DISCLAIMER: X Files belongs to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions, or Fox Entertainment and a whole bunch of other people. Not me.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story originally written for the FemSlash Advent Calendar 2004. http://fsac.shatterstorm.net/calendar.html.
SPOILER: Set some time after ‘Improbable’ Series 9. Includes dialogue from that episode and Season 8: Existence.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
It is William's first Christmas. Not that he is really old enough to get it yet. He likes the lights and the decorations, but the significance of the growing pile of presents under the tree in the corner of the room had passed him by so far.
Monica is excited enough for all of us. It is also our first Christmas. Together, I mean.
Both of us are still getting used to the idea of being a couple. I can't get over the fact that I didn't have to hide how I felt any more. I hid how I felt almost from the moment I first saw her. Monica had already admitted pretty much the same to me that she knew she had fallen in love with me the day that William was born.
I remember that day so well. She called me beautiful. In the most extreme of circumstances. I was half out of my mind with fear at the time giving birth to my son surrounded by my enemies. Hers was the only friendly face. She told me that I was beautiful. And as her sure steady hands brought my son, my sweet William into the world I looked up at her and knew that I had fallen in love. And that I could never tell her.
One thing I know. Things change. Thank God.
And we owe it all to a strange man we met in a parking garage. And the mystical power of karmic numbers.
She asked me if I believed. Not in flying saucers or the possibility of alien life on other planets and ours - but whether the universe was knowable.
"Do you believe is knowable as a mathematical calculation of the whole, reducible to a single equation?"
Before that she had asked me if I thought she was crazy. I had turned the question back on her asking why would I think she was crazy. I didn't want to answer not because I thought she was crazy but because I was afraid of what I would tell her. That I was the one going crazy.
I tried to concentrate on what she was saying but it was so difficult to get beyond watching her say it. I found myself doing that a lot just watching her. Watching Monica Reyes. My new favourite pastime.
Eight months after I first realised I loved her I was still in love, still in denial. "No. I don't think that the complexity of the universe allows for it to be reduced so simply."
"But you accept that some people do?" she persisted.
I knew what the expression on my face would be: sceptical. Mulder loved to see that face. He always thought it was a challenge. Monica was proving to be the same way. "I presume you mean the so-called Unified Theory, what physicists often refer to as the theory of everything. An equation so simple they say that it might be printed on a T-shirt. It's a holy grail in the world of science. Potentially the most important question that mankind has ever asked. But that such a complex calculation is even possible is a subject of enormous controversy. Is that what you mean?"
She nodded. "I want to ask you to open your mind to something." I noticed the pile of files on the desk beside her and the projector. She turned it on, displaying some crime scene photos on the wall. All women. All dead. Their lives ended in fear and brutality. I studied them noting the base similarities after all there are only so many ways you can beat someone to death with your bare hands whilst Monica reeled off a list of names, dates, places. All unsolved.
Up until now.
"Agent Reyes, am I to presume that you've solved these unsolved murders by using some kind of numerical calculation?"
"Letters of names assigned values, added to birthdates, reduced to the lowest common denominator "
I interrupted her. "Numerology, Agent Reyes you're trying to solve these cases by using what is essentially a child's game." God, why did I have to sound so dismissive, so goddam superior. I loved this woman didn't I?
Even someone as sweet and easy going as Reyes bit back at that. "It's been in use since the Sixth Century BC when Pythagorus determined that the world was built on the power and influence of numbers." She sighed, closed her eyes. I had her. I knew it. I was annoyed with myself for getting such guilty pleasure out of doing so. "We did it as kids. I still do. You meet people at a party, ask them their birthdate. It's kind of an icebreaker. And as I was reading the story of this woman, I calculated she was a fourteen. What they call a karmic number. An extremely significant numerological number and something prompted me to look at all these other unsolved cases. The victims of which also work out to have karmic numbers. Ten, thirteen, sixteen "
I hated it when my scepticism was proven right. Even Mulder would have jumped all over this one. "So in other words you haven't actually solved these cases."
"Maybe 'cracked' is a better word," Reyes conceded with a smile.
"Without any other evidence to directly connect them, circumstantial or forensic " I remember the feeling of elation as I spotted something. And it was not just the thrill of the chase this time, it was the knowledge that I could prove her right, that I could show her that I wasn't the stone faced bitch my work-persona made me out to be sometimes. I know Monica did not think of me in that way at least if she did she was a damn good actress about it.
"I have to say with everything I know you must be feeling you look amazingly beautiful, Dana " As ever the remembrance of those words made me glow inside. I realised I had zoned out. Monica was staring at me, a quizzical expression on her face.
