Title : Freedom, Come Midnight (3 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 (3 of 3)
Two weeks later...
A spate of furious typing, accompanied by
some equally furious cussing ensued, and
then tranquility reigned. Langly looked
away from the T.V. set expectantly, took
a swig of O.J., rinsed his mouth with it,
then swallowed with a snort. He massaged
his abdomen which was still somewhat
distended, but nothing like it had been a
"How's it sound?" he called over to Byers
who still wasn't happy with the headline.
"Not attention-grabbing enough to suit," he
said with the grumble that brought a smile
to Langly's lips. "I'm still tweaking."
"Bounce it off me, for editorial purposes,
"Hmmm. You're sounding anormally chipper
these days." It would be remiss of him
if he did not credit Scully largely for
Langly's nice recovery.
"I'm still alive...and--"
"There's Gina now," Byers ad-libbed by
sounding 'la-di-da' and rhapsodic. His
beautifully expressive eyes danced.
"Yeah, you would say that."
"Hell yeah. I am saying it," Byers covered
rakishly. "Your pretenses are wasted on me.
She's making a difference with you, Ringo,
and you damn well know it."
"Says you, narc." Not wanting Byers to
tease him relentlessly, the way he had been
when she first started coming around,
bringing him MacDonald's food right to his
doorstep, Langly parried, "She's okay."
"Just 'kay, huh?'" Byers actually winked
slyly at him. "Okay my 'tighty-whiteies.'
The way you've been acting lately, I'd say
she's better than okay."
"Wouldya lay off." Langly got hot under the
collar, and began rubbing his neck.
"This is kinda fun. Seeing _you_ get all
flustered like this on account of a 'femme.'"
"I ain't gettin' flustered. It's just that..."
Coming up empty with a plausible excuse, he
switched gears. "Y'know, maybe I'd better
have her stop bringing me so much grub from
"What?" Byers said, shocked, "When is life on
this planet scheduled to end? Within the next
"Ha--ha. No, I'm serious. I'm gettin' a
paunch like 'Hike."
"Your swelling hasn't gone down completely."
"I'm not gettin' as much exercise like I used
"Oh? Aren't you?" Byers said suggestively,
"_NO_," Langly zinged into his ears. "C'mon
stop goin' there. I'm not up to it." He
nailed Byers with a look so sharp, Byers
almost felt the point. "When Scully says I
can do strenuous, then I'll do strenuous."
"With Gina?" Byers was really enjoying this
line of questioning, and the shameless way
he was baiting the smitten man.
Langly felt himself going straight to crimson
this time. "None of your nosey business.
Damn. What's with you today?" Byers radiated
his most innocent look. Langly snorted again,
and decided to get personal. "Know what
you should do? You should forget Mata Hari;
the bad news babe. Gina's got this friend,
y'know; name's Theresa. You two might hit it
"I'll thank you to mind your own love life,
and I'll take care of mine." Byers' horns
surfaced again. "So, you two just hold hands
"So... What if we do?"
Langly wished he could have whipped up out of
the recliner to wipe that goofy smirk off
Byers' face, but he was feeling very sore
today. Byers' look that was riling Langly
to no end would have to remain for the time
being. Maybe if he leveled with Byers, he
might stop making with the stale quips.
"For now, anyway. We like holdin' hands..."
"Aw..." Byers puckered his lips and made
very passionate 'kissy' sounds.
Langly wanted to kill him. "Gimme a break.
Act your age, not your shoe size, willya?"
He looked away from the older man. Safely
in his mind, he thought, 'we hold hands,
and kiss till I can't feel my toes. Man's
she sweet...' The goofy look that had been
on Byers' face traded places with Langly's.
Eager to switch the subject away from his
developing love life to the next issue of
the 'Lone Gunmen' at hand, he raised again,
"So how's the headline read? Gimme what ya
got, and I'll tell ya how much I hate it."
"I'm the punk you'd miss like hell. You
and Frohike. Gina told me how freaked you
two were, and how much you did, first
thinkin' I wasn't gonna make it, and then
preventin' that quack from dosing me with
his designer version of AIDS."
"Punk-ass," Byers said, freely borrowing
from Frohike who was missing in action.
"Now, will you pipe down so I can read this
"You've been there, done that," Byers said
drolly. "Quite a loaded choice of words."
Langly's voice snagged on some of the words
when he replied, "That was one sick
logarithmic blip on the Richter scale, dude.
When all hell was happenin', I didn't think
any of us would be makin' it outta that
MacDee's alive." This was the first time he
had made even the smallest reference to the
"What you tried doing was very brave, Ringo."
"Like I told Gina, it was very stupid.
"You put someone else's life ahead of
Knowing what he knew even better now, he
said, "And for her I'd do it again. Only,
it _was_ stupid reacting how I did, without
having some kinda plan. I was all impulse."
Knowingly, Byers dug into his friend's face
with eyes set for probe. "Gina told us all
about it at the hospital. You couldn't have
done any differently, under the tense
"What kept going through my head was how I
didn't want him blowin' her away."
"And that is why I'll always admire you
for the self-sacrificing spirit you're
always so ready to display."
"Not when it comes to pizza," Langly cracked.
Byers snorked briefly. "We have more in
common than you like to admit, you know.
It's what we men of action were born to be.
