Title: Elephant in the Room
Summary: an evening watching the baby
The door to Scully's apartment opened revealing John Doggett. "Monica," he greeted the current occupant.
"John, thank God you're here!" Monica's weary face relaxed. She looked uncharacteristically disheveled. She ushered him into the apartment. It was a disaster area and he could hear a baby wailing in the background.
Monica disappeared into the bedroom, leaving Doggett in the living room.
He called after her, "You wanna tell me what you're doing at Agent Scully's apartment and what's so urgent that I had to come over here just as I was sitting down to dinner?" He had a good suspicion about what was going on, but he thought putting Monica through the whole story might serve her right.
Monica returned with a whimpering William and a guilty look on her face. "I asked Dana to perform the autopsy in the Malachy case. She couldn't get her mother to babysit on such short notice, so she said if she had to do the autopsy, I'd have to watch William."
Doggett sighed in frustration. "Monica, I can't believe I have to remind you again. There are plenty of qualified pathologists at the Bureau. We can't keep calling on Agent Scully. Skinner's gonna be on both our asses."
"Yes, John, I know! I don't need a lecture! But the fact is, I don't trust anyone else to look for the elements that are particular to our field, do you?"
"The fact is, Monica, you just want somebody who's gonna find something where there's nothing to find."
"Are you saying that Dana isn't objective?"
"You know damn well that I'm not. I'm saying that you aren't. For Christsakes, Monica, we've been having this argument since you came on to the X-Files. You know that Agent Scully has to separate herself from us and the X-Files in order to protect herself, her baby, and Mulder. And it's our responsibility to keep her safe."
"Oh, I see. So it's only appropriate to use Dana when you feel it's necessary," Monica said with indignation.
"What the hell's that supposed to mean?"
"You know exactly what I mean! Whenever you think a case is cut and dry, I'm endangering Dana by consulting her. But whenever you don't have a clue about what's going on, you run straight to her autopsy bay and she just ends up corroborating exactly what I was trying to tell you in the first place."
"When has she ever backed up what you've said?"
"And when has she ever agreed with you? Just what do you get out of being told by Agent Dana Scully that you're wrong?"
William was positively howling as their squabble grew more heated, and Monica's bouncing and shushing were having no effect.
The argument had taken an unexpected and uncomfortable turn for Doggett and he was ready to give in. "Okay, let's calm down. We're upsetting the baby." He reached out and stroked William's fuzzy head.
"That's why I needed you to come over. I can't get him to stop crying."
"So you called me?" Doggett asked, incredulously.
"At least you've dealt with babies before."
"Yeah, sure. Sixteen years ago."
"That's still more experience than me, and babies are pretty much the same as they were then."
"All right, fine," Doggett said. He peered closer at William's little red face to see if it could reveal what was wrong. "He doesn't need changing? Or feeding?"
"He was dry when I checked five minutes ago and he didn't want a bottle as of a half hour ago."
"Well, let's try the bottle again. Where is it?"
"Fridge," Monica yelled over William's cries and nodded her head in the direction of the kitchen.
Doggett made his way towards the fridge. As he pulled the door open, a plastic bottle fell out, hit his foot, and rolled away. Seeing the familiar top of a baby's bottle, he surmised that this had to be William's. He attempted to pick it up by its blue cap, but the cap's grip wasn't enough to hold onto the bottle's weight and it fell again, leaving Doggett with the cap in his hand and a throbbing foot.
The bottle had rolled under the kitchen table. He crouched to pick it up and smacked his head on the edge of the table as he tried to get back up.
"John, where's that bottle?" Monica yelled to him.
Rubbing the back of his head, he yelled back, "Just heating it up now."
He placed the bottle in the microwave. He wasn't sure if it was the blow to his head, but he would swear that the blue baby elephant on the bottle was smiling mockingly at him every time it rotated into view.
The microwave chimed and he pulled the bottle out and automatically shook it out over the inside of his wrist to test the warmth. He thought about how easy it was to fall back into the parenting role until the realization that he had Dana Scully's breast milk all over his hand nearly sent him into shock. He grabbed a dishtowel and quickly wiped the liquid off.
Doggett brought the bottle out to Reyes who was sitting on the couch with the bawling William. "It should be warm enough."
Reyes tipped William back and tried to wiggle the rubber nipple around his lips. The baby made gurgled sobs as milk streamed into his mouth, but finally he began to suckle.
"See, eventually, he was gonna be more hungry than angry," Doggett said.
Reyes merely nodded, looking at him with a doubtful expression, afraid that speaking would upset the now pacified baby. Doggett watched her not really sure if he could leave her yet. He smiled at the picture of domesticity that the three of them made.
"John, what are you staring at?" Monica's whisper broke his distraction.
"Uh...I was just gonna say, you might wanna tip the bottle up a bit more. He's getting some air bubbles there."
