AUTHOR: winter baby
FANDOM: The X-Files
SUMMARY: Denial is just a word.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wrote this before Release and before they ever gave Doggett's wife a name, so I named her myself.
+  Denial  +
[ chapter one: a return to night ]
The house is dark, moonlight barely seeping in through the curtains but I know that she's not asleep.
She hasn't slept in days.
I climb the stairs silently, not sure who exactly I would disturb, but at this early hour and in this darkness I feel as if the tiniest noise will wake the dead. I slowly push the bedroom door open and take hesitant steps into the dark.
She's sitting at her dresser, staring so intently at the old coffee stain on our carpet.
John, she says without looking up. It's just a word, a name my name but it sounds foreign coming from her and there's no meaning in it anymore. I try not to sigh.
Lea, I answer, not to be cute or funny this is hardly the time but because I don't know how else to respond. I look at her frail body wrapped in her old pink bathrobe and wonder when was the last time she left this room.
It's late, she tells me. As if I didn't already know. She catches my gaze in the mirror and I can't help but stare at her pale reflection, a ghost of the woman I should have loved.
I'm sorry, I reply. My apology is hardly sincere but I know it doesn't matter how I answer her; she doesn't hear me anyway. The only thing she hears anymore is Luke crying out for her in her dreams.
Sometimes I hear her crying out for me, for help, for rescue, for what? I pretend not to hear. I turn my back to her because if I can't hear her pleas then nothing is wrong.
Denial is just a word, a name my name but this one has meaning and it's hardly foreign.
She says nothing more to me so I move towards the closet, undoing my tie as I walk. The antiseptic smell of the morgue still clings to my suit and I want to climb out of it as fast as I can. Lea follows my movements with her eyes, watching me as if she were looking for something.
When I reach to turn on the lamp, I hear her gasp and then whimper. I leave the darkness alone and blindly change into my sweatpants and old NYPD T-shirt. Lea never takes her eyes off me. Her face is gaunt and so pale that she almost glows in this darkness. Her short blonde hair looks dirty and stringy, and her pale blue eyes are empty as she
What did he look like? she asks me suddenly, quietly. I'm caught off guard, unable to find the right words to answer her.
I can't tell her that her only son looked scarred and mutilated, that he looked so much smaller than when he was still alive. I can't tell her that his arm was broken in three places and that I ran from the exam room when the doctors reached for the rape test kit.
But it doesn't matter that I don't say these things because she sees me pause. Everything I couldn't tell her she knows anyway from my silence.
She's not breathing and I can see her wet eyes glittering in the dark.
In my head I say, Don't cry. For Christ's sake, please don't cry.
I try to comfort her but she cuts me off by turning away.
I sigh. I don't know how to deal with all of this anymore Lea, her tears, the medical examiners that gush out their sympathies but what good does that do me? My son's still dead, lying so still and so cold on that metal slab.
I close my eyes, slowly breathing in and out like Monica taught me. It helps, she promised, to relieve the stress. But I use it not to relax, only to escape reality.
Because if this works in yoga then this will work for me. Because if reality is just a state of mind all I have to do is find another one. Lea and her pale face surrounded by darkness fade away into a deep nothingness where I don't have to think or even grieve anymore. All that exists is my breathing. In. Out.
Hear Monica's voice say, Imagine a straight blue light of energy coming from the sky, reaching your head. It goes down your spine, travels out your feet, and finally into the ground. This blue light is the positive energy of everything living around you, of nature, of yourself.
Hear my own voice say, Imagine this because this is another reality. Because it's fake and makes no sense but at least you're not thinking about anything else. But most of all, just keep breathing.
Denial is just a word.
Yoga, I think, what a load of bullshit.
I open my eyes and Lea is the first thing I see. The suddenness of everything around me hits me hard, like a slap in the face. I realize I never left this reality; instead she's glaring right at me, the tears staining her white cheeks.
Are you done dealing? she asks bitterly.
I don't want to fight, Lea.
My voice is hollow, defeated. I've already lost.
Well I do, she says tensely.
What are you talking about? I ask. I almost want to scream at her but I am beyond capable, beyond tired.
I know where you've been all these nights, she accuses. I can smell her on your clothes.
How could she possibly, over the stench of the morgue? I move towards
Don't, she says tersely. Her voice is on the verge of breaking and her thin, fragile body is trembling. Don't you dare say my name. I want you to leave. I want you to take all your shit and go back to that slut because I don't want you in my house.
I can't move, her voice is that threatening. She screams Get out! and I grab my jacket as I leave the room, throwing it on over my sweats.
But no matter how fast I run, I can still hear her sobs echoing down the hallway.
[ chapter two: a truth unbound ]
Monica opens the door dressed in a white bathrobe. She looks tired.
Did I wake you? I ask, even though I know I didn't. She doesn't sleep either.
You're back, Monica says, only a little bit surprised. She lets me into her apartment, staring at my T-shirt and sweats and bare feet in slippers.
What the hell happened? she asks with a yawn. I collapse onto her couch; it still has its new furniture smell. Everything does in her apartment obviously; she's only lived here for about a week now, ever since she moved here and started working on this missing person case. My missing person case.
At least she's not pouring out sympathy like everyone else I know. At least she's real.
Lea kicked me out, I answer matter-of-factly, not really sure how to act in this situation. Am I the victim, or is she?
Monica doesn't say anything as she moves to the kitchen. I hear her put a kettle on the stove; she doesn't even ask if I want any tea but Monica always presumes things like that, and most of the time she's right. She shuffles back into the living room, holding a pack of cigarettes in her hand. She knows by now not to offer me any and doesn't, lighting up a lone cigarette and throwing the pack onto the coffee table. She sits on the arm of the sofa, hovering above me.
