBI will expect them to pool their resources.

Instead of answering, John ends the conversation by walking away from her to pace a wide perimeter around camp. When he eventually lays down next to her, he doesn’t say a word.

Old nightmares bite at the edges of her consciousness, and she lies awake until dawn. John’s thoughts are like the ocean, roaring at her back.

- fire -

They get a late start. At 9 a.m., Monica is still swirling instant coffee grit around the bottom of her travel mug.

There’s not much prophecy in coffee sludge. “I need tea leaves,” she says.

At 11:30, a black Land Rover runs them off the road.

She screams at the first crunch of metal on the driver’s side, then jerks the wheel hard and throws it in reverse to try and get some distance.

The truck stalls.

She doesn’t recognize the man who gets out of the other vehicle with a gun, but the way he’s walking toward them like he’s impervious to any bullets they might shoot back…

“John!” She grabs her gun, for all the good it’ll do.

He says, “Cover me,” and jumps out of the cab.

Her door is jammed shut from the crash, so she lays on the horn and keeps her head low as she fights to get the engine started again. When the truck growls to life, she floors it. She can’t kill a Super Soldier with a truck, but she can slow him down…

Except she can’t steer in the loose sand beneath her wheels, the truck stalls out in a cloud of smoke, and then the Super Soldier is beside her, smashing her window and slamming her head into the steering wheel in one move.

Glass - blood - breath - John -

The impact knocks the sense out of her, but her gun is still in her hand, so she shoots him point-blank in the face.

He’s still moving, hand still squeezed around her throat, until he’s just gone, replaced by John standing over him with their firewood axe.

John’s voice is low and angry. “Will the truck start?” She tries it, but all she gets is more smoke. “Then get out.”

She has to wrestle out of her seat and crawl to the passenger door over cubes of safety glass. She rips up the floor mats with shaky hands to get the cash that didn’t fit in their pockets and grabs a jug of water. By the time she makes it out, John has taken the axe and slashed the tires. The decapitated body is starting to move.

She empties the rest of her clip into what would be vital organs on any ordinary human while John whacks the top off their spare gas can and spreads the fuel around.

In the passenger seat of the Land Rover, speeding away from the burning car behind them, Monica blacks out.

- blood -

She comes to, one sense at a time. Her face is wet. She smells metal. She can hear other cars driving nearby, but she doesn’t feel movement. Her car door is open and John is standing next to her with his shirt off.

She sputters when water gets in her mouth.

John takes the wet fabric out of the way and rubs his thumb over her cheek. “Hey.” His fear moves through her in waves, drowning out the pain in her head.

Monica struggles to sit up straighter. “How long was I out?”

“Thirty miles. I needed to make sure–” John stops mid-sentence and clears his throat. He wrings out red water from the rag he was using – his shirt, she realizes – then bunches it up and presses it to her forehead. “We can’t stay here, but if you needed a hospital-”

If she needs a hospital, it’s all over. “I’m fine. We should keep going.” She has no idea how long it takes a Super Soldier to recover from being burned alive, and she’d rather not find out.

John doesn’t move right away. “Can you see okay?” He almost lost her to her last head injury. He never talks about it, but Dana told her how bad it was.

Her vision’s blurry. The blood spatter on his arms runs together in indecipherable patterns. She repeats, “We should go.”

It’s more literal now, but she hasn’t been able to see clearly for a while.

- remains -

A hundred miles later is a truck stop. John buys tools and tears the Land Rover’s dashboard apart, looking for bugs and GPS trackers. Monica locks herself in the handicapped bathroom and patches herself up with vending machine first aid.

It’s mostly bruising, save for a nice gash from her eyebrow to her hairline and a split lip. She can see the imprint of the Super Soldier’s hand on her throat in purple and yellow, and that gives her an idea for crossing the border.

She buys John a burger and fries and waits until he’s both focused on driving and his mouth is full. “We have to split up.” In clean clothes, John can blend in with a bus of sight-seeing gringos who won’t be scrutinized too closely. With her Mexican I.D., a little money, and a face full of bruises, she can talk her way onto a truck of day laborers in El Paso or keep a border guard from taking down her name. Mi marido americano es un hombre violento…

He says, “We stay together,” like that’s the end of it and she doesn’t get a vote.