Doggett continued to watch with fascination. He realized that in all the months since William's birth, he had never held the boy. He had never asked to hold William nor had he ever been asked to hold him, although he had willingly risked his life for the child again and again. "Why don't you give him here?" he asked. "Give yourself a break."
"Sure," she said with almost enthusiastic relief.
Doggett sat down beside her as Reyes passed the baby into his arms. William fussed a bit but calmed down again when the bottle was back in his mouth. Monica watched for a moment before excusing herself.
It was five minutes before William started to cry again. He coughed and sputtered, so Doggett placed the bottle on the coffee table and pulled the baby up to his shoulder. "Okay, big guy, okay. That's enough, huh?"
Monica came rushing back into the room, looking more composed than when he first saw her. "Is everything okay?"
Doggett laughed at her concern. "Yeah, the little man was just done with his dinner." He began to pat the baby's back. "Where'd you go?" Doggett asked.
Monica held up a small pill bottle. "I went looking for some relief." She pointed at William, and said, "If he really is the leader against the next alien invasion, they'd better be able to put up with his tantrums. I don't know how Dana does this every day."
John spoke without thinking. "She'd probably have an easier time of it if she wasn't asked to do autopsies at all hours." He barely gave her a second to give him the evil eye before he quickly changed the subject. "What have you got there anyway? I thought you only did that natural remedy stuff."
"Believe me, a natural remedy just isn't going to cut it this time. This is all I could find in Dana's medicine cabinet. Orange-flavored children's aspirin."
"Do you think that'll be strong enough?" Doggett asked, clearly amused. He sat William back down on his lap still rubbing his back.
"Not tonight, John. I have a headache," Monica replied dryly.
He watched her shake out two tablets. She reached for a glass on the coffee table and went to the kitchen to fill it. Doggett spied the files and books beneath her glass. The books were religious texts and the folder was open to pictures of the victim's body. He leaned forward to get a better look when William squealed. Doggett sat up and looked down to find William staring up at him with fascinated eyes.
"Hey, you don't want to be looking at this stuff, big guy!" Doggett pulled William up to face him. William's chubby hands were glistening with slobber as he reached out to grab hold of Doggett's cheek. He squealed again when he made contact. Doggett in turn blew a raspberry at William, prompting another delighted noise from the baby.
Monica returned to the room. "You two seem to be hitting it off. You've got a magic touch."
"Guy stuff. He just knows how to relate to another male." Monica just nodded with a smile and set about tidying the room while John continued to amuse William. Soon William was beginning to exhibit the signs of a sleepy baby.
Gently, he stood with William who was burying his face in Doggett's shoulder. Doggett found William's rocker chair and carefully reached over hoisted it to the couch. He fastened William into the chair and even figured out how his head support went on. William fussed a bit, not enjoying his new position and restriction of movement. Doggett placed the chair on the floor and began rocking it slowly and steadily with his foot. William gurgled in approval.
Satisfied that he could take his eyes off the child, Doggett picked up the file and began flipping through the photos. There was nothing in the pictures of the victim that suggested anything supernatural. There were no bizarre scars, lesions, or mutilations. He looked normal. He looked like nobody. To Doggett, it was just another homicide. He didn't complain about taking on a normal run-of-the-mill case that he could solve with good old fashioned detective work, and Monica was again making a big deal out of nothing.
"So what exactly do you think happened here?" Doggett asked, keeping his voice low so as not to disturb William, when Monica reappeared with a dishtowel in hand.
She peered over at William, now fast asleep in his chair, before she sat beside John on the couch. She shook her head and whispered, "No. I don't think you really want to hear what I think happened."
Doggett turned towards her, careful to move his foot without disturbing the baby. "Just because I'm going to disagree with you again doesn't mean you shouldn't tell me what your theory is. I share my boring, old, logical theories with you. It's only fair."
Monica rolled her eyes at him. "How much have you read so far?"
"Just that the victim was found in front of St. Matthew's and had apparently been stabbed."
"Not just stabbed. Run through. The murder weapon of choice was a sword."
He shook his head. "A weird murder is still not a supernatural one, Monica."
She ignored him. "The victim, Jerome Malachy, found still seemingly alive, was taken to hospital where he flatlined in surgery. When the surgeons tried to resuscitate him, they found that he was breathing and had a pulse, but the monitors continued to show a flatline."
"That's the big deal? So the hospital equipment was broken, or uncalibrated."
"They tried 6 different monitors."
"Monica, that's not enough. There has to be a reasonable explanation. Maybe the guy had a skin problem so the electrodes wouldn't work on him."
"Let me finish, John. The man continued breathing until he was given his last rites."
Her revelations did not clear his confusion. "Just what am I supposed to be getting here, Monica?"
"That he hung on because he had to die in a state of grace. I think this man was probably killed in a holy war."
