Title: Amor Ausente (2/3)
Author: Rhiannon Langly
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Archives: Countermeasures, Gossamer, e-mail me if you
have other ideas.
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. 


Sloan's Ridge, Roanoke Island, NC: April 30

I sat at the top of the ridge, waiting for Frohike and
Byers to get the van off the bridge and unload the 
equipment. The breeze hit my face, cool from coming 
off the ocean. The lilac scent in it made me think 
of Mel. She was out there, somewhere.

Somewhere near here.

"Langly, snap out of it," Frohike said as he walked up
to me.

"Let's go set things up."

Byers dragged a load of computer equipment up to the
two of us.

"Good thing we got a permit," he said. "Hiding this
stuff would have been brutal."

"Hey, we're journalists," Frohike said. "That's not a

I nodded, staring off into the ocean. As my gaze
moved past the bridge, I saw a woman pull up in a 
silver convertible. She stared right back at me, 
her long dark hair blowing in the breeze. Shit.

"Hey guys," I said, pointing. "Looks like we got


Yves Adele Harlow stood in front of the three of us as
we sat down at a nearby picnic table. She had her 
hands on her hips, withstanding Frohike's look.

"You're here, too. Great."

"Roanoke has long been a project of my own," she said,
glaring at Frohike's comment. "I'd suggest, amazingly, 
that we work together on this. Combine resources, 
as it were."

"And your profit?" Byers asked.

"My own curiosity satisfied..." She turned to Frohike.

"The settlement house is over there, and the outbuildings 
are that way. I'd suggest you wait until sundown so the 
tourists leave, then begin with the woods. I do believe 
you're looking for a large machine..."

Byers nodded. "Yes, the plans for the time machine I
saw indicated that it couldn't be moved. Thus, it must 
be somewhere around here."

As the sun went down and darkness moved over the
ridge, Frohike and Byers walked towards the buildings. 
I was reminded of Cervantes...Panza and Quixote and the 
impossible dream. Naturally, I had my doubts about the whole thing.

"I'll stay behind," I said. They agreed. Hell, I'd do
them no good in the state I was in.

"Yves, you coming?" Frohike asked.

She waved to them. "I'll be along in a second," she

After they had left earshot, she turned to me.

"Langly, Mel is *here.* On Roanoke."

"I know *that.* Why do you think I'm here?"

She sighed. "It's a large island, Langly. I mean
that she's in the woods around the colony. She's hidden 
in the wilderness, coming into town when she needs things."

"Why doesn't she stay in town?"

"Too conspicuous. I think she's been doing
some...research. In fact, I know she's been 
researching heavily."

Yves' statement was odd, as if she was the bearer of
bad news.

No problem. I stood up and gathered my computer gear.

"Don't bother to find her, Langly," she said,
frowning. "She'll find you."

"You think you'd tell me that my girl's out here and
not expect me to try to find her?" I laughed.

"Langly..." she said sadly as I walked off into the


"She's that way. But you may not like what you
find..." she called.

"Whatever. Go dig for your time machine."


I set off into the woods, my thermal detector set at
37 degrees Celsius and night vision goggles on. There 
were no people for 100 meters around me. I watched my 
steps, trying to be as quiet as possible...that is, 
until I got scratched in the face and my hair stuck 
in a hawthorn tree. Damnit. And of course, the thermal 
alarm went off. I froze, set up the computer, and got a 
visual. 79 meters north.

As I approached the source of the heat, I heard the
ocean...close by, definitely...The map said the person 
was at the edge of the ridge. What the hell?

I kept walking and stopped just at the edge of the
ridge. The monitor was telling me that whoever...Mel? 
was right here, but I was the only person in sight. 
Not to mention that it was fucking around and giving 
me a double signal.

I turned the alarm off and listened. There was a low
moan from close by. And then again.

"What the fuck?" If they were hurting Mel...

A gasp.

"Mel?" I yelled into the darkness.

The moan again.

I turned on the monitor and refined the locator. The
person was *below* me. And I was STILL getting a 
double signal. I climbed over the edge of the 
ridge, and then I understood.

There was a trench dug into the side of the cliff, the
top covered in branches.

I slid a little way down the side, and suddenly I
discovered no need for the night vision goggles. 
There was a lantern on in the trench. It blinded 
me for a second as I fumbled with the goggles.

I wish I'd stayed blind.

As my eyes adjusted to the difference in light and my
vision cleared, I saw Mel.

She was in the trench, which was set up to look
hospitable with a sleeping bag, closed laptop, and 
papers everywhere. 

Something, though, was very wrong.

She wasn't alone in the sleeping bag. I froze, closed 
my eyes, and opened them. She was still not alone.

"Oh my god. Mel?" I said. 

She sat up, revealing the man next to her, sleeping. 
She looked around and saw me.

"Ringo," she said and gasped. "It's...not what it
seems." She stood up. She was lying...she was beautiful 
in the nude. As she was now.

"No. It's not what it seems."

And I scrambled up the hill, wanting to be anywhere
but there.


I heard her behind me after a while. Weighted down
with equipment, I was slower than she, even with a head
start. She caught up with my halfway through the woods, 
my hair flying and getting in my face.

"Ringo, I needed to do it. He wouldn't give me...I
couldn't think of any other way."

"To do what, Mel? Huh? To get information?"

"Yes," she sighed. "On the Project. We can *stop*
them now, Ree, with the stuff I've got now."

"Info you got from fucking some doctor. Is that it? 
I can't believe how idiotic I was to trust you. To love you, even..."

"I still love you," she said, but her voice was flat
as an old Tab.

"No, you don't," I snorted. "If you loved me as much
as you did yourself, you wouldn't have done it."

"I wanted to make it so that we could be safe, to end
the Project for good."

"So your need to avenge yourself was worth more than
my love? Your obsession with the Project and what they did 
to you is worth more than that? Well, fuck this," I said, 
turning away as my face contorted with shame. "I trusted 
you and I loved you. And *you* fucked that up."

As I walked away, she said, "Ringo, we can *end* this.
With the information and the Gunmen's help, everything can be OK."

"You just want to use us again, Melinda," I said. 

"You wanna know how many nights I sat up at the computer waiting 
for a word from you, enduring Byers' and Frohike's jokes, 
while you were fucking him? You even used Yves, making 
her think you'd be back. Well, find your own damn freedom 
fighters. You can fuck *them* too."

She said nothing, and I began to walk away.

"You were the best, Richard Langly," she called after

I turned around, tears in my eyes. "Thanks, Mel. For

When she was out of sight, I ran. It was as if a hole
was burning, acid in my soul, and it spread through my
chest, eating away at me. I had to run. I had to scream. So, naturally, I did.

All the way to the bridge.