Title: Things Undone 4: Alchemy of the Word, part 11
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.


"The world is good. I will bless life. I will love my brothers."

~~Rimbaud -- A Season in Hell~~

8:03 AM


I smell coffee. It's not unusual, but since Fro's spent the night with
Byers, I was sorta figuring on getting up and making it myself. Then I
remember we got a houseguest. Two, if you count the cat standing on the end
of the sofa, staring at me with those big, gold, inscrutable kitty eyes.
He's a good-looking cat, that's for sure. Big kitty. Gotta weigh at least 20
pounds, and he's not fat. I try to lean over and pet him but he's not having
it. He's not ready for a full-on relationship yet. He's content for now to
be a voyeur.

I can hear Sari talking on the phone. Sounds like she's calling into work,
since she's saying she'll be out a few days but she'll be at a Senate
subcommittee hearing on Thursday. That's right, she's a lobbyist. Wonder if
what Byers was doing for her was tied up in this. If that's true, then
Frohike and me gotta get to work on that today, as well as on what we've got
in mind for her asshole ex.

"Good morning, Ringo. There's coffee," she tells me when she hangs up the

"Thanks. How'd you do that, you know, you only got one arm and all."

"I can do coffee one-handed; I found some beans already ground. However, I
do have a problem with washing dishes. Do you think you could wash a couple
of mugs out for us?"

"Uh, sure."

She smiles at me. "And don't forget to use soap."

Women are so picky. And speaking of women -- "Hang on a sec, gotta check
something." I run over to look at my email, see if anything from Deb is
there. Yep, sure enough, I got a response. Cool. She wrote "purple." I guess
the game is on. I type in "people" as a response. Wonder if I'll get "eater"
back. That'd be cool. Man, I wish she was here. We could play all kinds of
games, not just word games.

I wash out a couple mugs; Marvin the Martian and one that says "I Love My
Attitude Problem." That was a gift from Frohike last Christmas. He said he
thought of me when he saw it. I think I'll let Sari use Marvin. I show her
the mugs for inspection and she passes them, once she's ascertained I rinsed
all the soap off. I try to play host with the most, and pour for us without
even spilling. "You take anything?" I call to her.

"Just some milk, if you have it."

"All we got is half and half. That okay?" I mean, yeah, more calories than
milk, but she looks like she could use some extra calories. How the hell was
she able to even try and fight off her bastard ex? She must be stronger than
she looks. Maybe she's a ninja babe, does martial arts. She said something
about a shock stick last night though. Should check her out, but right now,
all I want is coffee. A shower might be good too. I should let her go first
though. And if she wants to take one, I'm gonna have to bag her arm. Thank
God I'm past that; all's I got left is the light cast, and that should be
done soon.

"Sure." The phone rings. "You want me to get that?" she says.

"If you don't mind." I've kinda got my hands full here, and I'm really
trying not to drop anything. I'm not snooping like I was with Mulder, well,
not mechanically, but I can tell that it's Frohike she's talking to. First
thing, she's like, how's John? I ask her what Fro said, but she's like,
shhh. God, it's so hard when you got women around, you got to mind your
manners and all. But I want Deb to come and see me, and she's working on
getting enough days off in a row so she can. Might as well start practicing

"I'll be happy to come over and stay with him for a while," she's telling
Frohike. "No, it's not a bother, and it's the least I can do for you and for
him, after all you've done for me. Yes, Langly's awake. Would you like to
speak to him?"

He probably said not really, but she hands me the phone. "Yeah, hi." I say.
"How's our boy Byers?"

"Rough night. Doing a little better this morning. We're going to try and get
some breakfast into him."

Oh man, hospital cuisine. "That slop? You really trying to kill him?"

"Very funny. I was going to ask you to come and relieve me for a spell, but
our lovely houseguest has graciously offered to spare you from your
babysitting chores."

