Title: Things Undone 5: Snipe Hunt (12/24)
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.
"The moment this sweetheart caught my eye
she washed away my thoughts
and became my heart's companion."
~~Yunus Emre, trans by Kabir Helminski and Refik Algan -- The Drop That
Became the Sea~~
SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 2000
SOYLENT BEAN BOOK & CAFÉ
Sari's already there at the cafe when Mel and I arrive, as are Langly and
Deborah. The day is a bit overcast, which is fine for Frohike, but still too
bright for me; my doctor told me to wear sunglasses outside until the light
sensitivity fades. I wave to Sari, but she's with several people, deep in
discussion, and doesn't see me. I assume these are other poets, as this is
another open mike. It looks like she'll be busy for a while yet. Our
oversexed partner and his guest have already claimed a table, and are busy
licking each other's tonsils. They really should save it for their private
time; it's exceedingly tacky in public. Then again, we're talking about
Ringo: tacky is his middle name.
"Let's go join Langly and his chickadee," Frohike says. "I know you're
jealous, Byers, but I'm sure your beloved will be along when she's got a
minute." He chuckles to himself. I cringe but don't say anything. This isn't
the time or place to get into it with him, but I'll have to deal with both
of them soon or I'm going to strangle them. I could convince a court it was
"Hey, dudes," Ringo and Deborah break their cellular fusion and look up as
we approach, and he waves at the chairs. "We saved seats for you."
Deborah smiles. "Hi, guys."
Frohike takes her hand and smiles back at her as we sit. "Good day, my dear.
Did you sleep well?"
"Oh, yeah. I think that's the longest I've slept in months. It was great.
And I'm so grateful that Ringo was so understanding about it. I think most
guys would have sent me packing the minute I woke up -- if they didn't wake
me up to do it first." She looks at Langly with open affection, and he's
grinning back at her with a smile as big as the moon. I gave him a hard time
yesterday, and plan to again, but the truth is, I'm glad he's found someone
who so obviously cares about him. He's just been such an ass about it that
it's impossible not to harass him. I hope he's told her what we really do,
though. This could all come crashing down on him if he tries to hide the
sometimes brutal realities of our life from her. Worse, it could come
crashing down on her.
"Have you eaten yet?" I ask. "The food here is fresh and really rather good,
and there's a decent selection."
"We did have breakfast, but I think I could use a nice, solid lunch." She
gazes up at the menu over the counter. "What's good?"
"The daily special, usually. Their soups are good, and their sandwiches are
made to order with fresh baked bread." Talking about it is actually making
me hungry as well. Last time I was here, I didn't eat anything at all, but I
was doing much worse then, still wallowing in my grief at Susanne's
departure. She's still on my mind, every day, but the pain has slowly been
getting more distant, more tolerable. It's not suffocating me anymore.
"Shall we go and order something?" I offer her my arm.
"That sounds great," Deborah says, standing to walk with me to the counter.
Langly glares at me behind her back, and stands to take her other arm. I
smile to myself: gotcha.
'Hey babe, like, I'll buy your lunch." She smiles and nods happily.
"Frohike, dude, you'll have to hold down the table." Mel looks annoyed, but
someone does have to hold our seats, and he agrees.
It looks like, once again, Sari's name is filling the café for the reading.
"Ringo says the woman who's reading is a friend of yours?" There's no
inflection in her voice that suggests Langly's told her Sari is my
'girlfriend,' which is no small relief. I suspect it would be awkward to try
to explain the situation to her, without knowing all the players very well.
"You can call me John, Deborah. And yes, she's a friend. Actually, I met her
here at a reading she did last month." We reach the counter and place our
"Is she a good poet?" she asks, a hint of skepticism in her voice. I can't
blame her. Most 'poets' are entirely undeserving of the name.
"Oh, you remember that totally hot poem I sent you a couple of weeks ago,
that I said I got from a friend? It was called, like, 'animus' or
something?" Langly's gazing into her eyes, totally lost.
"That... oh, *that* poem?" Deborah looks surprised, and more than a little
"Yeah, that was one of Sari's." He's practically salivating on the poor
woman. If it's the one I'm thinking of, my oh my, was that ever one of
Sari's poems. It's a deeply sensual, outright erotic poem, likely to be
banned in half a dozen states and fifty foreign nations. It's one she hasn't
published yet, that he recovered from her hard drive, and he read it to me
and Frohike when he found it. I swear the temperature in the place went up
at least fifty degrees, but who was counting? I wonder if Sari knows he
'borrowed' it and sent it to Deborah?
"Ooooh," she says, "I really liked that one. Everybody at work nearly passed
out when I passed it around." Oh dear. It's probably posted on a thousand
email groups by now. Sari's going to have to assert copyright fast. If she
needs to have Langly shot for this, I'll volunteer.
