Title: Things Undone 4: Alchemy of the Word, part 6
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.


"I dreamed of crusades, of unrecorded voyages of discovery, of republics
with no history, of hushed-up religious wars, revolutions in customs,
displacements of races and continents: I believed in every kind of

~~Rimbaud -- A Season in Hell~~



The Gators swallow the bait and lose their hides to NC State. One of the
good things that's happened today. Actually, hasn't been a bad day at all.
Having Johnny-boy out of the place spares me from having to deal with his
despairing gloom. And best of all, he's bringing in some real cash. I hope.
Sounds like a pretty straightforward job, at least by our standards.

Langly hasn't emerged from our secure cocoon, but at least he's marginally
quiet. I say marginally because every so often, his silence is punctuated by
some form of invective. I don't get my shorts in a knot over that. It's part
of the language of programmerese.

I just wish the headache would go away. I knew I'd worshipped heavily at the
altar of the J&B gods, but apparently I was much more reverent than I
intended. Fistfuls of Tylenol have not abated the constant ache in my head.
I think my brain has swelled to roughly three times its normal size, with a
corresponding decrease in my general ability to cope. Let's face it, I'm not
as young as I used to be. I don't have the energy I once had, and dealing
with these two critters takes monumental amounts of it. I'm generally left
with a deficit to rival that of the federal budget. I have tentative plans
to head out to the Candy Apple with Mulder and Langly, but right now I'm
looking for a graceful excuse in order to back out. It's not that I've lost
my taste for the pleasures of the flesh; au contraire. For some reason, the
lure of the Candy Apple just lacks its usual luster. I'd contemplate this
except that right now, thinking takes far too much effort.

"Frohike!" Langly's plaintive wail breaks into my brain with all the
subtlety of a crowbar. I'd ignore him, but that simply isn't a possibility.
You ignore him at your peril. He has a way of pumping up the intensity of
his irritation and persistence should you indicate that he's not the first
thing you were considering attending to.

"What?" I snap loudly at him. Here's one of the main differences between him
and Byers, other than the suit: if I took that tone with Byers, he'd cringe
like I'd slapped him. With Langly, however, I'm barely getting started.
Langly is unlikely to notice anything until I'm waking the dead.

"Like, I could use some help here!"

"What's the magic word?" I'm going to stall him as long as humanly possible,
if for no other reason than I have no desire to get out of my comfy chair.
Before he can answer (he usually gets it wrong, anyway), the phone rings.
"Phone's ringing," I carol to Langly.

"Yeah, so pick it up."

Brat. Why I don't simply Moe-smack him upside the head is beyond me. Maybe
I'm afraid of hurting my hand when it lands on his iron skull. Whoever's
calling isn't giving up, so I reluctantly trudge to the phone. "Lone

"Turn the tape off, Frohike." I recognize Byers' voice at the other end of
the line and comply. If it was Mulder, forget it. He thinks we turn the tape
off for him; he's sadly mistaken. We'd miss half our headlines if we did.

"What's up, Byers?" I hope he has a technical question a moderately literate
four year old could answer. Unfortunately, if that were the case, he
wouldn't be calling me.

"I could use some help here."

"What kind of help?"

"I need you to bring over some surveillance equipment and communications

"Byers, where the hell are you?"

"I'm at Ms. Thomas's apartment, remember?"

"What the hell do you need the good stuff for?"

"It's... complicated."

"Byers, it's always complicated with you. What the hell have you gotten
yourself into this time?" Oh please, no more Grail Knight delusions. My
ulcer can't take it.

"Please. It's really important."

I groan, and he must hear it. I know Langly did; he flipped me the bird. I
swear, I'm going to discipline that boy like his father should have. Not
that I'm convinced it will do him any good, but at least I'd feel better.
"Tell me, the Sierra Club taking donations from Exxon or something?"

"No, it's worse than that."

"I'm all ears," I sigh. And on any other day, I would be. Just not today.

"It's Sari's... Ms. Thomas's former husband."

"Byers, I swear, if she told you he's psychotic, scream and run *now.* Do
not pass go. Do not collect $200." Langly's attention is momentarily piqued,
but he soon loses interest. I, however, feel a major Maalox moment coming
on. The J&B is eating my stomach lining as I stand here.

"She... he's been physically abusing her."

"And you've seen evidence of this?" I'm sorry, Byers is a sucker for a sob
story, particularly if it comes from a person with semi-decent tits and ass.