"Can you enlarge this?" I asked, pointing to an area on the screen. A bruise on the dead woman's cheek. Reyes zoomed in on the photo bringing the feature I thought I had seen into sharp relief. Yes, it was there. Somehow Monica had stumbled onto something. It was too fantastic but it was there. "Can I see the rest of the photos?"
"What is it?" Reyes asked.
"There's a pattern in the bruising. All four of the victims have it. Three small circles. It might be from a ring that the killer wears."
Monica looked dazed. Pleased but dazed. "So you're saying these cases are connected? That numerology may actually be driving the killer, and that I'm definitely not crazy."
Again, I couldn't resist. "Or that maybe you're both crazy."
So that's how we set out on the trail of the Triple Zero Killer as VICAP christened him. And thanks to a game of checkers and the mysterious Mr Burt we finally admitted to each other how we felt. And just to say managed to miss becoming victims eight and nine.
Cause and effect. That's how we're supposed to work. But sometimes life is not like that. Our killer's reasons were opaque to us. Monica's insistence that numerology was the basis of everything to do with this case might not have been a popular theory but it was the only one we had. She had a point.
"If he acts on impulses he can't understand, isn't it possible we can't understand them either? Can we not accept that every killer is not driven by the same impulses, and that there are some impulses that not every killer kills for "
Impulses the impulse not to press my lips to hers, to see if they would be as soft as I thought they would be, to find out what she tasted like. To find out how it felt to have those strong slim arms and legs wrapped around me, those long slender fingers fingering me, touching me. We had to catch this maniac who beat women to death with his bare fists before he killed again and all I could think about was Monica Reyes.
I just thought it was a general symptom of my distracted state when I kept running into strings of numbers that I could not explain. The Triple Zero killer morphed into the Triple Six Killer. And we realised that the dead numerologist that Monica had consulted only hours before her murder was another victim. Number seven. She shared the same set of karmic numbers in her chart to the previous victims.
But none of it helped us to find the killer.
I knew I wasn't fully concentrating on the case. I could not get Monica out of my mind. Her excitement at discovery, her dejection when I shot her down again. I tried to see it her way, believe me, I tried. Much as I had tried before to solve a case the way Mulder would have done, but it just wasn't in my nature to be so open.
About anything, it seemed. Another day went by and I didn't tell her how I felt. I just tortured myself, a slow burn inside that nothing seemed to soothe.
Then things got really weird. I'm talking about what happened in the parking garage now after we chased our suspect, a low life called Wayne into the structure. Mr Burt. I still haven't a clue who or what he was. Playing checkers even with Mulder in tow I don't think things ever got that surreal. It was like we had been taken out of time somehow. We knew there were other things we should be doing chasing our suspect for one but when he suggested playing checkers it just seemed entirely reasonable that we should just sit there and play a game or three.
I lost which mortified me. Then Monica played him and I went to check the doors again. I even tried to shoot the lock of which only ever works in movies. It was when I was playing Monica that she had a revelation. That our killer was killing in sequence blonde, redhead, brunette. And the numerologist had been a blonde. This was his real serial pattern, not the numerology. That had just been a really weird coincidence. Probably.
They were going to have to rename him again at VICAP. The Triple Nine killer. Nine was his number, not zero, not six. Three nines on the ring, not sixes, three sets of three women brutally beaten to death. At least it would have been if Wayne had killed me and then Monica as he intended.
As it was he came close. Too damn close.
We were both distracted. Not much of an excuse I know. And we were arguing. Again. "Agent Reyes. You cannot reduce a complex factor as physical and psychological into a game."
"You're a scientist, Agent Scully. Your world is ruled by numbers. Atoms, molecules, periodicity. And wouldn't it follow that everything made up from those things is ruled by numbers too? Genes, chromosomes, us, the Universe."
Mr Burt applauded her. I ignored him, appalled at her pseudo-science. "Agent Reyes, that is utter nonsense, okay? It would mean that all we are are checkers on a checker board being moved around by some forces completely outside and unbeknownst to us."
Then she brought Einstein into the argument. I did my thesis on Einstein! "God does not play dice with the universe."
"Nor does he play checkers." I thought it was a good comeback but Monica just looked disappointed at my lack of mental flexibility. "Look, Agent Reyes, you can't reduce all of life, all creation, every bit of of art, architecture, music, literature into a game of win or lose."
I loved it when she stood up to me. "Why not? Maybe the winners are those who play the game better. Those who see the patterns and the connections like we're doing right now."
