Author: nuritacobarrubias PM
A shadow of the past returns five years later to reveal some secrets that could tear them apart.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - M. Reyes & J. Doggett - Words: 9,071 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 2 - Published: 05-07-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3527326
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: CC, come here and kiss my ass, don't even try to sue me or all the drippers will sue you for physiological mistreat by not bringing Reyes&Dogget back.
Dedication: No, girl, don't try to hide, you are as responsible of this as I am. People, I want you to meet JaneDoh (check and review all her stuff): an incredible vidder, an amazing fanfic writer, a wonderful beta, and a better person. THANK YOU for your patience and time. I want you to know that 'Estoy muy contenta' ;) to have run into you. I hope our little twisted minds will keep on producing DRR art together on the future, because I'm really enjoying this!
And I want to thank all the authors out there too; your fics have improved some of my days and have inspired me. Please, keep them coming, we have to keep them alive.
A/N1: I have major problems with titles, I decided to go with "Cloud Nine" because as I was writing, some lines of that song (by Evanescence) popped up in my mind.
A/N2: Axel (Hebrew origin) Father of peace, But! (Germanic origin) Heaven's reward (I thought it would suit him and the story perfectly)
A/N3: If anyone notices it, yes, I used some lines of "Just A Jealous Guy" by John Lennon, I did it as a little wink and tribute.
Thanks for your suggestion Kathmak!
"Axel Luke Doggett, you'd better brush your teeth and go to bed within the next ten minutes."
The three-year-old boy furrowed his brow in a sweet reproduction of his father's typical gesture. He knew when his mother used his whole name, she was dead serious. He had just been playing on the carpet of the living room for hours. Before they had parted two days earlier, his father had given him a gift and Axel kept saying he wanted to enjoy a few more minutes with the new tank toy. But truth was he was waiting for his father's arrival.
John had explained to him that he had to go on a special mission that required him for a couple of days; and so, he was due to come back home that night.
"But please, Mommy, just a little more," he whined, trying to get into his mother's heart as he had learnt while growing up, just with a puppy face and his piercing blue eyes fixed directly into hers.
She almost felt like giving up for a moment and cursed herself for becoming such a slave of those eyes.
Just then, when she was going to indulge into the kid's wish, the door bell rang. "Okay, mister, saved by the bell." She tried to sound as if she hadn't even considered the idea of letting him manipulate her.
As Monica started to move to the kitchen to finish tidying up, she made her son happy with her words. "Go open the door. That must be your father." He didn't even hear the last part of the sentence as his mother tried to shout from the other room. The little boy ran with renewed energy and opened the door boldly.
A figure stood at the door. When Axel realised it wasn't his father, he scowled his disapproval. The man looked tired, too wasted for a man his age. He was clearly shocked to find a little boy at the door. As he processed the situation in his head and tied up the loose ends of the new information, the surprised expression was replaced by a comforting smile.
He bent down, trying to get to the kid's eye level. He had heard so many years ago that children tend to be more at ease while talking like this with adults.
"Hi. What's your name young man?"
"Axel," he repeated, mulling the name over in his head. He smiled then, a true smile, one smile that really showed peace and happiness. "Hi Axel, I'm Brad. I'm…" He hesitated one moment, then continued, sure of himself, "I'm an old friend of your parents." He offered his hand for the young boy to shake. Axel eyed it suspiciously, heeding his mother's warnings about not talking to strangers.
"John, you are late and you know that your son…" She didn't get to finish the line and even if she had tried, the words would have been silenced by the sudden crash of glass shattering on the floor. The glass of warm milk she was holding while stepping into the room was now broken and torn into sharp bits and pieces, just like an ironic metaphor of disruption caused by his unannounced visit.
Brad got on his feet again, aware of Monica's presence. "Hello Monica," he stated, sweetness and nostalgia emanating from his lips as he pronounced her name slowly, like he used to. He waited for a response, anything that could show him a hint of how to approach her. Instead, he was received with complete and utter shock. "You have a handsome young man here."
He then noticed her slightly swollen belly, even though she was barely showing yet. He guessed she couldn't be more that five months pregnant. "And I bet he'll soon have a little sister, as gorgeous as her mother." He gave her another sweet smile. This steady and warm behaviour was confusing her.
"You look spectacular Monica". She was still fighting against the shock of his sudden appearance. His strange behaviour only made her more uneasy.
She then took a hold of the situation and decided to calm down Axel, who had been a little taken aback by what had occurred. He had been looking straight to the floor since the glass had fallen, afraid that he had done something wrong talking to this man. She approached her son and bent down just as Brad had done some minutes ago. She tried to put on her face one of those pretty, comforting smiles of hers and rested her hands on both sides of his arms. "Listen sweetheart, why don't you go upstairs to your room and play a little more before getting into bed?" She sensed Axel wasn't completely satisfied with this as he still didn't raise his glance. Instead, he was observing his own intertwined hands working as though they were tying up a knot. "Look, I promise Daddy will go and kiss you goodnight when he arrives, okay?" He just nodded while pouting with his mouth and still looking at his hands. She kissed his forehead and reluctantly let him go.