"What, like Jihad?" he asked.
"No, the ultimate holy war. Like Good versus Evil. God versus the Devil. The monitors couldn't read his vitals because he wasn't of this world. I think this man was a messenger, or an angel."
Doggett had lost his patience, forgetting the sleeping baby at his feet. "Jesus Christ, Monica! 'Wasn't of this world'?! Now you are just reaching! What are you hoping Agent Scully is gonna find in her autopsy? Wings?"
"Shh! You're going to wake William!"
Doggett turned to check on William. The baby still slumbered undisturbed.
He lowered his voice. "He's fine. He's probably out for the night."
Monica picked up the baby monitor off the coffee table and got up. She motioned for Doggett to follow her. They made their way quietly to the kitchen. Monica stood against the counter with her arms folded. She spoke in a hushed but determined voice. "This is why I didn't tell you my theory or mention that I asked Dana for help. I knew you would be this way."
"Look, I agree with you that the way this guy died is bizarre, and I agree that if you try to find the motive, you will find the murderer. But you aren't even looking for motive, Monica. It's like you're looking for the craziest story possible. And what exactly did you say to Agent Scully to get her to do this autopsy? Did you tell her the story you just told me?"
"I told her we needed her help. She accepted that."
"Well, then, I guess we just wait and see what she finds."
"I guess we do."
Monica continued to glare at Doggett. He closed his eyes and shook his head. Sometimes he couldn't believe she was the same woman who was there for him during the worst period of his life.
"What?" she asked accusingly.
"Is it always gonna be like this? We get a case, argue until we reach a stalemate, then wait for someone else to back one of us up so they can have the joy of saying 'I told you so' to the other?"
"Is that what you think we do?"
He didn't want to spar anymore. "I don't know what to think right now. Hell, I can barely think right now. I'm starving." He walked over to the cupboards and began opening them. "I never did get dinner. Do you think Agent Scully would mind if we raided her pantry?" He was always grumpy on an empty stomach.
"You're not going to find much, John. I didn't eat either. All I found was a dented can of tuna. I think she must do a lot of take-out."
"So much for babysitting privileges," he muttered, shutting the last cupboard.
"I have an idea," Monica said with a gleam in her eye. "How about whoever gets the joy of saying 'I told you so' also gets the joy of buying the other person dinner when Dana gets back?"
He pointed at her and said, "Ma'am, you are on."
"Mister Doggett, you are in for the treat of your life. You are going to have the best jambalaya this side of New Orleans."
Doggett laughed enthusiastically. "You amaze me."
She eyed him playfully. "Thanks. You amaze me, too."
"You're just saying that."
"You're right. I am," she replied with an impish smirk.
He shook his head, smiling back. "Someday, you're gonna drive some poor guy crazy."
"I'm not already?"
"You know what I mean."
She rolled her eyes and laughed. She walked out into the living room again to check on William. Doggett followed her into the room and sat down on the couch. William was kicking in his sleep. If Doggett remembered correctly, this baby was going to soon need a changing. He hoped Scully would be home before that happened.
Monica sat down once she was satisfied that William was fine.
"Seriously, Mon, don't you want to settle down with some fine young man and have one of those?" He pointed to William.
"Maybe. Someday. Although I hope mine isn't so fussy."
"Not getting any younger."
"You're a fine one to talk!"
"Yeah, but I've already done it."
"You don't feel the need to do it again?"
"That's too bad. You're dependable and loyal and all those good things that would make you perfect to drive some poor gal crazy."
"Funny. But there isn't a gal alive who'd be able to put up with me. Too set in my ways. You, on the other hand, could have your pick of guys."
"Don't be silly, John."
"What are you waiting for? Fireworks? Destiny? A sign? Brad Folmer?"
She punched him in the arm. "Hey! That's not fair!"
"Sorry. Couldn't help myself."
"I believe in destiny. Some people are just made for one another. When I find the right person, I'll know."
"And you trust yourself that much? Maybe you've already found the right person and just haven't realized it yet."
"Or maybe that person doesn't realize it yet."
"Why, Agent Reyes! You have a secret crush, do ya? So what's stopping you from making that person realize it?"
"I'm not as self-assured as you think I am, John. Besides, it doesn't matter. I don't think I'd ever make that person realize it, even if I told him...or her."
Doggett raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Whoa. Hang on. Back up..."
She raised her hand in a mock pistol. "Gotcha."
He gave her a playful shove. "You're a riot. Not that it makes a difference."
"No, not at all," she said, still laughing at Doggett's discomfort.
"So why won't this person realize it?"
The smile suddenly disappeared from her face. She was slow to answer. When she did, she seemed to struggle to say each word. "Because I think he cares deeply about somebody else. I think he just sees me as a friend."
