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For years, Doggett has associated Monica with the moment he found his son dead. He's always felt like it was unfair to her, after everything they've been through, but the fact remains. He brings her along when he and Barbara meet to scatter Luke's ashes for comfort, but a part of him also feels like he is doing it to reassociate her in his mind with a pleasant memory instead of a horrible one. She is his friend, and it's become easier to be around her as time goes on, enjoyable—he doesn't know what he'd do half the time without a partner like her—but she is also at the center of too many unpleasant memories.

Doggett feels more companionable towards her than he ever has, through the years they've known each other. After the case closed, he and Monica used to meet regularly to review notes on the case, try to find the killer. Out of everyone who worked the case, the NYPD or the FBI, Monica was one of the only people that he felt like really cared about the case. That Luke was more than another number. (He'd even heard rumors, years later, that she'd cried in the bathroom during the case.) Once every few months had become once every year had become once every few years; he'd called her once when he entered the FBI, they'd been on the same task force before, but other than that, they mostly didn't stay in touch. He wouldn't have called Monica a friend before they became partners.

Now, she's undeniably his friend. Now, he's glad to have an ally, a familiar one, in this strange journey that he likely shouldn't be on. Being in the X-Files office has always felt strange, like standing in someone else's shoes (Agent Mulder's, mainly), but it feels even stranger without Scully. Like he's an intruder. Having Monica along for the ride helps.

When Scully and Mulder are gone, disappeared into the night like bandits, the feeling is even worse. It's absurd, but Doggett feels like a ghost, haunting the wrecked shell of the basement office. After he and Monica get back from New Mexico, they clean up the wreckage of the office together, picking it up, filing away the files that weren't stolen. Doggett saves the poster. If he owes Mulder and Scully anything, it's that.

---

But then again, maybe he doesn't owe them anything. Mulder's only ever resented him. Scully became more and more distant as she collapsed into herself, and John used to think that he understood, but that was before Monica told him what she had done. That she'd given the kid away. And Doggett understands the fear of having your kid in danger, hurt, more than most do, but he still cannot comprehend that she gave William up for adoption, the cute little baby who Doggett has held on his lap on occasion when Scully is doing their autopsies for them and recruits him and Monica to watch the kid. (Pains of a single mom.) He'd never said anything, of course, it wasn't his place, but he'd felt unexpected resentment rising in his throat when he heard the news. Selfish envy, that Dana had a son to throw away. They'd gone for drinks, once, the three of them, after they closed Luke's case, and Scully had begun by congratulating him awkwardly and ended in crying all over them both and apologizing repeatedly. He understands and he doesn't; she is mourning a son that she chose to leave. And even though she did it to keep him safe and it's clearly been hell for her, he can't help but be just a little bit jealous that she had a choice to make.

Doggett can't let himself be too mad at Dana, though. He can't. He's only ever known her in varying stages of grief; his initial thought when he'd heard the news about Mulder, when he told her and watched her face crumple with tears, was, Not again . He didn't know how he could support her through another one of Mulder's deaths. (A fucking ridiculous, tragic sentence.) He can't blame Scully because he's had a front seat to too much of this shit. He knows what she's been through. But he knows lost children, too. That is one thing he and Scully and Mulder, even, understand about each other.  

Most of the time, Doggett can't decide whether he owes Mulder and Scully or not. He's loyal; everyone from his buddies in the Marines and the NYPD to his co-workers in the FBI have commented on it. The furthest he's strayed from his loyalty has been divorcing Barbara, and that hadn't even been his idea. (She'd needed space, and he gave it to her.) And that loyalty extends to Scully, and Mulder by default. Once his partner, now his friend, and Scully has stuck her neck out for him before. Mulder, too, even. But the two of them have this cliquish air about them, excluding all others unless someone is useful in protecting the other. (Even Skinner has commented on it, and Skinner is more loyal to Mulder and Scully than he is.) It's impossible not to feel like an outlier, even when one of them is gone. That was why Doggett was so grateful when Monica was assigned to the X-Files; finally, a partner that was his .

He and Monica are reassigned to the VCS shortly after Mulder and Scully escape. They are not prosecuted for their role in Mulder's escape. They are kept together as partners, news that Skinner delivers proudly, adding on that he fought for this. He looks surprised when Doggett and Monica only thank him mildly; Doggett figured they'd see each other whether they stayed partners or not. He's all the way home before he realizes: Skinner is used to stick his neck out for Mulder and Scully and their all-consuming partnership. Maybe he even misses them.