The two adults remained still, following the little boy's departure with their gaze. When his tiny little figure disappeared from the end of the stairs, Monica rose from the floor and collected herself. She then threw a cold and daring glance towards the man who was still awaiting her response.
"What are you doing here, what do you want Brad? John's going to be here any minute. He…" She couldn't find enough words, anger evident in her voice and body language. Suddenly her expression turned into a rare smile, a mix of pain and complete disbelief. She covered her eyes with one single hand, trying hard to think clearly. "Oh my… how can you even have the nerve to appear in my doorway after all that has happened?"
Any warmth her hazel eyes could have ever held, vanished in the ice of that single glance, a million daggers emanated directly from them. "You should leave right now and never look back." She tried to close the door abruptly on his face but he forcefully stopped it with his hands.
"That's what I'm trying to do here. You don't understand. I need to talk to you; you owe me that much."
"I don't owe you shit, Brad."
"Yes, you do. You owe me your current life, damn it." He had been increasing the volume of his voice with every word he pronounced. He was now breathing heavily from the deep emotion he had enveloped in his shouted statement.
She closed her eyes tightly and let out a long sigh. "Brad, could you please keep your voice down, I don't want you to scare Axel nor give a show to my neighbours." She paused a long moment to think, then finally half-opened the door and stepped aside. "Come on, get in, say what you came here to tell me and make it quick, before John comes home and throws you against the wall."
Brad Follmer entered the house and immediately felt out of place. It was a lovely and warm home, one in which he felt he didn't deserve to be invited. All those years he spent in his New England boarding school after his parents divorced passed through his eyes in a fleeting flashback. He had never had a warm environment to feel safe, to feel he was part of something. Neither had his last five years in prison helped him in that matter.
He nervously took a seat on the couch; he seemed suddenly uncertain of his acts. He had been dreaming about this very moment all those nights during the last five years of his miserable life, and now, time seemed to have stopped before him. He had never worked well under pressure, but still, he had never faced such a critical situation with Monica like this before. His whole sanity lay in her hands - he needed her to listen to him, he needed her to know the whole truth, he needed release.
Monica took a seat on the same couch as far away from his sitting position as she could, trying to translate her hostility due to the presence of this man into a measured distance.
"Monica…I…" he began his rehearsed speech with his typical excuse tone, and even though she hadn't heard it for eight years now, she could still recognize his hidden intention to soften her up before really facing the music.
"Brad, cut it out already. Don't even try that with me. Just get straight to the point."
He knew all along she wouldn't take it easy on him, but she was hardly allowing him to breathe without letting him know she was really more than just pissed off.
"Alright." He took a deep breath to calm down and collect his remaining, weary strength. "I know this will fall onto deaf ears, but I do want to apologise, Monica. I feel the need to let you know that I'm really sorry for all the pain you and Doggett had to endure because of me. There hasn't been a single day I haven't regretted my actions." Follmer searched in her face for any single sign of her features weakening before carrying on with the hardest part of his confession.
"What do you want me to say here? Do you want me to congratulate you for your good manners by coming here to apologise after all these years? Have you really come here for forgiveness? Brad, leave the past in the past." She heard herself quoting John, with the same amount of hurt in her voice as he did once, but the difference lay in the bitterness and deep resentment she felt towards this man.
"No, I've come here to tell you the truth…all of it. I think you deserve, at least, my sincerity."
She didn't say a word then, she just shifted her position on the couch to make herself more comfortable, allowing him to talk long and freely with the silent guarantee of no more interruptions.
"You were right, your suspicions, I mean; I was taking bribes from that man, Regali," he paused one long moment; he didn't know how to break the news gently to her. He needed to get it off his chest; but even in his selfishness, he didn't want to aggravate her pain. "Even…back in 1992."
Her eyes spat open by instinct at hearing those words, even though its meaning and repercussions hadn't yet sunk in.
"As you know, I was in Los Angeles office working on intra-agency anti-drug operations. I was assigned to the Organized Crime section of the Bureau dealing with drugs. There was this huge drug operation, we didn't get much evidence, but I had some major indications that Nicholas Regali was behind all those drug transfers across the border line of the States."
He stopped abruptly and dipped his head down, looking straight to the floor. He felt uncomfortable, unworthy of the light of her eyes. "He came to me one day and offered me a deal; he would feed me valuable info on rival criminals in return for immunity for himself; my guarantee that he wouldn't be processed for his crimes. He was able to have his competition incarcerated, and I soon became the prodigy agent of the bureau which helped me catch the attention of my direct superiors."
