Title: Things Undone 5: Snipe Hunt (17/24)

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. 
______ 

"a sharp blade lies 
between our words" 

~~Aonghas MacNeacail -- A Proper Schooling and other poems~~ 
______ 

SUNDAY, APRIL 4, 2000 
LONE GUNMEN HQ 
MORNING 

DEBORAH: 

Everyone's headed for the TV room, and Ringo is following them. Shit. I was 
hoping to get him alone. I really need to talk with him in private, but I 
guess it's going to have to wait. I mean, I wanted to talk last night, but 
after this morning's breakfast conversation, we really have things to 
discuss. Frohike stops him though, stabbing his finger into Ringo's sternum. 
"Where do you think you're going?" he demands. 

"Uh, sitting down like everyone else?" Ringo's eyeballing him as if the 
little man is nuts. I'm not convinced he isn't. If these people appeared in 
my emergency room, they'd be labeled 'TFU,' which is medicalese for 'totally 
fucked up.' And you thought the terminology was inaccessible. 

"Wrong, Blonde Boy. You've got dish detail. Hop to it." 

"Wha... like, right now?" Ringo looks despondent. "It's not like they're 
gonna go anywhere on their own." 

"My point exactly," Frohike asserts, as he takes off to join the others. 
"Now get moving." 

"C'mon, Ringo," I take his arm. "I'll help you out." Secretly, I'm relieved 
that Frohike insisted the dishes be done, and that Ringo do it, but it also 
makes me wonder if the little man caught my comment about needing to talk to 
him, alone. Somehow I doubt these guys miss much. 

Ringo brightens a little when I indicate that I'm not going to leave him 
alone with only the breakfast dishes for company. "You don't mind? You sure? 
I mean, you're kind of a guest..." 

Oh, I went way beyond 'guest' when I handed over my passwords last night. 
"C'mon, boy. Let's do it." This is all so confusing. After seeing what I saw 
last night, I confess that I'm extremely uneasy about what it is Ringo and 
his pals really do. The things they discuss and do sound dangerous -- more 
dangerous than I'm accustomed to. Not that life as a trauma physician is 
calm and quiet. You've got to love the adrenaline, and I do, which is why, 
to a certain extent, I understand why Ringo does what he does. There's a 
serious rush in being pushed to the edge and coming back. The problem is 
coming back. Sometimes patients die. Apparently, in his line of work people 
die too, from what they tell me. I haven't seen it yet, and at first I 
thought they were exaggerating, but after seeing the data from Pinck last 
night... all I can say is, I'll never be able to look at Pinck's products 
with quite the same set of eyes. All the times I've prescribed their 
antibiotics for patients; I'm starting to wonder, what was really in there? 
I haven't heard anything negative about them, other than from a patient who 
didn't inform us that he had a penicillin allergy (he recovered: one of my 
better saves, thank you very much), but I'm not as at ease as I used to be 
and that annoys me. It's going to be harder to do my job, having to think 
about all this. 

Ringo washes, I rinse and dry. "You're awful quiet," he says gently to me. 
It's not a reprimand, not a judgment. Simply a statement of fact. 

"I guess I have a lot on my mind. Sorry." 

"You gonna tell me about it?" He looks kind of wary, as if he's afraid I'm 
going to say 'sayonara, baby.' Bet he's heard that before. 

Say goodbye to the best man I've ever met in my life? You have got to be 
kidding. Ringo is... incredible. He's sweet and funny and vulnerable and 
tough, breathtakingly intelligent, quick and witty, tender as a kitten, and 
in bed, let's just say, you'd be envious. And as for taking a swim in deep 
waters, well, I do that on a daily basis. I have a job where I'm constantly 
pushed to the limit, and I derive a lot of satisfaction from being shoved 
against the wall and doing the job. Ringo understands that. Not many men do. 
"Ringo, don't take this the wrong way. I respect what you do. I think it's 
important, and if this stuff is all in fact true -- and I believe it is -- 
then people have to know about it. But the one thing I won't jeopardize is 
my medical license. I've worked my ass off the last seven years to get to 
where I am. I'm really nervous about the passwords..." 

He places a wet, soapy hand on my shoulder. "Relax, babe. Whole point of 
what I did was so that nobody'd ever trace you to us. Not online, anyway. 
Listen, you think I wanna destroy your career? No way. Hey, I may need your 
services again someday." I giggle. He looks so sweet, so pleading, so 
innocent. Light eyes begging me, please don't bail on me. "Y'know, babe," he 
goes on, brushing his baby fine hair against me, "I think what you really 
gotta think about is something else. I mean, we wouldn't ever do anything to 
make you not be able to be a doctor. I know that's real important to you." 

"Well, it's only the focus of my entire existence, and will be for at least 
the next five years." 

"Five years?" He blinks at me. 

