Title: Things Undone 5: Snipe Hunt (13/24)

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
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; 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. 

Author notes: 
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 gods are well pleased when they see great men contending with 
adversity." 

~~ Robert Burton -- The Anatomy of Melancholy~~ 
______ 

SATURDAY, APRIL 3, 2000 
LONE GUNMEN HQ 
4:00 PM 

FROHIKE: 

Byers and I drive back to the offices, and Sari follows in her car. I 
believe she had other plans for the afternoon, but she also has someone 
who's helped her and may be in a great deal of trouble. As I park my ancient 
black Chrysler, I notice Deborah's car is already here. They're either 
fighting or fucking, I imagine. I'm not sure which I'd prefer to find. We 
don't hear any screaming as we enter the HQ, only the strains of music 
emanating faintly from Langly's room. Needless to say, the door is tightly 
closed and most likely locked. Damn. I should have put hidden video and 
listening devices in there. Then again, maybe not; there is such a thing as 
too much information, and this would definitely qualify. 

"I guess they've kissed and made up," I say to Byers. 

"You've always been one to state the obvious, Frohike." 

"I'm getting a beer. Anybody want one?" I offer. "Looks like we're going to 
be settling in for some work." 

" I'd prefer some tea, if it's no trouble," Sari says. 

"How about you, Byers?" 

"Tea would be great, thanks." 

"I really appreciate all the help you guys have given me," Sari says, very 
softly. 

"I really wish I could help more," Byers moans. 

"Byers, if you don't shut up, I'm going to stuff those Terminator sunglasses 
down your throat." This elicits a giggle from Ms. Thomas and a wince from 
Byers. One thing about Byers: he responds immediately when threatened. We're 
ten minutes into setting up for silent running when the phone rings. It 
wouldn't take so long, but Lover Boy is engaged in extracurricular 
activities. At least he's doing it with another person for once, I tell 
myself. It's an improvement. "Can you get that?" I call to Byers. He 
obliges. Byers is usually such a total narc that it's been fun to watch his 
evil streak in action the past couple of days. The call's probably Mulder, 
returning my call. 

"Mulder's on his way over. Scully's meeting us here," Byers announces after 
the briefest of calls. 

"That was quick. No headline material, I see." 

"I wouldn't be so sure about that yet. They've got information for us." 

"Good." Unlike Byers, most suits know that weekends are made for Michelob, 
or at least comfortable clothing. Moose and Squirrel both show up clad in 
jeans, leather jackets and white T-shirts. They look like the frickin 
Bobbsey Twins. They're both eyeballing one another with a dismayed how dare 
you look. Fashion victims. I stare at the two of them, and they shoot me a 
glare that says, 'if you say a word, just remember, we're armed.' I wonder 
what Mel's wearing today. She said she has the weekend off, one of her rare 
ones. I owe her an e-mail. I haven't had time to dash off more than a quick 
note to her lately. Part of the problem is that she's been asking me how 
work is going, and that's a hard one to answer. Mulder, as always, makes 
himself right at home by flipping on the TV to a show appropriately entitled 
'Jackass.' It consists of home videos of young males engaged in acts that 
will keep people like Dr. SaintJohn in business forever. I notice there are 
never any women in the videos. Not only does it make the show, in my 
opinion, not worth watching, but it also makes me wonder if having a double 
X chromosome set really does confer superiority. Langly watches it 
periodically and has been known to laugh out loud. Maybe I'm just getting 
old and cranky, but the humor's lost on me. Or maybe it just reminds me too 
much of some of our recent endeavors. 

"Mulder, we came here to work, not watch TV," the luscious Agent Scully 
says, reprimanding her errant partner. 

"But I love this show!" he protests. She grabs the remote and sharply snaps 
off the set. He turns to his lovely partner. "You're such a spoilsport, 
Scully." 