Monica's vision was blurred as her eyes began to glisten with tears, the realization of the whole meaning behind his explanation finally settling in. She fought back the urge to blink, knowing it would allow the tears to spill over and fall down her cheek, undermining the image of strength she was trying to uphold.
"If I had done what I should have done from the beginning, maybe Luke…" Follmer couldn't complete the thought; he began to choke the words out. "Monica, I swear I never knew he was in anyway involved in it!" The hard knot in his throat was getting more difficult to contain. He couldn't help but swallow, as his last attempt to avoid abandoning himself to tears. "I just thought it was all about drug dealing. I mean, I knew it wasn't ethical, but I thought that even though the two of us benefited most from our agreement, I was eliminating other structured criminal groups on the way."
She couldn't believe her ears; he was still trying to uphold his reasoning. Her anger was rising with every passing second; he was indirectly involved in Luke's murder. But the fury that coursed through her blood didn't allow her to emit any kind of sound. She just stayed there, paralyzed for a few moments as if she was having a panic attack, before she began to cry with agonizing slowness.
"Then things got complicated; he wanted more than I could give. He..." Follmer shifted uneasily in the couch, formulating the best way to explain where things had gone so wrong. "He threatened me; I became a puppet in his hands.That's how I ended up in New York in 1997; he just wanted to monopolize me."
The more details he revealed, the more her repulsion towards him grew. She brushed the back of her hand across her cheek, smearing her tears across her face. Her breathing became louder as she tried to control her anger and gave him a piercing glare.
"You lied to me. You deliberately deceived me that day when John and I confronted you in your office. We asked you clearly about Regali and you kept denying it." She paused before adding, "I did believe you Brad. And you were fooling me all along. It was all a lie."
"No, Monica, I promise you. The involvement with Regali was the only thing that I lied about. Everything else about our relationship was true…I did love you…in my own manner. I guess…I'm not a good person. But all I did from that point on I did it for you, for your sake." His voice decreased as he went on, turning into a sweet voice that showed much he cared about her.
"What are you talking about?" This was the first time her determination weakened while talking to him as confusion took over her.
He sighed loudly as he prepared to divulge the second and final part of his confession. "I met Regali that night; I had to know for sure. He denied any bond with Luke's case, but…I couldn't get what you said out of my head. The next day I started following him; I wanted a way out of our deal without compromising myself. That's when I saw agent Doggett. He had parked in front of Mooney's Bar. He had this look of absolute determination on his face. I think he was there to confront Regali and find the truth at all costs."
Monica tried to remain prudent. She didn't know John had been there before Brad had shot Regali; but still, she doubted the truthfulness of his words; there had been too many lies between them. Moreover, John had never kept anything from her before. They were sharing their life and had built a family together; all based on unconditional love and complete honesty.
"I spied on them. Doggett got a…well, a kind of twisted confession. When Regali got up to leave I saw Doggett's face, and I immediately understoodeverything he was going through, the pain he was feeling, the anger at Regali...and I knew that he wanted revenge." He paused then, clenching his jaw. "I realised that I had caused his pain, and therefore," he hesitated before making his next statement, regret clouding his features, "caused you pain as well. I had a chance to prevent a major suffering for you." Their eyes locked, she didn't want to hear what she was afraid would come next.
"He was prepared to…" Follmer hesitated one moment, he had come here to tell her the whole truth; to bury the remains of the past that kept haunting him since he got out of prison a week ago. But in that very instant, when he could see her aching materialized through her sliding tears in anticipation of the huge fact he was about to reveal, he wished he never had to do this in the first place. He had hurt her before, and kept hurting her due to his selfish nature.
"He would have killed the man," he let out abruptly as a stifled cry could be distinguished in the room. She couldn't contain herself anymore; she just heaved silent cries of anguish. He removed his gaze from her, willing the image of a broken Monica Reyes out of his system. "He was about to chase after him. I waited for Regali's appearance outside the front door and I shot him without contemplation…and I would do it again if necessary, just for you." He resumed his stare back at her, trying to see if his loving words had had any effect on her. She didn't even acknowledge the fact that he was telling her between the lines that he still loved her after all these years, but he decided to continue anyway. "I decided to own up to it, to declare myself guilty of all charges. I didn't want Doggett to be called as a witness in court; I know he couldn't have omitted that fact, he's a man of honour, a man of his word and a man of truth."
He wasn't sure she had even heard his solemn speech; she just seemed frozen in anxiety at the fact that John had been so close to committing murder, to surrender before all his principles in one moment of complete rage. He would have lost his job, his freedom; they would have been separated from each other and deprived of their last chance of being finally free to explore their feelings. However, what hurt her the most was the fact that her husband had kept such a momentous thing from her.
