Title : Freedom, Come Midnight (2 of 3)
Rating: PG-13 (Adultish in tone)
Spoiler : Bond, Jimmy Bond
Disclaimer: C. Carter, 1013 Productions, Fox
hold the rights to what's theirs. I retain
the rights to my creations.
Freedom, Come Midnight (2 of 3)
The medical team had finished up with him
hours ago, having won the dicey fight to
stablize the 'gunshot wound's' touch and go
condition. The lead surgeon had skillfully
performed the seemingly impossible.
Sacrificing the appendix, which had only
been nicked when the bullet had whizzed
through, for a critical section of the
Considering that the bullet had gone clean
through, damage had been done, but it hadn't
been extensive. Blood loss had been minimal,
so Ringer's solution, instead of whole blood,
coupled with hemodilution, was what the
surgeon had opted for, to minimize risk of
post-op complications with a transfusion as
Langly was still in the ER, with the curtains
drawn all around the bed. It was a little
past five a.m. The medical compound was
steeped in the lulling sound of life support
equipment humming, and monitors softly beeping,
keeping ancillary watch over the sick and
Phones interrupted occasionally, and the
triage doctor's norm would be to pick up after
Gina had been allowed to be with Langly some-
time after three-thirty. She'd ridden along
with him in the ambulance, blandishing him
with encouragements to 'hang in there.' He
had to so he could tell her why he believed
in aliens; that, and every other thing she
often found herself wondering about him.
Her eyes welled up with tears yet again.
The frenzied scenes from the MacDonald's
played out once again in her mind; the
police arriving in the split second of time
when it appeared the first gunman was going
to follow his partner's suit, and shoot
Langly a second time in the chest; a female
police officer shooting the second gunman
before he shot one of the backup officers;
the eight customers, and her co-workers led
to safety by the female officer's partner.
Langly's blood staining her uniform. The
seemingly interminable rush to the closest
A mindful nurse had found a highchairish
chair for her to sit on, and she'd been
holding his hand ever since. He looked so
ashen, so frail, she thought, observing
him. His breathing was shallow, but the
monitor he was hooked up to relayed that
his vitals were good enough for him to
continue doing that. His pulse rate was
stubborn for reaching normality, and his
blood pressure was on the steady rise.
Gina squeezed his hand, a remarkably soft
hand she thought for as many times, and
this time, much to her amazement, coupled
with a release of relief, he weakly squeezed
"Hey, there," she whispered close to his
wrist, then rubbed it against her cheek,
"H-Hey back at ya," he rustled at her,
licking parched lips.
"You're the bravest customer I've ever
She kissed his stark white knuckles, and
kept her mouth on the back of his hand.
The back of his other hand was stuck with
the IV insertion. "The _bravest_," she
"I didn't want him hurting you." He managed
a smile which started off wan, but he willed
it to spread strongly over the breadth of
his face. "I'm doin' o-okay?"
"You're doing great. The doctor who operated
on you said you're young, and strong with a
lower-GI that's textbook. You're minus one
"Wasn't usin' it anyway. You know those
"Yeah," Gina choked, clearing her throat
Following a pause neither knew how to fill
adequately, Langly asked, "Are Byers and
Frohike here yet?"
Gina, looking puzzled, replied, "I don't
think so. Friends of yours?"
"My best, and when they do, get ready to
hear: 'his ass is mine;' that'll be
Frohike sayin' that."
"But how would they know that--"
"You're damn it to hell right that'll be
me wantin' a piece of your sorry ass,
man." Frohike's voice had come from behind
the curtain. Byers' hand could be seen
pulling it back, and his partners became
"These are the friends in question, I take
it," Gina said, sounding as though she had
just taken off from the 'blocks.' She
turned her face back to Langly. "How'd
they know you were here, unless maybe the
"Yeah, they did, in a manner of speaking,"
Frohike wedged in, from the other side of the
sickbed. "We have _our_ ways." He winked at
his blond bane of existence, and muttered,
"you sure as hell got the gift for scarin'
the livin' hell outta us, boy. What happened
to your date? The waiting room's empty,
and," he looked at Gina in passing, "I thought
you said she worked in the computer store.
