Summary: Molly and Fenway? In their dreams… My tribute to Brent's latest CD: if you've heard it, you'll understand. Set after the final scene of 'Alienville', so spoilers for everything. Fluff, really. Molly/Fenway, but only rated T.
Disclaimers: I have made no money from writing this story. I do not own anything connected with Threshold – if I did, the remaining series would most definitely have been filmed by now. As it is, our friends at CBS and Paramount own it, and wouldn't it be nice if they did something other than just letting it gather dust? Hmph. Neither do I own Nigel Fenway or Brent Spiner – if I did, you think I'd be wasting my time typing???
* * *
Dr Nigel Fenway – by his own, modest, admission longsuffering medical genius – closed his eyes in near-exhaustion, overwhelmed by the throbbing in his head where he'd gone down when Libby Drennan had attacked him. He couldn't blame her – if someone had tried to take his child away, he would have gone after them as well – but he was irritated that he'd been the one in her way. He knew he'd been unconscious and that he probably had a mild concussion, but he was far too tired to get himself home. He wasn't one for being on his own much anyway: though he frequently pushed people away if they got too close, he still liked the thought that they were around.
Libby was sleeping now: he'd given her a massive dose of sedatives after he'd immobilised her, and she should be out of it for several hours. The child was safe, though what Dr Caffrey intended to do with it was anyone's guess. Part of Fenway wanted to examine it as he would a lab rat, but the greater part – the part that had been known to indulge in random acts of senseless kindness – revolted against using any human being for experimentation, and he hoped the little boy would be allowed to disappear anonymously into the great American public, forever unaware of his violent, tragic origins.
He sighed. He was so jaded that he almost thought of taking a leaf out of Ramsay's dissolutely inebriated book and finding himself a woman to take his mind off things. How in hell did Ramsay get all the babes? He was cantankerous, he lacked finesse, and his idea of a chat-up line was probably cocking an eyebrow at the nearest set of stairs. Fenway, on the other hand, was lean, not bad-looking – he hadn't really changed much since his fortieth birthday, he reckoned – and although his hair was beginning to recede, its silvery hue lent him a certain distinction. What he needed, he thought, wasn't one of Ramsay's pneumatic females – he felt too old for that right now – but a good ol' fashioned piece of Texas lovin': a gentle, carefree gal with wisdom in her eyes and maybe carrying a few extra pounds. Someone to snuggle up to on cold winter nights…
"Oh for God's sake," he muttered to himself, "grow up, will you?"
Gingerly, he put a hand to his forehead: it was not a deep wound, but it was sore. He sighed, wriggled more comfortably into his chair, and put his head down on the desk, cushioned by his arms. Almost immediately he felt himself slipping away from the stress, the deceit and the wall-to-wall anguish. Perhaps he could afford just a few moments' rest… He settled himself, turned his face to the door so that he could breathe properly, and gave in to the commanding pull of sleep.
* * *
When he woke, he knew instinctively that some time had passed. His first thought was to check on Libby, but he could see that she was still lying quietly, and if he was honest he didn't really want to move. He drifted a little in that fuzzy land between sleep and waking, enjoying the peace and lack of responsibility.
"Hey!" Molly Caffrey's voice brought him back to himself, and he opened his tired eyes to look at her. "Lucas said you'd been hurt – how are you?"
He struggled to sit up straight, then wished he hadn't. "I'm fine – fine. Don't fuss."
She peered at his head. "It's a nasty blow, Fenway. You should get a doctor to look at it."
"Ha ha. What do you want, Dr Caffrey?"
"To check up on you." He was about to reply sarcastically Yeah, yeah, when she reached out a hand to touch his face. He froze in alarm. "Hey," she said, "I won't bite."
"No?" Fenway eyed her warily: used to sparring with his boss, he was reluctant to lay himself open to further argument while half-asleep. He tried to move away, but winced as pain sliced through his cheek. "Ow."
"Hold still," Molly said. He looked distrustfully up at her, but did not move. "Now – have you cleaned it up properly – checked your vision…"
"What did you say you were a doctor of? Oh yes, that was it – not medicine. I was asleep, resting – the healing process, did they ever teach you about that?" He looked around, but gingerly. "Dammit, I need a coffee."
"I'll get you some water."
She left to fetch the drink, and he noticed that, for the first time since he'd known her, she wasn't wearing those high-heeled shoes that looked so good but must play havoc with her hamstrings. He vaguely wondered why: perhaps she was on her way home, and you certainly couldn't drive in those things. She handed him the glass, and he sipped frugally. He felt ghastly, but he wasn't going to tell her that. He closed his eyes and drifted a little, realising that he was swaying uncontrollably only when he felt her arms around him as she stopped him falling. "All this without alcohol," he muttered.