Her mind reflected on what they had now. John had been promoted to Assistant Director after Follmer's departure and transferred to another division to avoid breaking the strict anti-fraternization rule of the bureau because of his blossoming relationship with her. They managed to re-open the X Files division and she stayed there, running it as the new Special Agent in Charge. It wasn't the same without John as her partner, but she trusted her new partners; they were enthusiastic about Mulder and Scully's legend and that their new S.A.C. had taken a great part in that legend.
Furthermore, they were truly happy; they had a small, loving family which was about to grow in four months. Axel was the most important thing in her life; she had always thought her love towards John had no limits or boundaries, the greatest love of her life. She never knew how wrong she was until she held Axel in her arms and looked straight into his pure crystal blue eyes; he held all of her heart and spirit in his tiny weak hands.
Follmer sensed her mind was running wild and knew this was his moment to go. He had accomplished his mission, and it wasn't his place anymore to clean up the bits and pieces his destruction caused. He wearily got up from the couch and excused himself, "I'd better go now. I know I'm not welcome here."
She just stared blankly as his figure approached the front door. He opened it and proceeded out of the house, but stopped abruptly by the door frame and barely whispered, not even bothering to face her, "Monica, do yourself a favour; forget I ever came here or even existed," and he was gone.
Several minutes passed by, she couldn't tell how many. She spent them trying to recover her composure and to reflect on what had happened. She just promised one thing to herself though; she wouldn't tell John any of it. She wouldn't risk all they had by dwelling on what might have been. It wouldn't be fair to put him through all Luke's hell again now that he'd had his release. And to mention Brad's visit would only throw a shadow of tainted memories over their relationship. She was still deciding how she would act around him, when the main door began to creak open slowly.
John Doggett appeared behind the door walking in on tiptoe; he didn't want to make any more noise than necessary since he was aware of the hour, and his son would surely be sleeping by then. He settled his suitcase by the door and immediately noticed Monica getting up from the couch. He hurried to her as fast as he could without being noisy.
"I know; I'm late," he apologized as he approached her. When he reached her, he surprised his wife; he hugged her for dear life, as if they had been apart two months instead of two days. Still in a warm, welcoming embrace he whispered softly in her ear, "I missed you, you know?" He then buried his face on her neck, taking in a deep breath, losing himself in her essence. She hugged him back fiercely pressing her nails a little too hard on his broad shoulders. "Something's telling me you missed me too," he said with a hint of humour in his raspy voice. They pulled apart just enough to look straight into each other's eyes. Hers were still shining from the previous shaded tears, making her face glow beautifully along with her breathtaking smile. He couldn't help but to kiss her eyelids as she closed them, getting a sigh of contentment in the process.
He took her hand and led her to the couch. He perched on the edge of the sofa and pulled her down so that she sat astride him, her hands encircling behind his neck. "How are my girls doing?" He asked with a broad smile on his lips while gently caressing her stomach. He was extremely excited by the opportunity of having a daughter for the first time. Monica could already tell this baby was going to be Daddy's little girl and wondered how on earth was she going to stop John from spoiling her.
"We are doing just fine," she answered sweetly; she was relieved that John hadn't noticed any change in her behaviour or any clues of her previous heartbreak on her features yet.
He rose a little bit from the couch just to lean in to kiss her on the lips. The kiss was steady and slow, as they savoured the moment they both had missed for the last couple of days. His hands slid sensually from her back to the curve of her butt, which made her moan in delight into his mouth. His intentions were pretty obvious to her; she could physically feel his not so subtle desire for her against her groin.
"Is…Axel…mmm…already…in bed?" He managed to say between his massive ministrations of little brushing kisses running down her throat.
"Uh-huh," she murmured back, since that was the most coherent thought that crossed her mind in her state of arousal.
He stopped then and brought one hand from her buttocks to slowly unbutton each button of her blouse, kissing the new exposed skin all the way. He was really concentrating on the task at hand, but stole her a sideways glance, raising his eyebrows suggestively as he replied, "Great," then buried his face in the cleft between her breasts to begin greedily devouring her body.
"Daddyyy!!" A sudden scream could be heard in the distance. Axel ran downstairs with his one-piece pyjamas in a mess, a sign of his unsteady sleep time spent waiting impatiently for his parents. He had been sure he had heard his father's voice from his room this time. John stopped abruptly his activities with resignation; his son's timing wasn't something new for him. He wondered why he had inherited his mother's determination and his father's stubbornness; to be unable to oblige to orders and wait for his parents to go upstairs and kiss him goodnight. These thoughts only made him smile to himself proudly, as he leaned his forehead on her upper chest to gain a little time before facing him; their son was surely theirs.
John stood up then, pulling Monica with him, and waited for his son to jump into his arms. The boy did as expected and clung onto him as hard as he could. "Yay! It really is you this time!" This made John a little confused.
"Of course it's me, buddy," then chuckled amazed at his son's imagination. "Who else would it be?"
