Title: Things Undone 4: Alchemy of the Word, part 8a
Authors: Erynn & Sally
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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.
"My health was threatened. Terror came. I used to fall into a sleep of
several days, and when up, I continued the saddest dreams."
~~Rimbaud -- A Season in Hell~~
MARCH 5, 2000
"Fuck! It's almost nine o'clock! She went on shift at seven, I told her I
was gonna be up by then! Goddammit!"
That's Langly I'm hearing. Notice I didn't say I was listening. I'm paying
about as much attention to him as I am to my Jackie Chan movie. I have no
idea which one it is. Like Langly's frustrations, they all look the same.
"Can you keep it down to a roar in there?" I call out to him. After spending
much of the day laboring at Ms. Thomas's, I'm exhausted. The most strenuous
thing I plan to engage in for the moment is coming up with a plausible
excuse when Mulder calls, as to why I don't wish to spend an evening ogling
the ladies that grace the stages and cages of the Candy Apple. I know I
shouldn't have to make any excuses, simply say that I'm not going, but this
is Mulder, and he has a way of being obnoxiously persistent. I need to
prepare myself to fight off the siege that's sure to ensue.
Langly, naturally, is paying even less attention to me than I am to him, and
doesn't even respond. Ordinarily, I'd offer to help the boy, but all I
really want to do at the moment is pass out comfortably, preferably for
about a week. I swear, I love these kids but they have worn me out. The
movie ends, which means that it's time for 15 minutes of commercials and
paid political announcements. I should just call Mulder and get it over
with, but first, seeing as I've neglected regular work today, I should check
the police scanners, see if it's all quiet on the western front.
"Fucking firewall they put up, you'd think they actually cared about patient
privacy or something!" Langly snaps viciously, not even looking up when I
enter the office. I don't respond. We both know full well that it has
everything to do with insurance data and nothing at all to do with privacy
for individuals, and neither of us is up for that discussion at the moment.
Besides, he's just venting.
The scanners are fairly quiet, but it's a Sunday night. It's still pretty
cold out, and criminal elements are essentially hedonists -- they prefer to
work in comfort. I know this from personal experience. I'd much rather go
out for some funky poaching on a warm night than one that threatens to lower
sperm production due to frozen nads. Tonight, though, my choice is to do
nothing. I grab for the phone. "You think you can keep it down for a few
minutes? I have to call Mulder."
He doesn't respond directly, but he does reduce the overt cursing to some
irritated mutterings. I dial Mulder's cell number. "Mulder." Could he say
that with less expression, please? If it's possible?
"Hey dude. What're you doing?"
"Eating a double Fatburger." This is probably correct, seeing as his voice
is muffled and thick. "Nothing like fine dining before a night of the finest
entertainment Southeast DC has to offer."
"Yeah, well, bud, you're gonna have to amuse yourself on your own."
"What, you're bailing on me?"
"I'm tired, dude."
"What about those Viagra samples I filched from Scully and gave to you? You
oughta try 'em."
"I'm keeping 'em for you," I taunt back.
"Hey, some of us can still stay up past nine o'clock!"
"I didn't think you were talking about sleep. You never get any anyway."
"Frohike, you're a heartless bastard, you know that? C'mon." He's off on
some kind of whiny rant when the police scanner kicks in. There's an
incident. I listen carefully -- any excuse to not have to hear Mr.
It's-All-About-Me for a couple of minutes. It says there's been a multiple
assault and battery in Georgetown. 'Georgetown' hits my ears like a whistle
pierces a dog's. Ms. Thomas lives there. The address given isn't hers, but
it's not very far from where she lives. "Frohike, are you listening?" Mulder
whines at the other end of the phone.
"Shush!" I tell him, waiting to hear more information. Oh hell. Somebody got
injured. Two people, in fact. I'm listening, yes, but not to Mulder.
"Look, old man," Mulder goes on, "drink some coffee, watch a couple of your
favorite videos and meet me in an hour --" They're identifying the
individuals being taken to GWU Medical Center. A man and a woman. I can't
make out the first name of the woman, but I sure as hell hear the last name.
Thomas. Caucasian, age 37. I tell myself it's a common name, maybe it's
The next victim is identified as John Fitzgerald Byers, age 36, male,
caucasian... "Sorry, dude, not tonight, I have a headache. A real one. Byers
is hurt. I just picked it up on the police scanner," I say to Mulder as I
hang up on him. I turn to Langly. "C'mon, buddy, we have to get moving."
"But I just got in! Deb's probably been wondering --"
I pull him away from the email screen. "Then she can keep wondering. Byers
is hurt, let's go."
"Byers is what?" He looks uncomprehendingly at me.
"Just get your car keys and haul that sorry blonde ass of yours!" You've
heard of Maalox moments? I have a Maalox life.
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER
"Six bucks to park? That's such a rip!" Langly grumbles as he maneuvers the
aging VW van into the underground parking structure at GWU Medical Center.
