Title: Things Undone 4: Alchemy of the Word, part 1
Authors: Erynn & Sally
Email: inisglas@seanet.com, sallyh@flashcom.net
Archive: Ephemeral, Gossamer, LGM, FLO, all others ask first so we know where we're being kept.
Rated: R for grownup stuff
Spoilers: We assume you've seen the series
Category: Gunmen -- angst, humor, a little romance
Summary: Sometimes words are more important in our lives than we think.

Stories in the Things Undone series:

Things Undone, by Erynn; a 5-part story wherein the Gunmen deal with some unfinished business.
TU 2: Mending the Tears, by Sally; a 6-part story wherein Fro and Langly go to the ER.
TU 3: To Carry On, by Erynn; wherein the Gunmen begin to deal with the repercussions of their adventure.

Disclaimers: We don't own the boys, but we sure wish we did. They and the other characters from the series are owned instead by The Powers That Be at Fox and 1013, the boys were created by Morgan & Wong, and they're all controlled by the folks at The X Files and The Lone Gunmen series. Other characters are ours, some of whom are blatantly based on people we know, frequently at their request. Don't blame us, we're being coerced. Quotes from Rimbaud are used without permission. Deepest thanks to Mel, our Tech Consultant Queen and resident cartoonist.

"As for established happiness, domestic or otherwise -- no, I cannot. I am too worn out, too weak."

~~ Rimbaud -- "A Season in Hell"~~



I don't know which is worse.

On one side of me, I've got Langly mooning like an adolescent in love. Or at least very heavy lust. I was hoping that as his injuries healed, he would get more agreeable, but in fact just the opposite has happened. He's irritable, impatient, and even moodier than usual. Which is saying a lot.

On the other side is Byers, still in bad shape after Mata Hari's abrupt departure, and not really getting any better. Langly's more annoying than usual, but Byers really has me worried. He hasn't been getting up until afternoon lately, his suits have been wrinkled, and he's even been forgetting to shower and shave. He's sitting at his computer now in his flannel jammies and bathrobe, his hair all spiky with pillow head. None of these are good signs.

"Fuck!" Langly's quit trying to swear under his breath. He now treats us to a public service announcement every time he opens his email -- which he does at least once an hour.

"Oh, calm down!" I snap at him as I prepare some tea and toast.

"Nothing! Three days since my last email and I got bupkes! She hates me!"

"Langly, she's a doctor. More specifically, she's a third-year resident.  Translated into English, that means she has no life." I've reiterated this time after time after time, and it still fails to sink in. Boy always did have a hard head. Byers really isn't too different in that regard.

I prepare the tea and toast for my more sedate companion, hoping I can get him to eat something. I went to the bakery this morning to pick up fresh cinnamon-raisin whole wheat bread for toast. Normally, dietary moderation goes out the window when I serve this to him. He's been known to put down half a loaf all by himself. I also got fresh Earl Grey, his favorite type of tea. I'm hoping it will entice him, but quite honestly, I'm not optimistic.

Both of them are looking very thin, but Langly has started to regain his appetite. I can't say the same for Byers. He's coping a little better with with incident with the crane, but he's just not getting over being abandoned by Susanne Modeski. It took him a while to start talking about what actually happened, but he's still keeping to himself a lot more than normal. Poor kid. He even asked her to marry him. And she just walked away.  Although I had hoped they could work it out, if only for his sake, I figured that she would dump him eventually. I still can't forgive her for how she's left him.  She's never coming back, and he knows it. It's made him about the most
miserable creature on the face of the planet.

"Hey, Byers, breakfast."

He doesn't look up from his computer. "I'm not really hungry Mel, but thanks."

"Hey buddy, it's your favorite. Cinnamon-raisin and Earl Grey." I wave the plate under his nose, and see him perk up slightly. Maybe he's a little hungrier than he thought. "Fresh from the bakery just a couple of hours ago..." I taunt. His nose follows when I move the plate away. It's a much more hopeful sign than I'd expected, but he hasn't already snagged it out of my hand as he used to.