Monica had been watching the whole scene as she was fixing her blouse back to normal, but her hands stopped on the last button upon hearing her son's innocent revelation. She panicked and couldn't even move, nor could she stop Axel from saying anymore. "I thought it was that man again, Mommy's friend!"
John turned his head to look at Monica. He could sense her uneasiness in spite of her vain attempts to act as if nothing had happened. "Who is he talking about? Did anyone come to visit?" He asked curious. She couldn't stand the weight of his stare on her, she didn't want to lie to him, she had never had to, until now.
"Qué cabrón," she barely mumbled under her breath; cursing Follmer for putting her in such a position.
"Hey!" John protested. "After all these years I already know by now you just called me a bastard!" His voice reached high tones by the end of his exclamation. He wasn't mad at her; he was just confused and surprised.
"John, don't swear in front of Axel!" She wanted to turn aside the conversation by teasing him and slapping his arm playfully.
"Well, don't teach him bad Spanish vocabulary first of all!" He teased back.
Axel's mouth was open in awe and he had covered it with his own hand. He wasn't four years old yet - he still had to wait two months for his birthday - but he was too smart for his age. He could sense he had said something he shouldn't have and was afraid that his mother would punish him.
"Ok, Mon, what's going on here? Why are you both acting this weird?" There was a brief moment of tension as he awaited her answer. Her head was spinning; she was debating between her sanity and what she had decided to do not five minutes ago.
"I wasn't cursing you. Nothing's wrong John, he must have been dreaming, that's all." There, she said it. Not only had she lied to John but had also managed to confuse her son further. She didn't want to do any of this, but was disposed to carry all the weight of that pain and hidden truth all on her own just for her family's sake.
John decided to let it go for this time, Axel had passed his bedtime way too long ago, but her answer hadn't satisfied him. He had grown to know Monica on so many different levels since they had decided to start living together, and her body language told him a very different story from her mouth.
"Okay buddy, let's go back to bed now." He adjusted his son tighter in his arms to go all the way upstairs.
"Awww!" The little boy whined. He knew he had both his parents wrapped around his tiny little finger, so he played his cards a little further.
"What are you whining for?!" John put him on one single shoulder like he was carrying a sack, and started to tickle him. The boy begun to struggle frantically and to giggle that cute laugh he had gotten from his mother. This only made his parents laugh as they headed to his room.
John put him into bed and reached for the sheets to cover his son's figure. He kissed his forehead as he spoke their now traditional bed time line, "G'night, sleep tight."
"Good night Daddy."
John stepped aside to let Monica get near Axel. She kissed him too while sharing her own bond with her son, "Buenas noches, mi vida."
"Buenas noches mami," he replied back in Spanish. They had decided from the beginning to teach their son his mother's culture too, and take advantage of the fact that he could learn another language easily.
They turned off the lights of the room and let Axel finally surrender to a peaceful sleep. They were walking through the corridor trying to keep their voices down. "Are you ready to go to bed too?" He asked her.
"Oh come on, tomorrow's Saturday, don't tell me you have to work again." The disappointment in her voice was pretty evident.
"No." He encircled her waist from behind and resumed where they had been interrupted before. He sucked and nibbled her earlobe hungrily as he suggested smugly, "but I wasn't planning on getting much sleep either." She giggled mischievously at his offer. "Wow, now, Assistant Director. You truly came back...caliente," she said while turning in his arms to face him, wondering if he would remember the meaning of the word.
"Is that a problem?" He raised his eyebrows challenging.
"Mmm…" She pretended to be thinking hard about it. She loved this side of their relationship; they never stopped teasing each other, as they had been doing ever since their friendship began. "Not at all," she cheekily concluded.
John leaned in to kiss her, but she stopped him unexpectedly with her hands. She resisted the urge to let him drag her to the bedroom, knowing she would regret having to get up later to fix things downstairs. She wondered at what point her mind had become so domesticated. Five years ago, she would have had half her and John's clothes off by now, tripping over them as they made their way to his room. She sighed somewhat regretfully at the inevitable change in their relationship, but knew deep down that the comfort and stability they now had was worth so much more. "John, honey, you left your things downstairs and I left all the lights on. Come on." She took his hand and began her pace downstairs followed closely by him. "And afterwards…you might get lucky."
"Oh, I'll behave then."
As they reached the middle of the staircase, they both noticed the same thing. Monica was horrified; she hadn't remembered the broken glass of milk all spread through the living room floor.
"Honey, what happened in here?"
She tried to think quickly, to be able to come up with an ideal excuse, but her husband knew her better than that. "Monica," he started grabbing both her hands with his to force her into direct eye contact, "are you having an affair?" Her spirit broke when she saw the hurt in him. Tears were threatening to flow freely from his eyes if she ever answered affirmatively to that question.
"What?!" She couldn't believe her ears and began to shake her head randomly, every passing minute making her feel worse about the situation. "How could you even think anything like that John?" She wasn't mad at him, she was mad at herself for being such a bad actress. She was angry for leading him to think such wild things to explain her strange demeanour.