"Hey, not like I wouldn't do it!" Just because I'd complain, doesn't mean I
wouldn't. I'd do anything for Byers, and Mel knows it. But he can't pass on
giving me a hassle. Hell, I don't know what I'd do if Frohike ever stopped
hassling me. Wonder if he was dead, probably.

"You are, however, going to escort her over here. No way is she getting on
the Metro alone. Or going anywhere alone, for that matter. Do you

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Christ, what kind of idiot does he think I am? Like I'd
really let her go running around with her ex still on the loose. I don't
think so.

"I'm going to take a nap when I get back, but after that, be prepared to
work your sorry ass, Blondie."

"Yeah, yeah. Later, dude." So I turn to Sari. "Like, you want the first
shower?" I could always take mine after I drop her off.

"That'd be nice, thank you. But I'm going to need your help wrapping my

"Hey, you're talking to a pro here." Well, at least a pro at having it done
for me. I haven't been on the other end of it, but I think I've watched
enough times I could do it. I grab a clean trash bag and some duct tape (you
*can* fix anything with duct tape) and wrap her arm up watertight. "Ah, you
need any help, like with your hair or anything?" I mean, I'm not trying to
be a pervert; not that I mind seeing naked women, not at all, but I know
right after I got banged up Frohike would stay in the bathroom with me for a
few days till I finally told him to find another way to get his rocks off. I
mean, he was just taking care of me, and I was glad he did. I was pretty
shaky there for a while.

But she's like no, I think I'll be fine, I'll call you if I have any
trouble. "Would you feed the Cardinal, though? He gets downright ornery if
he doesn't get his breakfast." Yeah, like we don't have enough ornery
critters around here already.

9:45 AM


Ringo and I stopped at a bakery and a grocery store before we got to the med
center, and also got coffee. We brought breakfast for everyone, and Frohike
seemed delighted with the idea when we started pulling scones and fruit out
of the bag. I set his latte in front of him, then get John's out of the cup

"Hey, Byers, you get real food this morning," Frohike announces happily. He
puts an almond scone on a napkin for John and starts peeling a tangerine.

John looks terrible. I can see the pain on his bandaged face, and he seems
to be responding to things slowly, but between the surgery and the drugs, I
wouldn't expect anything different. "Sari, how are you?" At least he's
speaking in complete sentences today. His voice is quiet and tired, like
speech is draining for him. It probably is.

I sit beside him on the bed and take his hand. "Much better, John. I managed
to get some sleep last night. I still hurt, but I'll manage. What about

He squeezes my hand and sighs. There's some relief on his face, I think
because I'm not in a hospital bed too. "I'm okay. I don't remember much
after the ambulance came. My head really aches. I'm... I'm sorry I couldn't
keep Barry away from you. I didn't want to see you get hurt." He looks so

"This isn't your fault. What you did was very brave, and I'm grateful for
your help. I don't know how I can ever thank you enough for what you did.
You probably saved my life." I want to blame myself, but I know that all
three of them would get agitated about it, and I don't want to get John
upset. He still very much needs to rest.

Frohike puts John's food next to his latte on the little tray table in front
of him; almond scone, peeled tangerine, some grapes, a sliced up kiwi fruit.
"C'mon Byers, let's sit you up a little so you can eat." He pushes one of
the bed buttons to raise the head up enough for John to drink the latte
without spilling it.

"I'm not really --"

Frohike and I look at each other. I take the first poke. "I was going to
make you eat last night when we were so rudely interrupted. I still consider
it my sworn duty to get some food into you. And it's not like you can escape
this time." Frohike laughs.

John just sighs. "My head hurts so much," he says quietly.

Ringo sits on the other side of the bed and moves a hand along John's
forehead, offering a little gentle massage. "Sucks, doesn't it?" John nods.
"Like, don't stress too much on it, Byers. Everything's okay. We're on it.
You gotta get better soon, though, Narcboy. I'm kinda missin' the old you."
He smiles a crooked little smile down at John. It sounds like there's a lot
of history behind that remark.