Langly stared at him, utterly speechless,
filled with raw emotion, feeling his eyes
wanting to tear. Gruffly though, he barked,
"Would you read the damn headline already?"
Langly said, feeling puckish, trying his
best to withstand the brunt of Byers' ocular
penetration, and something else, he couldn't
name. It didn't get more revelatory than
this, he thought sheepishly.
'I love this man very much,' Byers thought,
nodding, and looked at Langly a minute
longer, seeing the embarrassment in the
younger man's skittish eyes. "Okay. Here
it is. Now, mind you, this is strictly
"Lay it on me," Langly barked again, with
a little less bark this time.
"'National Drug Manufacturer Played Russian
Roulette With A Fully-Loaded Syringe.'"
Byers read it over again to himself.
"Well?" He steeled himself for Langly's
brand of 'no holds barred' criticism.
Langly was his edgier self again. "It
doesn't stink," he teased, while deep down,
he was very impressed. "It plays with the
head; that'll entice our readers first, and
make 'em wanna sic their teeth into the copy.
It's sure to be picked up by the mainstream
press and media, no doubt."
"I'm still fiddling with the copy," Byers
said, sounding as though he were thinking
"Speaking of whom. Where's our pugilistic
"Said he had an errand to run."
"That's all he said?"
Langly nodded. "Yup. Well, that, and Scully's
name eventually came up." The friends' eyes
twinkled in mischief. "Y'know, John, Scully
should just see the light, and get with our
randy caveman. She might be swacked outta her
gourd just how real her feelings for him are,
like his are for her. Hey, y'never know,
right? Like here I was thinkin' I'd never
find somebody, and then--WHAMMO, man. In
He was about to switch channels when the phone
sounded off. Already wearing a headset, he
answered, "Yo, Lone Gunmen..." On a whim he
felt like chucking in, "Calls are recorded to
insure quality of service. Scarecrow here.
The tape's rollin'."
-'Yo, yourself. Whatcha doin'?'-
Remotely, he killed the recording. Muffling
his mouth and the 'piece with his hand he
said, "Just thinkin' about you, Gee. Hey,
girl, you're comin' over tonight, true?"
-'You want me to? I mean, I don't wanna wear
out my welcome.'-
"Hell, yeah, I want ya to. Are you kiddin'?"
-'No, I mean it. I don't want you getting
tired of me so soon. I'm over there every
night so far.'-
Langly growled into the mike. "Like I want
ya to be, so stop talkin' circular jive,
-'Okay,' Gina desisted. 'You couldn't
possibly want Mickey Dee's again tonight,
could you? Should I bring pizza instead?'-
"How 'bout bringin' both?" Langly finagled,
letting his innate, boyish whine saturate
his voice. As usual, he wasn't playing
fair. Did he care?
"Aw, come on. You know you will..."
-'And I know, you know I will. You're
He patted his rumbling belly, grinning
till it hurt. "I'm starvin'. Me and
Byers have been slavin' over hot copy all
afternoon." Dropping his voice even lower
he told her, "I was like what you said
before knowing you, boo. When ya comin'?"
-'After the last show starts and is more
than half-way over. You know the drill.
The used car you helped me pick out over
the web's great. Makes getting around a
whole lot easier. And safer."-
"Glad I could help ya out. Hey, like, ya
wanna stay over tonight?"
Langly frowned. Byers who had changed
his location to listen in on another line,
smiled. "Aw, c'mon. You can have my bed.
I'll pull out the cot we got. Please?
-'We'll see,'- Gina said just as firmly.
"Okay, I'll make you change your mind
anyway, when you get here. You'll see."
-'We'll see... Midnight then. 'Bye.'-
"Midnight. See ya..." Hurriedly, he got
in, "Don't forget to 'super size' me."
-'Oh yeah, like I'd forget. That'd be
like forgetting our favorite song; the one
we don't have yet. Hope we have one of
those, one of these days."-
Langly nodded all over the place, his
heart on the verge of bursting. "We will.
We will, Gee. Can't wait to see ya."
-'Me too, you. Later.'-
After the call ended, he started humming a
very old song back in his throat. Byers
returned, resettling himself into his
chair and picked up the newsletter, as
though he'd been reading it all the while.
Hearing what Langly was humming, he paused
to listen, a cord being struck didn't take
When Langly came to the part, 'Freedom's
just another word for nothin' else to lose.
Nothing don't mean nothing honey if it ain't
free, now, now. And feeling good was easy,
Lord, when he sang the blues...' he raised
his voice, so Byers would look at him, which
With huge smiles, and a depth of soulful
understanding that transcended any need for
other words, they skipped way ahead in the
impromptu tribute to Joplin, Kristofferson
and Foster, to where the refrain went...
"'You know feelin' good was good enough
for me; good enough for me and my Bobby
It was Byers who drowned Langly out with
his gusto-filled 'la-la-la-la's.' But
Langly overpowered Byers' voice when his
shook with laughter to end the song.
"'...Lord, I'm calling my lover. I'm
calling my man. I said I'm calling my
lover just the best I can...'"
Whooping, Langly skipped all the way to,
"'Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, Lordy,
Lordy, Lordy. Hey, hey, hey, Bobby
"You've never sounded better in your life,"
Byers congratulated, and resumed reviewing
copy. Langly just kept singing, the