Feedback: Always welcome, always appreciated; tlynnfic [at] gmail.com
Distribution: Also welcomed — just let me know so I can come visit
Category: X, A, MSR
Spoilers: Post-‘The Truth’
Summary: “The time, finally, was at hand.”
Disclaimer: They belong to Chris Carter, 1013, Fox, and the disgustingly talented actors who portray them, not me
Thanks: To my dear friend and beta, Robin, whose votes of confidence always mean the world to me. And to the wonderful Circe Invidiosa for giving my fic a home at http://tlynn.invidiosa.com
Author’s notes: at end
* * *
He pushed the door to a close and made his way over to the building, a sad little wooden hovel surrounded by nothing but pitch-black desert. A sign on the roof that simply read ‘Joe’s’, lit by a single light bulb affixed to the top edge, was the only marker provided for its existence from the nearby road. He’d almost driven past, but once he parked and got out of the car, the soft beat of music from within signaled that he had indeed found the right location.
The air was humid inside and thick with cigarette smoke despite the low number of patrons and he stopped for a moment to let his eyes adjust. High tables with no chairs were scattered around the perimeter of the room, some bending slightly under the weight of a heavily leaning body, others vacant save for clusters of empty glasses and bottles. The familiar crack of a pool game in progress
floated from an adjoining, sparsely lit space to the right and a young girl with a distinctively southern drawl took the single spotlight on a small stage at the far end, fingers plucking at a guitar while she sang a tune he didn’t recognize.
He sallied up to the bar and ordered a drink, tightening his grip on the brown paper sack he held in his left hand as he carefully scanned the room. A handful of couples moved together on the small dance floor, arms entwined and hips swinging in drunken rhythm, framed by the littering of tables and the Stetsons who occupied them. He nodded a thank you to the bartender for his beer, dropping a $5 bill, and took a long swig, eyes ever watchful over the long body of the bottle.
Then, suddenly, he saw them.
They were tucked into a back corner, several feet away from anyone else, ensconced in the darkness. He was standing behind her with his right arm wrapped around her shoulders, pressing her into his chest. The bottle she held in her hand was precariously close to falling to the floor, the muscles in her fingers visibly relaxed as his left hand came to rest low on her belly, thumb idly rubbing at the small patch of flesh peeking out from under her shirt. Her head fell back against him, eyes closed and lips slightly parted and he ducked down, whispering something into her ear as his body rocked them in a dance entirely separate from the tempo of the music, lost, as ever, in their own space and time.
He felt as though he’d be intruding if he approached them now, so he waited, sipping his beer, until the song ended and he saw them slow to a halt.
“Thank you,” the singer announced. “I’ll be back in five minutes.”
The lights remained low as the girl jumped off the stage and headed for the bar for her break, a dull roar of applause and then chatter filling the room before the jukebox sputtered to life.
They didn’t seem to notice him as he neared, her head now turned up as words only they could hear were exchanged. It was when she leaned forward to place her drink on a nearby table that her attention shifted and she saw him standing before them, her elbow giving a slight nudge to her partner’s stomach in gentle alert.
The man he once knew as Fox Mulder extended his hand and he took it in a firm shake. Once released, he moved to greet her and the woman he once knew as Dana Scully took his hand in both of hers and squeezed lightly, allowing a thin smile to appear on her face for a second.
“Let’s go,” Mulder said.
John Doggett nodded his agreement and followed them out of the bar. They walked around to the back of the building, stopping at an old beat up Chevy truck parked several feel from any other vehicle. Mulder opened the passenger door for her before circling around and sliding in behind the wheel, the engine roaring to life as he turned the key in the ignition. With no back seat to accommodate him, Scully slid over to make room for their new passenger. Doggett squeezed in next to her and closed the door behind him, leaning down to settle the bag he carried onto the
floorboard at his feet. As he bent back up, a worn piece of black cloth was dropped into his lap.
“What the hell’s this for?” he asked.
“Just put it on,” Mulder said.
Doggett sighed audibly and complied, but not before the movement of Mulder’s hand settling onto the expanse of Scully’s thigh caught his eye. He jumped slightly at the sudden feel of her hand behind his head, checking for the security of his blindfold.
“Were you followed, John?” she asked.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure.”
A seemingly satisfied silence filled the small cabin of the truck and kept him comfortable for the remainder of the ride. Twenty, perhaps thirty, minutes later, the vehicle slowed to a stop and he felt Scully’s hand again, this time untying the cloth and restoring his sight.
“C’mon,” she urged, sliding out after Mulder, grasping his extended hand as her feet hit the ground. “Let’s go inside.”
Doggett retook possession of the bag at his feet and followed them again, this time across a dirt driveway leading to a small house he would have surely thought to be abandoned. More darkness surrounded them in the night, but he could make out the faint outline of a few other buildings scattered nearby, some with light burning in the windows, others as silent as the one he now approached. Mulder unlocked the front door and ushered her inside first, then waved for Doggett to follow suit. Once inside himself, he closed the door and locked it again, tucking his keys in his pocket. Soft light bathed the room as Scully switched on a lamp.
It was a studio space, one large room with an impossibly tiny kitchen to the left and a comparable bathroom to the right. A bed, unmade, provided the only furniture. The lamp, sans shade, sat on the floor in a corner, shining low to highlight the disorder surrounding it. Two suitcases laid side-by-side against one wall, the contents a messy pile in one, clothes neatly folded or hanging over the open flap in the other. Papers and maps were strewn about the entire room, no order apparent, but likely present and a trash can overflowed with discarded documents and empty take-out containers.