"Free will," Mr Burt smiled.
"Maybe we're not the next victims. Maybe we're here because we saw the numbers and read the patterns and we're here to catch the killer."
"But the killer is outside, killing, and we are stuck in a parking garage," I pointed out.
She went very still for a moment and somehow I knew that the next thing she said would be the truth without question.
"What if he's not?"
Wayne was indeed waiting for us. He grabbed Monica, overpowering her. He would have killed her if Doggett hadn't found us, got to him first. I didn't trust myself not to lose it over Monica so I concentrated on Wayne. Doggett had nailed him: he wasn't going to survive until the paramedics found us. Doggett of all people had seen something in Wayne's pattern that made him realise there was going to be nine victims and that Monica and I were slated to be numbers eight and nine.
And whilst we were sorting all of that out our mysterious Mr Burt just vanished. Or walked away. We never did figure out who or what he was, or where he fit in.
That night, I couldn't rest until I'd phoned her. She was still up whilst I was ready for bed but then she wasn't governed by the sleeping hours of an eight month old child. And I asked her the question that had been burning at me all day. Well, the burning question that I had the guts to ask as opposed to the other one to which I really really wanted to know the answer.
I asked her what my number was.
"You're a nine," she said.
"Which means what?" In for a penny
"Nine is completion. You've evolved through the experiences of all the other numbers to a spiritual realisation that this life is only part of a larger whole."
I thought about that for a while. Completion. It felt good. But it wasn't right. I wasn't complete, not yet. Not without her.
"Dana, are you there?" I realised belatedly that I must have been quiet for some time.
"A nine, huh." Ooh, Scully you smooth talker you, the voice inside mocked. For gods sake, just tell her. "Monica, are you doing anything right now?"
"No, not particularly," she said. "Why?"
"Do you want to come over, talk some? We could open a bottle of wine, maybe get some take-out?"
"Sounds like a plan, Agent Scully. I'd like that a lot. Tell you what, there's a good Greek just round the corner from my place, how about I pick something up on my way over."
"That would be great," I smiled. Greatly daring "why don't you stay over. You can visit with William for a bit in the morning before Mom gets here to take him for the day. I'll drive us both in to work if you like. We need to work on our report anyway in the morning."
"Why you're just full of bright ideas this evening, Agent Scully?" the warmth in her voice made me smile, bask for a moment. "I'd love to visit with you and William. I'll be at your place in about half an hour, okay?"
"Okay," I smiled.
What can I say? She came, we ate, we talked, she stayed. She didn't sleep on the couch. And I learnt what it was to be truly complete, to be a part of a larger whole.
It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. She tasted of cinnamon and honey and the softness of her skin belied the sleek muscles and strong bones beneath. When she came she cried softly, almost a sigh but no one would ever mistake it for a sound of sorrow. She told me again and again that I was beautiful but she was stunning. She kissed and fondled me, gentle with my still sensitive breasts, her touch sure, her eyes never leaving mine as she brought me to completion, satiation, made me fly. She was everything I had ever wanted in a lover and I knew I was lost.
We fell asleep just before dawn and waking up a few hours later in her arms was just as wonderful. I watched her sleep until I heard William begin to fuss and went to attend to my son. When I came out of his room a little while later she was showered and dressed and making pancakes for breakfast. And it felt as if we had done this all our lives rather than it just being for the first time and as she smiled at me I knew she felt the same way.
This was it. Completion.
And so as I contemplate all of this, my thoughts coming back to the beginning again her arms steal around me from behind. I lean back against her. I love this. I love how we fit together, our disparate sizes complement each other perfectly. Her lips softly touch the crown of my head. I run my hands over her arms where they rest around me. "Penny for them," she asks softly.
I turn in her arms so that I can kiss those dark luscious lips. "You know how it is," I smiled. "Just contemplating fate and karma and winning moves."
"Winning moves?" her smile quirked her face. "Now those I gotta see."
I stole a kiss, a second though by then they were more than willingly given. "You've already seen them all I think."
Monica laughed. "I seriously doubt that very much, Dana." We stood and contemplated the lights for a bit longer and I covertly admired how they reflected off her pale olive skin, how dark her eyes were in the dim light, so dark and deep that I could fall into them forever. And it struck me again as powerfully as it had the first time I saw her. I loved this woman.
Those dark eyes were focussed on me again as if they could see into my soul. Perhaps they could. I was beginning to believe that anything was possible where this woman was concerned. She smiled. "Happy Christmas, Dana."
"Happy Christmas, Monica."
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