TITLE: Starin' at Her AUTHOR: njdudette SPOILERS: Release RATING: PG-13 for language KEYWORDS: DRR, Angst SUMMARY: Every once and awhile she'll catch me lookin' at her longer than I should be . . . . DISCLAIMER: I wish I owned them cause I'd be pretty rich right now, but I don't. ARCHIVE: If you want it, you can have it. FEEDBACK: Feed me please!!! njdudette@hotmail.com

A special thanks to Nichole for beta reading this fic. Thank you, thank you and thank you.

Sometimes I catch myself starin' at her. She'll be sitting across from me in the office, walkin' to the file cabinet or just throwin' away her garbage in the cafeteria and I catch myself - Like now. It's Friday night and we're at O'Brien's. It's a nice little bar within walking distance to Monica's place. It's the one night a week where we don't have to worry about bein' seen in public together. On a Friday night like this, just about every other person in DC is out having drinks with their co-workers. As I watch her work her way towards the bar, my mind starts wandering. Every once and awhile she'll catch me lookin' at her longer than I should be, and I'll have this goofy ass look on my face. Somehow I always manage to come up with some sort of excuse like, 'you have food stuck in your teeth,' or 'you have a piece of lint on you,' but I'm starting to run out of excuses and I find myself starin' at her more and more.

I've known for sometime that she's had a crush on me and I've always had feelings for her. I can't say it's love, but it's more than friendship. Hell, I'm not even sure what it is. I've just always known she'll be there for me. People thought I had a crush on Scully and maybe I did. I think I saw her as a way to make everything right in my life. But I knew she didn't love me. - She loves Mulder and she could never love me. Maybe that's why I had a crush on Scully - she was safe.

I watch Monica as she maneuvers her way through the crowded bar, stopping occasionally to flash one of her famous smiles and chat with an acquaintance and I wonder: What would it be like to wake up next to her every morning? I mean, I know what she looks like with no makeup on - God knows I've pounded on her door enough times in the middle of the night while we were working on a case to know what she looks like. But what would it be like to open my eyes and just watch her sleep? Does she snore or does she talk in her sleep? Does she have that same impish smile while she sleeps? These are things I want to know. I want to wrap my arms around her and hold her while she's sleeping. I mean, yeah, I know she's gorgeous. I'm not an idiot for God's sake. But she really has no idea what she does to me. How the slight touch of her hand sends bolts of electricity coursing through my body. I'm not sure I've ever felt this before. I like the way I feel when I'm around her and I want her to feel the same with me.

I'm scared for so many reasons. And believe it or not, the fact that she's my partner is the least of my worries. I don't want to ruin the friendship that we have. Other than Barbara, I can't remember any woman that I remained friendly with after we broke up. Barbara - Now there's a relationship I'll never understand. I did love her, I mean I'll always love her, but it felt different than what I feel for Monica. I can't explain it. I was young and in the Marines when I met Barbara. We wrote letters, spoke on the phone and spent time together when I was home, so it sort of seemed right to get married. I mean, that's what you do - get married - right? I was brought up Catholic, and believed in all that "till death do you part" crap. And before I knew it, I was getting out of the Marines, goin to college, and then Luke was born. Luke, a father couldn't ask for a better son. He may have had Barb's looks, but he was daddy's little boy. We were a family. As long as Luke was around we were fine, but once he died, there was just no use in pretending anymore. When it was just Barb and I, something wasn't right. We just didn't seem to fit together. That's what I'm afraid of. What if Monica and I start datin' and before you know it, we get married and the same thing happens? Maybe she wakes up one morning and sees an old man lying across from her and realizes that we just don't fit together, and she wants out? There. I said it. I'm old. What would people say? "Yeah, there goes John and that young little thing of his. Before you know it he'll be driving a Corvette convertible and sporting an earring."

Maybe that's all it is - maybe I'm just afraid. Now isn't that a kick in the ass? The U.S. government legally authorizes me, Special Agent John Doggett, to carry a concealed weapon and I'm afraid of a woman dumpin' my sorry ass. But I'm so tired. I'm tired of comin' home at night and bein' alone. I'm dreading the moment I'll have to say goodnight to her, 'cause I know I'll be leaving her for an empty house.

It was just a couple of weeks ago that Barb and I put Luke to rest. I'm not sure if Monica realizes it, but I was a mess inside, and her bein' there for me meant more than she'll ever know. When we reached her apartment that night she invited me in for some coffee. Before I knew it I had fallen asleep on her sofa. I awoke to the smell of fresh coffee brewing and her smile. Her smile . . . . a guy could get lost in that smile - It's the same smile she's giving me as she walks back to our table.

Shit. Once again, I'm caught starin' at her. As she places the beers on the table she starts looking down at her clothes and feet, like there's something missing.

"John, why are you looking at me so strangely? Do I have toilet paper stuck to me or something?" she asks while fidgeting with her clothes.

I hesitate for a moment. I'm about ready to come up with some sort of excuse as to why I'm starin' at her again and then I think back to that Saturday morning I woke up on her sofa. I remember her smiling at me and realize - I want that. I want to wake up to that every morning and before I can even stop myself I say, "I was just thinkin' . . . . I was thinkin' how nice you look tonight."

Her initial reaction almost paralyzes me. There's no emotion on her face - it's as if what I said didn't register. But just at the moment I'm about to pull out my gun and put me out of my misery she starts to smile. That same smile a man can get lost in; correction: the smile "I" get lost in.

She sits down, reaches over to pat my hand and somehow, without words being spoken between us, I know that I'll be seeing that smile a lot more.