"You should go home," Molly said, and he heard the concern in her voice. He felt her gentle fingers brush his cheek again, and opened his eyes in pain, only to find her face inches from his own. For a long moment their eyes met, unblinking, naked in the harsh laboratory light. Fenway suddenly felt uncomfortable in his chair, and shifted a little, grateful for his long lab coat to hide behind.
"Yeah – yeah, I will." He didn't know what to do. He'd dreamed of this – every man was entitled to his fantasies, however unrealistic they might be – but here it was, actually happening. He could hardly believe it; surely it was too good to be true? If he responded, would it all stay real, or would a bubble simply burst?
He'd never given up on love, Nigel Thomas Fenway. After his first marriage had been shot out of the sky he'd fought shy for a while, but he was a man who needed to love and be loved, and when his second marriage gave him a son, he thought his cup would run over. Then that soured too, and he vowed that his marrying days were done. Not so, as it turned out: but the lovely lady who snared him into marriage number three remained lovely for only a few months before he realised it wasn't him she was after, it was his wallet, which, considering he was already paying hefty alimony (he hadn't contested either claim) to two previous wives, betrayed a certain want of intelligence. But she got her slice of his pay cheque too and, yearn for some real companionship as he sometimes did, he knew in truth he couldn't afford it. He kept dreaming, though: the idealist in him was too firmly rooted for even these experiences to have destroyed it entirely. Perhaps, he thought each morning, perhaps today would be the day.
It never was.
Until today. He wasn't quite sure how to act: Molly could be mercurial at times, and he really didn't want an explosion while his head was so delicate. He slipped off the chair and stood very close to her, so close that he could have enclosed her in his arms if he'd wanted. "Dr Caffrey," said uncertainly. He was a good six inches taller than she was, and it seemed wrong to be hanging on to her for support, but he realised that was what he was doing. "I – I think I'd like you to drive me home. Would you do that for me, please?"
She turned her face to his, reached up, and kissed him on his uninjured cheek. Then she settled her head on his chest and put her arms around him, pulling him close until he could feel all her beautiful, comforting warmth. "OK," she whispered.
He raised his hands and wound his fingers gently through her thick, dark hair, such a contrast to his own, and buried his face in its luxuriant softness. He still couldn't believe it, but he had got beyond questioning anything. His eyelids fluttered as his eyes unfocussed, and he hung on harder as she blurred finally out of vision.
"Molly," he breathed. "Molly. Moll…"
* * *
"Dr Fenway?" Molly walked into the lab and was surprised – and not a little concerned – to see her prize pathologist unconscious at his desk. As she drew nearer, she heard him talking, and realised that he must be asleep. "Doctor!" she said sharply.
The start he gave was most gratifying and, if the day hadn't been so awful, might have made her laugh. "Wha – wha – " he yelled, staring around in confusion and disorientation.
"Oh, leave out the freshman amateur dramatics," Molly said sarcastically. As he blinked himself into wakefulness, she would have bet anything he really had been in his college amdram group. Melodramas would have been his thing.
"Dr Caffrey." His speech, still muddled by sleep, betrayed his Texan origins as he unguardedly lengthened his vowels far beyond Washington parlance. Irritatingly, she found it rather endearing.
"It was 'Molly' just now," she said tartly. "Lucas said you'd been hurt. You OK?"
He raised his hand to his head, bewildered by this turn of events but putting it down to the blow he had received. "Yes – well, no actually. She took a slice out of my head – what do you think? I've probably got concussion – might even be a fractured skull."
"Better get it checked out then, hadn't you?" she said, and turned to go. But she heard his sigh, and found herself facing him again. He was an arrogant sod, but seeing him like this, tired and vulnerable, pulled at her heart-strings. "Hey – want a coffee?"
He smiled wanly, which she took as assent.
She grabbed a chair and sat down next to him, their coffees steaming with promising warmth; he did not pick his up, but merely stared blankly at it. Seeing him this close, she realised how pale he was, and gently took one hand and wrapped it around the mug, holding the other in her own. He was a member of her team, and right now he was injured and traumatised. It was nothing more, she assured herself. Nothing more.
"Fenway? Talk to me?"
He raised his eyes to hers, and she was shocked at their dullness. He made a couple of attempts to speak, and at last succeeded. "I shot Libby."
"I know. But you had to. She would have killed you – and Lucas. You saved his life, as well as your own."
"I'm a doctor," Fenway said sullenly, speaking as if by rote. "I'm sworn to heal, not to harm. I took an oath to protect my patients – never to injure them. Today I shot one of them." He looked away from her, his eyes boring into the computer screen with venom.
"Did you swear to die unnecessarily?" Molly asked, a hint of anger in her voice. Fenway was far too valuable to throw himself away on such useless morality. "You didn't harm her – it was only a stun shell."