"Well, spoilsport or not, we have some information you guys might be 
interested in," she continues, returning to our office and opening her 
briefcase. The briefcase just doesn't work with jeans and a leather jacket 
for most people, but there's no way Agent Scully could ever look less than 
delicious. 

"We're interested," Byers affirms as we continue to set up. He still can't 
do close eye work, but there are quite a few things he can do again. Thank 
God using his brain is one of them; I need at least one of the boys here. 
"But right now, we have a more immediate problem." 

"What sort of problem?" Scully raises her incomparable eyebrow. 

"We've learned the identity of Sari's source at Pinck," Byers explains. 
"It's an insider, a biochemist working in their research headquarters in 
Wichita." 

"And I thought we lived dangerously," Mulder comments dryly, returning with 
a beer in hand. 

"What, you didn't get me one?" Scully demands. 

"You didn't ask," Mulder shrugs. 

"You're supposed to ask me." She rolls her eyes, then gives him the pouty 
lip. Devastating. 

"Allow me," I rise to grab a cold one for her and a refill for myself. 
Mulder, you're such a moron. I don't bother saying it out loud. I've said it 
before and we can all see how much good it's done. I bring the tea for Sari 
and Byers at the same time. 

"So we've got a whistleblower." Scully is already analyzing this. "Sari, how 
much contact do you have with this person, and what's the general pattern of 
inquiry and response? Thanks, Frohike," she says as I hand her the beer. 

"It depends on what she's found out. Normally, when one of us contacts the 
other, the response is fast, within a couple of hours, or the next morning 
at the latest. We have a system of signals set up to indicate when we're 
trying to reach each other, so that the message doesn't stay in the drop box 
long. We delete all of our messages as soon as we download them," Sari 
explains to her. 

"When was your last communique?" Mulder queries. 

"I emailed her about 48 hours ago with our usual procedure. There's been no 
response," Sari says nervously, sipping her tea. 

"48 hours isn't really that long," Scully points out. "Is it possible she's 
on vacation?" 

"She's not scheduled for vacation, and she'd have told Sari if she was," 
Byers says. "We checked her personnel file at Pinck, and the vacation 
schedules." Sari nods, silent and brooding. 

Mulder grabs some papers they've brought from Scully's briefcase. "What was 
the name again?" 

"Nicole Jackson," Byers confirms. 

"Okay, here's what we found out. The reason the Bureau got involved 
originally was that Pinck contacted the FBI a few years ago. They said that 
they had someone leaking information and wanted us to find out who the 
snitch was," Mulder tells us. "The Bureau started to investigate, but 
shortly thereafter, they called the whole thing off. They claimed they'd 
found their bad boy and would deal with it internally. It was bizarre." 

"And right after that, we discovered that they'd been covertly experimenting 
with a deadly insect-based contagion on unknowing human subjects. God, I 
still can see those bugs." Scully shudders as if she'd picked up a sudden 
chill. Sari's eyes widen slightly. 

"And now we've got another whistleblower," Mulder muses. "You been in her 
system?" 

"We were on it when you showed up," I tell him. We're almost ready to go 
now; I've kept working all this time, and drinking my beer. And I can walk 
and chew gum at the same time, too. 

Byers takes a seat next to me with Sari standing behind him, her hands on 
his shoulders. Mulder and Scully sit at my other side. "Where's Blondie?" 
Mulder asks. I point in the direction of his bedroom. "Let me guess, he's 
got his Amazon woman with him. I'm not hearing much of anything. He must be 
boring her into unconsciousness." 

"Mulder, shut up." Scully scowls at him. If she weren't such a lady, she'd 
deck him. Of course, her unwillingness to strike him doesn't mean she 
wouldn't shoot him. "What're we looking at here, Frohike?" 

"Checking all her email accounts, not just the drop. Trying to get the time 
stamps of her last outgoing messages... She's got a pile up here, 83 new 
messages in her work box, none answered. Time stamp of the last outgoing 
was... 3/31/2000 at 7:17 p.m." Byers turns to me, saying nothing, but 
concern marks his face. He touches Sari's hand briefly. "Let's check her 
personal box at home... She's got an AOL account, piece of cake." I don't 
like what I'm seeing. "3/31/2000, 6:28 a.m. This lady's always at work, from 
the looks of it." 

