Title: What Matters
Author: phyca
Author's Page: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/216736/
Category: X-Files
Genre: Drama/Family
Completed: 07/03/2012
Rating: PG-13

Summary: Post-series through 2015. John and Mon get married and have some kids. There's a common warning people give in these summaries, but I won't, for I consider it a spoiler. Let me just say this fic is bittersweet. So it goes when I try my hand at babyfic.

There was always something about John Doggett that she could not explain, some sort of attraction that mystified her, some pull that was well beyond her comprehension. Yes, he was attractive, in a rugged kind of way, and yes he was funny, though his humor was more juvenile than clever, and yes he was a good man, who sometimes let his good intentions get the better of him. But he was also stubborn, annoyingly skeptical, sometimes downright mean, disconnected with his feelings, and did she mention that he was stubborn?

He asked her out as soon as they returned from the desert following Mulder and Scully's departure, and of course she said yes. When he asked her to come to his place after dinner, she hesitated. "Don't you want to wait?" she asked, having anticipated him to be a little bit more of a Southern gentleman than that. She watched him think it through carefully and slowly.

"I'm assuming you're not trying to hurt my feelings, right? Maybe I am rushing things a little too much, and I'm sorry about that. Don't mean to put you in a bind. But I've been pussyfooting around this for far too long. Besides, we don't know when they'll finish up their investigation of us and the X-files or what they'll do to us afterward. I just feel like there's no time to waste. But I don't wanna pressure you or make you feel obligated. We can take our time. I'm ok waiting for you, as long as I know it'll all work out. And it will, right?" How could she honestly say no to those eyes, sincere and hopeful and perhaps the happiest she'd ever seen them.

Of course she had to say yes.

When word came a week later that she would be transferred to Denver, she was upset. Finally, she had John Doggett, but she would be thousands of miles away from him. An hour later, he came to her, beaming, with news that he'd requested a transfer to Denver as well, and it had been granted.

"How did you manage that?"

"Just told them we were in a serious relationship and I'd leave the Bureau if they didn't transfer me as well."

She smiled at him and thanked him with a kiss. "You could have requested we be transferred someplace warmer than Denver. You know I hate the cold."

"I just want a change, Mon. I don't care where. And you're far more specialized than me. If Denver needs someone with a background in religion, then we go to Denver. If they want you to go to L.A. next year, then we go to L.A. Wherever you get transferred, I'll follow. Anyway, Denver's a great place to raise a family," he said, eyeing her cautiously.

"Too soon, John," she replied with an expression that kindly warned him to watch his step.

Six months later, however, they were standing together in front of the Denver County Justice of the Peace; behind them, her parents, his mother, and a best friend each to stand as witnesses, all equally mystified by the quick courtship.

Unbeknownst to the couple, her maid of honor and his best man had met for drinks at the airport before taking a taxi together to the courthouse downtown for the ceremony.

"I just don't get it," said Anaïs, a humanities professor at Reed College in Portland.

"Don't ask me to explain," said Warren, a Master Sergeant in the Marine Corps. "But twenty bucks says he'll have her knocked up by June."

"I can't see that happening. I'm pretty sure Monica doesn't want children."

"He wouldn't have married her if she wasn't going to give him kids."

This topic had, in fact, been brought up openly, not much longer after he'd originally quipped about starting a family.

"You know I want kids, right?" John asked her one night in bed.

"I know," she said quietly. "You're the only person in the world with whom I could imagine having children."

The utter relief in his voice was unmistakable. "Good. Didn't want this to go too far if we didn't agree on that."

She nodded and curled into him, feeling at ease in her decision as long as he was there for her.

He wanted two children, and she understood why without him needing to state it explicitly. They talked about having a boy and a girl. He suggested a dog as well, but the domesticity was getting to be too much for her, and besides, she now knew that she'd been wrong in calling John a dog person. He was more than that – he was a father.