Not actually at Mac--"
"Not now, Frohike," Byers said with a voice
that was meant to tweeze, noting the tender
manner in which the young lady still tendered
Langly's hand. The full head of steam
Frohike enjoyed puffing, he let abate for
the time being, as he realized that she was
too. "How's he doing?" Byers rallied quickly.
"I'm gonna live," Langly chirped up, still
sounding a shade above at half mast, drinking
in the pointed concern in the eyes of his
bleary-eyed associates. "Don't get rid of
me that easily."
"You gave us a horrible scare," Byers
admonished, glancing his hand against Langly's
knee outlined by the cotton sheet. He wished
his chart were in sight so he could check out
"Well, see--" he began.
"Not now." It was Frohike this time. "You
need rest. There'll be time enough for the
narrative later." He focused his attention
upon Gina. "Looks like you could use a
breather, Miss. We'll take over now."
"I want her to stay," Langly insisted, as
vigorously as he could muster. He gripped
her by her red-tinged eyes. "Please s-stay,
"Langly," Byers said with a delicate lilt,
"let the poor girl get some rest. I'm sure
she'll be back to visit first chance she
Gina was not relinquishing Langly's hand
without some resistance. "I'm not going
anywhere." She gave his friends a
determined look, backed up by a resolve
it was hard getting around. "I'm all right.
I'd like to see him admitted first. Then,
"Suit yourself," the other two Gunmen
acquiesced, taking special note of her quiet,
yet militant tone.
About an hour later, he was formally
admitted into the hospital, and there was
talk of the team of doctors who had worked
on him initially, needing to go back in.
Somethings suspicious, hard to determine,
without benefit of closer inspection,
therefore warranting their having to open
him up again, had been detected on Langly's
most recent x-rays.
Gina vowed that she wasn't leaving until she
knew what action would be taken. She made
all the necessary calls explaining why she
wouldn't be where she customarily was at
certain hours of the day.
Near lunch time, the three were told by Drs.
Guestrel, the head surgeon, and Leznaub, the
attending physician, that another surgery
had been scheduled for Langly at one o'clock.
The surgery lasted over four hours, during
which time, Gina noted the tension and
extreme anxiety his two friends exhibited,
which led her to the correct conclusion that
these men were very close-knit. When Byers
had asked her when was the last time she had
eaten, and she had told him she couldn't
remember, he and Frohike paid a visit to the
cafe to get her, as well as themselves,
something to tie them over.
In their absence, at about five minutes
after five, Guestrel, his sky blue scrubs
greyed by visceral stains, had emerged from
the OR to let them know that the surgery
had gone moderately well, and what they had
at first thought was a clean passage through
of the bullet had turned out to be only
"There was some fragmentation," the surgeon
informed Gina whom he helped seat. "We
cleaned out most of what we saw, but we'll
have to wait and see."
A few minutes later, Leznaub had shown up,
and waited until the surgeon was finished
with his explanations so he could supplement.
When Byers and Frohike returned with an
assortment of machine-vended eatables, she
told them what the doctors had told her
moments ago. The foodstuffs they had
purchased had become summarily unappetizing
as the disheartened moods sank even lower.
The two Gunmen wondered how long they would
keep Langly in recovery.
They did not have long to wait. Leznaub
re-appeared in the waiting room twenty
minutes later, telling them that Langly had
slipped into a coma, and had been taken to
the ICU on the sixth floor.
"Go home, Gina," Frohike advised, managing
to sound more patient than he felt. "Give
us your number, and we'll phone you as soon
as there's any change."
Gina, tottering on her feet from nerves and
exhaustion, shook her head. She pressed
her palm into her forehead, teetering
between Byers, Frohike and indecision. "I
want to see him before I go," she said,
targeting the doctor. Byers fitted his arm
around her sagging shoulders.
