The smell of cordite was, Marita knew, an olfactory illusion. Night was falling over the cemetery, the mourners and observers long gone. Row after row of indistinguishable white markers faded into the distance, nothing to announce, 'This man was special, this one, a hero.' They were all special; as for the other, Marita didn't know.
She didn't know what she was doing here, either, at the grave of a man whose death she wouldn't regret. She should have been the one to arrange Walter Skinner's death. Barring that, she should at least be pleased by it.
A familiar voice made her turn. "I know you always find things in the last place you look, but this really was the last place I thought I'd find you. Since you wouldn't go to the funeral, I mean. I thought..." Monica trailed off. "Do you know you're crying?"
Marita touched her own cheek. "I am?"
Monica nodded. "It isn't about Walter, is it?"
"I wish I could be happy that he's dead."
"Did you love him? Alex Krycek, I mean."
"Maybe. I don't know. He was a horrible man and there were a thousand things wrong between us, but there was no one else who would understand the choices I'd made." She took the other woman's hand, hoping the gesture would help against the pain her words had caused. "I know you want to understand, Monica. But you..."
"Is he buried somewhere?"
She shook her head. "Cremated. To avoid any possibility of... well. I scattered the ashes at three a.m. at the reflecting pool."
At that, Monica laughed aloud. "Marita! You do have a sense of humor!"
"I'll deny that allegation."
"Go ahead and try. I know the truth." She lifted herself up on her toes and kissed Marita very lightly on the lips. "But I promise not to tell anyone else." Marita stepped away. "What? You aren't worried about kissing in a graveyard, are you?"
"No," Marita said. "No, it's... All my relationships have been based on secrets."
"Oh." Monica was silent for a moment. "Well, I can tell John that you have a sense of humor, but I don't know if he'll believe me. He's funny that way. He may demand to see the evidence."
"Even with evidence, no one will believe you."
"You aren't as compassionless as you pretend to be."
"I am, you know."
"You agreed to give testimony."
"You won me over. You were so passionate."
Monica snorted. "I was desperate."
"You were the most vital thing I'd seen in a year. I couldn't resist you."
"You couldn't resist me? You absolutely amaze me, you know. To have survived what you've survived. To even come here to Walter's grave."
"I should have killed him." Marita said abruptly.
Monica was silent for a moment. "Did you want to?" Marita shook her head, and she looked relieved. "OK. Well, that's something."
"I don't understand you," Marita said. "That should bother me more than it does."
"Maybe it's because you know that I wouldn't hurt you."
"So you don't care about Walter Skinner?"
"I care about you, Marita. I don't... well, like you said I don't understand your choices. But you wouldn't hurt me. Not willingly. You didn't even hurt Walter, and you didn't care about him." She paused. "Did you?"
Marita managed a weak smile. "Not the way I care about you."
"Good. I know you're bi, but there are limits." She gave Marita a curious look. "Do you ever laugh at anything?"
"I guess I need to try harder, then. Come on," she said, taking Marita's hand and drawing her back through the gravestones. "Come home with me. Maybe you won't feel so self-conscious about laughing when we aren't surrounded by the dead."
Marita followed, letting Monica wrap an arm around her waist. "Aren't we always, though?"
"The dead don't begrudge us love, Marita." She stopped at the edge of the field and looked back at the rows of white markers. "They're always with us. We carry them and they carry us. But we aren't bound by them, by their hatreds and their desires."
"I wish I could believe that."
"You believe in aliens, but not in forgiveness."
"I've seen the aliens."
Monica turned back and smiled. "Skeptic."
Marita kissed her, lightly at first. "Thank you."
The second kiss was more serious. "For what?" Monica asked when she could breathe.
"For coming to find me."
"Any time." Her easy assurance made something flicker in Marita's eyes; Monica asked her no questions but drew them both further out of the cemetery. "Let's go home, Marita."
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