On their first anniversary, John Jay Doggett, Jr., also known as Jack, entered the world. She considered the timing to be proof that she'd done the right thing, pushing aside all of her own fears of motherhood, especially of pregnancy and childbirth, and her fears of how a child so early in their marriage would complicate things. She loved him instantly, this little carbon copy of John.

A lot had changed that year with her job as well. Pregnancy had not been the spiritually enlightening experience she'd always imagined it would be, and it certainly did not agree with field work, so she was soon moved to a desk job, but it offered her about as much as she could offer it. Since John wanted another child, and since there were so many reasons why she couldn't tell him that one would have to be enough, she'd realized she'd have to leave the Bureau, at least for a little while.

She felt like she'd only started to get the hang of being a mother to one child when she found herself pregnant again. Two years after the first one, she delivered another little boy, this one named Tyler, his father's choice of name, not his mother's. But she found she loved Ty every bit as much as she loved Jack, and staying home with her babies had its rewards, though she looked forward to the moment she could put Ty in daycare without unbearable guilt so she could return to the FBI.

It came up when they started looking for preschools for Jack. "There's a nice looking daycare just a block away," Monica casually pointed out after one tour. She wasn't prepared for the look on John's face. "What's wrong? You know I'm not really cut out for this stay-at-home mom thing."

He turned towards her and she could see that he was choosing his words very carefully. "Mon, we're not getting any younger, right?"

"Right…" she said, raising her voice just enough to warn him that she could sense where he was going with this and that he better take care.

"I still want a little girl. And I know you want to go back to work. I get that. I really do. But Mon, what if this is our last chance to have another kid?"

"No, John, no," she said firmly. "I can't do that for you. I've got to live my life too."

"I know. I don't ask lightly. But if you say yes, I promise you that no matter what, even if it's another boy, I won't ever ask you again."

She stared him down for a long time, tensing her jaw, thinking. "Have you looked at the Montessori pamphlet yet? You know, they have an infant program as well. Ty will be old enough in a few weeks."

"Just think about it, Mon. That's all I'm asking."

She sighed but finally answered. "Fine. I'll think about it. But you shouldn't get your hopes up."

And she did think about it, long and hard. Over the years, she'd taken opportunities to consult for the FBI from time to time, and without fail, it left her desirous of her former occupation, the one her husband was still able to enjoy. But as each day brought them closer to Ty's first birthday, the date she'd set to put him into day care, John grew sadder.

"We could adopt," she said one night at dinner. "There are so many children out there who need homes. Children who deserve the same opportunities that I was given through adoption. We could be guaranteed a little girl. And maybe you could stay home for a while with the kids."

"I know it's selfish of me, but I want kids that are a part of both of us. We make good looking kids, don't we?" he said, proudly, of the two boys sitting at the table.

Jack, at three, looked exactly like his father had at that age, and even sported a match crew cut, for his hair, like his father's, refused to grow in any direction but straight up. His eyes were blue and he wore the same smile. Ty looked less a clone of his father, but only slightly, only enough to make one think there might have been another person involved in his conception. His hair was the same dirty blonde color as his brother's, but more obedient already. His eyes had only just begun to shift from newborn blue to a green that would one day match his mother's. Still, she did not see all that much of herself in them, but she could understand the simple biological urge that they inspired in John to create more children.

She felt the beginnings of her resolve cracking, a feeling she was all too familiar with when it came to John's desires. "We could look at a photolisting online tonight of adoptable children. Maybe it would help change your mind," she replied, fighting against her own weakness.

"I s'pose we could," he said, returning his attention back to his meal.

In the end, feeling more disheartened than she thought was emotionally healthy, she gave in, though for nine glorious months before getting pregnant and seven months following, she had two boys in daycare, and was hired back as a full-time consultant for the Bureau.