"Pinck: it's not just a job, it's indentured servitude," Mulder mutters. 

"Let's look and see if she was on the Web at all since her last email," 
Byers is trying to be hopeful, but he's clearly getting desperate. Me, too. 
It doesn't appear that she was much of a surfer; she was on the company's 
website, but her last hit was, again, 3/31/2000. No keystrokes after 7:11 
p.m. I don't like where this is going. 

"Have you tried phoning her, Sari?" Scully suggests. 

"We don't call. What we're doing is very risky and we don't want to 
compromise each other. We don't have each other's phone numbers," Sari is 
becoming increasingly tense, and the air of brooding around her grows 
deeper. 

"Well, why don't we try it," Mulder suggested. "It's not like C&P can trace 
it here, right, boys?" 

I hear a door open. Emerging from the shadows are two figures, approximately 
the same height, and I swear they're glowing bright enough to make a Geiger 
counter scream. They're both smiling, looking like a couple of cats who've 
swallowed a flock of plump canaries. "Well, well, we weren't sure we'd be 
seeing you two again," I comment. Deborah has the grace to look mildly 
embarrassed, but Langly just gives us a shit-eating grin. 

"Sorry, we, uh... took a nap," Deborah apologizes, but turns pink as she 
says it. 

"Why? Wearing Langly out shouldn't be any problem," Mulder quips. Langly 
shoots him the look of death, but it's still not enough to wipe that smile 
from his face. 

"Deb, these are Special Agents Mulder and Scully from the FBI," Langly says. 
Her eyes widen in disbelief. I get the impression that she's had a lot to 
swallow today. "Mulder, Scully, this is Dr. Deborah SaintJohn. Deb, Agent 
Scully's a doc too. Deborah's a third-year resident in emergency medicine." 
Scully extends her hand, and Deborah seems more at ease with her than she is 
with Sari, who she watches with intense suspicion. I suspect this is adding 
to Sari's discomfort. Deborah tightens her hold on Langly, fiercely 
possessive. Not that he isn't returning and appreciating the gesture, but 
I'm a little puzzled by what's going on here between Deborah and Sari. Well, 
right now, we've got other concerns. If they want to have a catfight, they 
can take it outside. 

"Nice T-shirt," Mulder comments to Langly. I haven't seen this one before. 
It shows a picture of the Road Runner scurrying away from Wile E. Coyote, 
and reads, 'Speed Saves. Penn State Hospital Trauma Team.' Deborah must have 
given it to him. "You're branching out." It's red, not black. Well, at least 
now he has a shirt to match his sneakers. 

The message, however, sticks hard in my brain. We need to keep moving. 
"Here's her phone number. Agent Scully, care to do the honors?" I pass her a 
scribbled note. 

"What're you guys doing?" Deborah asks. She's curious but a little 
apprehensive. 

"Remember Sari told us someone she knew hadn't been in touch with her for a 
couple of days?" Byers asks quietly, allowing Scully to make her call. 

"A couple of days? Sometimes my mother doesn't hear from me for weeks," 
Deborah snorts. 

"This is a little different," I say to her, not really wanting to explain. I 
don't know how much Langly's told her; obviously something, but as to the 
specific matter at hand, I doubt they've had time to do anything other than 
engage in tonsil hockey, with hide the submarine as a chaser. Langly's 
radiating, as is she. I hate them; where do they get off looking so damn 
happy at a time like this? I sigh. From getting off of course, I grumble to 
myself. 

"The phone number's been disconnected, with no new number given," Scully 
announces. 

Mulder's been acting as if he's not involved, but believe me, he hasn't 
missed a beat. "Scully, how do you feel about a little trip to Wichita?" 

