Title: Rendezvous (1/1)
Summary: Some decisions are made long before the
dictates of the present.
Archive: Anywhere, fine.
Disclaimer: All the X-Files characters and
references are property of C.
Carter, 10-13 Productions and
Spoilers: Slight for SUS and 3OAK
"And I say ever since he got that call yesterday, he's
been acting strange."
"C'mon. You know. The one he didn't want us
listening in on. The one that got him all mellow,
"You call that strange, huh? Strange for Byers? Or
strange for normal people?" The paper Langly was
shielded behind stayed right where it was, serving as
the blond's buffer zone. An article, well into the
middle of the paper, concerning the Navy's alleged
perpetration of the Philadelphia Experiment, back in
'forty-three was under current scrutiny.
The 'Rainbow Project' was one of Mulder's pet subjects
for conjecture for plausibility, which had converted
into his, about two years ago, There was coverage in
the article Langly hadn't touched upon in the article
he was working on for their upcoming forum. Maybe the
popular press was getting more in tune with the times,
he randomly thought, but shook his head then when his
eyes scanned over the bit about, '...some researchers
have erroneously concluded that degaussing has a
connection with making an object invisible...'
Langly sneered, and scoffingly said, "Mulder could
tell them a thing or three about making objects
invisible, and it has absolutely nothing to do with
the use of electrical cables being installed around
the circumference of a ship's hull."
"Strange for us." Frohike lowered the spatula he was
flipping flapjacks with. "Since when have we ever
It was then when Langly came out from behind his wall
of varying typesets to inspect whether or not his
compadre had replenished his syrup-laden plate that
was sorely lacking Frohike's grilled finests. "Why
the slack? Keep 'em coming, 'Hike. I'm really
starved this morning."
"It had to be done. Like always, he'll thank me
"You're doin' it again, 'Hike. Stop talkin' to
yourself. You promised to cut down." Langly glared
at their chief cook and bottle washer, as though the
taste of sawgrass lingered in his mouth. "You don't
suppose you could hit me again before they're too
burned to eat. My stomach's not getting any fuller
with you standing there looking like an aimless narc
working undercover as an informant in a reefer
factory." The acrid odor had just begun seeping into
his nostrils, and he stared even harder at Frohike.
"That's all you ever think about," Frohike flung back
at him, but scraping the flapjacks out of the frying
pan as he complained.
"What?" Langly said scornfully, "Divagating informants
workin' undercover in reefer factories?"
"No--punkass--the bottomless pit you jokingly refer
to as your stomach."
"Well, at least mine still digests proteins and carbs
properly, Mister Digel." Frohike practically slingshot
the duo of flapjacks onto Langly's plate with a surly
curl to his lip, but the blond was more absorbed with
the fact that his plate was full again to acknowledge
Frohike's churlish slant. Langly snapped up Mrs.
Butterworth's, the original, and drenched his stack of
two. "I think they're still edible."
Frohike was about to tell Langly that if he didn't
keep his ever-expanding mouth shut, this ex-Vietnam
vet was going on a culinary sitdown strike, with the
hank-of-hair being the sole recipient of getting
nothing, starting that evening. When Byers, above
and beyond the call of looking spit-and-polished,
came strolling onto the scene of disharmony, his two
friends broke it off fast to gawk at the dapper
co-journalist in parallax.
Whistling, Frohike said, "To what do you owe the
"Yeah, Byers, man. Who died," Langly parroted, and
callously shot off, "so you get to attend the funeral?"
Byers handed them cooly condescending looks, then
examined his newly-repaired, and retooled wristwatch,
satisfied with several things that were running right
on schedule so far. Taking his time about it, he
responded, "I'll be out for the better part of the day."
"Oh, yeah?" Frohike arched, exchanging a suspicious
look with Langly who had forgotten all about his
"And where, narc, are you planning to spend the better
part of the day dressed like *that*?"
Byers, for the mood he was in, knew better than to
have Langly, the ready, willing and able spoilsport,
spoil it. "I've got an engagement downtown. I don't--"
"What *sort* of engagement?" Frohike harrassed, willing
to jump in with both feet since it appeared as though
their practically inseparable third of this mismatched
band was striking a blow for independence from them.
What nerve. As the shorter man deliberated such
mutinous action, it became readily apparent that Byers
was telling them, by his closed-faced expression,
that they best mind their own business before any
discouraging words hit their ears.