“We haven’t been here long,” she offered as an explanation at his expression. “We haven’t quite settled in. Do you want a drink?”
He nodded at her, but it was Mulder who moved to the kitchen, emerging with a two cans of beer. Scully shook her head as one was offered to her. He reached back and set it down in the kitchen and tossed the remaining one to John. He opened it to little overflow and took a long drink.
“Thanks,” he said, lifting his hand slightly.
Now, in the light, he could see them better, make out their features more clearly. As she leaned over to smooth the covers on the bed, he couldn’t help but notice how thin she’d gotten, how the plain clothes she wore were baggy, but not sloppy, on her small frame and he felt a stab of guilt wondering if part of it was due to her injury and the subsequent healing. Her hair, blonde the last time he’d seen her, had taken on a gingery tint he was more familiar with, but was longer still and hung in a loose ponytail that flowed down to the middle of her back. Her eyes were still the blue he remembered, but with the dark circles beneath them and the pale skin even further down, the color seemed slightly dulled.
Looking at Mulder, he saw the same circles, the same thinning physique. His cheeks hollowed more than Doggett had remembered, but were covered by a thick stubble that indicated more than a few days’ worth of growth. His hair was longer, too, but not unkempt, and his skin had taken a deeper tan. His eyes held a familiar resolve, but were noticeably tired, and rarely wandered from her movements. He seemed to relax when she finally sat and invited Doggett to do the same.
“No one knows where you are?” Mulder asked.
“They think I’m visiting my cousin,” John said. “As we planned.”
“Do you have everything?”
Doggett lifted his bag and turned it over, letting its contents slide carefully out onto the bed between him and Scully. All three sets of eyes carefully regarded the pile.
“Is it gonna work this time?” Mulder asked forcefully, unable to hide a slightly bitter edge.
Doggett lifted his head to look at the other man, regarding him carefully, then shifted his eyes to Scully. The memory of that night two and a half years before, of that car crashing into them, of her body being thrown onto the asphalt jarred through him and he couldn’t help but flinch. He’d never seen the scar running down the length of her abdomen, but he knew it was there, knew how close she’d come to losing her life. Mulder had blamed Doggett, had relied on him to ensure the safety of the operation on grounds they couldn’t have secured themselves. John blamed himself as well. Unaware of how they’d been found out, but unable to surrender, a new plan was to be carried out, under even further secrecy. Trust, though guarded, was regained and now he alone was the catalyst for the next attempt, the other few involved ignorant, for now, to the upcoming time and place.
“Yeah,” he answered, looking Mulder directly in the eye. “It is.”
Mulder nodded once.
“It’s all here,” he began, sifting through the articles he’d brought. “More passports, IDs, social security cards, and the like. The usual stuff. Target list, info on our rendezvous point, security and personnel, who, of our group, will be at what post.”
He took a deep breath.
“Two .40 caliber weapons, untraceable. And twenty bullets, each with enough infused ore to stop anything coming at you.”
The possibilities hung in the air.
“The last batch of data we sent proved helpful then,” she said, not quite a question, not quite a statement.
“I don’t know where you found it, but yeah,” Doggett said. “It was what we needed.”
She turned her head to Mulder, eyes locking with his. They lingered, unmoving, communicating without words. The silence stretched, their gaze unwavering, each passing moment proving to be nothing short of unnerving to Doggett as he paid witness to their wordless conversation.
He cleared his throat and the connection was broken.
She stood again, gathering the papers and weaponry, settling it all back into its bag. Doggett took her cue and moved to his feet as well, gulping down the last of his beer. She handed the bag to Mulder and he tucked it under his arm, pulling his keys out of his pocket.
“Let’s go,” he said.
They filed out and into the truck again, each taking their previous seats, Doggett again handed the blindfold. They rode in silence, only the soft sound of Scully’s breathing as she slept against Mulder’s shoulder could be heard in tandem with the road noise.
She woke as they approached Doggett’s parked rental, sitting amongst a few lingering cars outside the still-open bar, and stopped with the engine running. Doggett opened the door and retreated from the seat, standing for a moment before closing the door. She had sat up straight again, but stayed still, hadn’t moved over to fill the space he’d just left. They were a unit, a formidable one at that, no doubt about it.
“We’ll see you soon?”
“Soon,” Mulder said.
“Soon,” she echoed.
“Kickin’ ass and takin’ names?” Doggett ventured with a small smile, one which she returned.
“Of course,” Mulder said.
Her grin widened.
“Good,” John almost laughed. “It’ll be just like the good ol’ days.”
He shut the door to the truck and stepped back, watching as they pulled out and back onto the road. He waited until their taillights disappeared before getting into his own car and driving off.
The time, finally, was at hand.
* * *
Notes: It was my little brother who, at the time of the finale, first presented to me the idea of putting the magnetite in the bullets to stop the Super Soldiers. “It seems so obvious,” the kid said. I’ve since seen the idea brought up again and again over the last 4 years in XF discussions and have always wanted to flesh out something of a story that included that possibility, even if the details of it are a little vague.
And whether you realize it or not, it was a big step for me to include Doggett in a fic. I’m still no fan of him (or Reyes!), but I *am* a fan of sticking to canon no matter how much it may have deviated from what I would have liked to see on the screen. Writing him into a fic is part of my therapy in all this. 😉