It takes weeks upon weeks of no weird-ass cases with ghouls and goblins, no crazy conspiracies, for Doggett to realize that he does, too. In a way.

At least he still has Monica. At least that part of his recent life changes still feels normal.

---

Monica and John end up at her apartment after work one night, beers from the fridge and Polish sausage from the stand John is always raving about. He gives her a funny look in response to her wistful one when he presents the food to her, and she has to catch herself from bringing the whole ordeal with Lukesh up. It's strange, knowing that there's an entirely different reality that no one remembers but her. Another universe, even, where she is dead. She's found X-Files where Mulder reported similar phenomenon, but she never got the chance to ask him about it.

It's bizarre not to have Dana around after all this time, over a year. Part of her missed the excitement, but she missed her friend more than anything. She comments on the unusualness of it, and John bobs his head back and forth in agreement. “Weird not to be waking up in the middle of the night to chase down some alien or something,” he comments.

Monica nods her agreement. She's half-afraid that someone’s going to come after them the way they've been going after Dana and Mulder for years, but she hasn't seen any signs of it yet. She hopes it'll never come to that.

She and John drink their beer and eat their Polish sausage. It's the kind of companionable she can really appreciate.

---

When Monica thinks about it for long enough, she realizes that she's been there when the two people she would currently consider her best friends lost their sons. And remembering that makes her chest sting with sudden guilt.

She's made her peace with Luke Doggett, more or less. She'll always feel guilty about being unable to save Luke before it was too late—and she'll live with the moment where she realized it was room late for the rest of her life, she and John both will—but catching Regali helped alleviate some of her pain in that area. They've done everything that they can do. But William Scully… she didn't even have a hand in that decision, and she still feels some of the guilt for it. She was there, she tried to talk Dana out of it, but she couldn't. And now Dana and Mulder both have to live with that decision. Monica barely knows Fox Mulder, but she also was there when he met his son for the first time, watched him carry Dana and the baby out of that house,  and she saw the tremendous look of love on his face. A nervous, devoted father.

Skinner had told them, remorsefully, that he'd told Mulder that Dana had given up William. “I know it was Scully's place, but I couldn't bear him asking about that poor kid,” he'd said. “Knowing that he wouldn't get to see him… But Jesus Christ, the look on his face…” And Monica had felt a little of that guilt. She'd had a chance to stop it.

She knows, intellectually, she couldn't have stopped Dana outside of physically taking the baby away from her. The same way she knows she couldn't have saved Luke. But a small part of her insists there was a chance. She had a chance no one else had.

William isn't the first child Dana has lost, either. She told Monica months ago about a daughter, made without her knowledge or consent, an experiment who died painfully days after Dana found her. This conspiracy that she and John have been roped into chasing, it's taken away both of Dana's children and Dana's sister (the one she said Monica reminds her of) and Mulder's sister and Mulder's parents and countless other horrors Monica has only read about in the Files.

Out of all the agents assigned to the X-Files at one point (even Jeffrey Spender, who Monica only met once, and Diana Fowley, who died before Monica ever arrived), Monica has experienced the least amount of loss. She still has both of her parents. She isn't a parent, and doesn't know if she'll ever want to be one, but nevertheless, she has never lost a child. All of her siblings are alive. She has never been kidnapped or tortured or ended up in the hospital for anything other than a car accident or the expected injuries on cases. It makes her feel bizarrely lucky and guilty at the same time.

She's watched this conspiracy of men and monsters and aliens take so much away from Dana and Mulder and others, and she's only had knowledge of it for a year. And now, with Dana and Mulder gone and the X-Files closed, that should be the end of it, but Monica isn't ready to let it go. When she thinks of William Scully growing up somewhere with someone else's name, when she thinks of lost sisters and daughters and all the times she's seen Dana cry over her lost partner. When she thinks of Dana's friends, the Gunmen, who she liked quite a lot, dead in Arlington. When she thinks of John near death in the hospital because he tried to protect Dana's baby. All of it. She can't walk away from that.