Well, it wouldn't hurt to ease some of the suspense.
Some; definitely not all. "I'm meeting an old friend
whom I haven't seen in years." An old friend with
whom I'm still madly in love with, after all these,
which some days felt interminable, years, the stately
man internalized with a curious smile lounging on his
face like the one of the cat of Cheshire fame. He
looked at his watch again, and realized that if he
didn't get serious moves on, he'd keep her waiting,
and that was grievously unacceptable.
"As I said, I'll be gone most of the day, so don't
bother fixing for me tonight, Frohike. In all
likelihood I'll be in very late."
"Yeah...sorta figured that's what you'd say next.
What with your renting the car and all. Not
telling us a damn thing."
Byers tossed up the key attached to the Enterprise
keytag, with a knowing smile, and bit off the urge
to say something flip about what a fine detective
"Whassup with you, man? You're acting like a blacked-
out Senators home game. Who the hell are you meetin'?"
Donning his handsome brown suede gloves from the
inside pocket of his ultra-impeccably stiff looking
dark beige trench coat, Byers, still holding that
insuperable feline smile stated three words: "Don't
wait up," as he swept out of their stuffy environs,
gently shutting the door behind him on his way out.
"The aftershave he's wearin' could suffocate a dung
beetle. Damn, you're right, 'Hike. That's strange
"Well, you know what we've gotta do, don'tcha?"
"He'll spot us."
"How can you be so sure?"
Frohike borrowed John's smile, went to one of their
thousands of cubbyholes, and extracted a pewter-hued
ovoid device about 'yea' thick which was blinking on
a fairly systemic basis. "No need for us to be
right up on 'im. Hell, this baby tracks over an
Langly gasped, somewhere in-between shock, and why
he hadn't thought of it first, although this latest
development had matured with him being in a state of
his being too heavily into his things. "You bugged
"Damn-skippy, man. Did it for his own good. You
know how trouble always seems to track him like a
bloodhound." Langly was quick to agree. This way,
if it does--"
Nodding, Langly said, "We'll be like Johnnies-on-the
spot to save his sorry ass."
"C'mon." He showed Langly the blip and bleep of
green their friend had converted into. Frohike's
purposeful shove was the incentive jump-start.
"Time we got rollin'."
"But I haven't finished my breakfast."
"Wrap it up and take it with you," Frohike barked,
slipping into his 'battle fatigues,' already at the
Using his tried and true haphazard method, Langly
spread out a total of four two-ply paper towels.
He dumped the gooey contents of the plate into
them, wadded the whole thing up into an unsavory
mass, and made up the distance between himself and
the fingerless-gloved nosey-parker who wore the
patented-pressed look of the KGB.
Steaming hot, or stone cold, nobody made 'jacks
like 'Hike, Langly awarded, while cup-shoveling
a messy handful of soggy grist into his wide-open
mouth as he caught the edge of the door with a
foot, loosely closing it.
"'...It's March, and we hear the wind blowin''..."
the maturity-challenged six-footer prattled on in
toneless oblivion, sighing mightily. Clearly
bored, he continued, "'Sometimes it whistles a
tune...'" The whistling that accompanied sounded
like a multiply-scorched tea kettle bubbling its
dregs. "It tells us--"
He rapped his long, semi-chaffed fingers over
the finely-burnished rim of the steering wheel,
made sleekly nitid due greatly in part to
countless processions of hand grips. His
oblivion was ironclad. "'...It tells us cold
weather is going, and--"
"Shut the hell up--right now!"
"--Spring'll be here very soon," Langly zapped in
under the wire of Frohike's crackling censure. He
diverted his wistful eyes to the fragile-looking
trees that were delicately garbed in their new
seasonal finery. He liked cherry blossoms. He
enjoyed watching people flying kites; he got a
thrill when some of those fabrications of wood,
paper and string broke away from their earthbound
captors and streaked away. Springtime was like
starting over, and starting over was what he
wished he could do sometimes when his life seemed
nothing more than a dead-end without a detour in
sight. He sighed again, and began biting on the
cuticle of his right index finger. A frisky
teenaged twosome of boy and girl was playing tag
around one of the sentinel trees.