Fenway suddenly twisted round to face her. "You don't understand," he said, and she heard the anguish in his voice now. "If there had been real bullets in that gun, I still would have fired! That woman is an innocent victim, just as much as her child. And I would have killed her, without a second thought."
"No," she snapped, "not 'without a second thought'. What do you think you're having now? How many innocents have died over the centuries – it's what happens, and it's not right but neither is it avoidable. You had no choice – and you didn't kill her. You saved her. You saved her son. You fulfilled your oath!"
He paused. "Today I had no choice, and shot someone. You had a choice, and didn't. Which of us was right, Molly?"
She drew in her breath at the sound of her name. Unlike some of the team, he was sparing in its use so, when he did use it, it mattered. "I don't know," she said.
"What are we really doing here?" he asked, much as a child might ask why a parent was ill, or why a cat had died. Molly felt her heart thump, and her reply was harsher that she'd intended.
"I'll get JT to come and brief you. What do you think we're doing Fenway? We're trying to save mankind!"
"No – I mean, are we saving mankind? We hunt these people down – these innocent victims, none of whom asked to become infectees – and kill or incarcerate them." He held up a hand against her protest. "I know it's necessary, and I don't want to be overrun by aliens any more than the next man, but that doesn't make it right. We play God, in secrecy, answerable to virtually no-one. And there's no guarantee we'll even win. What if all this is just a useless fight – postponing the inevitable? What if we never find a vaccine? What if we need to become infectees to survive?"
You're going to save all of us … The plan will work … You won't be around … The boy's chilling, certain words thrilled through her.
"No. We defeat them in the end. I know it."
His weary eyes met hers again. "How?"
She hesitated: the dream was still raw and painful to recall. "A vision," she said, with more confidence than she felt.
But he didn't rubbish her, as she'd half-expected. "Let's hope it's reliable." His voice was dour, but his acceptance betrayed a touching trust. She hoped it wasn't misplaced.
She watched as he took a long drink, suddenly fascinated by the way his Adam's apple moved as he swallowed. She looked down at his hand, at the long, tapered fingers and tracery of veins, and then back to the face: the tension and exhaustion, the desire to do right and the fear that doing right was impossible.
You won't be around.
She never knew what prompted her to take his hand in both of her own. His surprise was certainly not encouraging. "Fenway," she smiled and looked away nervously. "We don't have to be enemies. No – I mean, we could be friends. I know you don't like what you have to do here – you think I do? But we don't have to argue all the time. We don't have to try to score points off each other. We could – we could try to be friends." She was aware how pathetic she must sound.
"Friends?" Fenway's voice was – as well it might be – cautious.
"Friends," she smiled. "Maybe…" More than friends. No, she couldn't say it. Not yet.
"Maybe…?" Was it her imagination, or had some of the old light just crept back into his eyes?
She shrugged. "The strangest things can happen."
His mouth dropped open. "Dr Caffrey – are you propositioning me?"
She pulled her hands away. "Certainly not! I'm just saying that – well, that – we could take some time to get to know each other properly, that's all." Oh God, she wished she'd never started this conversation.
"And the goal of all this 'getting to know each other'? A quick fumble behind the rat cages? Is that all you really want?"
She stared at him, horrified. How dare he presume? How dare he think that he knew her mind? She stood up. "Forget it," he snapped. "It was pointless trying to reach you. You're a conceited bastard who thinks he's God's gift to medicine, women…"
"No, that's Ramsay," he said mildly and, in spite of herself, she couldn't help smiling. He looked up at her, and his face was very serious now. "If you want to build bridges, you have to bring your own cement. If you want to – be friends – it's got to be a real commitment, not just something to strengthen the team. Respect, trust – a long term thing."
"What are you saying?" She wasn't quite sure what she was hearing, but it was clear that, whatever he meant, Fenway was in deadly earnest.
"You – " he seemed to struggle for the words " – you are someone very special, Molly. You deserve someone – equally special. I don't know if it's me." If it hadn't been Fenway talking, she could have sworn she'd heard a hint of humility.
But his presumption was too much, and she couldn't let it go unchallenged. She blinked, trying to control the irrational anger rising within her. "What would you have me do, Doctor? Fall for your irresistible charms, give you half a dozen kids, have your dinner ready for you when you get home in the evening, wash your socks, feed your rats – be your good little woman? Is that all you want?" Her voice began to rise. "If you think you've got a snowball's chance in hell of anything – anything – arghh!" She flew out of the room, furious with Fenway, furious with herself, knowing her words had hurt him, regretting them already, recognising finally the truth of his words, along with all the thrills and the fear the knowledge brought –
Damn the man!