"It's going to be all right," he told her,
linking eyes with Frohike who was finding
it impossible keeping his mind off
imagining going on with the cause, the
'good fight' without the whiney, factious
genius at their sides.
"I want to see Langly," she said again,
more insistently, with several hiccups.
"Please." Mournfully then, she pleaded,
"Please--he was so brave. He's here
because of me."
"All right. You may see him. One at a
time," the doctor stipulated, placing his
hand lightly on her shoulder. He looked
haggard, as though he could use a day's
worth of sleep, which may have been the
reason for his shortness with them. "Make
your visits brief. This way."
Getting off the elevator on six, Leznaub
led them to the Intensive Care Unit. He
stopped at the central desk to speak with
the physician in charge for the shift,
and while the consultation went on, Gina's
eyes sifted through the glass-enclosed rooms
visible to her, searching for Langly. The
unit was full, business was brisk.
When she had located him, rejoicing, she
mumbled an, 'excuse me' and headed where
she needed to be. Frohike and Byers
followed after her, ignoring the doctor's
'one at a time.'
Cautiously, Gina crept into the little room
with her eyes riveted on the deep sleeper.
She edged nearer to the bed, her eyes
brimming with tears each step of the way.
Softly bleating his name, she took her place
at his bedside, cradling his hand as she had
done in the ER. Both of his arms were
cuffed. She glanced up at the dual monitors,
wishing she knew what the second one, which
she was unfamiliar with, was indicating.
"This can't be happening," she squeezed
through her quivering lips, biting back
the venom she felt towards the stupid,
senseless world. "You're a good man.
You're brave, and strong, and I've wanted
to get to know you ever since that very
first day I started working at MacDonald's,
and you came in saying, ''super sizing' is
a state of mind. Works for me at Mickey
Dee's. Uh, you subscribe?'"
Despite her despair, she had to grin,
remembering his words. "Don't stay where
you're at. Come back to your friends who
love you very much, and come back to me,
someone who's loved you from afar for too
long now, and who would up close, if you
give me the chance..."
"Langly," she said louder. "_Langly_,"
she repeated, louder still.
Byers and Frohike stepped forward, and
each placed their hand upon the either
of her shoulders.
The heedless bleepings and beepings of his
monitors were the only replies she received.
They hung their heads, and Gina turned away,
cramming her other hand into her mouth,
sobbing openly; her heightened despair
enveloped the last vestige of renewed hope
she had when she thought she had felt him
squeeze her hand back. He hadn't.
In her own good time, she released it, and
made to leave the room which was beginning
to darken with the advent of the dreary,
Two hours later...
"It's experimental, that we know. Like
countless others we haven't had the chance
to thoroughly investigate."
"Which is why I don't want these junior
Frankensteins experimenting firsthand with
the stuff on him."
"But, Frohike, it may be his only chance
of coming out of the coma which they say
is dramatically dangerous in his present
"Screw that, man. It could mean his damn
funeral if we say it's okay for them to
shoot him up with EpiQEN, not knowing its
Byers squeezed his eyes shut.
Then, he and Frohike turned in unison
to Gina who had since been home to change
from her soiled clothes into a pair of
loose-fitting dark olive slacks and
matching lighter sweater that buttoned
down the front, of which three of the eight
fasteners were unbottoned.
"So what do you think?" Nodding for
coaxing purposes, giving Gina every
encouragement that they wanted her call,
since they judged she had a stake in this,
the men waited for her input after Byers
had posed the question.
"I like the fact that you're not willing to
trust one doctor's word for it." Her whole
manner suggested she'd been giving this
some careful thought. "You know him longer,
and better than I do. Think the way he does.
What would he do if it were either of you in
Byers, with waking admiration in evidence for
this young woman, brushed his hand over his
beard, looking to Frohike, and Frohike's
eyebrows knitted, but when he answered, there
was no uncertainty; 'of course,' he thought.