"Yes. I saw the bruise on her arm. She didn't tell me; I saw it and asked
her about it."

And this makes her more credible? Oh man, I have horrible deja vu right
about now. "Byers, the Crusades ended about seven centuries ago, just in
case you didn't notice."

"She needs our help."

"I've heard that one before. Byers, I'm serious. Get your ass out of there
before the heat gets turned up and you discover it's been fried extra

Dead silence. "I'm going to help her, Frohike, with or without you. But it
would be a lot easier with you."

Yeah, but on whom? "Right, Byers. Gimme the address." He rattles off a
location near the University, and I scribble it down. "We'll be there soon."
I hang up." Langly, c'mon, time to get dressed for the ball. We've got work
to do."

"I am working."

"Fooled me. Get your lazy blonde ass in gear; Byers has another damsel in

"Hey, I got one of my own at the moment. Like, I'm trying to get hacked into
the hospital system, fer chrissake." He sighs like he's wounded. "God,
people are so damn suspicious."

No one more than me as I prepare to meet Byers. At least Langly helps me
load the van. Byers better be prepared to schlepp on the other end. I'm
getting way too old for this shit.


I arrive at the address in Georgetown. I hate Georgetown. Full of
pretentious artsy-fartsy types along with the usual brand of
Congresscritter. All the restaurants are ridiculously overpriced and the
bars have ferns in them. Ferns, I tell you. I'm sorry, but real bars do not
have ferns. Real estate says only three things matter: location, location,
location. Ms. Thomas may have location, but there isn't a goddamn parking
space within two blocks. And it's a Sunday, for chrissake. We may not have a
fashionable address, but we do have parking. A few bribes to the local PD
insure that. Luckily for us, the PD in our area can be bought cheap.

The building is a walkup and our damsel resides on the third floor. Great,
assuming you're not my age and trying to haul expensive and weighty
equipment. I arrive at her door. I like the mat. At least the woman has a
sense of humor. She'd better, if she's going to be dealing with us.

"Frohike? Is that you?" I hear Byers' voice from the inside.

"No, it's the Joho's. Who do you think it is, Byers, open the damn door!"

I hear several latches being released and am offered admittance. "Frohike,
I'm sorry, but you know I wouldn't pull you out unless it was really

"Oh, can it, Byers." I'm not in the mood. And he knows that I can resist a
lady in need about as much as he can. He knew I would come.

"Where's Langly?" Byers' face is creased with concern.

"Attempting to make a close encounter of the cyber kind with his young lady
in Pennsylvania." I sigh. "I swear, Byers, I used to think Mulder would be
the death of me, but now I'm nominating you two..."

"Thank you for coming." My diatribe is interrupted by the appearance of a
tall, slender woman, comfortably dressed. She has short, dark hair and
intelligent grey eyes behind metal rimmed glasses. She'd never make it at
the Candy Apple, but she is quite tasty in her own way. I suspect this fact
is not lost on Byers.

"You could do worse," I whisper to him.

"Frohike!" He snaps at me fiercely, and his face turns warm and pink. He
doesn't know it, but he's got it bad. Again. My ulcer hurts and I've been
here a whopping three minutes.

"Come in and sit down, Mr..."

Byers blushes again. "I'm sorry. This is my colleague and friend, Melvin

"Just Frohike," I say brusquely. Mel is an intimacy reserved for those who
are very, very close to me, and right now, this lady ain't that. She leads
us to her kitchen table. I can smell something delicious; I wonder if Ms.
Thomas was capable of getting some nourishment into that boy. God knows I've
been trying, but all my culinary efforts have been for naught. Maybe it's my

"May I get you a cup of tea or some coffee, Mr. Frohike? Have you had any
lunch yet?" Apparently she's also skilled at the art of being a hostess.

"Umm... sure, coffee would be nice." I consider the wonderful smells from
the kitchen. "I didn't really have time for lunch before I left, so if it
won't be too much trouble..." Okay, so I had the time but not the energy.
She doesn't need to know that. And my stomach is growling.

"I'll be right back," she says with a small smile, and in a moment, she's
back with a large bowl of soup, some bread, a little brie and some fruit,
and a large mug of coffee. "Do you take any adulterants in your ritual
alkaloids?" she asks. God, she sounds like Byers when he's been at the
thesaurus again. 

"No thank you, dear." She nods and takes a seat. "So, tell me what's going
on." Please, and use small words; I'm easily confused right now.

