Title: Amor Ausente
Author: Rhiannon Langly
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Spoilers: LGM series and XF to this point. If you
haven't read the other stories in this series (The Darkness Within
and Blood Fire) you should do so, as I don't feel like adding a
kilobyte of replay action.
Disclaimer: Blahblahblah Chris Carter. Blahblahblah
1013. Blahblahblah just for fun, not profit.
Author's notes at the end. 

Gunmen HQ, Tacoma Park, MD: April 29 
(two weeks after Darkness Within)

Every morning, it's my job to make the day's coffee. 
"Langly's sludge," Byers calls it, and everyone who's tasted it
is forced to agree. That morning was no different than any
other day.

Byers had been off with whoever she is all last night
and Frohike had spent the night doing...whatever it is he does. I
still don't agree with Byers' girl. I think (and I don't
approve of it at ALL) he's trying to forget Susanne...and failing

I staggered into the kitchen that day in a pair of
boxers (with little Spock pictures on them), dumped a dozen
spoonfuls of Maxwell House into the machine, poured in water and

And waited.

And waited.

Byers stumbled in, exhausted and looking pissed.

"Dammit, Langly, hasn't the coffeemaker been fixed

Frohike came in behind him, looking chipper. "Hey, I
can SMELL it, but I can't SEE it!"

"Shut up," I said. "It's coming."

We watched the carafe...and watched longer. Finally
there was enough to drink.

"Want some huevos rancheros?" Frohike chirped.

"No." Byers gave him a dirty look. "I value my

"I'll have some, if I can dissolve it in coffee," I

I poured myself some in a large mug that read "What
attitude?" on the side, and sat down at my computer. Byers, now
more coherent, looked at me wearily. "Geez, Ringo, 
checking your e-mail again?"

"She usually sends it in the middle of the night."

"Usually?" Byers snorted. "She's sent mail *once.* 
One time in three weeks. Face it, she's kissed and TOLD."

Arrogant BASTARD narc.

"Thanks for being so supportive, *John,*" I said,
rising to my feet. "At least my girl didn't run off right away. 
At least I'm not fucking every girl in DC to try to forget her.
At least I got *laid.*" I regretted it as soon as the raging inferno left my

Byers' face turned red, and he clenched his fists,
gritting his teeth. It's fortunate for me that control is one of
his strong points. I felt stupid, not only for insulting
a friend for no reason, but for cheapening what I had with Mel.
I closed my eyes, hiding the tears that were threatening.

"Come and get it!" Frohike yelled, coming into the
room sporting an apron that fell to his knees and read "Love the
Cook." He stopped short, looking at both of us, Byers enraged
and me with face downcast.

"Oh," he said.

"That...was uncalled for, Langly," Byers spat.

"I'm sorry, Byers. Really, I am," I replied.

He lifted an eyebrow.

"I feel really horrible about it...It's like I open my
mouth and shit comes out...and Frohike, I'm starving."

Frohike smiled. "So, food?"

As he spoke, the alarm went off on my computer. I
jumped, running over to it, typing frantically.

"What the heck?" Byers asked.

"I've set up the computer to scan for Mel's signature
on the web, her IP connection. It only works if I'm awake and can
trace it by hand."

"She's got to be using a scrambler though, mirror
ISPs..." Frohike said. "She'd be hard to track."

"She doesn't have our equipment with her though, we
did an inventory. She only took our software and information. 
My guess is that she's using OUR system and satellites. Thus,
we can track her, they can't."

"Does she want us to find her?" Byers looked confused.

"Nope. She probably didn't realize how easy it is to
track someone through your own system, once you know they're
there," I replied, tapping the enter key. "I got the area code,
252. I looked at her modem before she left. She has to *dial
up* to our 'lites if she's not in the DC area. That makes it

"So that narrows it down to..." Byers looked through
the database. "North Carolina...Outer Bank islands."

"That's not that far from here, really," Frohike said.
"It's *close.*"

"Yeah, staying too close is stupid. Going too far is
stupid. Sticking within a few hundred miles...smart. The
Project wouldn't look right under their noses," I said.

"Narrowing to the exchange--" Byers froze.

"What?" I asked.

"It's Manteo, North Carolina."

"So?" I said, shoveling eggs into my mouth.

"The first English colony in America was there. On
Roanoke Island."

"Isn't that the place where all the colonists
disappeared?" Frohike asked.

"Yes," Byers said. "The founders, John White and Sir
Walter Raleigh went back to England to get supplies.
When they returned, there was no trace of any of the colonists. 
It looked as if they had left suddenly months earlier. There
was only a word carved on a tree: Croatoan. That was the name of
a local Native American tribe, but when they were questioned,
White found that they had not seen the Roanoke colonists or helped
them. Even though it was rumored that there were survivors,
no one ever found them.

"*I* think that they were taken by the CIA, for
reasons unknown, in a project I found out about 
once while doing research for Mulder."

"Uh, Byers," I said. "What year was this?"

"Ummmm. They found Roanoke deserted on August 15,

"FOUR HUNDRED YEARS AGO?! Great, Byers. There wasn't
any CIA

"Not *their* government, Langly, *ours.* Time

"What does that have to do with finding Mel?"

"Well, it could be a logical excuse to go to Manteo. 
An in-depth article on the Roanoke mystery."

Frohike and I gave him a look. "And?"

"And you could go look for Mel, Langly."

I lifted an eyebrow.

"Well?" he asked.

"Not a bad plan for a narc," I said. "Wanna go,

"I'm game. Want some more eggs?"