He breathed heavily, relieved that her reactions told him the answer was no. "I just…I'm so sorry Mon. You are acting strangely, almost defensive since I arrived." He could tell she was avoiding his gaze all along. "Then Axel…he said there was a man, a friend…you almost shut him up horrified. And I know Axel would never lie. Honey, forgive me for ever doubting that and for blurting it out that way." His grasp on her hands tightened to show her he trusted her and that she needed to trust him. "Just, whatever it is; please let me in." His eyes were now imploring, begging her to confide in him.
She looked up to the roof as she bit her trembling bottom lip, which was her recurring trick to hold back tears in a precise critical moment. "Okay. You'd better sit down, but let me tidy this mess up first." He obliged in spite of his urgency. He knew that was just an excuse to gain some time, to order her ideas and find a way to talk to him about what was worrying her.
When she was done, she moved gradually to the couch, ending by his side. She unconsciously prolonged her movements, trying to avoid the inevitable; it seemed to John she was almost going in slow motion. Monica lifted a hand and placed it tenderly on his face as she whispered, "John," with a sad expression on her face. He put his hand on hers and noticed it trembling slightly.
"Mon, you're shaking. You're scaring the hell outta' me." His eyes moved quickly as he tried to search in hers for answers. Monica took a deep breath, attempting to calm her nerves before telling John what had happened, finding it difficult to choose the best way to confess that what their son had said earlier was true. "There is something you need to know." She unwillingly glanced at the roof, as though she could see through to where their son now lay sleeping. "I didn't want to say anything in front of Axel…"
He suddenly stood up; ready to run anywhere and fight anything as a dark thought crossed his mind. His eyes were wide with fear and anxiety as he too began to shake violently. "God. No."
"John, calm down, Axel is perfectly healthy," she said as reassuringly as she could while urging him to sit down again. "It's about you." This statement would normally cause anybody to tense up, but John was now relieved immensely. He could cope with any difficulty, anything except his family involved in any kind of danger or pain. Monica felt more secure seeing his evident calmness and decided to take a step forward. "It revolves around us…our past." He narrowed his eyes listening to those words; the change of perspective did calm him down, but made him confused as to where the conversation was heading. "Brad Follmer is out of prison."
He sighed audibly. "I know," he admitted reluctantly, as he felt regret for not sharing this information with her before.
"And he was here," she blurted out hastily. She seemed in a hurry at that moment; she felt as though if she would pause or give him a break, her renewed determination would crumble. "He came to have his own closure with the past."
"I see." He spoke the words slowly as he hung his head, hoping that she would realise her previous decision to remain silent about the encounter hurt him deeply. However, the truth was that hearing about Brad's unexpected return to their lives, especially Monica's, made him face once again well-known feelings of insecurity and disproportionate jealousy.
She placed her hand on his arm, trying to comfort him and to make it easier on him to believe her sincere words of apology, by her kind touch. "John I'm so sorry. But, I didn't want to take you down that road again."
"If you choose to walk that road all by yourself, what's the sense in our marriage?" he spat out automatically, raising his voice. He knew he was babbling nonsense and taking a path he would later regret, but that name and all it represented made him lose all control.
"John, you are being irrational here," she warned him.
"Oh, I am, am I? All of a sudden I'm the crazy irrational one between the two of us. Tell me, how did I manage to replace you in that department?" That was all it took to dismantle Monica completely. John had hurt her with his words and actions innumerable times before, but never on purpose or consciously aware of it. She felt like crying again and fight him back with a full-of-rage-but-lack-of-elegance 'fuck you', but remembered that wasn't her style and bit her tongue. She stormed out of the living room and headed towards their bedroom. There were words that held no meaning and silences that said it all.
He completely understood the immensity of what he had done seeing her walking out on him in the middle of an argument. The Monica Reyes he knew would never give up on a discussion, being the passionate and full of determination woman she was. He tried to reflect on what had happened, to comprehend why she had left like that. He dipped his head and covered his face with both hands, as he remembered he hadn't even given her the chance to explain why she had been that upset before the argument. He had acted on impulses and behaved irrationally as she had pointed out previously. He had hurt her. Something he swore he would never even think of doing. Time was of the essence right now, each passing second would drive them further apart. He knew he had to swallow deep down his emerging pride and walk after her, and so he did.
He reached her by their bedroom's door and grabbed her hand. "Mon, please look at me." She didn't want to turn around, even though she wasn't crying, because she knew if she looked into his eyes, she would soften up without a valid reason behind it. He took a deep breath and decided to begin his apology without much of a thought, saying each word as it crossed his mind, "Monica, I am an insensitive, jealous asshole. You know what I said isn't what I think about you. After all these years bearing me I'm sure you are well aware of how my complicated mind works." He paused trying to notice any clue that showed she was hearing him; he took her laboured breathing as a sign. "I was losing control; I was trying to avoid the past and swallow my pain by building up an argument. I didn't mean to hurt you."
