Title: Sentinel of the Potomac: Illae Lacrime
Author: M. Edison and Azar
Written: April 2001
Disclaimers: I don't own anybody in this story save Annie
Jo. The concepts of Sentinel
Guide (as far as I know) belong to the guys at Pet Fly Co.
Category: AU, Post-Ep
Archive: Gossamer, Ephemeral, and I'll send the link to Spookys
Keywords: Doggett/Other
Spoiler: Invocation
Rating: PG

Summary: Wishes...how many had he had about Luke? And how many regrets?

Note: This story was spawned from emails a friend (Azar) and I throw back and forth (not WL series but seperate) that help get me into the Doggett writing mode for SoP. *G* That and they're a blast for us to write. ;-)

Oh, and Annie and Jo are original characters. ;-)

Peaceful Hills Cemetery, New York

I was always afraid that wanting another child would be like trying to replace him...

As much as those parents suffered through losing a child, I think it helped that they had another one...

Well, this is gonna come as a shock, but maybe it'd help me heal the rest of the way...

Standing there, looking down at the marble headstone, the words from his e-mail conversation with Annie played over and over in his mind. A striking contrast to the words etched on the headstone before him.

Luke Christopher Doggett
Beloved Son

Crouching down, John reached out to trace the name with his fingers. A lump formed in his throat and he blinked back tears at the memories that bubbled to the surface.

"Hey, buddy..." he said hoarsely, his gaze drifting down to survey the fresh flowers that adorned Luke's grave. A brief puzzled frown filled his face as he wondered who would have put them there. His ex-wife certainly couldn't have left them. She'd never been able to come here. She'd never been able to face the finality of seeing their son's grave.

John...I wish I could have known him.

The realization settled into him swiftly, bringing a quiet sense of comfort with it. She'd been here. Recently too. Flown up from Virginia to bring flowers to the grave of a child she'd never known. A child to whom her only connection was John himself.

"Wish you could have known her, buddy..." he sighed. "You two would've gotten along great...She'd've spoiled you rotten and you'd've loved every minute of it."

John fell silent for a long time, torn between giving into the grief that visiting this grave always evoked and saying what he'd come to say.

Finally the grief won out and he found himself sitting against the back of another headstone, staring at his son's with tears running down his face. He could almost hear his grandfather bluntly stating real men didn't cry but at that moment John didn't give a damn what real men did. Those men had never had to hold the badly bruised body of their dead son.

Those men had never investigated a case like Billy Underwood's either, having to deal with the wishes that case had evoked. The wish to have his son back too.

Agent Scully keeps reminding me that little Billy hasn't aged a day since he disappeared ten years ago...she has no idea why I'm ignoring that. It's the only damned way I know not to wish I could have my son back the same way, as if not a day had passed.

Wishes...how many had he had about Luke? And how many regrets?

But how could he wish those regrets away, knowing that the good things in his life that had come since losing his son would be gone too?

There's this verse my mom used to quote all the time--"all things work together for good." You made me understand that, Blue Eyes. I didn't think anything good could come outta losing my son...until you. I still miss him, and I still wish I had him back, but I'm so damned glad I have you.

And he was. He missed his son and it was a permanent ache, like an old wound on his soul, but he could not deny Annie's affect on his life.

Nor could he deny the future they had together to live in the past he'd lost.

Lifting his head, John stared intently at the headstone. "Annie and I...well, buddy, we're planning on starting a family of our own. I miss you...but I can't ask her to give up a family because of my grief. And I know you wouldn't ask me to do that either." He smiled wryly. "You always were like a little adult when it came to your mom and me."

He sighed heavily. "Annie's gonna make a great mom. I know that. But I needed to tell you. I know it's probably crazy, but I had to."

Leaning forward again, he reached out to touch the name once more.

"I miss you, buddy."

With me...I'm afraid I'll pass on these senses...and there won't be anyone around like Jo to help them....

Even with Jo around...it was hard, growing up...hearing things you couldn't explain. I don't know if I could handle passing that on to a child.

Well, Annie...I know one thing. Our child would never lack for support. We wouldn't let her--or him--think there was anything "wrong."

Curled up on the couch with her legs folded beneath her and a mug of coffee cupped between her slender hands, Annie Doggett stared into the darkness and replayed those e-mail conversations in her mind. Her comments, John's responses...then she thought about the things they'd said to each other since.

The dreams they'd admitted to. The dreams she'd admitted to.

Annie was excited - the thought of carrying their baby, John's baby, was a dream she'd had since the day she'd realized she was in love with him. But at the same time, it was a dream she'd never thought would become reality. She hadn't been bitter over it. Quite the opposite. She'd understood John's hesitance over taking that risk again. Then there was her own reasons for holding off.

Her senses.

Looking out the window, Annie spotted a car idling a few houses down. Automatically she dialled up her hearing to eavesdrop on the car's occupants just to be sure that something illegal wasn't going on.

A brief, amused smile lit her features.

By the sound of things, Cassidy Williams was having another fight with her boyfriend. Well, one of them.

Her hearing returning to normal levels, Annie stood and walked into the kitchen to pour her coffee down the sink. John would be home soon; his plane would have landed just an hour ago.

Home from visiting New York. Visiting Luke's grave.

He hadn't told her where he was going but Annie knew. She'd felt the same urge he had. To explain their decision.

She'd never met Luke but she knew how special he'd been to his father. She'd seen the pictures John kept in a photo album, seen the look in her husband's eye when he talked about his son. Heard the words he whispered in his sleep when he dreamed that Luke was still alive.

It was that sense of awe she felt about Luke Doggett that had driven her to visit his grave so many times when she'd been in New York. Why she'd gone so recently, when John was still working the Underwood case.

The practical police detective in her said there was no way the little boy would ever know about this, but the Sentinel in her--that part of her abilities that was hotwired into the mystical world--had driven her to explain.

She almost felt guilty about the decision they'd made. She understood why John had said that he'd always feared having another child would be like trying to replace Luke. She'd worried that her wish for a child would be like pushing him to replace his son. And that was something she never wanted to ask of him.

Somehow, standing next to that grave...speaking to the little boy who couldn't possibly hear her...it had helped.

Almost as if he'd stood before her and smiled his acceptance. That smile she'd seen in the pictures. The one he'd inherited from his dad.

A carefree smile.

Annie felt her own lips curving up into a echo of that smile as she heard the familiar sound of John's truck pulling up. He was back.

Crossing to the door, she opened it and watched him walking up the driveway. His gaze met hers...

And he smiled.

In that smile she saw a thousand different things. But mostly she saw a little boy's smile, almost superimposed over his father's.

A smile of hope.


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