They were under too much stress right now.
"He'd want the stats, the data. The truth
about this drug that hasn't been told...yet,"
he plied, "on this so-called wonder drug via
"According to Leznaub, there isn't much time
to delay the decision; time is a critical
factor. The window's closing rapidly."
Byers ran another time check with his watch;
it was eleven-twenty, and thirteen seconds.
"Okay, so it's gotta be done quick, but we
both know it's gotta be done before we let
them inject this stuff into our buddy."
Frohike began distancing himself from them.
"I'll run and do the homework," he submitted,
waving goodbye when the elevator arrived.
Before letting the doors close, he said at a
clip, "I took the number of that pay phone.
Keep an ear out; I'll get back to you." He
let them close, leaving Byers to await the
findings, and Gina to wonder who these men
were, really. FBI? CIA? DEA? LOCC? Fact
finders for special interest groups?
Something covert, judging from the way they
handled themselves, and she fell in step with
Byers to pace.
Frohike hadn't been gone twenty or so
minutes, when Leznaub re-appeared, wanting
to speak with them. He informed them that
Langly needed the drug to be administered
at that very moment.
Again, Byers questioned the necessity of
bringing Langly out of the coma by
artificial means, but the doctor became
overly defensive, and accused Byers'
motives. EpiQEN was 'one-of-a-kind' in its
versatility, capable of inducing rapid
withdrawal from coma with minimal trauma;
there was ample documentation.
The doctor charged Byers of, among other
things, being a 'burier of his head in the
While their heated discussion escalated,
Gina left them so she could station herself
by the pay phone Frohike was supposed to
The doctor broke off what had turned into a
surly argument in a huff, hating having his
hands tied, although Byers had assured him
that he was merely waiting on a decision.
He wasn't proscribing further action being
There was something about Leznaub he began
not trusting. "Gina, do me a favor?"
"You heard what just went on." She nodded,
wishing somehow she hadn't. "Go to Langly.
Stay with him."
"I was just about to. I hope Frohike calls
"Yeah, me too." As Byers watched her quicken
her steps as she walked away, and he had no
sooner intoned words to the effect that more
doctors should be like Scully, the phone
"What did you learn, Frohike?"
-'Hey, John, my instincts were right on.'-
"How so?" Byers said unsettledly.
-'I hacked into the drug manufactuer's level
four-secured, ordered chronologial databases,
and came up with pay dirt.'-
"In the form of?"
-'Sequenced, time-sensitive protocols and
clinical trials on the drug in question
which I can guarantee weren't made available
for the public's general consumption.'-
"So the findings are highly disturbing."
-'Yeah, if you consider acute lymphoblastic
leukemia, testicular carcinoma, brain stem
infarct, hypochondriasis, a heightening of
histrionic, schizotypal, and paranoic
disorders mild side effects. And get this.
Turns out this Leznaub sits on the board of
directors. He's one of EpiQEN's key
developers. He's hungry for notoriety and
the big bucks that go with it, at whatever
price...I could go on, but there isn't time
for more provens. Don't let them near him
with that shit! Our bud ain't gonna be their
next negative clinical trial finding, dammit.'-
"I'm on it, Frohike. Get back here as fast
as you can, and if we have to, we'll take
him out of here by force if it comes to
Gina entered Langly's room just in time
to see Dr. Leznaub primed to stick the
injection into Langly's left arm. "What
the hell do you think you're doing?" she
shrieked, startling the physician, and
raced to stop him. It was at that precise
moment that Langly stirred, causing Gina
and the doctor to freeze simultaneously.
"W-Where the hell am I," Langly demanded
forcefully for a man who had just roused
from deep coma. With eyes glaring at full
strength intensity at the doctor, he saw
Gina's hands around his arms, attempting
to restrain him. "What's goin' on?"
Gina interposed her body between the bed and
Leznaub, blocking further approach to Langly.
"You don't haveta use that junk on him. He's
conscious, for God's sake. Leave him alone!"