Someone sends a postcard to Monica's apartment. Colorado, snowy mountains even though it's the middle of summer. It reads, simply, Thank you, and is signed with a simple, tiny DS.

“Did you get the postcard from Scully?” John asks her the next day in the parking garage. (Their parking spots are next to each other, close to the basement because their new assignment didn't come with new parking spaces.)

“Yes,” says Monica. “From Colorado.”

“Huh. Mine was from South Dakota.” John stabs the elevator button with the tip of his finger.

“I guess she's trying to cover their tracks,” Monica says as they step into the elevator.

“Hmm.” John rocks back and forth on his heels. “I just don't understand why they don't leave the country like Kersh told 'em too.”

“Maybe it's too late to get over the border,” Monica offers, a little defensive. “Or maybe they… didn't want to leave the search behind just yet.”

John blinks at her in surprise. “Why the hell wouldn't they wanna leave it behind?” he asks, astonished. “After all the danger it's put them in?”

Monica crosses her arms, the elevator dinging as they move up. “Think about it,” she says in a soft voice. “There was a reason Mulder wouldn't testify, try to save his life. And it certainly wasn't to protect this truth he's spoke of. There's something else he found, maybe even something he found worth pursuing.”

John nods, clearly in thought. The door dings again as it slides open, other agents climbing on the elevator. “I just don't see the point,” he says finally, quietly, bending down to speak into her ear. “After all they've both lost.”  

The elevator door closes.

---

It's a missing child case that does it. Somehow, Doggett always knew it would be that.

The problem with the Violent Crimes Section is that, well, the crimes are violent. And Doggett has seen a lot in his time, he has a strong stomach and he can handle most things… But the victim reminds him of his son.

Doggett used to use his pain as a motivator, in the mindset of I can help this family, this child, even if I can't help my son. I can bring their child back, or I can bring them the peace I never had. It worked with Billy and Josh Underwood, and with other cases where children are in danger. And he's avoided cases with children as much as possible, but it's inevitable that he's had to work on a few. But this one feels different. After all he's gone through with his son's murder in recent months, looking the bastard who did it in the eye and having him explain why… he doesn't know how he can watch someone else go through this.

He remembers how it felt in Mexico, the gut-wrenching moment when he'd realized that the little boy he dreamt of was dead, had been murdered years and years ago. He hadn't remembered his life, and he's glad he does now, but there was nothing worse than those brief days when he actually thought his son was alive. At home, missing him, worried about him, ready to hug him when he got home. Everything in this past year, finding Luke's murderer and believing Luke was alive and watching everything Dana had gone through with her kid… It's too hard. The picture of Luke on his mantle makes him want to cry, want to throw up.

He calls Barbara in a drunken moment of weakness. She is nice—nicer than he deserves, all things considered. She refuses to reminiscence with him, stops him anytime he says anything like, “Hey, do you remember…”, but she does console him. And finally, she seems to hit the nail on the head in a way that shocks him to the core. “You've been chasing Lukie all this time,” she says. “Never walking away, working in careers that remind you of him. And I never understood that until you found the guy who did it. But John… he's dead now. It's over. We let Luke go. And now… maybe it's time for you to move on.”

John hunches over, his ribs against his knees, rubs at his face with his callused palms. “I just don't want to forget him,” he whispers. Not the way he did in Mexico; a willful sort of forgiving, where he can pretend it never happened, avoid thinking about his son every day so he doesn't feel the pain. It's what he'd silently accused Barbara of, when she pushed him away before finally divorcing him (“I need to forget,” she'd sobbed the night he left, “I can't go on like this.”), when she refused to participate in the investigation because it was too painful for her. He won't accuse her, of course, but he doesn't want to copy her. He can't abandon his son.

“You wouldn't be forgetting him,” Barbara says. “I know you, John. And I haven't forgotten him. Just because I don't let the pain control my life doesn't mean I'm forgetting my son.” Her voice is too rough now, full of pain. A pain that is all too familiar to John.

John rubs his hand over his face, wiping away his tears. “I know you haven't,” he says softly. He doesn't want to have this conversation with her. “Thanks for talking to me, Barb. I'm sorry to bother you.” He reaches up to hang up the phone.

“You need to live your life, John,” Barbara says just before he hangs up. “It doesn't mean you're forgetting Luke. I just want you to be happy.”

