Some Weird Sin

By Cameragrrrl

Disclaimer and some such:
I do not have the rights to use any characters 
officially associated with The X-Files/ Lone Gunmen 
television series. I am using these characters without the 
permission of FOX, 1013 Productions, Chris Carter, or 
any other copyright owners. Of course, this is intended for 
[non-profit] entertainment only, and no 
infringement on copyrights or trademarks 
was intended by the author.

Any similarities to people, places, and other works of
fanfiction are purely coincidental.

All other characters not officially associated with 
The X-Files/ Lone Gunmen (including, but not limited to, 
Smithee and Ellroy) are property of the author 
and should not be recycled into another story without

No animals were harmed during the making of this fanfic, 
except for two mosquitoes and one waterbug.

Cost of coffee drunk while writing this: $15.82
Cost of paper used to print out draft copies: $2.38
Cost of Anne Hawley's beta-reading skills: PRICELESS

The 'present' of this story takes place a few years 
before The Lone Gunmen series timeline.

* * *

Ellroy walks in, shuts the door carefully behind him, 
like he doesn't want to make too much noise. 

"Ready to leave?" he whispers

"What's the point?" 


"What's the point of being so damn quiet," I say. 
I don't whisper.

His face screws up for a second, offended. But 
when he talks again, it's in a normal 
voice. "You know he asked for you when he 
was still conscious."

"He did?"

Ellroy continues, "I mean, he wasn't lucid. He - he 
was out of it. But he asked for you, all the time. 
He asked for your mom, too." He smiles, like 
that's really ironic.

I think about all those evenings my dad would 
stick his head out of the front door 
and call me in for dinner, and how I could tell 
his mood, or whether he'd been drinking, by how 
he said my name - and whether he used Ringo, or 
Richard. Like a barometer.

I pick at a piece of lint on my father's blanket, 
and my hand brushes against his. I stare at 
them together, caught by how similar they 
are - same patch of freckles along the back; 
same long, big-knuckled fingers. 

And how different. His hand is old - older than it 
should look at his age. He's not even 65, 
and I can practically see through his hand. 

"What did he say?"

Ellroy shrugs. "I don't know. He kept 
saying 'Richie,' like you were just
outside the room. I'd tell him you weren't 
there, but he'd forget and ask for
you anyway. It's too bad," He stops, looks 
pained. "It's too bad he can't
appreciate the fact that you're here now."

Any other time, that remark would've hurt. But 
I'm just remembering how my mom and dad
used to call me Richie when I was a little
kid. Before Ringo stuck. When
my mom was still home. When I was too young 
to notice how shitty life could be. 

And for some reason, remembering this, I 
feel more peaceful than I have in days. 

* * *

The phone rings. Two, three, four times. I think, 
Byers, you got me into this crap because 
you answered the phone, so you damn well better answer 
it now. 

Finally, official Byers voice answers, "Lone Gunmen 
Newspaper Group. How can I help you?"


"Langly," he says; relieved or surprised - maybe 
both. "How are you?"

I don't say anything for a little while. It's
weird - a moment ago I really wanted to talk to 
him, and now I don't know what to say.

"Langly?" Byers says when I don't answer. 

"Yeah, yeah, I'm still here. Hey, man, shut off the tape."

His voice goes from überpolite to concerned 
in one second flat. "What's wrong?" 

I hear a series of clicks, and this 
low-pitched hum on the line - which you 
wouldn't notice unless you knew it was 
there - suddenly stops, and I know he's 
shut the reel-to-reel off. All the times I 
lied to Mulder about recording his calls;
right now I'm so glad Byers is more trusting than I am. 

"It's off. Is everything all right?" 

"Well, I need - " My voice is suddenly unsteady.
"Well, this is sort of like the suit thing." 

"Go ahead, Langly, whatever it is." 

Deep breath, and I just start babbling, "I had 
this dream. Really - um, really weird, and
I still feel like I'm dreaming. It was - okay, 
I was in the hospital, in my dad's 
room, and it's really dark, pitch black, 
it's - it's like a void, but I can hear 
him in the room somewhere, calling my name, but
it's so dark I can't see where he is, 
and this is really crazy because it's such a - 
such a fucking tiny room that I would totally 
trip over his bed in real life, but in the
dream, you know, I'm a little afraid to walk 
in the room because it's so black 
I feel like I'll disappear, but my dad's calling 
for me and it sounds like he really 
needs me, really wants me, and I want to go 
to him, so I'm trying to follow his voice, but 
every time I try to walk towards it his voice 
just gets farther away, and the room - the 
fucking room just keeps getting darker and 
bigger and it's like I'm moving but the space is growing 
exponentially around me so I'm not really 
getting anywhere, and - and -"

And I can still hear him, I want to add. 
Even after being awake for two hours, 
downing a few cups of coffee and trying to 
forget the haunting image in my head, 
I finally gave up and called Byers.
I've lived next door to the man for years; 
heard him wake up with a muffled scream and 
shuffle restlessly around his room 
at four in the morning a few 
too many times - of course, the fact 
that I'm awake and listening doesn't 
say much about my own sleep habits. 