What was said about what a young man's fancy
turned to around this time of year? Langly knew,
but wouldn't admit to himself that that's what
he wanted most when his loneliness steeped in
self-pity shoved sleep ruthlessly aside in the
wee hours. He'd never have anyone, he bitterly
condemned, even if his life depended upon it.
The brilliant, sensuous Margot of going on five
years ago, had fallen out of love with him as
fast as she had fallen in. Had filed for
annulment of their 'quickee' marriage and had
lickity-split it back to the U.K. What a way to
be freaked, he dismally thought. Not too long
after, there had been Gina. The spunky physical
therapist with her springy, shimmery ringlets,
who had hightailed it back to the Blue Ridge
majesty for an old beau who had finally woken up,
smelled the bacon of true love burning in the pan,
vowed marriage and a six-figure income.
And last, but never least, there had been
Cindy; poor, tragic Cin. Mercilessly cut down
per order of a sadistic, powerful financial
baron who, among others, ran Vegas. The
tragedy, having occurred right on the street
where she'd grown up, directly in front of
her mother's house, had gone down quite some
time ago, but he was still in shock.
One, two, three strikes...you are out.
Frohike banked the tracking device against
his palm with a frown. The green blip was
still registering loud and clear, so where
"Trouble with your toy?" Langly asked, with his
best Lando Calrissian inflection.
"No," Frohike bit off, squinting out through
the windshield, off to the left of the ramada
of cherry trees they were sheltered under. "We
should spot him any time now."
Langly huffed, then said meditatively, "How'd
you get the crisoxwire into the keytag anyhow?
First, without John any the wiser, and second,
the tag's clear, solid plastic. Thinner than
a tactical war driving card. You couldn't've
tackled it with the standard needlenoses at our
"Who says I did? I've got specialty tools all
my own, you know zip about, Woodstock," Frohike
fairly growled at Langly who had fallen back to
sporadically humming his primary school rendition
of 'ode to Spring.' Then taking a more sedate
tone, and a different tack, the older man said,
"Well after he'd brought the rental in, and went
off to his puttering, and then he got his mystery
call, I got that old uneasy feeling that something
wasn't kosher, so I got busy."
"What d'ya think's got him this twitchy?"
Frohike 'squicked' a look of outright disbelief
Langly's way. "Think about those other times he
behaved like some moony-assed doof."
Langly's forehead scrunched in recollective
thought. "I'm thinkin' back to..." Under a
short breath he muttered, "Oh, damn. Baltimore
...Vegas...ol' got his head stuck in an ice
bucket 'cos he's tryin' to kill himself Byers."
He turned his head to Frohike and said with a
voice of morbid fascination, "Molar-yanking Mata
Hari does teleportation the third time around?"
"No guess work involved at this stage, blondie,"
Frohike said digustedly, clearly having it
confirmed before his hard eyes of disapproval.
"See for yourself."
So, once an equally evil-eyed Langly had,
Frohike's tangible disatisfaction was a shared
experience. "What is it with him and her, huh?
What shit doesn't he get about her bein' a user?"
"And a dame I'll never trust," Frohike rustled.
"Yeah," Langly said with similar conviction.
"Love is deaf, dumb and so blind."
"And it sucks when its the wrong person."
The reunited couple was still locked in an
ardent embrace under a low hanging branch of a
spectacular cherry tree that was bursting with
fully-budded buds. Byers had stopped worshipping
Susanne's dewy-looking face with his impulse-
driven showering of kisses long enough to reach
up to snag a small, pungent bouquet from one of
the low-hangers, and placed it just so behind the
"You should've bugged his suit, man," Langly
sourly complained. "I'd give anything to hear
what they're saying."
"Just be glad I had enough time to work the
Langly gagged, holding his stomach when a
psychosomatic wave of malaise settled in,
observing their friend take the 'shame of decent
womanhood' in his arms again, and she wrapped
her arms around Byers' neck, gluing themselves
together. Despite his unwillingness to keep
watching, Frohike, latently envious, couldn't
tear his eyes away, secretly wishing he had
someone soft, warm and unquestionably female,
to hold him like that, once and awhile.
Langly went on, "So what are we gonna do? Sit
here like voyeuristic pervs until they suck the
air out of each others' lungs? I say we go
break that up."
"Oh, sure," Frohike said with a deriding spate
of laughter. "He'd never forgive us, and then
hate us for the rest of our lives."
"So. He'd get over it once he realizes we did
him the biggest favor."