“Thank you,” John says softly, and hangs up. He lets the phone fall onto the couch, runs his damp hands through his sweaty hair.  

---

Monica knows a little bit about the man that Mulder and Dana call the smoker. CGB Spender, mystery man, a true B-movie villain. Mulder and Jeffrey Spender’s father. Dana has always described him with an overwhelming ounce of disgust, hatred. She's only gotten bits and pieces of their history with the purported smoker, but it's enough to mutually hate this man she's never met. Who she never will meet, because he’s dead. Or so she thought.

She soon finds herself being summoned to a hospital in New Mexico, a couple of months after Mulder and Dana disappear. The hospital won't tell her why, only that a patient wants to see her and they are insistent that it's important. They won't tell her who the patient is. “I'm afraid I'm going to need more information than that,” Monica says cautiously, not wanting to walk straight into another trap.

“I’m afraid we can't give it to you,” says the man on the other end. He pauses for a second before adding, “But I was told to tell you something.”

“And what is that?” Monica asks.

The man waits a few beats before saying, “I was told to tell you that this is about Dana Scully.”

Monica goes. She doesn't think she has a choice, because that could be Dana or Mulder there in that hospital, needing her help. She doesn't tell John, which is silly, but she was told to tell no one. Dana and Mulder trying to cover their tracks, she thinks. It feels nonsensical, considering the fact that they both know John better anyhow, but she still doesn't tell him. She flies out to New Mexico alone, hearing the thud of her heart in her ears. Even with her worry about Dana and Mulder, she finds that she is almost excited; it's been so long since she did anything outside of routine.

Her worry is clearly not necessary. She realizes this as soon as she gets to the hospital and the men with suits usher her in. It's not Dana or Mulder, and the man in that room doesn't need her help. At least not any help that she is willing to offer.

The smoker lies in the hospital bed, burned nearly beyond recognition, is the man she's seen in old, blurry photos stashed in the X-Files. CGB Spender. The man she'd assumed was dead. She remembers, suddenly, the fireball that consumed the pueblos where they found Mulder and Scully; was he in that?

Monica has no idea how the smoker knows her or how he found her, but he had an offer for her. He wants her to join him, he says, in a plan to reshape the Earth radically. He wants to create a virus to counter the apparent planned alien invasion in 2012. He tells her that very few people are actually immune. He tells her that Dana is one of the few who are. He offers her that same immunity in exchange for her help.

Monica is beyond baffled. Even after everything that has happened to her, she never expected to be offered something like this . An opportunity to go over to the dark side, to betray everything they've been working for over the past year. She's astonished, horrified, repulsed. She bites out some angry words, exits the hospital room angrily and lets the door slam behind her. She would never, ever do anything like that, even to save her own life.

She makes it all the way to the hotel before the implications of what Spender has told her sink in. A virus that will wipe out most of Earth's population . An alien invasion scheduled for 2012. The casualties will be horrifying. Do Mulder and Dana know about this?

Monica sits at the little desk in her hotel room, her head spinning. She can't just walk away from this, she has to do something. She has to stop this because now this is so much bigger than Dana and Mulder and Dana's baby and all the other horrible things she's heard about. This is all of mankind .

All she can think is that she has to do something. She has to tell Dana and Mulder. They're the only ones who would know how to deal with this. She calls Skinner, perched on the end of her bed with a cigarette in hand. (She's trying to quit, and the taste of it in the back of her throat makes her think of fucking Spender, begging for cigarettes on what should've been his death bed, but she needs it now, needs to clear her head.) When he picks up, she blurts, “I need to talk to Mulder and Scully.”

Skinner is silent on the other end for a few beats. And then he's saying, “Agent Reyes?” in confusion.

“Yes, this is Agent Reyes,” Monica snaps, taking a drag on her cigarette. “I need to talk to Mulder and Scully.”

Skinner is silent again, maybe in astonishment. “I don't know where they are,” he says finally.

“It's important, sir,” says Monica, the smoke expelling from her mouth in a thin line. “Incredibly important.”

Skinner's voice goes quiet on the line, hissing into the phone. “I can't exactly discuss this with the level of subtly it deserves on this line,” he whispers. “But either way, Reyes, I don't know where they are. Truly. The most I've heard from them is via postcard.”