It doesn't take long for our food to arrive, and we carry it back to our
table. I made sure to get something for Frohike. He'd just whine and call us
both ungrateful brats if I didn't. No sense suffering his abuse when I don't
have to. He's got more than enough of it to go around. Not long after we
take our seats, the reading begins, and it seems that Sari has a theme for
the day. She starts out with a couple of rather suggestive poems, and with
each round of the reading, she adds more fuel to the fire. "Hey, Byers,
she's lookin' at you," Frohike says, smirking.
I can't see her face clearly from where she's standing, but I doubt she's
looking at me. "Actually," I tell him quietly, "I suspect this is for
He laughs. "Yeah, right. And I just grew wings." But we both see the effect
the poetry is having on Langly and his guest. They're not quite at the point
where they're about to commit public indecency, but they are totally
absorbed in one another's presence, and they're breathing hard. Then again,
most of the audience is breathing hard. Hell, I'm breathing hard. She's
sitting in his lap now, and I don't have to imagine what they're thinking.
By the time the intermission arrives, they're like demented gerbils, about
to nibble each other's throats out. There are moments when I'm glad my
eyesight isn't quite up to what it should be. These two risk causing flash
blindness in everyone nearby.
Sari comes by briefly at the break, before she puts out her books and
chapbooks for sale. "Hey, Ringo! Those were for you and your... guest." She
throws her arms around him and kisses him on the cheek.
"Whoa, thanks babe!" he says. "We loved 'em!" They snuggle for a moment, and
Sari moves on to give Frohike a hug and a kiss, then me. Deborah seems to be
slightly nonplussed by her activity, and is hesitant when Sari extends her
"Hi, I'm Sari Thomas. You must be Deborah SaintJohn. I'm pleased to meet
you." Deborah does take Sari's hand, but the brief pause is noticeable. Sari
just tilts her head and looks slightly puzzled, but doesn't mention it.
Perhaps Deborah is uneasy around new people, but I'm sure we'll find out
what's wrong later. I don't think Sari is going to let it phase her. "I need
to talk to you guys when I'm done with the reading," Sari continues, when
Deborah doesn't respond to her gesture. "Something's wrong, and it's making
me very nervous."
"We'll definitely talk," I tell her. If something is making her that uneasy,
I want to know what it is. I suspect it may have something to do with our
current project. But I'm a bit concerned about discussing it in front of
Deborah, unless Langly's told her about our... hobbies.
The second half of the reading is more of the same from Sari, still getting
more suggestive, and Langly's into it, but Deborah seems to be getting more
uncomfortable. I'm not sure what's wrong, but something is. It isn't that
long before Sari joins us again, pressing her way through a crowd of
admiring males -- and not a few women -- and she's not interested in
"Guys, I'm getting scared. I've tried to contact Nicole at her email drop.
She usually answers right away, normally within a few hours, or early the
next morning. But I contacted her on the first, while you were showing me
how to get around that trap on the net, John, and I haven't heard anything
from her at all. This isn't like her. That was two days ago." Sari isn't
frantic, but she is agitated. You would never have guessed it when she was
reading, as her voice had been clear and steady as a stream. Right now,
though, it's tight and stressed. "How long ago did Black Widow know it was
her, do you think?"
"By the 28th, the day WickedWeb got hacked," Frohike says.
"Six days?" Sari asks. "They've known for six days? Oh, shit." She takes off
her glasses and buries her face in her hands.
Oh, shit is right. Six days is a long time when you're dealing with a
situation like this. Anything could have happened to her friend by now. Why
we didn't consider this before is beyond me. I think we were too preoccupied
with other issues to analyze the situation clearly. We didn't even know the
whistle blower knew Sari until two days ago, but right now, I don't feel
like that's a reasonable excuse. "Sari, we don't know that anyone has hurt
her," I try to reassure her. Even I don't really believe me.
"Don't patronize me, John. You know what these people are capable of. They
don't care about human life, except their own." She's angry and bitter now,
putting her glasses back on.
"Who are 'these people,'" Deborah asks Langly quietly.
"Pinck," Langly replies. "This is what I was telling you about." So he has
"You... you're serious, aren't you? About your work being dangerous." She
looks like she still doesn't quite believe what she's hearing. Maybe she
doesn't. It's not like most people believe us.
Sari takes my hand. "John, we have to find out what happened to Nicole. What
if she's hurt? What if she's... what if she's dead?" Her voice has become
quiet, not wanting others nearby to overhear.
"We can find out, my dear, and we will," Frohike assures her, putting a hand
on her shoulder and squeezing.
Langly crouches next to Sari and puts an arm around her shoulders. "You tell
us all you can about your friend Nicole, and we'll find her. I promise."
He's entirely serious now, focused. I hope that's a promise we can keep.
Deborah is watching all of us carefully, silent in her seat.
"Mulder says the FBI has been trying to nail Black Widow for years now," I
tell Sari. "Since we know he hit your friend's site, this means he'll
consider it a part of the Bureau investigation. We may have more help
available than you think."