He closed his eyes and swallowed. He had hoped this conversation wouldn't lead to this and yet he couldn't steer it away. "Does the other person love him back?"
"Not that I'm aware. There are other people involved. It's complicated."
That was an understatement. He thought he had been more circumspect. Somehow she got it all wrong. He had to make Monica understand.
"Then how do you know? Maybe he cares about the other person just as a friend. Maybe he thinks you're not interested or that you're unattainable. You still need to explore it. He might be more willing than you think."
"It's not going to happen. There's never going to be a right time for it to happen. So it just doesn't matter, okay?"
"Sure it does. There's never gonna be a right time for anything. It's like when your mom buys you a new set of ink markers and you set them up in a nice tin can, saving them for the perfect project. And when you finally find that perfect thing to color, you go to use your beautiful markers with all their bright colors, only to find that they've all dried up in the meantime. So I guess what I'm saying is, you can wait a lifetime to find the right moment, only to find that maybe you should have been living in the moment."
She covered her hand with his. "You should follow your own advice, John."
"In the wise words of my mama, do as I say, not as I do." He grasped her hand and squeezed.
She looked down at their entwined hands, and then looked up at him. "Well, then, I might just do that."
"I'll be cheering you on every step of the way."
The sound of a key in the door startled them. They let go of each other's hands and stood up as the door opened. A weary Agent Scully walked in and plunked her bag down, shaking off her jacket. She was already speaking,"Monica, I know I'm later than expected, but you are not going to believe what I had to go through tonight -- Agent Doggett? What are you doing here?"
Doggett flushed and stammered, "Oh, yeah, Monica asked me to come over and go over the case notes with her for this Malachy case."
"Oh. Well, then it's a good thing you're here. I won't have to explain this twice. Where's William?"
"Right here, Dana." Monica picked up the bassinette and placed it gently on the coffee table so Scully could see her son. Scully placed her hand on his tummy and rubbed. The baby cooed softly, but remained asleep.
"Looks like he had a great time."
"He was an angel," Monica said, looking to Doggett.
Doggett smiled at her, and said, "Yeah, a great time. He's a good kid. So what were you saying about explaining something to us?"
"The body," said Scully, looking up from William, "It's gone."
"What? How does a body disappear?" Doggett asked in disbelief.
"That's not a question you want to ask me, Agent Doggett, because I've had many bodies disappear on me over the years. But that's not the point here. Just bear with me while I explain. I was in the autopsy bay when an assistant brought the body in. I saw it. It was there. I pulled the sheet off and it was still there. I noticed that there were a few tools missing from my tray, so I left the room for no more than a minute to retrieve them. When I came back the body was gone and in its place was a dove."
"A dove?" Reyes questioned.
Scully nodded, "Yes, you heard me correctly. It took me forever to try to catch it. The assistant found a net and we finally caught it and set it free outside."
"And you searched the entire morgue for the body?" Doggett inquired.
"Of course. But there's more. When we got back from setting the bird free, the metal gurney where the body lay was warm as if somebody alive had been lying there." She paused and asked, "What do you make of this?"
Monica replied, "I know what I make of it."
Doggett rolled his eyes at her, and turned back to Scully. "Look, Agent Scully, we ought to let you have your place back. We're gonna have to get over there and do a little investigating ourselves. You get some rest and we'll consult with you tomorrow."
Scully started to protest, "If you need anything --"
Doggett cut her off. "Thanks for the offer, but you've been a big help tonight already."
He picked up Monica's jacket from the arm chair and handed it to her as he opened the door. Monica said good night to Scully and walked out into the hallway waiting for Doggett.
"Do I need to say 'I told you so', John?" She started walking as Doggett fell in beside her.
"This has nothing to do with anything. Probably some prank played by graduating interns."
Monica was too excited to entertain his negative remarks. "Ascension, John! The body was assumed! It just backs up my theory."
Doggett stopped. "Jesus, Monica, if you want to buy me dinner so bad, why don't you just say so?"
She stopped and turned to face Doggett, "Okay, I'd really like to buy you dinner, John. What do you say?"
"I'd be delighted, Monica. What took you so long?"
Elements: 1. A blue elephant in the refrigerator trying to get out.--nad, who asked to stop being smacked... 2. A bottle of orange-flavored children's aspirin being used by an adult.--Shannon 3. Someone trying to catch a loose animal, in whatever setting you choose. (office, home, whatever. Gecko, sheep, whatever -- the animal is up to you, too.)--Snark 4. A tin can full of ink pens, all of which have dried up --JET 5. A "deadline"--Cyndi Jo, who hoped that the deadline wasn't the Elephant on a heart machine...
And late, but included anyway: 6. A dented can of tuna--MaybeAmanda
Notes: I can't take credit for the use of the blue elephant element. This was Carol A.'s brilliant idea.
It took 11 months, but it's done!