"I don't think so," Frohike said charily, "he's
never seen that much action in his whole toe-
the-straight-and-narrow-line life." Thinking it
over a moment longer, he cast his vote, "Let's
"You can't be serious," Langly decried. This
wasn't Frohike sitting beside him. Couldn't be.
This imposter lacking a backbone he never thought
he'd see, let alone hear, working his friend's
"Yeah, as a matter of fact, I am. C'mon let's
get the hell outta here, man. He's a grown man.
If she's what he really wants, then how the hell
are we gonna tell him otherwise?" Frohike
pocketed the tracker, looked over to them again,
and shrugged. "We knew this day was coming one
day, buddy. Now it's up to us to know when to
back off, and let him make up his mind, once and
for all. If we butt in, what does that say
"That we care," Langly heatedly defended.
"Sure we care, but we ain't his keepers. If it
was you, I already know how you'd react, so
don't sit there and lie about how grateful you'd
be. 'Cos you sure as hell wouldn't be. Not if
you're in love like that, and have waited for it
for so long." Susanne and Byers were walking off,
arm-in-arm to the rental as though the sky was
their ethereal carpet. When they had gotten in
and had driven off, Frohike repeated in soft-spoken
resignation, "Get us outta here, Langly. If he
doesn't come back, he was never ours, but if he
does...he's ours for life."
As Langly turned the engine over, he baited,
"What if he comes back only to tell us he's
splittin' with the bleached bitch?"
"Then it's a frickin' toss-up. Drive, I said!"
Back at their headquarters, bathed in the
neonic luminescence of T.V. light, all was
eerily too quiet, despite the atavistic
blow-by-blow coverage of the latest BattleBots
gladiatorial match raging on the tube.
"Turn that godawful crap down," Frohike
ordered over from the fridge as he extracted
a near-frozen beer from the freezer. He'd
stuck it in there for a few minutes to build
on the chill. Ill-tempered, he meandered over
to the surveillance monitors, concentrating
his weary vision on the ones that had the front
door covered every which way imaginable.
Langly crawled out of the easy chair to do
Frohike's out of sorts bidding. "It's almost
eleven," he said, straightening up from the
set. "He ain't comin' back, is he?" the
computer wiz asked sadly, looking forlorn,
wondering how life was going to be without
the narc getting on just about everything
he did. Lonelier, with no one to remind him
there was always hope as long as one kept
one's head while coding.
"How the hell should I know," Frohike rasped,
took a long pull on the beer and wished on
the basis of all they'd been through over
the years that their assumptions were somehow
Another forty-five minutes, but still no
Frohike said he was going to bed, as he
tossed the second empty beer can into the
trash. Langly said he was going to watch
some, "lame old flick"--'It Happened One
Night' because he wasn't tired, and there
was nothing else on he wanted to see. He
headed for the kitchenette to replenish
his reserves of potato chips and make it a
second round with his newest cola love, Pepsi
with its lemon twist. As Frohike turned away,
the little smile on Langly's haggard face
belied the fact that this would be his
fifteenth time savoring the perky romantic
A familiar turn of a key in the door made
both of them stop dead in their tracks, and
they eyed one another expectantly. John
entered, knowing they'd be up. He closed the
door quietly, counting off three in his head
before they started interrogating him. He
intended to tell them everything. He had
nothing to hide. The only reason he hadn't
told them about his meeting Susanne was to
spare their feelings. So much needed to be
"How was she?" Frohike folded his arms over
his chest, and sat down on the closest stool.
"I knew you followed me," Byers stated with
no hint of accusation nor reprisal. "Can't
say I was surprised. We've known each other
"Why d'ya do it, Byers?" Langly asked, shutting
off the T.V. to face his friend who faced them
with a face squarely set, not shrinking from
their stark expressions of anger and hurt,
mingled with much relief.
"She needed to see me. Speak with me face to
face." He looked to the door. "She needs me."
The pause he imposed was deafening and then
finally, he said, "I'm going away with her.
Tonight. She's waiting out in the car."
"Dammit, John! You're not serious," Langly
insisted, waving Byers off with a combustible
swat. "Her stuff can't be that great that
you're willing to throw away everything our
lives together mean, man."
Frohike regarded Byers stonily, but said not
a word. Langly, the king of rant, would tire
himself out, and then he'd take a crack at him.