Ms. Thomas is silent. She studies me much the way I am casing her. She is
almost catlike in her countenance. I try a little of the soup. It tastes
just as good as it smells, and it smells delectable. Byers starts talking.
"As I mentioned, Sari's... Ms. Thomas' former husband has been abusing her."

"Ever hear of a restraining order?" God knows I have enough familiarity with
those. My ex took one out on me in our divorce. I've thought about violating
it a thousand times, just to see my kids, but would never take the chance.
It was the one way I could show them respect.

"Believe me, I've taken out every kind of court order I could find," she
says. She's keeping her voice calm, but there is a heavy undercurrent of
tension in it. Did I mention that I have no respect for scumbags that
violate their orders? Multiply that by about a thousand, and that's how
little respect I have for men who hit women. My immediate impulse is to find
the bastard and kick his sorry, cowardly little ass. The problem is, he
probably has youth and size in his favor. They claim that old age and
treachery will always overcome youth and skill, but whoever said that never
went one on one with a drunk built like a sumo wrestler.

"Okay, so he's violated every order in the book. Have you tried moving?" I

Byers is a mild-mannered man, but make no mistake, he has a capacity for
righteous anger in him that's unrivaled. Unfortunately, I lit the fuse with
my remark. "Since when does she have to arrange her life because some
asshole won't leave her alone? Why should she make all the sacrifices?
Look!" He gently rolls back her sleeve. I'm treated to the sight of a large,
ugly bruise that makes me cringe.

"I agree. I'm just checking out all options," I attempt to placate Byers,
who is now on a roll.

"Mr. Frohike, I've already moved three times in the last two years. I can't
continue to live like this." Ms. Thomas's voice is quiet and almost steady,
but I can still hear that edge of fear in it.

"She doesn't have any more options, which is why I called you! I was hoping
you would help her!" Byers is almost crimson with rage.

She places the tips of her fingers on his arm. "Please, John, there's no
need to be so upset. It... well... Barry would... it just makes me very

I bet. Guys who hit women don't tend to have much control in the anger
department either. Her expression has moved from catlike observation to a
narrow, almost twitchy avian anxiety. She looks like she would skitter away
in a stiff breeze, like dry leaves. Byers takes a few deep breaths. He lets
her call him John? Hoo boy. I notice how pale he is once his anger fades.
How earnest his expression is. "Tell me what you had in mind," I say.

"Maybe we could... trump up a few federal felony charges that would put him
away 'til the next Ice Age," Byers suggests.

I turn to Ms. Thomas. "How do you feel about this?"

She shakes her head. "I can't say I'm crazy about it. In fact, I don't like
it at all. Being a human rights activist on my off time, this is the sort of
thing I try to prevent." She pauses for a long moment. I can see a blaze of
anger rising in her. "But *I* have a right to live without being in terror
of him. Every time he finds me, he's more angry and violent. I'm afraid if
he isn't stopped, he'll end up killing me." With a deep breath, she looks up
at me again, anger turned to rage in her eyes. "The bruise you saw isn't the
only one." She pulls her shirt tail out of her jeans and reveals a huge,
ugly bruise that covers much of her stomach and lower ribs. Byers looks as
shocked and angry as I feel. "There are others," she says, tucking her shirt
back in. "I've been hospitalized several times since we divorced."

"Oh my god." That's me. Byers is still too stunned to talk.

"As a lobbyist and a writer, I'm a fairly public persona. My work appears in
the press, and I can't avoid having my name or photo printed. The things I
do are too important to give up out of fear, and it's easy for him to find
me again. I honestly don't know what to do anymore, Mr. Frohike. All I know
is, I can't keep living like this. It has to stop, and now is far better
than later. Since the question is his rights versus my life, I'm willing to
push my ethical envelope a little."

There's more than just terror in this woman. There's determination as well,
and I sense that somewhere in her is a spine of steel, not unlike the hard
look in her dark eyes. She's willing to fight for others, and for herself as
well. And she's refusing to hide anymore. If only Mata Hari had guts like
that... Of course she's the sort Byers would go for -- like Susanne in ways,
but willing to draw her line and stand it, come hell or high water.
Fortunately, the soup had a soothing effect on my ulcer, or it would be
about to pop right now. I think about what I've seen. What Byers is talking
about is dangerous, and downright dirty. I like it. It's amazing what
appeals to my sense of humor.

end part 6