"I hate the Midwest this time of year," she says. I don't blame her, it's 
pretty nasty. "Frohike, can you bring up Sabre?" Sabre's the backbone of the 
travel industry's computer systems, and we can get a flight anywhere, at 
almost any time. 

"Your wish is my command." I flick quickly through the mass of data. Wichita 
isn't exactly a hot spot for hourly junkets. The first available flight is 
tonight at 8:35 p.m. "For three?" I inquire. 

"You're not going, Frohike," Scully insists. "We need you here." 

"Blondie can take care of the technical end," I snap. 

"Blondie looks like he's got other business he's taking care of," Mulder 
shoots back, making sure he gets his licks in. Deborah and Langly both 
blush, but they turn to each other and prove us correct with a lingering 
kiss. I'm ready to swat them both; that kind of PDA shouldn't be encouraged 
in front of people like me -- geezers who haven't been laid in ages. 

"Frohike, one of you two has to be at Sierra on Monday, and the other will 
need to be here to monitor," Byers points out. "I'd do it, but I still can't 
see that well, and I have absolutely no desire to be blind for the rest of 
my life." Sari cringes behind him and rests her cheek against his head, 
closing her eyes as she moves her hands from his shoulders to clasp them 
tightly in front of his chest. He places his hands over hers. "It's okay, 
Sari, I'll be fine," he reassures her with a whisper. Deborah looks at the 
two of them curiously, confused. 

"I see your point." Not to mention that this is what Mulder and Scully are 
trained for. I make the reservations and arrange for them to appear as 
already paid. All they'll have to do is pick up the boarding passes. "Before 
you two go anywhere, and before we get into this more deeply, I believe we 
all could use some sustenance. C'mon, Langly, time for lesson number 2." 

"Oh, puh-leeze!" he protests. "Besides, it's almost time for Battlebots!" 

"I love Battlebots," Deborah says, smiling in agreement and taking his hand. 

"Battlebots is on? Oh, cool!" Mulder looks excited as a little kid. 

"No one ever accused you of taste, Mulder," Scully comments acerbically. 

"I have taste," he shoots back. "And you know we watch it together, Scully. 
Don't hide your true televised love." Scully blushes, but doesn't deny it. 
"Speaking of taste, Frohike, are you gonna make us something good?" As if 
I'd ever turn out a bad meal. Even when they deserve nothing better than 
thin, cold gruel and artificial grape-flavored drink. The original menu for 
tonight was meatloaf, but Sari's a vegetarian, and while she wouldn't 
protest at being served meatloaf, I doubt she'd eat it. She says she's 
Hindu, and 'dead cow is right out.' It's a shame, because I make a damn fine 
meatloaf, if I do say so myself. The guys don't make meatloaf jokes either, 
which tells you what they think of it. But part of being an excellent chef 
is being flexible, and I pull together a delicious fettuccine Alfredo. And 
no low fat, low cholesterol version of the magnificent original, either. 
Nope, this is your basic heart attack on a plate, with cream and butter and 
freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It will be accompanied with steamed broccoli 
and a loaf of whole-wheat sourdough from the bakery where we get Byers his 
favorite cinnamon bread. Everyone went into the TV room, but I notice that 
Sari and Deborah have returned to the office -- I wonder if it's catfight 
time? If so, leave me out of it. There's enough drama in my life already. 

SARI: 

"Thank you for agreeing to talk to me," I say to Deborah. I 'm trying to 
figure out what I've done to ruffle her feathers so. "You seem upset and 
angry with me. I don't understand why." 

Deborah gives me a guilty look, but recovers her composure. "Okay. To be 
honest, I'm really kinda put off by the way you're always touching 
everybody. It's weird." 

