Title: Things Undone 5: Snipe Hunt (1/24)
Authors: Erynn and Sally
Archive: Ephemeral, Gossamer, LGM, FLO, all others ask first.
Rated: R for grownup stuff
Spoilers: We assume you've seen the series. There are some slight spoilers
for the LGM Pilot. This little Gunmenverse takes off from the main line of
the X Files canon universe after 3oaK but before FPS (which happens in this
timeline in early May).
Disclaimers: You know who really owns these guys and the other XF
characters. It ain't us, much as we'd like to. Some characters are blatantly
based on our friends. They made us. (BTW, you guys, you can put down the
red-hot pokers now) Others, we just made up for our amusement. Chapter
opening quotes used without permission. Remember, love not money is the
motivator here -- like anybody would ever pay us for this stuff.
Category: Gunmen action/adventure, humor, angst, a little Langly romance,
and a budding friendship.
Keywords: Lone Gunmen
Summary: It's hacker season. Do you know where your computer is?
Stories in the Things Undone series:
Things Undone, by Erynn; a 5-part story wherein the Gunmen deal with some
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; a vignette wherein the Gunmen begin to deal
with the repercussions of their adventure.
TU 4: Alchemy of the Word, by Erynn and Sally; a 17 chapter novella wherein
words are more important than they seem, and Byers starts to get a life.
If you haven't read them, you may be confused here.
Sally say: Special thanks to pigs in slop. We only want you to be happy.
Erynn say: I never thought Things Undone would turn into its own little
universe, but it's been a hell of a lot of fun writing with Sally. Thanks to
all of you folks who have been enjoying the story and encouraging us to
write more. You're the greatest.
"Serious difficulties don't vanish by themselves, they are standing around
your bed when you open the eyes the next morning."
~~Vicki Baum -- I Know What I'm Worth~~
LONE GUNMEN HQ
TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 2000
Tell me again why we took this job? Oh yeah, we need the cash. If we hadn't
been in need of a whole new set of scopes, a replacement scanner, a laptop
to replace the one Byers mangled on Barry's thick exterior, and the latest
and greatest in Pentium processors for half a dozen server machines, not to
mention little things like beer and Tylenol and food (no small expense with
this bunch), I'd have told the twerp that hired us where to stuff his job.
Made me damn sorry I decided last week to sit down and have a look at the
books; the real ones, not the ones we keep for the IRS. Byers normally does
the accounting, and he does it like he was born with a Quicken packet in his
hands. But he's been, for all practical purposes, out of commission for the
past two and a half months, and it's going to be at least another three or
four weeks before he can deal with something requiring that much eye muscle
and concentration. I almost had a coronary when I did it. We'd pulled in
some good money in the fall, but outgo was finally starting to exceed
We completed our job for Sari Thomas, and she paid us, of course; she
insisted on it. "Most of this is Sierra Club money anyway, not mine" she'd
said. "It's not like you guys don't deserve this, and we do have a contract.
I'd give you more if I could. You really saved the hearing for us." It was a
nice piece of change, and would have sufficed for maintenance mode, but all
our equipment is acting like the Enterprise in classic Trek. I feel like I'm
Kirk, and Scotty is yelling, "Ye canna change the laws of physics!"
The current job is for a web design firm called WickedWeb, headed up by yet
another snot-nosed 26-year-old without a clue. They've had someone in their
system for quite some time, and even knew about it, but only jumped up and
screamed when data started disappearing. I asked why they didn't call when
they first knew someone was in there. The infant CEO, apparently unable to
come up with a clever explanation without a script, decided on a temper
tantrum instead. I was not impressed. The only reason I didn't walk out the
door right then is that the CEO's older brother was the best friend of
Langly's college roommate; well before Langly dropped out, anyway. In this
business, everything is about reputation, and while I think the CEO takes
being a brat to new and dizzying heights, it won't help us if we start
getting nasty to people we know. If the theory that everyone is only divided
by six degrees of separation is right, then it's way too close for me. I'd
like to be at least a thousand degrees removed from this particular jerkwad.