She finally gave in and turned around. "Yes you are," she whispered softly. He thought about it thoroughly and cautiously, but he didn't understand what she meant by that.
"Huh?" He didn't want to push anything further, he felt like he was holding an atomic bomb in his hands and any sudden unwary movement could set it off. She approached him slowly and placed her palms on his chest.
"A jealous asshole. You've always been one." He could barely hear her murmured response; she was clearly captured by hazy memories.
Their eyes met then; he could see the corners of her lips turn up into a small smile, which made him chuckle briefly as he caught onto what an incredible jerk he could be sometimes. "All my fault." He leaned in, placing his hands on her sides to kiss her forehead sweetly, as a symbol of his ultimate surrender. She purred her approval; she didn't want to remain angry at him as she needed his comfort right now. After all she had learnt that night - that she could have easily lost him years ago - she now needed him more than ever before.
They just held each other like that for several minutes; it wasn't unusual for them to fight or to argue passionately; they had been doing just that ever since they first met. But they had never hurt each other quite like that before. She had accepted his apology, but still, she needed to know something. "Why do you still let Brad's shadow come between us? Why is it that all it takes is the mention of his name to set your blood boiling?"
He breathed rather heavily; he had seen this question coming all along but didn't want to face it. He felt trapped in an awkward situation; how could he explain to her exactly what he felt every time he pictured Brad and her together? He felt as if someone had slapped him right in the face and punched him hard in the stomach; as if he'd been stabbed repeatedly without mercy; like a jug of cold water had been thrown at him leaving him trembling and vulnerable; all at once.
"I know it is really stupid and selfish of me, but…I can't stand the thought that you shared a special bond with him before me."
"John," she began to protest but couldn't go on as he interrupted her hastily.
"I know, I know." He gestured with his hands to leave it alone; he already knew his point was useless; after all, he had been married before. "But you say I let him come between us, what about you?" He wanted her to reflect on her mood after the visit and tell him about Brad's pretext and intentions. "His presence has surely had some effect on you. What did he want from you again?"
"Wait, you think…" she let out slowly as she realized what he was implying, "you think that the reason for my grief is because of the feelings we had for each other?"
"I know you once cared about him deeply," he stated sadly.
She scowled back to him, annoyed at his inconceivable trail of thought; the whole situation was so implausible. "Do you really want to know why I was so affected?" she let out boldly. She sounded offended, almost daring in her tone and matching expression. He nodded his response. "The reason why I was so upset lies in the mere thought of losing you." She had begun the explanation with the same tone as she had employed before, but her voice couldn't make it to the end, it broke without her consent, undermining the strength of her statement as it ended in a broken whisper. "Tell me, what would have happened if Brad hadn't shot Nicholas Regali five years ago?" His eyes widened at her inquisition; he wasn't prepared to hear that. How could she know? "Brad followed Regali the whole day, he said he overheard your conversation with him," she paused to let him recap the events of that day. "He said…he made his decision to shoot him right then."
He stared back at her blankly; he couldn't tell her. Actually, it was more than that...he didn't want to tell her. He knew exactly what would have happened and was afraid to even pronounce the words. He knew she must have had her own idea about the consequences of what might-have-been and preferred to leave it like that; hearing the words emanating directly from his lips would only cause her further aching. She interpreted his silence as an affirmation of her fears. "I would have lost you," she barely whispered her prediction of the ultimate outcome. "The most important thing in my life wouldn't be sound asleep next door…" She paused then; she seemed wrapped up in a trance, probably envisioning a world without her son. "And our baby daughter wouldn't be growing inside of me."
He stopped her and took her out of her state of hypnotism by bringing his body close to hers in a tight hug, all the while shushing her gently. "It's okay. I'm here, and Axel's here too. I'm sorry for all the pain my past still causes you."
She pulled away and caressed his face, resting her hands on both his cheeks. "Your past brought us here," she stated reassuringly. "You shouldn't feel guilty about its repercussions on me."
"I almost screwed our chance." He was doing it again. He was always carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
"No…no way you're going to feel ashamed of your fatherly instincts. I'm not saying it wouldn't have been a mistake, but I think…I would have felt the same way." She had had time enough to put herself in his shoes. If someone ever tried to hurt Axel, she wouldn't think twice. "And for us to agree on such an irrational method of action…it must be an unquestionable action." They smiled awkwardly at each other; they knew their personalities often clashed, and to find themselves thinking the same about such a significant act was strangely disturbing. The realization that they would kill to protect their family brought mixed feelings; it was disconcerting to know that each of them were prepared to commit the ultimate sin, yet it reinforced the closeness of the bond they shared.
