by Wistful

You know the phone is going to ring before it does. It's just one of those things. When it rings, you pick it up out of its cradle and smile sadly into the receiver. Sadly, because there are so many things to be sad about, and it seems wrong to smile as you answer.

"Dana," you say, even though she hasn't spoken.

She is surprised. You hear it in her silence. But not too surprised, because Dana Scully's mind is expanding like a balloon, opening up to all those extreme possibilities. Briefly, you see that balloon pop and become disgusted, but you quickly bat the horrible image away with an imaginary hand.

"Monica," she whispers, very quietly, and your heart bites the dust. "Oh, God, my baby's gone."

Your chin falls, like your eyelids, because it's true. The sky was blue today, John's tie had a small stain of mustard on it, and Dana gave up her baby boy so that he could have a normal life if there is such a thing.

"I'll be right over," you promise, and try not to shiver with dread as you hang up. This is all too familiar.

You think you hear her say something else, but the phone is in its place, so you shake your head and hurry toward the hat tree you spent nearly three weeks searching for. You grab your coat off the top rung, shove your arms into it, and almost forget to lock the door on your way out. You're flighty like that sometimes, and even though John teases you about it, you know it's something that makes him love you.

On the way to Dana's apartment, you encounter all green lights, and take it as a sign. That's just something you do. Outside her door, you press a hand to your stomach because something in there is stinging you, and then knock sharply. You sense her peering through the peep hole and blink at it dumbly, not sure if you should give a little wave or pretend you don't notice her hesitating on the other side of the door. In the end, you opt for discretion and stare at your toes.

It is then that you realize you're still in your house shoes.

You blink. Damn!

The door opens, slowly, and you lift your eyes. Dana stares at you from the half open doorway, a baggy t-shirt hanging down over boxers that are probably Mulder's. She looks tired and pretty in her grief, eyes red and scratched from recent tears, lipstick bitten off of her mouth. You don't wait for her to invite you in, stepping forward and moving her back into her apartment by invading her space. She's predictable like that, and you appreciate it.

"Thank you for coming," she says, in a tight voice. You brush her words off as you shut the door behind yourself, remembering to lock it this time, and then turn to her. Her eyes stare back at you with an expression you recognize from John's eyes, just a little around the edges, and it almost makes you flinch. Oh, God. Not this again. Anything but this. Without revealing your discomfort, you step forward and place your hands firmly over her shoulders. She doesn't move. For the first time, you notice she has a very small stuffed animal in her hand, clenched between her fingers.

"Let's sit down," you tell her, and turn her toward the couch, leading her slowly, but with conviction to the cushions. There are tissues wadded up and thrown all over the surface, but you ignore them and both of you sit down. "Are you okay?"

Stupid question. Your mouth twists sardonically as you shake your head. "Sorry," you apologize, but she only continues to look at you with those desperately unhappy eyes that tear a hole in you. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Dana thinks about it for a moment, eyes dropping away from yours. She shakes her head slightly, so slight in fact, you wouldn't have noticed it if you hadn't been watching her so carefully. You nod in response even though she can't see it, and shift on the cushions until you're against the arm. Then you tug on her hand until she scoots over next to you and lets herself be drawn down into your embrace. Her cheek rests on your shoulder, her fingers clutching around the cotton shirt covering your belly. The juncture of her thighs presses at an odd angle against your pelvic bone but you don't mention it, because it would be wrong to at a moment like this one.

"I'm sorry," she says, as if she must. "I didn't know who else to call."

You shush her, tangling your fingers in her hair and scratching your nails against her scalp, trying to soothe what you know cannot be soothed. She's very small in your arms, almost like a child, and there's a strange flutter in your stomach that you brutally suffocate. "No need to apologize," you admonish lightly. "I'm glad you called me."

"I gave up my baby," she cries in a strangled voice, curling around you with her body, digging her chin into your collarbone. You wince, but don't move away, carefully rubbing your palms across her back. There's nothing for you to say, so you only hold her as the emotion pours out of her like water from a broken faucet. "Oh, my baby..."

"It's not forever," you offer, and she freezes in your arms. Her muscles work against each other as she lifts herself up, using her forearms for leverage. You realize then that you've somehow ended up in a reclined position, on your back, with her body curved around yours. She gazes down at you, face streaked with tears that can't dry quickly enough before they are overrun with more. Dana Scully is not a woman that spends all her free time crying, so when she does, it comes from a deeper place than most, because she absolutely can't hold them back anymore.

"It might be," she tells you. There's an ache in her voice. "It might have to be forever."

John, you think. John, she's you right now, with breasts.

You breathe through your nose a few times, eyes scanning her face for some sign of what you can do, but she only looks at you, and you're left with no solution. But maybe this isn't something that should be solved. After all, some things are just like that.

"Then you'll go on," you reply, as gently as you can. She shakes her head, but you stop it by gripping her chin carefully. "You will. You have friends and family that love you, and we'll make sure you'll go on."

Her eyes fill again. "Mulder-"

You interrupt her. "He'll understand. I promise."

Something breaks inside her, and she shudders. You feel it in your spine. The sensation of her breasts pressed into your side reminds you uncomfortably of a college encounter so long ago, and your mouth is suddenly flooded with the taste of cherry lip balm. You remember the gentle touch of your roommate, the sweet apple smell of her hair as it brushed your nostrils. Dana's hair doesn't smell like apples. It smells like chemicals and baby powder, and her eyes look right through you as if you're not even there.

Scared, you grip her harder than you should.

You look at her mouth, where a single tear is caught in the corner. Your stomach lifts, and you lean up impulsively, darting your tongue against the bow of her lips. Salt. She gasps at your folly, and rears away from you, throwing herself to the opposite end of the couch. Her eyes are big and blue, hair wild around her face. You shake a little, and raise a hand to your mouth. Your lips burn.

You would apologize, but you can't speak.

So dramatic, you think. Life is like that.

"Monica," she begins, stiltedly, but then says nothing else. You nod, because you have to do something, and then sit up, because you have to leave. It's just something you have to do. But she stops you with a cool hand, fingers very soft on your wrist. You look down at the hand, shocked, and then at her face. She isn't giving anything away with her expression, as solid and like steel as ever. But you have this feeling that she wants you to stay. You falter in your steps, unsure. There's something about comforting her that makes you want to stay as well.

So you do, and you don't kiss her again, but she kisses you.

It's just something she needs.


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