"He looks like you," said John, holding their youngest son in his arms, smiling at his beautifully disheveled wife, just hours after she'd delivered the infant he held. "Brown hair, big eyes, maybe your nose, still too squished to tell."

"But not a girl."

"I don't love him any less." He sat on the edge of her bed, bending over to kiss the forehead that still had locks of hair plastered to it from dried sweat. Even by this third child, she'd still yet to endure anything less than an 18-hour labor. "You've sacrificed so much for me, Monica. Don't think I don't see that. How about in a few months, we get a nanny and you go back to work? Sound good?"

The way her eyes lit up told him he'd said the right thing.

Juggling three young sons, though, proved to be more of a challenge than she could handle with a full-time job as a field agent, always travelling and away from home without much warning, and so she'd again found herself merely consulting, taking jobs when she could. Having a nanny helped immensely, but did little when John was already on assignment somewhere and she had to pick up the slack.

Sometimes she looked at her life, and wondered what had happened. How had she become the mother of three children, driving a minivan, baking cupcakes on the weekends, attending soccer games with moms who gave her a certain look when she explained what exactly she did for the FBI, as though investigating murders was as risqué a career as slinking around a stripper pole? The laundry was full of cartoon character Underroos, and she felt like she was forever cleaning up accidents near the toilet. And quiet, what was that? She wasn't sure she remembered what it had been like moving into that house back in 2002, before there were children's voices bouncing and echoing against its walls from morning till night.

She did it all for John, of course, and seeing his face light up as he played with his sons reminded her of why she'd agreed to give him so many children. That look on his face, the one that must have been there before she'd known him, but which had been missing since the moment Luke had disappeared so long ago, that look was now the look she associated with him. She hated women who thought they could fix the men they loved, but she knew that was what she had desired from the beginning. She also knew that thanks to her, John was no longer a broken man.

John had been called away on assignment for a few days, leaving her to tackle Halloween costume shopping alone with a six-year-old, a three-year-old, and an 18-month-old baby. She'd known for a long time that Ty was different, but what happened that day made her realize that there would be no more skirting around the issue.

Jack, like his father, was her serious child, a voracious reader with a detailed mind, the only one she could see following in their footsteps as investigators. Mateo, the youngest, was already proving to be her meat-headed son, a toddler who showed no fear, plunged headfirst into anything, and had already landed himself in the emergency room twice for taking daring leaps off of furniture when left unattended for more than five seconds. But Ty was special. Ty was, for lack of a better word, her flamboyant child. He had a flair for the dramatic already, had dance moves that put her own to shame, and loved to dress up in her clothes when she let him.

At the store, looking over costumes, he'd become adamant that he go as Belle for Halloween. She could have cared less, but John was another matter. She suggested he go as Woody or Buzz from Toy Story. "No," he said, his lip suddenly trembling and tears filling and overflowing from his eyes. "I want to wear the yellow dress like in the movie," he managed to say before giving in to sobs that filled the entire store.

She knelt down immediately to his eye level, not an easy feat to accomplish while wearing a toddler in an Ergo carrier, and began to wipe away his tears. "Will you let me talk to Daddy about it first? He comes home tonight, so we can come back here tomorrow to get the costume, alright?" With a few last, hiccoughed sobs he nodded, and she stood back up, now with him in her arms, as well as the child on her back, and told Jack they'd come back tomorrow instead.

The kids had long gone to sleep by the time John arrived home. She was still awake, too worried about what John would say, and how she should tell him what she'd long suspected of their middle son without angering him.

He was in high spirits, for the case had gone well, with no casualties. She listened with interest, proud of the work he'd done that had saved a kidnapped woman's life. And then, as casually as possible, she asked, "What would you do if one day one of our children told you he was gay?"

"This about Ty?"

She nodded, somewhat surprised that he'd picked up on it on his own.

"Something happen?" he asked, and she told him about the Halloween costume.

"That hardly means anything. He's just three. If he wants to go as Belle, then I'm ok with that. And if ten, fifteen years from now, he comes out to us, I'll still be ok."