Clearly, the former F.C.C. employee had lost
"What she say? Promise to love ya forever,"
Langly scornfully accused.
Atomic fusion was a snap-crackle-pop in the
dark compared to what he'd just said.
"John..." It was Frohike. Langly's eyes
threatened to roll out of their sockets after
they'd bugged to the point of expulsion.
"She has inoperable lymphatic and salivary
cancer which she said can be traced to all
her years of risky experimentation." Byers'
heart felt near to bursting, as he exhaled
a ton of breath.
"I'm sorry, man."
"Yeah--we both are," Langly assuaged, wishing
he could take back what he'd said, and erase
all the venemous things he'd been thinking.
"Gee...how long has she got?"
"Five to six months."
"There's nothing they can do?" Frohike asked,
going to his friend, and weighting his hand
on his shoulder.
"She's done the research. Has seen scores
upon scores of doctors, but they offer no
hope. She is willing to face the inevitable,
but she wants me by her side, and I intend
to fulfill her desire. Whatever she needs,
I'm going to be there for her." He looked
over the confines of what he fondly thought
of as his home all these many years, and
sighed as though pushing back every memory
that interferred with what he must do. "I'll
pack a few things, and when we get somewhat
settled, I'll send for the several sundry
items I might want."
"Where will you go?" Frohike asked, concern
fraught with sorrowful loss riddled his face.
"Wherever she wants," John simply stated, on
the move now, heading for his room, checking
off on his mental list the essentials that
would be coming along. "The first thing she
says she wants is for us to be married." He
was at the top of the stairs for that world-
Frohike and Langly looked at each other long
and hard, but before either one had anything
relevant to say, Byers was back with his
lightly-pockmarked Samsonite in hand, standing
at the door; on the edge of a tomorrow that
"Before you ask, of course I'll be in touch.
I've just got to go with her, fellas. I'm
her last request." He swallowed hard on
that one, and his gentle eyes swam with a
fresh mutiny of tears.
Langly and Frohike moved on Byers en masse
to engulf him in a twofold embrace. The hug
strengthened as a horde's worth of eleven
going on twelve year-old memories flooded
their minds. The trio stood that way for a
good fifteen minutes.
"I can't believe this is happening," Langly
said, sniffling. "Byers, man, you'd better
let us know when the wedding is, or I'll
kick your ass across the White House lawn."
"And I'll be his cheerful little helper, John,"
Frohike clinched, grasping up to seize his
neck to jangle him a bit.
Overwhelmed, Byers nodded all over the place,
assuring them that he'd make full disclosure.
The moment of all the many moments they'd
shared together loomed, and made its demand.
The final moment of their goodbyes; something
they never thought would really ever happen
Reluctant arms, followed by even more
reluctant bodies disengaged, and the two
staying behind watched in something akin to
morbid mystification allied with transfixion,
their friend turn his back on them, and walk
away to go to the enigmatic woman who had
forever changed their lives that eventful day
in Baltimore, MD, to participate in a convention
none of them had even wanted to attend.
"It ain't like he's not comin' back," Langly
muttered to himself as though it was something
he'd have to keep reminding himself as the
absence wore on.
"Sure. Like we don't know that when Byers
says something he always means it, right.
Right?" Frohike repeated not sounding as
confident as when his mind had shouted it.
"Just when I was beginnin' to think things
couldn't get more sucky." Langly finished
securing all the locks, and not looking at
Frohike, shuffle-scuffed his way to his room
with his hands stuck deep in his pockets, not
wanting to think about what had just happened
anymore. Knowing that it would be what would
keep him up all night, tonight.
As Frohike watched him go, he blared at him
"He'll be back. He will."
Langly's retreating back shrugged for a tacit,
half-hearted answer. Frohike stared at the
door for a very long time with the concise
image of John's softened face etched in his
overloaded memory. Finally, with eyes inflamed
along with his mind, he trudged to the fridge
for another beer he'd nurse in bed.
The lair seemed bigger, emptier as he turned
off one of the three of John's monitors.
He ran his hand over its spotless top before
moving off to contemplate a rough-edged future,
that would undoubtedly cry out for John's wit,
and polish to smooth out the rough goes, sure to
dog their every step in the uncertain days
ahead. His ten-year old mattress would feel
lumpier. That much harder to sleep on. Tonight.