Everyone's closing in on me lately. I feel like my best friends are a school
of circling sharks. Mulder borrowed a stack of my videos and hasn't bothered
to return them; he says it's the least I could do for bailing on him the
night we were supposed to go to the Candy Apple. I hastened to remind him
that Byers got hurt, but he argued that I was going to bail out before
Byers' injuries became the main attraction of the evening. This is, in fact,
correct, but he sniveled about it until I finally told him to help himself,
just remember to rewind. I erred in not mentioning that I'd like them back,
preferably while I'm still among the living. I shouldn't be so annoyed with
him for something so petty, especially considering what he did for Sari, but
I am. Besides, I can always get into his apartment when he's away and fetch
'em back. It's just a pain in the ass, like himself.
The other night I wanted nothing more than to get quietly and thoroughly
drunk at the Limerick, alone. I did manage to achieve drunkenness, but it
was hardly quiet and I wasn't alone. Mulder needed an audience, and Scully
wasn't available, so I suffered the dire fate of having to endure Mulder
whining. After an hour, I was even cursing the lovely Dana Scully, because I
was the one having to spend time listening to his ramblings, not her. Then
again, having him going off about life, the universe, and everything
directly violates the provisions of the Amendment forbidding cruel and
The punishment continued into the next day, when we had to be up by 9 a.m.
(the crack of dawn mind you) and go on this job interview. The CEO spent two
hours asking us pointless questions, when I know he'd decided roughly two
minutes into it that we would have the job. There should be a law against
26-year-olds running corporations. On the way home, Langly whined that we
didn't ask for enough money. I didn't get it. We asked for our standard
rates. Granted, it doesn't pay as well as being a high-priced hooker or a
union plumber, but it's not chump change, either.
"They're *your* friends," I reminded him.
"Yeah, that's why we shoulda soaked 'em. Deb's gonna be here end of the
week, and I'm gonna need some cash."
"What're you going to need cash for? I doubt you'll ever even get dressed,"
I snapped at him.
"Jealous," he taunted back. And he's damn right, the little fucker. I hope
his disposition improves when the object of his affections finally makes an
in-flesh appearance. She's had reading and exams the last week and a half,
meaning that there's been minimal word from her. He bitches and mopes
constantly. Maybe if he did it more quietly, it wouldn't be so irritating,
but Langly never was one to suffer silently -- or alone. If he's miserable,
he's going to make damn sure we are, too. From that point of view, he's
He'd get a hell of a lot more work done if he wasn't checking his email
every five minutes and following it up with heavy sighing, a stream of
cursing, or both. Today I told him that he could either shut up, or go to
his room and come out when he was done jerking off. His revenge was to put
my name on a bunch of mailing lists for gay porn sites. I tried to unsub
several times, but no joy. I settled for an untraceable bounce back to his
own damn box. We'll see how he likes that.
Byers is still deep in recovery. You'd think I could extend some compassion
to him, seeing as he really is suffering, but he, too, is working what
remains of my last frayed nerve. He's still in pain, but the Vicodin gave
him a miserably upset stomach, so he had to stop taking it. The nausea went
away, but was replaced by a side effect of his eye drops; a sinus infection.
Stopping the eye drops, unfortunately, is not an option, not if he has any
hope of his sight returning to what it was. He can't use Benadryl, Sudafed
or any other decongestants while his eye is still afflicted; too much
drying. His doc prescribed oral antibiotics for the sinus problem, but those
wreck his stomach too. He's eating poorly, and coping even worse. The only
time he's marginally tolerable is when Sari comes to visit. She's managed to
stop by once this week, and she does read to him, which he enjoys, but her
work schedule is grueling, and her time's limited. I dread the evenings she
can't make it over. He's way past the bounds of my sanity then. I tend to
think of Langly as being more inclined to do a world-class snivel fest, but
Byers is proving that, given the proper challenge, he can give Langly a run
for his money.