As she stormed down the hall, Fenway's voice – completely devoid of any humility now – crashed after her. "I want to sleep with you, woman, not marry you!"
She froze, horrified. Before she could take a breath, Ramsay materialised in front of her, his face even more cheeky and cherubic than usual. "Good of you to share, Fenway," he yelled.
She turned round, fuming, but Fenway – if he had even ventured into the hall – was long gone.
* * *
When Molly awoke the following morning, it was to birdsong and daylight and an empty bed. She listened at first, to see if she could hear the sound of breathing, but in the end turned over to crumpled sheets, a thrown-back duvet, and an abandoned pillow. She ran her hand over her forehead. What did she expect? Typical man…
Suddenly, she remembered who the 'typical man' was, and sat up with a yelp. Nigel Fenway! She had slept with Nigel Fenway. She had slept with Nigel Fenway… "Oh my God," she whimpered. "What have I done?"
She collected her thoughts, still sitting wound up in the sheets, still somewhat bemused. Perhaps she should be grateful he'd left: he could obviously no more face her in the morning than she could him. This way, they could pretend it was all a dream. She recalled the events of the previous night, and a small smile began playing around her lips. If it hadn't been Fenway, she thought, it would have been good. Actually, very good.
Actually, she almost wished he'd stayed.
The unexpected smell of coffee curled its way around her door a few seconds before Fenway did, a tray of coffee and croissants carefully balanced in his hand. He looked at her and smiled. "I heard you moving, so I started breakfast. Hope you don't mind." He set the tray on the floor, handed her a mug of coffee, and sat down on the end of the bed with his own. "Sleep well?"
His appearance was so utterly unexpected, and his voice so unexpectedly gentle, that she couldn't think of a reply. When she found her voice, all she could say was, "You're wearing my robe."
"Mmm." Fenway looked arch. "My secret vice. Look, I took a shower, there was nothing else, you obviously like them roomy, and I thought if I didn't mind you wouldn't…" His voice trailed off and she saw his defences clang down as plainly as if they had been visible. He shrugged his shoulders, but his ease was gone. "Sorry."
She shook her head, desperate to find that other Fenway again. "It's all right. I was just – surprised. I don't mind – really."
They drank their coffee in a slightly awkward silence. Molly was surprised to find how welcome the drink was. "Good coffee," she said.
"Many years of bitter experience went into that mug, my dear. None of my ex-wives ever complained about my cooking."
Molly disliked him in this mood. Perhaps she ought to bring this to a close. "Fenway…"
In the silence left by her hesitation, Fenway's face darkened like a sky at sunset. But his expression wasn't the one of pained cynicism he usually wore; this one resembled an infinite sadness. "I know," he said quietly. "It's OK. It never happened, right?"
"Fenway – "
"No, it's OK," he repeated, standing and taking her now empty mug from her. "I'll go. Do you want a croissant?"
She shook her head. She didn't want a croissant and she didn't want him to go and she hadn't known until he had spoken that, more than anything else in the world, she wanted him to stay. You won't be around when we do. She had to grab everything good and real about this world and hold on, for all she was worth and for as long as she could. And Fenway, whatever else he was, was both good and real. "No…" she said.
"Then I'll put them in the kitchen when I leave." Fenway began gathering up his clothes.
"No – wait."
"What? You want to tell me I've broken another protocol?" The old bitterness that she had thought was character but which was clearly only habit had crept back, and his voice had a rough edge to it.
Molly swallowed. She really needed to get this right. She looked up into his eyes and could still glimpse the gentle, loving man behind the resentful, cynical one. She smiled – her softest, most open smile – and patted the pile of rumpled sheets. "Come back to bed, Fenway."
Fenway's astonishment at her request matched hers at his earlier appearance and, if she hadn't been so anxious about the outcome, she would have enjoyed the irony. "What did you say?"
She pushed the duvet further away. "I said, 'Come back to bed, Fenway'."
He gestured inanely at the door. "No, I should really go. It's late and they'll be wondering – you'll be fine on your own – you know, I should go..." He looked as if he didn't know where to put his hands. She held his gaze, daring him to defy her. Slowly, as if by the force of her will, the clothes slipped from his hands. "Are you sure?"
She nodded. She was enjoying this meek, submissive Fenway: she knew that, once back beside her, his self-confidence would quickly reassert itself. He was a complicated man, she realised – far more complicated than she had previously thought. For a man to marry three times he has to be different – the triumph of hope over experience, not once but twice, told her an awful lot about how he saw the world. He was deeply flawed, deeply wounded, and some of those scars would never disappear. But she wanted him, imperfect as he was, and she was in no mood to be refused.
"Yes." She smiled again, happiness suffusing her like summer sunlight. "Yes, I'm sure."