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The Beginning Of The Long Goodbye
Deslea R. Judd
DISCLAIMER: Characters not mine. Interpretation mine.
ARCHIVE: Yes, just keep my name on it.
CATEGORY/KEYWORDS: Romance, angst, NIHT II post-ep,
SPOILERS/TIMEFRAME: After NIHT II, implied spoilers to Release.
SUMMARY: Brad Follmer was a habit she needed to break.
FEEDBACK: Cherished at firstname.lastname@example.org. I haven't caught up on
the feedback from XFVCU yet - please forgive me!
MORE FICTION: http://fiction.deslea.com
AWARDS/ELIGIBILITY: Spooky Awards 2003 eligible.
Brad Follmer was a habit she needed to break.
It wasn't the first time she'd thought it. She'd even managed
it, more than once in fact. Quit smoking. Quit playing games.
Quit Brad Follmer.
In two days she'd managed to go back on all three.
Changing your life is easy, she thought - just get up and walk
away and leave it all behind. But it wasn't so easy when your
old life pulled up stumps and followed in your footsteps.
Behind her, the shower stopped running. The bathroom door
opened and closed.
"On the balcony," she called. "I'm having a smoke."
Random sounds drifted through the open door. Drawers being
opened and closed. Rustling sounds as he put the covers back on
"You okay?" he said, coming out onto the balcony beside her. He
helped himself to one of her cigarettes without asking. "You
don't seem yourself."
"I told you, Brad. I'm just shaken up after the explosion. I'm
fine." He frowned at her, unconvinced, and she forced a smile.
"Besides. I didn't see you complaining before."
"Adrenaline's an aphrodisiac. I know. It doesn't mean I don't
worry, Monica. How shallow do you think I am?" His voice was
sharp, unexpectedly so. Tinged with affront.
She stared at him. "Where did that come from?"
"Oh, come on, Monica. You've been playing me ever since I got
here. Making doe-eyes at me, talking about wanting to stay in DC
like it was to be near me - did you really think I wouldn't help
you if there wasn't anything in it for me?"
She opened her mouth to protest, but then she slammed it shut.
She had tried to play him, and he hadn't deserved it - he'd
proven that when she'd finally quit jerking him around and come
right out and asked. He didn't sound angry, and somehow that was
worse than if he had.
"I'm sorry," she said finally. She didn't know what else to
They stood there smoking in silence.
He pitched out his cigarette over the balcony. "You don't think
very highly of me, do you, Monica? You never did."
She turned and gaped at him. "I *love* you, Brad." And she
did, even if it wasn't the same now as it was back in New York.
"I know. But it's true, just the same." He looked at her, as
though meeting her gaze for the first time. "I'm good enough to
have a good time with, but not good enough to stay with."
"No, I'm going to finish. And then we can go to bed, or you can
go home, or whatever you want, but I've been thinking about this
for three years now and I'm going to have my say."
She pulled his robe more tightly around her. She didn't want
him to, but she said quietly, "All right."
"I know I'm not what you want, Monica. You get to slum it with
me, but you're gonna wind up with Doggett. Or with someone like
him. And no one will be happier for you than me when it happens.
But please show me the respect of not shoving your low opinion
of me in my face."
She stared at him. Floored. He stood there beside her, looking
out at the city. Utterly composed, but she could see the hurt in
every line of him. And there was nothing she could say, because
it was true - every word of it. She blinked back the rush of
tears she felt rising behind her eyes.
"Brad," she whispered.
He sighed and drew her close beside him. Still not looking at
her. "I didn't say those things to hurt you, Monica."
She sank her head to his shoulder. "I know." She felt horrible
and small. "I'm sorry."
"It isn't you, Brad, it's me." She could have kicked herself
for it as soon as the words fell from her lips.
To her relief, he sounded more disgusted than hurt. "Oh,
"No, it's true. You make me - want - and - need - and - I get
selfish. You make me want to screw on your desk and scratch your
secretary's eyes out and stay and be near you no matter what I
have to do or who gets hurt to make it happen, and I just can't
be like that, Brad. I don't like myself being like that. I'm
not generous with you. I'm not generous *to* you. I want you so
much that I just take and take and I never give."
He looked down at her. "And how is that my fault?"
"It isn't. It's just something that happens."
He frowned. "So how do we fix it?"
She swallowed hard. In that moment, she understood the finality
of it. The ways that she kept on missing the things that were
most important with him, and probably always would.
Incredibly, he was smiling at her. His eyes were over-bright.
She put her arms around him and rose up on her toes. He met
her, kisses soft and bittersweet and he made her feel good and
warm, but even if they did this again a week or a month from now,
she knew this was the beginning of their long goodbye.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I was always fascinated by the change in Monica
in NIHT/NIHT II. She seemed to be otherwise completely without
guile, and yet for much of the episode she was trying to
manipulate Brad. It was fascinating to watch, and it spoke to
another side of her that she had, perhaps, tried to move beyond
in breaking away from him. It seems to me that her decision to
leave him might have been part of a bigger attempt to change the
things she disliked about herself and her life. I don't know
whether I would call this my definitive idea of how Follmer and
Reyes relate to each other, but it was an interesting angle to