I've been trying to help the boy along, reading to him when I can, but he
complains vociferously about my choice of reading material. Byers is into
very esoteric fiction. Me, give me a good Tom Clancy or Dean Koontz any day
of the week. Sari's been reading Rimbaud's "A Season in Hell" to him. In
French. She says it helped her a lot when she first left Barry, but I keep
wondering what the attraction is. Rimbaud's totally depressing, as if he
needs more to be depressed about. He can't read or work, and he's still
having a hard time focusing on a tv. The first couple of weeks weren't too
bad -- he slept most of the time -- but now he's awake most of the day. I
know he's in a miserable spot, and I'm really trying to be compassionate,
but it's just not working.
The only thread that keeps me hanging on to my fragile sanity is my new pen
pal. Not long ago, I'd written Mel Scarlett and crew a thank-you note; the
treatment Langly and I received by the staff was exceptionally capable and
kind, even if one doesn't consider that Langly got some unusual personal
attention from his doctor. Deb's coming this weekend, in fact. They'll
probably play doctor the entire time she's here. Won't that be fun.
I'd sent Ms. Scarlett an e-mail and followed it up with a delivery of
irises, white and indigo, and was delighted that she returned my note. I
returned her return note, and she followed suit. It's a comforting
correspondence, mostly in that it assures me I'm not flying solo regarding
my aggravation with my boys. I may not be quite physically old enough to be
their father, but I sure feel like it most of the time. Mel is a divorced
mother of two allegedly grown children. Her daughter recently announced her
pregnancy and impending marriage plans in the same breath, and told her
mother that it would be okay to combine the baby and wedding showers 'since
you've always been cheap, Mom.' I'm guessing that broke is more accurate in
this case, a condition I'm well acquainted with, but sometimes kids don't
distinguish the difference very well. Her son took the semester off from
college to 'find himself,' but from her descriptions, the only thing he's
managed to locate so far is the remote control. She's a kindred spirit in
this. We love our kids -- and do I think of Byers and Langly as mine -- but
that doesn't mean that we aren't prepared to murder them in their sleep at
least half the time.
"I found the problem," Langly announces, as I'm musing on the sorry state of
my life and disposition.
"You're working? I thought you were just wallowing in your hormones."
"Fuck you, Frohike. Not like the job was a real challenge or anything. Which
you'd have noticed if you'd been doing anything except sitting there feeling
sorry for yourself!"
"I have every right to feel sorry for myself. I put up with you two."
"What did I do now?" Byers whines from the sofa, disgusted. He's bored, and
has nothing better to do than to listen to us bicker, or join in himself.
"Shut up, Byers. I've had about enough of your whining," I snap at him.
"Well, I'm sorry!" He actually raises his voice a little. "It's not as if I
don't want to work..."
"Oh, put a cork in it, Byers, you've only repeated yourself six hundred
times today, and you know damn well you're supposed to be resting. I'd
appreciate it if you'd do it a little more quietly!"
He's about to come up with a snappy retort -- even drugged, Byers' tongue is
sharper than you might imagine -- when the buzzer rings. I check the front
door security monitor. It's none other than Ms. Sari Thomas. She was
speaking at a dinner tonight; we weren't expecting her, but her presence is
more than welcome. One of my headaches might actually be under control for a
"Your chickadee's here," Langly teases Byers, as he goes to the door and
begins the ritual of unfastening the locks and the security system.
"Langly, will you just shut up and let her in?" Byers is not in the mood to
be teased. He normally handles it with aplomb, but between the injuries and
the medications, he's been in a positively foul frame of mind.
"Hey Sari, whassup?" Langly greets her. She answers with a hug and a peck on
his cheek, her usual greeting. The boy has no manners; he doesn't even offer
to take her wrap. Velvet, not mink. She's a lady, and deserves to be treated
like one, no matter how she's dressed. Tonight, though, she's dressed to fit
her nature. She's wearing a green satin cocktail dress, absolutely plain,
swept off the shoulders and slit up high enough to reveal a slender and
rather shapely thigh, clad in a gartered stocking, although I think it
wasn't supposed to be obvious. Her dress, which would otherwise have covered
this particular tasty secret, has ridden up slightly under her sling. I'm
very happy to report that she has no visible bruises. With Barry Guertzen
taking a government-funded vacation, she's finally free of that worry.