"Hey, you didn't think surgical fellowship was an overnight sensation, did 
you?" 

"Well, uh, no. Guess I didn't know how long it really takes, that's all." I 
hope he's not thinking 'why am I bothering?' "Deb, listen to me, babe." He 
wipes his hands off and sets them on my shoulders, drawing me close to him. 
I can already feel my hormones racing. We're supposed to go back to a 
roomful of people after this? 

"I'm listening," I purr against his shoulder. God, he's delicious. He's got 
amazingly soft skin and the most beautiful shoulders I've ever come across. 
I'm seeing him under that T-shirt even now. 

"It's not your license you gotta worry about. It's about... Deb, you got any 
idea what kind of risk Nicole like put herself at in all this?" 

"I suspect that she'll be fired, at the very least." 

"Listen, she only gets fired, it's gonna be her lucky day. I mean, she could 
be in real danger. She could get killed. And maybe Sari, too. This is DoD 
stuff, and they don't play clean." 

"But I really didn't have anything to do with this." 

"Yeah, but... you're my girl, and that's enough for them." 

"Who's 'them'?" 

Frohike shouts from the other room. "Will you two finish getting your rocks 
off and get out here already?" 

I lean over to kiss him. "We'll talk more later." For now, I've gotten the 
reassurance I needed. If I could only get the other things I need from him 
right now... 

LONE GUNMEN HQ 
MID AFTERNOON 

FROHIKE: 

Nicole, Deborah and the divine Agent Scully spent the rest of the morning 
going over Nicole's documents and Mulder's files from Andover, while Devi 
and Mulder discussed the foreign implications of what we've discovered. I've 
got to say that Devi is an incredibly astute observer. Despite the vast 
personality differences, she's got a mind like Byers', which means she 
doesn't miss a trick. After listening to her and Mulder going over 
everything she saw and heard last night, the two have assembled information 
on exactly who we're dealing with. The Indonesian trade rep was their World 
Trade Organization representative, and we know who the Pinck rep is as well. 

Mulder's gone off to do some funky poaching, to see if he can turn up any 
documents in the local WTO offices. Right now, they're likely to have less 
security than Pinck's business office here in DC. The divine Agent Scully 
has also gone, to start work on the sample analysis. Devi and Sari are off 
talking quietly while the boys and I are supposedly discussing our next move 
with Black Widow. Deborah and Nicole are listening, and Langly's wrapped 
around his chickadee like mummy bandages. They're practically humping in 
public, and here we are, supposedly trying to work. "Would you two lay off 
for a whole ten minutes?" I snap at them. Byers chuckles but continues with 
his suggestions. I don't care what they do on Langly's time, but we've got 
some serious work to do here. I'm scribbling notes as Byers talks about the 
strategy for our next run. 

"Hey, Doohickey, get out of my face. I can snuggle with my sweetie and still 
listen to you and Byers spill your brains on the table." He gives me the 
finger behind Deborah's back. One of these days I'm gonna smack some respect 
into that boy. 

"Not you too!" Sari yelps from the TV room. Wonder what the hell that's 
about? "I *swear,* Magpie, if anyone else says that, I'm going to rip their 
fucking lips off and feed 'em to them!" Devi is laughing hysterically. "You 
*know* that's not what's going on, so why do you keep getting in my face 
about it?" Her voice is much quieter, but they both have our attention. Her 
sister continues to giggle. 

"But you have to admit, John *is* a cutie, and I know you really like him." 
Byers blushes purple. He starts to say something, but Langly and I both grab 
him, and I slap a hand over his mouth. Even Nicole and Deborah are listening 
with vague amusement. I've gotta hear the rest of this. 

"Of course I like him; he's a great guy, but just because he's hot doesn't 
mean I have plans to sleep with him. Damn it, Devi, I only just *met* him a 
month ago." She's hissing now, trying to keep her voice down. "His friends 
have been trying to toss us into bed together since we met. I damn well 
don't need it from you. You're supposed to back me up, remember?" 

"Well yeah, but he really seems like a sweet, decent guy." Devi's voice is 
amused. 

"That's what you said about Barry, too, at first. He fooled both of us, 
didn't he?" Sari's angry, defensive, and even sounds frightened. "And don't 
you think it's a little soon for me to be chasing a guy around? I think even 
you'd appreciate that I need a little time to get my head straight after 
five years having to dodge that violent bastard. I don't want a lover right 
now! And it isn't like John's not in the same boat. After what happened with 
him and Susanne..." I really don't think we should be hearing to this. Byers 
is about to explode, and Nicole moves for the TV room. 

"Sari, hon, I think you should be aware that we've heard some of that in 
here." She's standing in the doorway, looking in at Sari and Devi. 