Staring her down, Leznaub derided, "Get out
of my way. You have no right to interfere."
"That's where you're wrong," Gina vehemently
protested. "I care what happens to him,
and you _don't_."
Dipping over into the maniacal, he rambled,
"I must have a positive result. It must
work this time with no harmful effects; for
the good of mankind." Trying to throw her
off, he went on, "He's _still_ my patient
and I'll do what I deem necessary--"
"The hell you will," Gina blustered, still
intent on holding the driven physician off.
"He's a _human being_, not a _lab rat_, and
I'm not gonna let you hurt him!"
Langly, not knowing what to make of the
exchange, began undoing the tight cuffs from
around his arms as best he could in his
"I'll have you removed," Leznaub threatened,
almost having succeeded in pushing Gina
aside, but not before she batted at the
hypodermic and knocked it out of his hand.
"Woman, you're insane!" He took a swing at
her, just missing.
"What the fuc--" Langly's eyes hardened,
and he balled his hands into fists.
"We're removing Mister Langly from this
hospital immediately!" It was Byers. He
had barrelled into the room with righteous
retribution beaming from his stormy eyes,
preventing Leznaub from taking another
swing at Gina.
She breathed a sigh of relief, then went
on with the objective of helping Langly
shed his fetters to the monitors, which
suddenly had lots of give once her yanking
Byers' voice boomed. "Mister Langly's
personal physician, a Doctor Dana Scully,
has already authorized his immediate
discharge." He flinched unnoticeably
through the lie. "She'll be here shortly
to see he's transferred to her hospital;
"Your services are no longer required,"
Byers pointedly rejoined. He felt
duty-bound to add, "And we're on to you,
Doctor, and your illegal drug testing on
unsuspecting, helpless patients. You, along
with a public who has a right to know will
be reading all about it very soon."
"Ye-e-yeah," Langly croaked, already with
his legs hanging over the side of the bed,
holding his bandaged gut, not understanding
what Byers was babbling about. It matched
the babbling that was going on in his brain.
This trip took the cake. He'd never felt so
woozy before in his life, even counting the
time he got kicked in the noggin by his
rural family's best milk-producing cow.
"Easy, easy," Gina cautioned, "you've just
come through two surgeries."
Leznaub opened his mouth in sheer surprise,
and to object again, when Frohike came
tearing into the room. Initially overjoyed
to see that Langly was no longer comatose,
the thought that his friend had been given
the drug sent him over the edge.
"You bastard," he hurled at Leznaub, "I'm
gonna kick your ass, and then I'm takin'
"Easy, Frohike," Byers tempered, "it's
Lightning on the uptake, Gina tossed in,
"Doctor Sinister never got the chance. I
took care of it. They'll come in here and
mop up his garbage later."
After Leznaub fled the room, its occupants
breathed a collective, relieved sigh.
"Scully's on her way," Frohike told Byers
whose facial expression mimed someone's
who had just been told they'd won the
"After I lost the cop who chased me for
speeding, I phoned her, explained the
entire situation..." Frohike looked at
Gina who had had plenty of opportunity to
clue them in about the events leading up
to Langly's operations during them. "Since
it's Langly, Scully said she'd be down here
a-s-a-p." Then to the grimacing ailer,
Frohike directed, "She may say you're deeply
strange, and think you're off the hook from
where she sits, but you ask me, I say she's
got a real soft spot for ya, man."
"Cool," Langly said from a mouth associated
with a face that was a contortion of bona
Frohike looked at his watch again. It
was eleven-fifty-one. When he looked up,
he said, "I give her till midnight, and
you're as good as freed; have you sprung in
a jif, Blondie."
Gina was sitting beside Langly, supportive,
with her arm around him. He was leaning
heavily into her, breathing about the same
as he had been before falling into the coma.
In a small voice close to his ear, Gina
asked, "Who's Scully?"
"You'll see," was all he could manage to
wheeze before his head slumped into her lap.