"Young lady, you do look lovely this evening," I tell her, rising to kiss
her hand. I'm so grateful for her unexpected presence that I'd kiss anything
on her the gods might require. Not that this would be a hardship, mind you.
Right now, though, I'd kiss her bare foot if she'd been wading through a pig
pen. She's got her hair coiffed impeccably, with a touch of dramatic makeup,
yet nothing about it looks fake or overdone. And if Byers doesn't notice her
looking like this, he's got a lot more than eye problems.
"Thank you, Mel. I managed to filch you guys some dinner."
Langly eyes her suspiciously. Only he could look a gift horse in the mouth.
"What, rubber chicken?"
She laughs good-naturedly. "No, this was an animal rights fundraiser, so the
menu was organic and vegetarian. Lasagna with portabella mushrooms and
Provencal sauce. It's actually quite good, and it should have been,
considering this was a thousand-dollar-a-plate benefit." She grins wickedly.
"I only steal the best for my friends." I'm not picky, I'm hungry, and
between working on this project and listening to these two ruin my day, I
haven't bothered to play Chef Frohike. I know how housewives feel when they
go to great lengths to prepare a decent meal and nobody notices.
Byers smiles at her; a real smile, I might add. In spite of his boredom and
pain, we're seeing more of those lately. Unfortunately, he reserves most of
them for Sari. I wonder if I'd do better if I was willing to read depressing
French novels and Latin poetry. Or wear a green satin cocktail dress. Not
that I'm especially interested in finding out, and I doubt my legs would
pass muster. Sari excuses herself momentarily, presumably to 'powder her
nose.' The three of us bring out the good dishes, which is to say the paper
plates, and begin digging into the lasagna, a salad of baby spring greens,
and garlic rolls.
"She looks hot, Byers." Langly won't let up.
"She always looks nice," Byers agrees, trying not to fall for the bait. I'm
ready to smack Langly. I know where he's going with this.
"Oh, don't even tell me you didn't notice just how tasty she looks tonight."
"Langly, shut up." I'd like to enjoy my dinner in something resembling
Of course, he ignores my and Byers' rising ire. "I'm telling you Johnny, if
the way she looks right now doesn't get your guy juices flowing, I'm gonna
have to conclude that you were castrated."
"Langly, you are so far past rude, it's a wonder you werenąt strangled at
birth," Byers snaps. He's trying to hold his temper in check, but his face
is getting red, a sure sign that his temper and blood pressure are about to
go through the roof. As are mine. Right now, that's something Byers should
really be avoiding.
"Rude? What, 'cause I'm admiring a pretty girl and wondering what the hell's
wrong with you that you can't..."
"I'm quite capable of noticing, thank you very much!" This time, Byers isn't
so restrained. The petty bickering we indulge in normally doesn't get to me
much, but at this moment, I can take no more. I let loose with a stream of
invective that would make a Marine blush. It takes a while for me to really
lose it, but I have, in this moment, officially lost it. I'm assailing
everything from their honor and programming skills to their taste in
literature and clothing, up to and including their manhood. I'm still
completely absorbed in my blind red screaming fit when I notice a glimmer of
green from the corner of my eye. I lost it so badly, I'd forgotten there was
a lady present. I stop, but too late. She races off towards Byers' room like
a scared rabbit. I hear a door slam behind her, then another. Two doors? Oh
crap. She's got to be in the closet. God, I feel so stupid.
Byers, of course, is now completely enraged. "Look what you've done now, you
jerk! In case you don't remember, she's not very good around people that are
out of control!"
"Well, maybe if *you'd* maintain a little control instead of whining and
whimpering and complaining all the time, I'd be able to hold on to mine!"
He's gone, of course, to make sure Sari is all right.
"Y'know, you're always on my case about what an asshole I am, but look what
you've done!" Langly is much less reserved in his anger, and he's got his
fists up. It wouldn't be the first time we've gone to blows. I duck, but too
late; he nails me right in the jaw. Normally, he'd apologize immediately,
but this time, he just stares at me for a second, then stomps off to follow
Byers, his only sentiment being, "Fuck you, Frohike."
No need to. Been there, done that. Never more than now.
End part 1
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