"WHAT?!?!" Sari runs from the room, avoiding everyone, and locks herself 
into Byers' bedroom. He looks like he wants to run, too, and he dashes into 
the kitchen. I think he would have headed for his room, but Sari's in there, 
and I don't know if they want to face each other right now. Devi tries to 
follow her, but Sari shrieks something through the door at her in a language 
I don't understand. Shit, shit, shit. What the hell have we done? I doubt 
I'll be teasing Byers about Sari again anytime soon. It's going to take more 
than a bit of apology to set this one right. Hoo boy. Who the hell is going 
to talk to Byers? Or Sari? 

Devi makes the attempt, and spends at least half an hour trying to talk to 
her sister, but Sari's only response is to scream at her, and not a word of 
it's in English. "What's she saying?" I ask, fairly certain that it's 
obscene. 

Devi snorts in disgust. "She's saying I'd drop my panties in public and 
service mongrel dogs and stray camels," she replies, "but that's pretty mild 
when she's as angry as this. She's got some wild parentage insults, but she 
can't use 'em on me because we're sisters. Over the years, she's called me a 
lot of things that would've made Shakespeare fall over in a dead faint." 
That's mild? Jesus. I'd never have figured Sari to be one to swear worse 
than a sailor. Then again, she's a poet. 

"Me and Deb, um, we're gonna catch a flick." Langly is grabbing for his 
jacket. Figures that he'd bail on me at a time like this. Then again, maybe 
it's not the stupidest thing he could do. Langly has a unique talent for 
making a bad situation worse, and that's not what we need right now. 

"Fine." Yeah, they're really gonna watch a movie. They may go, but I suspect 
if I grill them on it later, they won't have the slightest clue as to what 
the title was, let alone the plot, assuming it had one; with Langly, that's 
a long shot. 

Nicole turns to Deborah. "Thanks so much for fixing up Bootsie. You can't 
even tell where he was opened. You keep that up, you're gonna be a great 
surgeon." Deborah blushes slightly, but accepts the compliment without 
protest. It was rather interesting watching her suturing the toy. I hope 
she's around if I ever need stitches again. 

Devi keeps at her sister for another ten minutes or so, with Sari's 
responses apparently becoming much more colorful. Finally, having been 
unsuccessful in placating her older sister, she wrings her hands and faces 
Nicole. "Got all your things together?" Devi asks her, trying downplay the 
strain that arguing with her sister has brought. 

"Yeah, I'm set," Nicole walks over and picks up her small travel bag. 

"Thank you, Miss Devi," I say to Sari's sister. "We appreciate your help. 
Guess I'm a little surprised to see you and your sister get into it, 
though." 

She laughs that inimitable laugh. "Are you kidding? You think this is the 
first time Sari and I have gotten into it? Guess again." She pats me on the 
shoulder. "Don't worry. She'll cool down. Eventually." I'm hoping that 
'eventually' is sometime before we have to get Byers to bed. He's got a 
doctor's appointment tomorrow, and with luck, he'll be able to do more 
visual work. The proviso is getting him to bed at a reasonable hour. His 
current track record isn't encouraging. 

I guess I overestimated how much jibing Byers could take about Sari. 
Normally, he's game and knows that our ribbing is just the guy way of 
demonstrating affection, but it's obviously not how he interpreted it this 
time. I wonder how much the late nights and the tension are adding to his 
touchy state. Or maybe we just hit too close to a nerve. I enter the kitchen 
with trepidation. Byers is staring at the sink, and even from here, I can 
see the hard set of his jaw and the flush of rage masking his normally pale 
features. He hasn't calmed at all. "Hey buddy," I say gently, trying to lay 
a hand on his shoulder. He spins around hard. There's no mercy in his face 
as he glares at me. 

"Get away from me," he hisses, trying to keep his voice down, most likely so 
as to not upset Sari, who's still ensconced in his bedroom. 

"Listen, buddy, you know we weren't trying to..." 

"I don't care what you think you were or weren't trying to do," he spits 
back, "what you *did* was inexcusable." This is the angriest I've ever seen 
him -- even more than when he grabbed Langly in January, just before we 
dealt with Landau -- and it's frightening and disorienting. It's like the 
floor's suddenly tilted under me. "I'd deck your sorry ass, Frohike, I 
swear, but then Sari would think I'm like... like him. You're lucky I'm not, 
or I'd break every damn bone in your body right now." Strong words from a 
man whose most prominent traits have always been soft-spokenness and 
rationality. Then again, it's usually the quiet ones that'll really snap on 
you. 

"Byers, listen, we really weren't trying to insinuate..." 

He turns away. "Fuck you, Frohike. Fuck you with a chainsaw. Get out." 

Oh, boy, do I need a drink. 

