Some Weird Sin
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."
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
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.