"Well, maybe just a little..." He follows me into the kitchen, where his mug is waiting for him. He sits at the table and takes his dark blue mug between both hands, then sighs, inhaling the steam coming off the hot tea.

He's brooding over Susanne again. I don't think he ever stopped, actually.  "You've gotta let go of her, Byers. This is killing you." I try to make him see some sense, but he's ignoring me, sipping the tea slowly, and taking tiny nibbles off the toast.  I've seen him like this all too often lately.  I'm not unsympathetic, but it's beginning to get on my nerves.

"Hey, where's my breakfast?" Langly whines over his laptop. There's very little in the world more annoying than Langly in a full-blown whine. Between his lack of immediate email response from the current object of his affections and his growing desire for food, this is shaping up to a world class snivel-fest. I'm not sure I'm up to this today. My back still hurts, even though I ditched the sling weeks ago.

Byers is trying to ignore Langly, too.

"It's coming, blondie." I growl. "Don't get your knickers in a knot."

Langly's settling in for a good whine while I make us huevos rancheros. "Damn, I wish she'd write back!" I don't think blonde boy realizes how much his continual noisy yatter about his fantasy woman is cutting John up.

Byers just closes his eyes and turns away, clutching his mug like a security blanket. I can see him thinking nasty thoughts at Langly. Ringo's found someone, and he's lost the woman he's been obsessing over for the past eleven years.  This isn't helping. Langly, of course, is oblivious, as usual. 

"Jesus, Langly, don't you ever shut up?" I know the answer to this question, but I always ask anyway.

"Yeah, which is more than I can say for you, Doohickey!" he spits at me.

"Listen, you hippie jerk, I've about had it with your mooning and moping around and whining just because your current lust object fails to respond to your every beck and call within five minutes. I'd appreciate it if you'd start acting like an adult!"

"Oh, and you're such a great one to talk!"

"Shut up, punk."

"No, you shut up! All you ever do is bitch at me, and if you can't find something to bitch about, you make it up!"

"Langly, you are seriously pushing the envelope here. Allow me to warn you that my patience is running on empty right about now."

"So what makes that different from any other day?" His angular face is contorted by his irritation.

"Unless you're interested in having a rerun of your injuries, you'd better get out of my face right now!"

"With pleasure!" He slams down the lid of the laptop and flounces off to his room. Well, it's as close as he can manage to a flounce with mending ribs and a broken arm.

Normally, these exchanges don't get under my skin; they're part and parcel of living with him. Today, though, I'm really not up for it. My back hurts, my arm is killing me, and I'm tired of being an ever-patient, caring father figure and getting nothing back.

"And you!" I turn on poor hapless Byers, who is so shaken he drops his mug of tea on the floor, yelping when it burns his bare feet. "I don't care what you do or how you do it, but as of now, your ass gets out of this place for a while!  You are not going to spend your life pining away inside these walls. And do you know why you're not?" He's too stunned to speak, but that doesn't interrupt me. "Because, Byers, not only are you driving yourself insane, you're driving me insane!" I poke a finger in his face to emphasize my displeasure.

He flushes crimson and lowers his head. "I'm... I'm sorry."

"I'm not interested in your apologies. I'm interested in you getting a life. Langly and I are going to watch Virginia versus Florida State at the Limerick tonight. They just put in flat screen HDTV, seven foot screens, four of 'em."

"I hate the Limerick." He grimaces. "They're in violation of all the no-smoking ordinances."

In my irritation, I toss the latest DC Weekly at him. "Fine. Then don't go. But find something else to do. It's fucking high time you got out of here and did something other than mope about Susanne." The tabloid lands on him with a thwack. "Now get your skinny narc butt out of here right this instant, and I don't want to see your sorry ass back here until at least nine tonight!" I don't hang around to see if he opens it.

