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
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.
"a sharp blade lies
between our words"
~~Aonghas MacNeacail -- A Proper Schooling and other poems~~
SUNDAY, APRIL 4, 2000
LONE GUNMEN HQ
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
"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."
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
LONE GUNMEN HQ
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
"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
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,
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
"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.
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
"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."
"What got you involved in this? Do you have any idea who you're dealing
"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
"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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