Monica bites her lower lip, takes another long, burning drag off of the cigarette. She doesn't know who the hell to give this information to if she can't get in touch with Mulder and Scully. Skinner is the obvious option—more obvious than Kersh, at least, who Monica still has some distrust of, even after he helped Mulder escape—but over the phone clearly isn't the best way to do this. And besides that, Skinner has been tied up with trying to find Gibson a safe place to go. She can hardly ask him to do more.

“What do you need to tell Mulder and Scully?” Skinner asks in a hushed voice on the other end. “Agent Reyes?”

Monica swallows. The cigarette is burning up between her fingers. “I can't say on this line, sir,” she says, and hangs up.

She puts out her cigarette and lights another one. She takes her pack outside and sits on the edge of the pool, feet dangling in the water. The moon is out.

For a split second, she imagines Mulder and Dana driving into this hotel, tired and world-weary. She does something she hasn't done in years, since long before the FBI, and plays out wishful scenarios in her head. She helps Dana and Mulder save the world, kill the smoker, clear Mulder's name and get their son back. (Goddamn, that kid was cute, and Dana missed him so much.) The X-Files are reopened. Luke Doggett is found alive, and John is overjoyed. Monica gets a promotion and a nice fucking apartment and a date and maybe that cat her sister is always telling her to get, and everyone gets a happy ending.

Life isn't a movie and Monica is much too old to pretend. She lights another cigarette.

She remembers Leyla Harrison's eagerness, her constant references to Mulder and Scully and her admiration of them. What would Agents Mulder and Scully do? What would John do? Monica tries to imagine. What would Monica Reyes do? There seems to be only one option, but she doesn't know if it's a sacrifice she should make.

Her feet splash the top of the water. She gives up. She goes in and dials John's number.

---

They catch the killer. Doggett feels like he has done nearly nothing to help. Monica is out of town, and he finds himself missing her, her sunny attitude. She'd find a way to make him feel better.

He keeps coming back to what Barbara said on the phone before, about his job. Staying in careers that remind him of Luke. He likes his job, though; it's like a step up from police work, in the same vein of the military. But it's cases like this that always manage to get to him. That bring back the nightmares, the ghost of his son. If he believed in ghosts, that is.

He's sitting at his desk, fiddling with an Empire State Building snow globe Monica had bought for him in a souvenir shop downtown (the irony—but god, he misses the city) when the phone rings. It's Monica, calling from New Mexico, apparently. “Hey, Mon,” he says with pleased surprise. “What are you doing in New Mexico again? I thought your parents were in Arizona.”

“They are,” Monica says. “I'm on a… case. Sort of.”

“Oh.” Doggett turns the snow globe over in his hand. He's wondering why she didn't invite him. He's wondering if this has to do with Mulder and Scully, who they last saw in Arizona. “What kind of case?”

“It's… complicated,” says Monica in a rush. “Listen, John, would you mind coming down here? I need your help with something. And I don't want to discuss it over the phone.”

Doggett’s mouth tenses in surprise, letting the snow globe fall to the table. “Sure, Mon,” he says, sitting back in his chair. “Everything okay? Are you…”

“I'm fine,” Monica says quickly. “I just… I need you out here, if you can make it.”

“Be there by tonight,” Doggett says.

---

Monica meets Doggett at the airport in Roswell. She looks as if she's deep in thought when he sees her, huge sunglasses falling over her face, an unlit cigarette in her hand. But she smiles as he draws closer and he feels a wave of relief. He doesn't have many friends left after he tanked his reputation on the X-Files, but he has Mon, and he's grateful for that. She'd be the reason he stays at the Bureau, or even in DC, if he stays.

When he hears what Monica has to tell him, it feels like it's all inevitable: Barbara's suggestion, the missing child case, finding Luke's killer, the Files closing. Maybe this is all fated to end.

When Monica finishes, they're parked in the parking lot of her hotel, the sun sinking over the desert. The sunset and the sand seems to give everything a red glow; it's making Doggett's head spin. He says slowly to her, “So this… smoker guy…”

“CGB Spender,” Monica supplies.

“Whatever. So this Spender guy… who just happens to be Mulder and Scully's worst enemy and who, by all accounts, should be dead… wants you to join him?” He shakes his head in disbelief. “And you're actually… considering it?”