Monica looks at me expectantly, gestures with her cigarette for me to continue.
Lea thinks, I sigh as I speak, that we're having an affair.
Monica hardly seems surprised. Her smoke gets in my eyes, stinging and rancid but I want the pain, something physical and less cerebral to hold onto.
Are we having an affair? she asks frankly. I stare at her for a moment, as if she's out of her mind.
I've never touched you, Monica.
My voice is defensive, maybe a little too much.
I know, she says as she takes a drag, but where was this leading
Smoke floats out as she talks, a cloud surrounding her face and maybe it's a good thing that I can't see her expression too clearly. If she's kidding, then ha, joke's on me; but more likely she's not and I don't know if I can deal with that.
I stare at the coke stain on my old sweats, trying to remember the last time I washed them. Monica stubs out her cigarette in the plastic ashtray on the table and her voice is more blunt than I'd like it to be.
John, I know you don't want to admit this, but ask yourself why you came here, of all the places. Your wife kicks you out for having an affair with me and this is where you come back to?
Her logic is too accurate, too concise. I try to shrug my shoulders, to show that what she's saying is having little effect on me, but I'm frozen stiff. She places her warm hand on my shoulder, leaning in closer to make sure that I hear what she says. Her breath is hot against the side of my head, her soap smell filling my nose.
I'm not saying that what we have is love, she tells me with a small smile. We're both too stubborn for that, I know.
I just shake my head, not refuting anything she's saying but trying to shut her up. I'm not hearing this. Not this, not now.
But denial doesn't work with her like it does with Lea. I still hear Monica's voice, telling me things I can't accept as truth because then I would have to admit that I'm not as innocent of Lea's accusations as I'd like to be.
Monica sighs as she pulls back from me. She says, It's probably not the smartest thing for me to get involved with a co-worker, a married co-worker while we're at it. And god knows you're going through more than you can handle.
She pauses as if she's waiting for me to agree or something, but I don't have anything to say. She continues.
John, all this emotional baggage that comes along with sleeping with you your wife, your dead son, your guilt I know it all. And as messed up as it is, I accept it all.
When she pauses again, it's not to wait for my answer but to turn away from me and look out the window, into the black night. She sighs, almost reluctant to go on but Monica has never been afraid to speak her mind.
Without looking at me, she says quietly, Later, when this is all over and you've gone back to Lea because I know you will, you'll blame this on Luke, as much as you won't want to. You'll rationalize that whatever you felt for me sympathy, lust, compassion was really because you were so upset at what happened and you just couldn't deal with it any other way.
I shake my head again but she ignores me. She turns back to me and stares me dead straight in the eyes. Her voice is firm, not in a commanding way but in a way that allows for no arguments.
She says, I'll know the truth, even if you'll be in denial. What we have, this isn't just about grief or sex. It's something more.
I wonder what the hell she's talking about. But Monica, being Monica, makes perfect sense to herself and most likely all this will make perfect sense to me later, when everything is done and over with.
She's talking about an affair, although she'll never call it that, I know. She's too spiritual to label relationships, especially negative ones. She believes in too much to realize that this may ruin my whole life, my whole marriage.
I'm embarrassed for her, for her truthfulness. How can she just openly suggest something like this? Take the responsibility of being the one who sets off what could only be called an affair, even if she won't acknowledge it? I blame it on her youth, on how little she really knows about relationships and people and marriages. But I know that's wrong. Monica's too smart for that; she's not some ingιnue or silly romantic. She's pragmatic, if not a little strange.
Monica answers my unspoken questions. She tells me, Life's too short to dance around a subject, John. I want what I want, and I make no apologies for them.
That's a convenient philosophy, I mutter almost resentfully. She slides her hand off my shoulder, and I turn to look at her. She seems frustrated with me.
You can sleep on the couch tonight, she says, abruptly changing the subject. Monica moves off the couch to get blankets from the closet.
And tomorrow night? I ask, and she turns to face me at the doorway.
We'll see, she sighs, and then the teakettle starts to whistle. She disappears into the kitchen.
When she comes back into the living room, we drink in silence. Monica refuses to look at me, and I don't have anything to say to her, at least nothing that will better this situation. I think I should leave, that maybe I've outstayed, or worse, ruined my welcome here. But Monica is not the subtle type. If she wanted me gone, I would already be out on my ass.
The mugs are left half-full on the coffee table when Monica throws me a pillow and blanket from the closet; they smell like her, or like her detergent. Either way, they smell good.
Things won't be okay for a long while, Monica says to me as she turns off the lights.
I ask her, What the hell is that supposed to mean?
She is just a silhouette in this darkness, a blurred image. Monica shrugs and says cryptically, Just that this isn't over.
What isn't over? I demand. She doesn't answer and retreats into her own bedroom.
I sigh out of frustration. She can be so damn weird sometimes. Maybe I resent her for leaving me alone in this darkness. Weren't we supposed to be having an affair of some kind?
Blackness fills the room, and this night is almost surreal, almost a dream.
I shut my eyes, and how I hope that when I open them again I'll be home with Lea and Luke. How I hope that these past few days have been nothing but a really long, really bad nightmare.
But of course when I do open them I'm still in Monica's apartment, lying on her new couch. I try to forget about her and her words, but when I do, I begin to think about Lea, or worse, Luke.
I try, but not even denial can change this existence.
So instead I take the easy way out. I let this darkness cover me slowly and drift into a sleep where I don't dream, where reality doesn't exist. I still have some escapes.
I know now that denial isn't a word or even a state of mind.
It's only a name.
[ end ]
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