MARCH 4, 2000


When Frohike threw me out with the Weekly in hand, I suppose I shouldn't have been so surprised. At least he gave me time to shower and get dressed. I know I haven't been myself lately. Not since Susanne left. There had always been hope before, these days I feel like the sky has fallen.

In a way, I suppose it has. I brought a crane down on top of a man who wanted to kill us. According to Langly, the one he really wanted was me.  Apparently, Landau blamed me personally for screwing up his mission, and for messing with his head by having him confess to killing Susanne's false fiancee, and the faked death of Susanne herself. Ringo says that he wanted me dead in a bad way, but he won't give any details, and I'm not entirely sure I want to know them.  He still shakes when he talks about it. I still can't really get right with killing Timmy, either, but Mel and Ringo have been pushing the idea that it wasn't my fault, and even I have to admit they're right about that. I never planned on landing on the crane release, or the miserable condition of the machinery itself.

But what really took my sky away was Susanne, when she left. She was my sky.  She was my light and my hope, and the woman I'd been dreaming of for eleven years. When she said she was leaving, the stars began falling, and the sun and moon followed them into the black. I've been in utter darkness ever since. Sometimes I think it would have been easier if she'd died, or I had, although I would never wish such a thing on her. I feel sick even thinking that.  It just hurts so much to know that she chose to walk away, even after I'd asked her to marry me. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say she's broken my heart. I'm not sure I have one left. I can't even cry anymore, I feel so empty.

I settle back in the van's driver's seat, with the Weekly open over the steering wheel. Frohike's locked me out of the office, and I've been left to fend for myself for the day. This is March Madness, so there's a startling paucity of social events scheduled for the evening. I look for a classical music concert, but the only thing nearby is a performance of Bartok piano concertos. I'm not much for Bartok, no disrespect intended to the late composer.

Sometimes I actually enjoy college ball, but sitting at the Limerick and chugging Bud Longnecks while I listen to the patrons get drunker and rowdier is not my idea of a pleasant evening. I don't see anything at all in the matinee listings, and anyway, I'm not really in the mood for loud. None of the art houses are having matinees at all this weekend, although there's a showing of 'The Passion of Joan of Arc' this evening, a silent French classic long thought lost. It's not even noon yet, so I'd just end up waiting around outside one of the googolplexes to see a loud mantinee movie I didn't want to watch in the first place. That sounds like a thoroughly charming afternoon.

I've seen all the art galleries and museums fairly recently, and none of them have changed shows since I was in last. None of the comedians performing tonight appeal to me; I think all the good ones will be at the game.

My eyes drift through the section on author and poetry readings at local bookshops. There are always a significant number of them in the area, even though I tend to view DC as a cultural vacuum. There's a book signing by Margaret Atwood, an author I truly enjoy, but not until six this evening. There are two prose readings scheduled. One is at GWU, a reading of 'Finnegan's Wake.' I've done that -- in college. It lasts all night and generally no one is sober by the middle. I no longer have the inclination or energy to indulge in that sort of thing. The poetry readings and open mikes look a little more promising, but most are in the evening. One, however, catches my eye. 

There's a Saturday Brunch reading at the Soylent Bean Book & Cafe, a rather pleasant little independent new and used book shop with a decent, non-smoking cafe that serves actual food. I often go there on days when I need something new to read. The owner's reasonable and friendly, remembers his regular customers and their preferences, handles odd and obscure special orders without a twitch, and doesn't ask too many personal questions. There are usually enough people there that I don't have to worry about being either completely alone in the shop or feeling overcrowded. The place is only about five miles from here, and I'll have some time to browse before the reading and open mike begin. I don't recognize the names of the two featured readers, but that's all right. Poetry readings are always catch as catch can. Some poets are reasonably good and some are lousy, but even the lousy ones can have their amusement factor.

I fold the paper and set it in the passenger seat, then head out for the Bean.

end part 1