“I'm not considering joining him,” Monica says, rubbing at the bridge of her nose. She taps a cigarette absently against her leg. (Doggett recognizes the habit almost fondly from years of meeting in increments, Monica insisting she was trying to quit every single time.) “I'm considering infiltrating him. So I can put a stop to his plans and hopefully save the entire human population.”

“The entire human population,” Doggett repeats slowly. “And you believe this… CGB?”

“John, you've seen what these men can do,” she says. “I have no reason not to believe it. I have no choice.”

Doggett rubs a hand across his mouth tiredly. “And you don't think he won't notice you're a double agent? This sounds dangerous, Monica.”

“Part of the job,” Monica says simply. “And besides that, this is bigger than you and me. We're talking about the world here. The good of all mankind.”

Doggett sighs, looking out to the horizon. Sand stretching out for miles. He can see nothing else. “I dunno, Mon,” he says wearily. “I hardly think the two of us are the leading experts on this shit.”

“Skinner doesn't know where Dana and Mulder are, and I didn't want to bring too much suspicion on him,” Monica says. “And I wouldn't trust anyone else with this information.”

“Good instincts.” Doggett sighs, leaning back in his seat. “I dunno, Monica, I dunno. Do you want me to tell you to do it? I dunno if I can tell you to do it. I dunno if I can tell you not to do it.”

“I have a unique opportunity,” Monica says. “I have the knowledge of what these people do, the horrible things they do, and the smoker has no reason to distrust me. I have an in that even Mulder and Dana don't have.”

He laughs quietly. “Well, it sounds like you've already made up your mind.”

“I don't want to do it,” says Monica. “But I think I have to. For my family, for my friends, for the world. For Dana and Mulder and that poor kid of theirs.”

It always comes back to Mulder and Scully. Doggett wipes his mouth, nods a little in understanding.

“I guess I just want you to tell me I'm doing the right thing,” Monica finishes.

“You're too damn noble, Monica. Of course you're doing the right thing. The question is, what'll it cost you? You'd be going deep undercover, betraying your values. Hell, this could take years.”

“I know,” Monica says. “That's more or less what I signed up for, isn't it?”

“I dunno about that.”

She removes her sunglasses and turns to look at him. Drops her box of cigarettes in the cupholder and gives him a small smile. “I hate to leave DC though,” she says. “Brand new apartment and all. And… I'll miss you.”

Doggett smiles back, just a little. “I'll miss you, too,” he says. “Although you might not believe it, Mon, but… I've been thinking about maybe quitting. This may be an opportunity for both of us to move on, Mulder-and-Scully style.”

“Quitting? I never would've expected that from you, John.”

“Neither did I.” Doggett leans against his elbow, shrugging a little. “But this last case… it really shook me up. I couldn't handle it the way I used to be able to. Couldn't stop thinking about Luke. I called Barb and she… she thinks I should move on.” He rubs his face with one hand, tries to scrub it all away. “Not… forget Luke, but move on. Get away from things that remind me of what happened. Try to be happier.”

Monica watches him quietly, fiddles with her sunglasses absently. “Where would you go?” she asks quietly.

“I dunno. Maybe…” Doggett has a sudden memory, painful and joyful at the same time: Luke on a vacation in Florida they took when he was five. His tanned face grinning up at Doggett where they stand in the water, little hands clutching a fishing pole. It's an oddly happy memory. He wants to hold onto this feeling. “Maybe Florida,” he says. “Get some sun. Get back to nature or whatever.”

Monica smiles again, sunny as the Florida sky. “Sounds pretty.”

“I'm sure it is.”

They sit in silence for a minute, the air conditioner humming. The sun sinks below the horizon.

“So… we're going to do this, huh?” Doggett says finally. “Leave it all behind?”

Monica looks down at her tanned hands, reaches for the package of cigarettes again. “Yeah,” she says quietly. “I guess so.”

---

He buys her a drink, his friend, his partner. One last hurrah. It's some cheesy alien-themed bar that Mulder would probably love. A few drinks in, and he's repeating the sentiment to Monica, and she's bursting into giggles. They stay up too late, drinking and joking and goofing off.

He'll miss her. He really will.

Monica drives him to the airport in the morning, the sunglasses sliding back over her nose. “Practicing your covert routine, huh,” Doggett says at baggage claim, and she says, “Guess so.”