And I remember what he said right before I 
left - call if you need anything. I 
take him up on that because I 
know he understands the power of nightmares. 
Sometimes I think our warehouse is 
really a shelter for the walking wounded. 

Now Byers is the quiet one, except I can tell 
he's strumming his fingers on a table or 
something, which he does when he's lost in thought. 
Finally he says, "That sounds really bad."

"I hate this," I whine. 

"It sounds like you want to make peace with him, 
but you're afraid he'll be gone before 
you get the chance?"

I shrug heavily before I realize the gesture 
is lost over the phone. "Maybe."

"I remember when my mother was sick, I felt like 
I had to make up for all the time I took 
her for granted. And when she passed away, I felt like 
hadn't done enough to let her know 
I loved her. That's a terrible burden. I can rationalize 
it now, but I still feel guilty sometimes."

It's strange to hear Byers talk about his mom. 
He rarely talks about his family, 
his past. At least not to me - it's 
like an unspoken agreement between us: You 
don't dredge up my shit and I won't 
dredge up yours. We have enough shit to deal 
with, anyway, without having to unleash the 
skeletons in our closets. 

"So how do you stop from killing yourself?" I ask, 

He sort of laughs. "My father. It's ironic. He 
didn't blink when she died, didn't shed a 
tear, and hasn't to this day as far as I know. 
That's just who he is. And I saw what a 
miserable person it made him, to hold it in, to 
not allow himself to really mourn her. I 
realized it was better to deal with my feelings, 
however painful they were, than to deny 
them completely and end up like him."

Byers and Frohike talk like this all 
the time, borderline-nauseatingly heartfelt 
conversations which I was generally 
never part of - by choice or invitation. But 
I overhear them talking anyway, and I knew that 
Frohike would have some intuitive 
response to Byers' story. I, on the other hand, 
had nothing to say in return. 
Except, "That's not really it."

"What's not it?"

"What you said about your mother. I don't think 
the dream was about that at all."

He's silent, encouraging me to go on. 

"I think it's sort of the opposite of what you 
said. I'm not afraid he'll die before I can 
tell him I love him. It's that he's -" my voice 
catches. "He's going to die before he tells me - "

I imagine that the people at all these pay phones 
in the hall are staring at me. My face 
is red and wet from tears I'm not even trying
to hold back anymore, and I suddenly 
want to say in my defense, I'm not really crying, 
I'm just tired and it's been a long, 
hard day. But what do those people care anyway? 
They're all lost in their own 
desperate phone calls, and I have to stop thinking 
that everyone cares about me. 
Paranoia is such a selfish thing. 

"I just want him to wake up and tell me he loves me.
It's like I don't even care whether he 
lives or dies. I know he's going to die. I know. 
I just want -" I'm practically on my knees,
confessing. "I'm so fucking selfish."

"No, no, Langly, it's totally normal. It's not about
being selfish. It's about not . . . regretting
anything." He's silent for a moment, then he 
says kind of sadly, "I've seen you live 
for so long without regrets. Trust me, don't start 

But I'm hung up on the one word: "It's normal?" 
And suddenly, after a lifetime of trying not 
to care about being normal, it's feels like the nicest 
thing in the world. 

I hear a voice in the background and Byers 
asks, "Frohike wants to know how you're 
doing. Want to talk to him?" 

I do, but I shake my head. "Nah. I should 
go back to his room, in case -" I let the 
sentence hang, because Byers knows how it ends. 
In case he wakes up. In case he says 
something. In case he needs me. 

And I tell him to tell Frohike I'm fine, more 
or less, and that I'll be home soon 
but I don't know when exactly, and thank 
you for listening. Byers tells me 
not to thank him, to take my time,
and call him when I know my flight plans. 

"I might bus it back, actually. For old times' sake," I say.

We hang up, and I walk back into my father's room. 

The End.