“You’re not listening.” Her head hurts, and she’s so tired of this, of fighting for every inch of ground. Even when he doesn’t call her crazy, when she’s not picking up feelings or having psychic flashes or reading tea leaves-

“They’ve already cut us off from Skinner, Agent Scully, Mulder-” He bangs his fist against the steering wheel. “You’re playing right into their hand!”

She almost died today; she’ll be damned if she’s going to back down because he’s having a tantrum. “You want two fugitive American agents to run the border together in a stolen car!”

He doesn’t say anything for miles. She wins the argument when he turns south.

- earth -

She only means to give him the silent treatment but ends up falling asleep. She wakes up when he prods her shoulder from the driver’s seat with a bottle of water.

“Concussion,” he reminds her. “Stay with me.”

Monica rolls her eyes. If the situation weren’t so life and death, she’d stay somewhere far away from him for a while. Let him miss her, until he stops acting like her half of every conversation is just noise.

“We should bury our guns,” she says. “We can’t cross with them.” It’ll be hard enough for her to do after years of FBI training telling her to never lose possession of her service weapon. John fought her over dumping his cell phone.

His fingers tighten on the steering wheel.

She counts seconds in the silence to a hundred, then stops counting. The landscape rushing past is brown grass and baked earth, and Monica longs for a downpour to flood it away.

“I’ve lost everything in my life,” he says. “Everything.

She closes her eyes. His son. His marriage. His reputation. His life, his home, his career... and now she’s asking him for his gun.

He takes three breaths, and finishes, “Except you.”

Jesus. “Pull over.” Before he can go back to arguing, she repeats, “Pull over.

They’re parked, dust settling around them, and she looks him in the eye for the first time since this started. For the first time, he looks back.

She asks: “What are we going to do?”

- water -

They get a motel room they won’t stay in for long. John leaves her there for an hour and comes back with clean clothes, sterile bandages, and a different car.

He tells her about the disreputable-looking scrap yard he found behind the Bealls department store, then grouses about the quality of their new ride. "It's a real beater. Looks like hell. Texas plates."

Last month, he dragged her 250 miles on a Saturday to buy special rims for his truck.

Monica’s soaking in the bath and he sits on the floor opposite her, fully clothed, gun in his lap. She can tell it's loaded by how he holds it.

If he bought ammunition, “I guess we’re not burying those.”

There’s wry humor in his eyes. “We should be so lucky to do time for bringing weapons into Mexico.”

She reaches one wet hand toward him, and he takes it. The water in the tub laps back and forth in response to her movement, almost in time with his pulse.

“We can go back to D.C.,” she says. His home is there. The X-files are gone, but there are still things to protect, maybe a way to involve the press or find an unaffected branch of government before the conspiracy catches up with them. Her instinct is always to run rather than confront, but John is a fighter. Without her, he would stay.

He shakes his head. She feels something moving toward her through their joined hands, like a breeze clearing some of the fog from her path. “It’s more important to survive.”

She thinks if she holds on long enough, she’ll see clearly again. “Let’s make sure we do.”

- south -

There are ten cars between them and the Ysleta border crossing. Monica’s already thinking in Spanish, rehearsing their story, when John speaks up from the passenger seat:

“So, Monica.” It’s that oh-fine-just-tell-me voice he gets when he’s about to ask her opinion on something he considers nonsense. “Do we make it?”

She still doesn’t know, through the concussion and her general sense of the world that’s been absent since they drove away from Mulder and Scully with helicopters at their backs.

To hell with it, she decides, and makes up her own future. “Yes.” For good measure, she adds to her prediction: “And then I’m going to find you real enchiladas, and you’re going to like them.”

His lips pinch together, holding back a smile. “If you say so.”

“I do.”

Twenty miles later, she’s right.

- end -
Tags: fic, fic: x-files

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