"And here I thought it might have been the poetry," I tell her with a 
chuckle. I think this will be easy enough to explain. "Deborah, you need to 
understand that I'm from a very close family. We've always been very 
physically affectionate, lots of hugs. Mom always says that everyone needs 
at least a dozen hugs a day to be healthy and sane. It's one of the ways 
I... communicate, I guess you'd say. When I was a kid, my sister and I would 
have sleep-overs where we'd push our beds together, and we and our friends 
would all puppy-pile on for the night. Sometimes we'd have half a dozen of 
us lying all over each other. It's just the way things have always been in 
my life. To touch others and to be touched by them gives me a sense of 
safety, stability. It helps me feel like I'm in accord with the people 
around me. It's a way I express my friendship and affection for other 
people." Sometimes I think it's also a fundamental part of the difference 
between growing up on the east and west coasts. 

"I guess I feel that touch can't lie the same way words can. As a poet, 
words are essential to me, but they only partly express what touch most 
viscerally evokes, and it takes a certain art for them to do that with any 
degree of true success. Touch is deeper, a more fundamental phenomenon; we 
touch long before we speak. It can be soothing and healing, like someone 
rubbing your shoulders or your neck. It can reassure, as when a friend takes 
your hand in the dark. It can wordlessly convey a shared fear. You can tell 
a lot about people by the way they touch others, if you know how to watch. 
Touch conveys the deepest emotions of trust, friendship, concern and love, 
and certainly some feel that this aspect of touch leaves them vulnerable in 
some way. I try to be conscious of other people's boundaries, because I know 
that not everyone feels as I do. I ask before I hug someone I don't know, 
and I back off when they move to end it, but I had no idea you would find it 
threatening, especially if I was touching someone else. I'm sorry. I really 
didn't mean to make you uncomfortable." I offer her my hand, an invitation 
to experience this as I do. She relaxes, and reaches out to take my hand for 
a moment. The tension dissolves from her face, and her stance eases. 

"I'm sorry," she replies. "My family isn't very touchable, and the fact is, 
unless I'm treating a patient, I usually avoid touching other people at all. 
Except Ringo, of course." This generates a big smile from her. "He's really 
something special." 

"Yeah, he is. He's really very much in love with you, you know." I think she 
needs this reassurance. "In the short time I've known him, if he isn't 
thinking about his work, he's thinking about you." 

"He is?" I nod. "I guess it's just..." she giggles uncomfortably, "...I've 
got my hands digging around inside people so much that when I'm off shift, 
and unless it's someone I'm really close to, I tend to avoid physical 
contact. Maybe I'm the one who's weird. 

"There's no need to apologize, Deborah. Everyone's different, and you are 
what you are. I just don't want you to see me as some kind of competition, 
or to be uncomfortable around me. That's not what hugging someone like that 
means to me." She reminds me of so many young women I've met; secure as 
professionals, not nearly so secure in their private lives. If Ringo's 
leveled with her about what he does and the risks he takes, as John has with 
me, she's had a lot to absorb. These men, my friends, are involved in some 
very dangerous things, as I am occasionally myself. I think it's a testament 
to their skill and determination, and their sheer survival instinct that 
they're still alive. I, for one, am very glad this is so. They're fine 
people; sometimes fearful, but very caring and devoted, especially to each 
other. The world needs more like them. 

"Anyway, thanks. I'm gonna go watch Battlebots. You coming?" She gives me a 
shy smile. 

At that moment Frohike, who's busy in the kitchen, calls out to me. "Sari 
dear, could you send Byers in here? The table needs setting." 

"I'll do it," I offer. I really don't mind. I'll join them for Battlebots 
later. 

"Are you sure? It's really his job." 

"No, I'll take care of it. After all you've done for me, the least I can do 
is set the table for you." 

"Are you and Miss Deborah all right?" he asks when I enter the kitchen. 

"I think so. It was just a misunderstanding, but I think she knows now that 
I am in no way interested in poaching her man out from under her." I give 
him an evil grin. "I think this is a lot for her to deal with, too. I know 
it has been for me." 

"For all of us," he says. It's certainly not about to get any easier. 

End part 13

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