She walks him as far as they can go and stops, the two of them standing in awkward silence. Finally, Monica says, “No one can know what I'm doing. What I'm really doing. Let them think I went evil, that I went off the grid or whatever. Not even Skinner; he's surrounded by too many dangerous people.”

Doggett nods. “What about Mulder and Scully?” he asks. “If I ever see them again?” (He's not holding his breath.)

Monica hesitates before agreeing, “Sure. But only because I never want to be on their bad side. Especially not Dana's; she scares the shit out of me.”

They both laugh at that. And then it is silent again, the awkwardness thick in the air. Doggett fidgets with the handle of his suitcase, unsure of what to say or do. But Monica does it for him; she steps forward and wraps her arms around his shoulders, the way she suddenly hugged him months ago when he'd brought Polish sausage to her apartment. He hugs her back on instinct.

“You call me,” he says into her hair. “You need anything, you get into trouble, and you call me. I'll kill that smoking son-of-a-bitch. Probably get a medal for it.”

Monica chuffs out laughter, kisses his cheek gingerly before drawing back. “I'll keep in touch,” she says. “Somehow.”

“Well, good.” Doggett crosses his arms over his chest.

Behind him, they call his flight. He scoops up his suitcase, somewhat reluctantly, and waves a little to Monica. “You be careful, okay?” he instructs her firmly.

“I will.” Monica grins like she isn't about to do something incredibly dangerous (or stupid) and try to save the world. “You have fun in Florida.”

Doggett nods. Turns and walks towards his gate because he's awful at goodbyes. When Dana had left, packing up her stuff just before they went to break Mulder out, he honestly hadn't known what the fuck to say to her. He's horrible at goodbyes.

He's halfway to his gate when Monica calls out, “Hey, John!” from behind him. He turns. She shouts, “You should get a dog!”

“This wouldn't happen to be a joke about my name, would it?” Doggett shouts back. He's heard it all, ever since preschool, for Christ's sake.

“No, you just always seemed like a dog person to me!” Monica calls.

Doggett chuckles in soft surprise. Goddamnit. He really is going to miss her.

---

Monica drives straight to the hospital from the airport. Attempts to put on the persona that she will unknowingly be sporting for years: cold, unfeeling. She feels like she is doing something too significant, changing her entire life. She tells herself it will be worth it. For Dana and John and her family and all of humanity.

She tells the smoker that she will do it, her face blank, her voice hard. “If,” she adds warningly, “I'm guaranteed immunity. Myself and my family and friends.”

The smoker pulls his charred lips upwards in a snake's smile. “We'll see, Monica,” he says. “A few years with me, and you may find you don't care as much anymore.”

Monica keeps her face hard and neutral. Thinks, I will never be as cold and unfeeling as you, you bastard.

She's about the least equipped for any of this. She has the least amount of experience with this conspiracy, the least tragedy in her life. She has less to lose.

And that, Monica Reyes thinks to herself, is exactly why she has to do it.

---

Doggett gives his two-week notice.

Skinner gives him a strange look, somewhere between confusion and disappointment. (Maybe he likes having reckless X-Files agents around, being in the midst of the action. Or maybe he just really misses Mulder and Scully.) “What's going on here?” he whispers to Doggett privately, later. “Does this have anything to do with Agent Reyes’s own resignation? What the hell are you two up to?”

Doggett says, as innocently as possible, “Sir, I'm moving to Florida. I'd like to start a new stage in my life. And as for Agent Reyes…” He lowers his voice and leans in closer, whispers, “Whatever she's doing, it's important.”

That's the most detailed he'll get. He promised Monica.

He moves down to Clearwater, Florida about a month later. Gets a dog because he promised Monica that, too.

The waves crashing across the street from his crappy little house make him think of his son. They scattered his ashes in the Atlantic because Luke loved the water.

---

Four months later, he gets a letter from Monica. It's short, abrupt, but it says she's okay. It says that she's going to try and stop this. It says she'll be in touch.

Enclosed in the envelope is a postcard from South Carolina.

Doggett burns the letter. The postcard he keeps, puts up on the fridge between the postcard from Dana (Washington State) and the old pictures of Luke, sunscreen smeared over his nose as he smiles into the camera.