"Just ok?"

"Mon, it won't change anything. Won't change how much I love him. Won't change how I act around him. Won't mean I'll throw him out or tell him he's damaged or any of that shit."

She smiled with relief, but he wasn't finished, and he got under the covers, wrapping his arms around her. "I lost one son to the evil in this world. I would never, never willingly lose another son. I hear about families who toss their kids out like trash the moment they find out, and I get so angry. They don't know what they're giving up. They don't truly know what it is to love, maybe, or they don't understand what it is to really lose their kids, I dunno. But I sure as hell could never do that to my own child.

"So regardless of whether he's the star quarterback with a girl on each arm, or the star of the school musical, I'm gonna be there for him, at every game or every performance, and I'm gonna be proud of him no matter what. But like I said, he's only three. There are more important things in his life right now than who he's going to bring home to Christmas dinner when he's thirty. Like getting him a Belle costume before they all run out."

She rewarded him with a kiss. "I think I love you, John Doggett."

"I think I'm gonna get lucky tonight," he said, his hands already laying claim to her willing body.

A little while later, when he reached for a condom, she stopped him. "One last try," she said, emotion making it hard to speak.

He stopped in his tracks. "You sure?"

"If it's meant to be, it will happen."

It was meant to be. Four months later, sitting in the same room with the same obstetrician who had told them they were having sons, now they held each other's hands, crying tears of joy at the sight of a little girl on the sonogram screen.

One Saturday afternoon in late May, as she sat at the dining room table helping Jack with his schoolwork while trying to entertain the clingy but antsy toddler who could care less that most of her lap had disappeared, the doorbell rang.

She hauled herself up, clingy toddler attached, told her oldest son to keep studying, and made her way to the door. John was upstairs with Ty, hosing him down after a particularly muddy t-ball game, and she called up to them from the foot of the stairs that Jacob and his father were there to pick the boy up for the evening. She smiled as Ty began to shriek with excitement, his little feet clapping against the floor as he ran to the stairs.

But it was not who she was expecting. There on her stoop stood two people she never thought she'd see again. But before she could even greet them, Ty had flown down the stairs, clad only in his Thomas the Tank Engine undies, exuberantly crying out Jacob's name, and then wrapping his arms around his mother's leg when he realized his mistake.

Monica looked down at him with bemusement, and then back at her guests, wondering what they must think of such a sight after so many years. "Hello Dana, Mulder," she said with a full smile. "Sorry for the chaotic welcome. Come in, come in."

There were awkward hugs, made more so by the suddenly shy toddler and her eight-month-pregnant belly. "John's showering, I think. He was out coaching Ty's t-ball team this afternoon," she said, ruffling the boy's hair. "This is Mateo. And Jack, our oldest, is studying in the kitchen. If you'd waited another few weeks I could have introduced you to this one as well."

"Skinner told us you'd moved out here, married John and had a baby. I don't think he realized you'd just kept going," Mulder quipped, with a hint of disapproval.

She smiled warmly, not offended in the slightest. "I wish you'd let us know you were coming. We could have arranged for a babysitter and gone out for dinner," she said, cringing inwardly at herself for automatically trying to treat them like "couple" friends from their suburban life.

Dana, with a weak, forced smile, took the comment as politely as she could. "I'm sorry. We should have called. Is there a better time? We're only in town for another 12 hours. We could come back after the children go to bed."

Monica narrowed her eyes. She could tell by their demeanors that this was not a social visit. "If you don't mind the chaos for another five or ten minutes, Ty will be leaving soon, and Jack can take Mateo upstairs for a while so we can talk."

What they had come to say was far more serious than she'd ever imagined. December 21, 2012, only a year and a half away, the aliens were coming to eradicate humanity. Mulder and Scully had come to elicit John's help in the fighting. Monica wanted to hear more, but was soon called upstairs by Jack because Mateo wouldn't stop crying for her.