"Why are you complaining? I paid." I actually take some comfort in this
dialogue; when we're both upset, we bicker over petty things to settle our
nerves. We find a space on the fourth level down. Nothing like slipping into
the bowels of the earth in a bad section of DC late at night. I make the
decision that we're going to use the elevators; my back is killing me from
working today (and, no doubt, from overindulging myself last night).
"We'd have gotten there faster on the stairs," Langly mutters as the
elevator grinds at an arthritic snail's pace up to the emergency level.
"Only if you'd carried me," I remind him.
This is Sunday night. I didn't think the emergency area would be as crowded
as it is, but I remind myself that GWU treats everyone from sultans to
street derelicts. It's the one place in DC where you can be a pauper and sit
next to a prince, and the great equalizer is that everyone's sitting on an
equally uncomfortable plastic chair. The TV is blaring an episode of WWF
Smackdown. I push my way to the head of the line to ask one of the harried
admitting clerks about the status of Byers and Ms. Thomas. Fortunately, I've
had a lot of practice in lines at Mickey D's. Sometimes being short is an
"Hold on, hold on, give me the names again." The poor admitting clerk looks
as if he's breaking a sweat, even on this chilly night. "Shit, the
computer's down again. I can't --"
"So, ask someone!" He stares at me as if I just grew a second head. That's
the problem with kids today. They're lost without technology propping them
He wanders off and reappears with relative rapidity. "Um, okay, Ms. Thomas,
she's in exam room 5, waiting for an orthopedic consult. Mr. Byers, though,
he's being prepped for immediate surgery."
"What the hell!" Langly snaps at him. "What the hell happened to him?"
"They, um, called an ophthalmic surgeon, must be his eye." Brilliant
deduction. I'm afraid this kid better get used to being where he is. I don't
think he's got the brains to advance out of his bulletproof glass enclosed
cage with tons of people shouting at him. Poor fucker. We're told that Byers
is in preop staging on the 4th floor. Maybe if we rush we can catch him
before they haul him away.
"Jesus Christ, what the hell happened to him?" Langly is squawking loudly,
in a whining tone, but this is only a cover for how intensely worried he is.
"How the hell should I know? No one else seems to around here!" I snap back.
The ceremonial bickering continues. Preop staging: the instructions say to
follow the blue lines on the floor. Good. Someone thought to make the system
idiot-proof. Except that it only leads to another office. "Where's John F.
Byers?" I demand of the nurse behind the desk.
"I'm sorry, give me the name again?"
"John Fitzgerald Byers!" Langly shouts it so that there's no doubt.
"Sir, you don't have to yell. Just have a seat."
"We were told he's being rushed to surgery --" I jump in.
"Are you family?" she asks me.
"Yes, we are," I lie firmly. Hell, let her think what she wants.
"Just a moment please, I'll buzz you in. You'll have to check with the
nurses' station to get his cubicle number." God, I love bureaucracy.
"Man, I hope he's okay," Langly is clearly stressed, gnawing on a thumbnail
and sighing hard. Luckily for us, we don't have to talk to the bureaucrats
this time. Byers' name is written on the white board and he's in Cubicle 7,
unless, of course, somebody fucked up, which fortunately they didn't do this
time. Oh, Christ on a crutch. He's a mess.
"Excuse me," the nurse says sharply to us as she's wiring the poor boy up.
"'S okay," Byers mumbles weakly, "want them here." The three health care
professionals attending to him stare at him as if he's had his brain knocked
out of whack, which, in talking to one of the gentlemen there, I discover is
the case. The man, a soft-spoken guy with a long braid running down his
back, is a neurologist and has been sent in because our boy has suffered a
"What about his eye?" I demand, staring at the bandage covering one of them.
"Torn retina. The surgeon's here, he's just getting ready," the nurse
explains. The third person is a very tall, quiet man, who says that he's the
anesthesiologist and he needs to get Byers ready to go. We can stay, but
only if we keep out of the way. That tends to be a challenge for us, but
we'll do anything right now.
"Is Sari okay?" Byers murmurs.
"I don't know. We haven't seen her yet."
"Go check on her, please," he begs.
I turn to Langly. "Langly? Go make yourself useful."
"So you can stay here and be useless?" he says to me. He leans over to Byers
and pats him on the arm. "Hey dude, good luck, see you on the flip side."
"What happened?" I ask Byers as the anesthesiologist makes his evaluation.
"We ran into Sari's ex-husband. The one... you know."
"Oh Jesus." So much for keeping the poor lady safe. Not only did she get
hurt, he did too. Shit.
"Got to get... him away from her..." Byers is fading. "Take care of her."
"No problem, buddy." Of course it's a problem, but hey, for him, anything.
"All right, it's mind wipe time," the anesthesiologist announces. "We're
giving you some Versed, Mr. Byers, and off to dreamland you go."
"We'll be here," I promise Byers.
"Watch over her." Those are his last words as the drugs begin to work their
magic and send him off to oblivion. Lucky guy. I could stand to be there
right about now.
end part 8a