"What would I do without you?" He had grown more serious, but Monica wanted to relieve the tension; she wanted to disregard the 'what-if' situations and return to the feelings of comfort that they had had these last few years.
She encircled her hands behind his neck and began thoughtfully yet playfully, "Let's see…you'd probably grow tired of having micro waved pizza, watching satellite TV…" She trailed off as he drew nearer to steal a small kiss. "Mmm I don't know what you would do, but I do know what you wouldn't be doing."
"Which is…?" He asked interested, although he had a fair idea of what was she talking about. She didn't answer back; she just resumed their kiss and deepened it, while her hands came between them and reached to slip underneath his shirt to feel over the muscles of his stomach and chest.
His legs began to drag them towards the king-sized bed almost unconsciously. He had missed this, and their previous interrupted foreplay had left him craving even more than before.
By the time they reached the edge of the bed, Monica had managed to lift John's shirt and toss it on the floor. Her fingers were working relentlessly on the strong muscles of his back, sending a pleasurable shiver down his spine. He left his assault on her lips then to work his way down slowly. He resumed the task he had started downstairs; he liked to undress her slowly and to pay equal attention to each bit of skin he exposed with each button. He knew that drove her crazy with both impatience and desire.
They would normally have fallen onto the mattress without a second thought, but ever since her belly had grown he didn't want to add any weight on her body; although he was being over-protective and over-worried in the words of his wife.
Her blouse soon joined his shirt on the same journey, and he closed the gap between their bodies, lazily kissing her shoulder blades in an attempt to remove her remaining loose strap with his rolling lips. Her actions had become bolder by then as she moved her hands to the front to test empirically his physical display of arousal.
A couple of expletives escaped his mouth at the feeling of her inviting hand stroking him. Just then a sudden wave of impatience hit him; he couldn't go on with his slowly-cautious-methodical-plan of making love. His hands reached behind her knees to lift her in his arms. She couldn't help but laugh naughtily at his response; no matter how much he tried to refrain from being the one to shift things to the next level, she always managed to hold out longer in that department. But then again, her last action hadn't really helped his resolve.
He proceeded to place her urgently but gently on the bed. She knew he was past the point of no return; and she loved that feeling of power she had over him. "You know, John," she mumbled between his barrages of kisses. "Maybe this isn't the best time." Although she wanted to continue the game, she knew he could feel the smile on her lips. "I mean...you really need your rest after being away for such a long time."
He laughed at her pretended melodramatic tone but didn't stop his ministrations; he even increased the passion between them. "Oh, no way," he breathed huskily as he reached her breasts. "Trust me Mon; rest is the last thing I need."
He searched for her hands as he lingered above her body, and intertwined their fingers as he pinned both her arms above her head to expose her completely and leave her at his mercy. He was just about to devour her when they both felt something; it was probably the one thing, with the exception of a fire, that could have stopped them in their current state.
Their eyes locked then, and realized at the very same moment that their unborn daughter had something to say about the situation. John's evident frustration about yet another interruption made Monica burst out laughing hard, it couldn't be; she hadn't even met her older brother and she was already following his example interrupting at the most interesting moments.
"Okay, okay I get it sweetheart; I'm getting off Mommy's tummy right now." He chuckled lightly, rolling onto his side while still facing Monica as she did the same. "Wow, she really packs a punch," he started as he jokingly rubbed his stomach.
"Well, you should have felt it from my side," she replied with an immense grin on her face. His mood changed immediately, his features showing all his pride.
"She's gunna be a fighter," John concluded reverently. He moved his attention from Monica's belly to her face, which still held a look of wonder. "Just like her mother."
She moved her hand to caress his cheek sweetly. "Don't forget her father; he's been a hell of a fighter." He leaned to kiss her again, this time slowly, trying to put into it all the emotion they both felt.
She felt her whole body shivering and a tremendous emotion taking over her, she normally didn't let emotions get the best of her, but the huge intensity that night had held had affected her deeply. She already knew it, but she needed to hear it, she needed stability and stillness. "Say it," she whispered against his lips.
He didn't need any more words to know what she was referring to. "I luv ya'."
She immediately closed her eyes hearing those words, as if the force of their mere pronunciation had made her go suddenly numb. She liked to treasure and to engrave moments like that in her mind for future reminiscence.
"It's really scary how I don't get tired or even used to it," she whispered as she found her way on top of him.
"It must be because I don't say it enough, at least as often as I should," he admitted regrettably. She rested her weight on him and kissed him sensuously, eventually moving to graze the contour of his left ear with her tongue.
"As long as you show me…"
She wouldn't tell him the rest of things that Brad had confessed earlier, he didn't need to know them. Nothing could change the past, and he didn't deserve to go through all the bad memories again.
On the other hand she would have to carry those facts buried silently within her for the rest of her life. She didn't mind.
John had had his release.
Brad had come to have his closure.
But she didn't need release. She was the healer, she was his strength, and she just needed him.