"Your military background is advantageous, and you've seen them firsthand. We want you on our team," Mulder was explaining to John when she returned.

John's eyes were sadder than his wife had seen them in years. "If what you say is true, then I think we're doomed. You have no strategy to defeat them, and they have no known weaknesses. Sounds like a suicide mission if I go, and certain death if I stay. And honestly, I'd rather spend my last days with my family, that being the case."

He showed them to the door and wished them the best.

"I want to help them," she said as they drove away.

John ignored her. "I think we should buy someplace out in the middle of nowhere, some place where we can all hunker down and ride this thing out as long as possible."

"I don't want to just give up. I want to fight."

"Monica, don't you see that this won't be a war that will be won? And don't you know what really matters? This family that we've created, that's all that matters." He kissed her firmly on the forehead, took Mateo from her arms, and went upstairs to be with his boys.

Four months later, she cradled her tiny daughter in her arms one night as John spoke about his plans for the invasion. He would quit his job in three months, about the time they would close on the cabin in Montana. They would have enough money to stockpile five years of supplies, according to his calculations.

"I'm not going with you," she said, her voice soft.

He turned to look at her. Tears were falling down her face as she looked at her daughter. She smoothed back her soft brown hair, tracing the features of her baby face that mirrored her mother's.

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm going to join the war. I've already contacted Dana."

"Monica, that's ridiculous. You can't do that. I need you here with me. Our kids need you."

There was nothing she could say to him that would change his mind. And there was nothing he could say that would change hers. She stood up and walked to him, placing their daughter in his arms, kissing him on the forehead. She wanted to tell him that she'd chosen to name their daughter Vida because it meant life, and that giving her life, giving all of their children life, it meant more than simply bringing them into the world. It meant making sure there was a world in which they could live. But she could say nothing; it was for him to discover on his own.

She stayed for another week, giving him time to say goodbye, giving herself time as well. She was not there when he piled their four children into a new SUV for the drive to Montana. She was not there when Vida took her first steps. She was not there for the endless circle of birthdays as the years went on. She was not there when the war severed all communication to the outside world, and John was truly tested in his ability to protect his children.

But she was on the front lines, engaged in a fight for which she knew her husband was better suited, but one from which her heart would not let her back away. On a warm May day in 2015, the day of her final battle, the one that turned the tide of the war, bringing victory within their reach, she'd received a five-month-old letter from her family. She'd tucked it into her breast pocket after reading it a few times, and then she headed out on her mission.

It wasn't for her to know how they'd secured entry beyond enemy lines – no doubt the work of Lone Gunmen prodigies. Her team's only mission was to plant an explosive device and retreat quickly. No one would ever know what had caused the bomb to detonate almost immediately after being set – had it been planned that way? Had the fuse been lit incorrectly? Had someone on her team realized that the enemy was aware of their presence and would have enough time to retreat, if not deactivate the device entirely?

Those were not the thoughts on Monica's mind as she felt her body lift in the air and slam back to the ground. She knew because of the lack of pain that her injuries were grave. All she could do was lift her hand and rest it on her body armor, over the pocket that held the letter, scribbled in John's poor handwriting detailing page after page everything possible. In the darkness, she closed her eyes and pictured the faces of her children as she'd last seen them and let herself drift into her final sleep, her mind echoing the words inscribed.

I wish I could send you a picture of them, he had written, but I'll have to make due with describing them as best as possible. And then he went on to speak of Jack, who'd just tuned 12 that day and who had finally managed to read all of the books in the cabin the previous week; Ty, who was keeping up everyone's spirits and providing them with much needed entertainment and distraction, Mateo, who at six was John's little buddy, helping him with every chore and task, no matter how difficult; and Vida – She's just like you in every way – beautiful, smart, always smiling, and stubborn as a mule. You'd be proud, Monica.

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