John looks up at him and takes Ringo's hand for a minute. "I'll work on it.

"Eating something will probably help a little with your head," I say. "And
even if your head isn't hungry, your body still needs food to get better." I
break off a little nibble of his scone and hand it to him. "Just a little
now and then. It doesn't have to be all at once." He looks up at me, then
down at the scone. "Don't make me treat you like my kid brother," I
threaten. That raises a tiny smile and a chuckle, at least, and he starts to
nibble on the scone, then takes a sip of his latte.

"Here's yours," Ringo says. I take my double tall hazel mocha breve and sip
at it, letting the scent and warmth and sweetness of it seep through me.

"And John," I add, "I intend to get Ethiopian for us for lunch. I'm still
having that injera craving."

"You're not going anywhere alone!" Frohike snaps. Ringo and John are both
trying to talk at once too.

"My sister's coming by with it about noon," I reply. They all relax.
"Honestly, guys, I'm not that stupid."

No, dear," Frohike sighs, "I didn't really think you were. We're just
worried about you." He's really a rather sweet man, if somewhat gruff. Kind
of like a grouchy but soft-hearted uncle. We all settle into our breakfast,
and shortly after they finish, Ringo and Frohike leave. Frohike really looks
like he needs serious sleep. "We'll be back this afternoon," he promises.

John and I just sit quietly together for a while. He manages to get in a
little bit of a nap, which pleases me. Eventually, he wakes again. "Are you
sure you're all right?" he asks me.

"It's just a broken arm and some bruises. Really, I'm fine. I've had broken
bones before."

"From him," he says.

"Mostly, yes." It's an uncomfortable admission for me, but it's true. I need
to talk to him about that Pinck article, though, and now is as good a time
as any. He's had some rest and might be up to a conversation. Besides, it's
a convenient way to change the subject. "I read your newsletter last night,
your article about Pinck. I need to talk to you about it"

He gives me a sharp, suspicious look. "What about it?" He sounds a little

"It's all right, John. I figured out last night what you guys really do,
without any help. It's just that your article contains information that's
part of what I'm basing my white paper on. It wasn't easy for me to get, and
I wondered if you knew more than what you wrote."

He relaxes again. "So that's what the hack was all about," he says. I ask
him what he means. "I thought when I saw the damage to your system that it
seemed like a targeted, maybe even politically motivated hack. Pinck
certainly has the resources to pull off something like that, and if they
knew you had those files, they would naturally want to eliminate the threat
of their exposure at a congressional level." He gets an odd look on his
face. "I don't suppose Barry ever worked for Pinck?"

"Not that I know of. He was an accountant for a long time, though, and
worked for a number of firms over the years. Who knows who he could have
been contracted to."

"We'll have to check into that, then." We discuss the files and the
information I've been gathering for about twenty minutes. He seems to think
I've gotten even closer to the answers than he had. "Where have you been
getting your information?" he asks quietly, and looks around furtively to
see if anyone's nearby.

"I'm afraid I can't reveal my sources," I tell him, "but I think you, of all
people, would understand that."

He looks at me, then says, "Yes, I do." He's looking more exhausted by the
moment. "And I'd have been worried if you had named someone." A nurse comes
in to check his vitals and we drop the subject.

"How are you feeling this morning, Mr. Byers?" she asks.

"I have an awful headache, " he tells her. "Is there anything you could do
for it?"

"Well, you still have the Demerol drip hooked up, so use that if you think
you need it, but I'll see what the doctor has to say about other options."
She makes chart notes, pats his shoulder, and leaves.

"John, you should really take some of that Demerol and try to get some more
sleep. You're not up to any more talk right now, and I don't want them to
toss me out for not letting you get enough rest." He nods and pushes the
button on the PCA pump. "You've been a good friend to me, thank you." I tell
him softly, and he has.

"Thanks, Sari. So have you," he says. I take his warm hand in mine, and soon
he's asleep.

end part 11