LIMERICK TAVERN 
EARLY AFTERNOON 

I head over to the Limerick. Langly's at the movies, and Byers never comes 
here of his own accord. "You're starting early today," Bernie, our resident 
bartender, says to me as he pours me two fingers of J&B. I knock it back 
without even taking a breath. "Rough day?" He passes me another. 

"You could say that." I really don't feel like talking, but I suddenly feel 
a large presence sitting next to me. The bar is only moderately crowded, and 
I've got no idea why anyone would choose to be near me until I look up. 

It's Walter Skinner. "Frohike, how's it going?" 

"Don't ask. What brings you out here on a Sunday afternoon?" 

He groans. "Don't ask." He's in his suit; I'm guessing he's been working. 
Never mind that it's Sunday; the Bureau may sleep from time to time, but I 
swear Walter Skinner never does. "Where're your partners in crime?" 

"One's probably in the back row of the Googolplex, making out with his 
chickadee, and the other one -- well, he probably wishes he was, but isn't 
in the mood to have it brought to his attention." 

He looks vaguely amused. "Which one's got the girl?" 

"That'd be Blondie." That brings a chuckle to him. Either that, or it was 
the two fingers of J&B that he managed to down even more rapidly than I did. 
"And not his usual brand of heavy metal groupie wannabe either. He went for 
quality merchandise this time. A physician." 

He laughs again. "And they've been playing doctor." 

"Not as much as they'd like. It's been kind of an intense weekend." 

"Stayed too late at the Candy Apple?" 

"I wish. No, it's been...well... maybe Agents Mulder and Scully better tell 
you about it." 

"Tell me about what?" He's not amused anymore. "If they're up to something 
they're not supposed to be, so help me God, I'll have their asses impaled 
and use them for lawn ornaments." 

"They were... assisting us. And a friend of ours." I shouldn't have started 
drinking so rapidly. I tend to shoot my mouth off in the early stages of 
intoxication. "Seriously, it was all our idea, they had nothing to do with 
it..." 

"Let me get this straight. A friend of yours was in trouble, and you called 
my agents. And you seriously thought they weren't going to jump on it?" He 
studies me. "No, you knew they would, that's why you called them." 

"We've come across something that... might become Bureau business." 

"What kind of Bureau business?" 

"You remember a case involving Pinck Pharmaceuticals, don't you?" I ask him 
cautiously, hoping not to have to refresh his memory. 

He snorts, startled, spraying the amber liquid across the bar. "Bernie," he 
calls out, wiping his face. "We're taking the back booth. Just give us the 
bottle, would ya?" Bernie is a good bartender. He knows when not to ask too 
many questions and just slides the fifth of J&B across the bar, then we 
depart for the booth in the rear. "Don't tell me you're involved with 
Pinck." He's looking anything but amused. "And my agents." 

"We are." 

"What got you involved in this? Do you have any idea who you're dealing 
with?" 

"Excuse me, we do publish 'The Lone Gunman.' We know whose sandbox we've 
dived into." Well, that sounded a little more confident than I actually 
feel. Scotch can do wonderful things for one's bravado. "Actually, a friend 
of ours" -- well, I hope she's still a friend; I don't know after today -- 
"was working on something. She's a Sierra Club lobbyist, and she discovered 
some experimentation that Pinck's been conducting via someone inside. We 
only called out Moose and Squirrel when it looked as if her contact had 
gotten into trouble." 

"Why didn't she call us? We have protection for whistleblowers -- if in fact 
what you're telling me is true." Walter 's a friend, but he's also a 
skeptic. Well, I can understand that. 

"It's... more complicated than that. It seems that Pinck has gone and hired 
Black Widow ..." 

"Black Widow? As in the hacker?" His eyebrows shoot up into his bald head. 
I'm happy to say that I'm still nowhere near as bald as he is. He pulls off 
his glasses and puts his hand over his eyes. "Pinck's hired him? To do 
what?" 

"To silence their detractors. A month or so back, Byers did some consulting 
for the lobbyist. Her system had been hacked, her personal system. You 
remember that mess with Barry Guertzen?" He nods. "The lobbyist, our friend, 
is his ex. So anyway, on Thursday, Sierra's computers were hit. Langly and I 
went in to do some cleanup work on their system and install some firewalls." 

"Can you prove this connection?" he demands. 

"I think so. We're trying to get a fix on who Black Widow is, where he -- or 
she -- is located." 

He rolls his eyes, then leans back into the booth. "And I thought my biggest 
problem was what to do with my beach house." He takes another glass of 
Scotch, this time filling it to the rim. "The Bureau's been trying to nail 
Black Widow for years. If you can prove he's connected with Pinck, that just 
gives us more ammunition for prosecution. The real trick is finding him." 

"Well, that's what we're trying to do." 

He shakes his head. "Bernie?" he calls over to the bar. "Bring us another 
one. And keep it coming." 

End part 17

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