Frohike rises to his feet. "I'm gonna go call him and the enigmatic Agent
Scully. Maybe we can have them get somebody on it today." He heads for the
pay phone. I know he has a voice scrambler in his pocket, and he'll use it.
He was a phone phreaker from way back, and I doubt his call will be
I look into Sari's dark eyes. "That's definitely a possibility." Her
uneasiness is becoming more acute, and I'm not sure what I can do to ease
it. "But it will mean that they'll want to talk to you about Nicole. Are you
going to be up for that? I know you've been through a lot recently."
"Less than you have," she says to me. I shake my head.
"Let's not get into an 'I'm not worthy' contest," I tell her. "I'd win."
This brings a tiny smile to her lips, but not her eyes. I wish there was
something I could do right here, right now, to make her less nervous. "Do
you want me to get you a hazel mocha breve?"
She sits back a little in her chair, squeezing my hand and letting it go.
"Yes," she says, "that sounds good. I just... I need to do something," she
"Not until I come back with your coffee." She nods and folds her hands in
her lap, closing herself off entirely. This isn't good. I hurry. While I'm
away from the table, I see Langly doing his best to comfort her. Deborah is
looking very uneasy. I wish I knew what was bothering her, but right now,
the news that Sari's brought needs to be dealt with. It's only a minute
before I return with her breve. "Here, Sari. Just take a few deep breaths
and have a sip or two."
"I'm all right, John, I'm just worried about Nicole." She seems tired
suddenly, then stares down into her breve thoughtfully. "I hope she's
alright," she whispers, unconvinced. I sit next to her, and let her lean on
me as she sips her breve, rubbing her back with one hand. This, at last,
seems to calm her.
This is not going at all like I'd hoped. I thought Deb would like the
reading. Now she seems all tweaky and miffed. "Sorry you didn't like it," I
mumble to her as we wend our way toward her Escort. She doesn't say
anything. Fuck. What the hell did I do now? "You want me to drive?"
"You're the one that knows your way around here." Her voice is rich with
meaning, but what the meaning is, I can't tell. Whaddya expect? I'm a guy. I
don't know shit. All I know is something's bugging her and I wanna make it
"What's wrong, babe?" I ask her as I start her little beast. No answer. Oh
man, is this gonna be another one of those teeth-extracting moments? What is
it with girls? I wish they gave extension courses in How To Speak Chick. I'd
sign up. She pops Limp Bizkit into the CD player. 'It's all about the he
says/she says bullshit.' Oh yeah, is it ever. You know, if she's mad, I wish
she'd just scream at me and get it over with already. I stop the CD player.
"Look, I can't do anything if I don't know what's got you all bummed, okay?
So just tell me, wouldja?" God, I'm begging here. Jesus. This is pathetic.
She settles back in her seat and crosses her arms real hard over herself and
sighs this big massive sigh. Why do women always do that? "It's that woman,
Ringo. She makes me... uncomfortable."
"What woman?" I didn't know there was another woman there.
"Your 'friend,' Sari Thomas. She of the rather descriptively sexual poetry."
Wait a minute, I am like totally confused here. "Sari? She's a bud. And
like, she's mostly Byers' bud."
"Then why did she always have her hands all over you?" Deb looks totally
"That's just the way she is. She touches everybody. Didn't you see that?
Like, she was leaning on Byers."
"It's creepy. I don't like it." She looks out the window, away from me.
"You touch people all day long, Deb, you don't see me getting bent over it."
"Ringo, in my line of work, it's a little hard to do my job if I don't get
up close and personal with someone. And that's not what I'm talking about!"
"Well, what are you talking about?" Clue me in here already.
"The way she hangs on you! The way she said that her poetry was for you!"
Oh Christ, *this* is what's getting her all bent out of shape? "She said
that poetry was for *us* Deb -- you and me. That was, like, a present for
you bein' here. She's just the kind of person who likes touching other
people. I don't see what the big deal is."
"Ringo, I'm sorry, but my family is German and French, and we are not all
touchy-feely. We certainly don't touch people we barely know in that way!"
"Babe, my family's Scottish and Swedish, it doesn't get a whole lot more
untouchable than that, but Sari, she isn't like meaning anything sexual by
it. I mean, yeah, I'm not real used to it, but that's her style. I think it
kinda makes her feel safe or something. It's not like I'm gonna take her to
bed or anything! Only one I wanna do that with is you!"
She isn't quite convinced, but she looks like she wants to be. "You mean
"I mean it." Really, I do.
She's quiet 'til we get to the HQ. Then she looks over and smiles at me. "Am
I still the only one you want to get in bed with?"
Oh, she has no frickin idea. Especially after an afternoon of super steamy
poetry and her being near me. I smile back at her. "You want me to prove it
Now I get a big smile. "The sooner, the better." As if I needed any more
End part 12
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