Title: Things Undone 5: Snipe Hunt (2/24)

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. 
______ 

"There is often in people to whom 'the worst' has happened an almost 
transcendent freedom, for they have faced 'the worst' and survived it." 

~~Carol Pearson -- The Hero Within~~ 
______ 

LONE GUNMEN HQ 
TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 2000 
LATER THAT EVENING 

BYERS: 

Frohike's really done it now. He knows that Sari gets frightened when people 
start losing control around her, and what does he do? He loses his temper 
with Langly and me. I mean, Langly was really going overboard, but I don't 
think Mel had any right to explode like that. Ringo joins me as I open my 
bedroom door. I don't see Sari anywhere, but my closet door is closed. It's 
really the only place she can be. She must have been entirely pushed over 
the edge to hide in the closet. 

"Sari?" Langly says softly. 

I open the closet door slowly. "Sari?" 

"Stay back!" she snaps. She's got something in her hand that I can't quite 
see. 

"Langly, what's she got?" 

"One of your ski poles, dude." She's brandishing it like a pike from her 
crouch under my suits in one corner of the closet. "Sari, babe, put down the 
ski pole. Nobody's gonna hurt you, promise." Langly makes calming motions 
with his hands, trying his best to soothe her ruffled feathers. 

"We're not going to hurt you, Sari," I reassure her gently. 

"Oh, God, I'm so sorry." Mel's voice comes from the doorway of my room. 
"Please come out, Sari. I didn't mean anything by it. I wasn't angry with 
you." 

"Y... you're sure it's... su-safe?" she asks. 

"It's safe, Sari. You're safe here. Nobody here wants to hurt you." I reach 
out to her. She stands cautiously, her body unfolding; leaning my ski pole 
back into the closet she comes out, slowly and tentatively. She takes my 
hand, and I wrap my arms around her to reassure her. "You're safe here, 
really." 

"Gods, I'm so embarrassed," she mumbles into my shoulder, putting her 
unbroken arm around me and holding on, seemingly trying to find an anchor in 
her suddenly slightly unhinged universe. 

"You're not the only one," Mel says. "I honestly didn't mean to scare you my 
dear. It's I think we've all been at the end of our rope around here 
lately." 

"Yeah, mostly you," Langly says. 

"Please, Ringo, don't start. We don't need this right now." I glare at him. 
It was all his fault, anyway. He is, after all, the one who started in on me 
about 'noticing' her. Apparently, he's still operating under the delusion 
that I should be making some sort of adolescent attempt to seduce Sari, just 
because she's attractive. Never mind that she and I are just friends, I feel 
like death warmed over most of the time, Sari has a broken arm, and neither 
of us wants to go there. 

Frohike is really taking this to heart. He's down on one knee next to Sari, 
and reaches up to take her hand. "Please forgive me, Sari. I know how that 
bothers you. Will you give me a chance to make it up to you?" He sounds 
sincere enough, and even kisses her hand, but part of me still wonders if 
he's really kneeling down there to peek under the poor woman's dress. I 
*think* he's looking up at her face, but I can't really tell. 

"Look, guys, I think... um... I think that everybody's just kinda... 
overreacting here. Me included. Can we... well... can we just sort of 
pretend this never happened or something?" She's acutely embarrassed, and 
she's close enough that I can see it in her face. "I feel really silly about 
the whole ski pole thing." 

"You've lived a long time around a man who hurt you very badly, Sari. You 
had a natural, perfectly understandable reaction. It was just a little... 
misplaced." I try to reassure her, let her know that I can understand at 
least a little of what she's been through. "Are you going to be okay?" 

She's still shivering just a little, but stands up straight as I hold her. 
In the heels she's wearing, she's almost as tall as I am. "Yeah, I'll be 
fine John. I'm just a little... touchy still." Mel stands up again and she 
looks at him. "Please, Mel. I know that life can be really irritating 
sometimes, but can you maybe try to find other ways to express that when I'm 
around? Like, take up hockey or something?" She gives him a little smile, 
and he smiles back. 

"I'll see what I can do," he says with a chuckle. 

"Why don't we, like, go finish dinner?" Langly suggests. 

"Sounds good to me," I tell him. He and Frohike head back for the kitchen. 

"You sure you're going to be all right?" I ask Sari. She nods. 

"It's hard not to still be jumpy. In public, you know, it's different. 
Sometimes some of the politicians get angry and blustery, but they know they 
can't actually do anything in chambers except make noise, and so do I. It's 
when I'm in a private place, like someone's house, where things can be 
hidden, that this feels really dangerous to me. At work, I have enough power 
and public space to feel comfortable, and even if I'm alone in an office 
with a guy who's getting kind of aggressive, there's always a secretary or 
an aide on the other side of the door; but in situations like this, my 
instinct is to run, hide, try to find something to protect myself with." 

"Because Barry would hurt you in private most of the time?" I don't want her 
to become more distressed, but she did offer comment on the situation. I 
just want to understand her better. 

"Yeah. So when Mel went off just as I was coming into the room, it felt... 
well... like it was Barry all over again." She rests her chin on my 
shoulder. "It's hard, John. I'm just not used to things being safe. I don't 
really *feel* safe yet, not inside myself. It's not real for me yet. I'm 
still looking around all the time, expecting to see Barry coming up the 
street. I'm finding it really hard to trust people... even you sometimes." 
She sounds unutterably sad, then hastens to add, "But it's not about you at 
all; it isn't that I think you're not trustworthy. It's probably just going 
to take me a long time to get over doing things like this." She leans into 
me, and I hold her tightly. I can feel that she's still very tense and 
upset. 

"It's okay, Sari. Take all the time you need to learn to trust me. I'll be 
here. And I swear, I'll never hurt you like that. You'll always be safe with 
me. I will never, ever touch you that way." I mean that with everything I 
have, everything I am. I'm not a violent man, and I can't imagine a single 
reason to ever hurt her the way her ex did. I may not be able to promise 
I'll never piss her off, or even never be angry with her myself -- friends 
do get angry with each other sometimes, as tonight so aptly illustrated -- 
but I can promise never to lay a hand on her in anger. I run one hand 
through her hair and down the back of her neck, then massage her shoulders 
where they join her neck, trying to calm her more. After a few moments of 
that, she finally sighs and relaxes. 

"Thanks John," she says softly. "What you said... it means a lot to me. You 
really are a good friend, you know that?" She stands back a step and smiles 
at me as I let her go. She really is quite lovely tonight. Believe me, I do 
notice these things; the softness of her hair, the slick satin of her dress 
under my hand, the slight, rich scent of sandalwood like incense on her 
skin. Any man would. I'd have to be six weeks dead not to, and I'm not 
exactly on the Vatican's list of candidates for sainthood, either. I was 
told I don't have enough miracles to my credit. But I'm not going to let 
Langly interpret my feelings for me. Ringo honestly doesn't have a clue 
about what I think or how I feel. I'm just glad Sari's found her center 
again. 

"Thanks for letting me be your friend," I reply. We head back to the 
kitchen, and I can only hope that I won't be hearing about this from Langly 
for the next week and a half. I'm sure he'll find some way to twist the time 
I've just spent alone with Sari making sure she's all right into something 
overtly sexual. I'd still pay to see her rip him that new asshole. I just 
hope it happens when I can see well enough to really appreciate the 
experience. 

LANGLY: 

"'Bout time you two got back out here," I say when Byers and Sari finally 
make their appearance. "Your lasagna's probably cold already." 

"So I'll microwave it. It's not like it's a crisis," Byers says. He and Sari 
go around the corner to the microwave, and I hear the food nuker humming. 

"What do you think?" I ask Frohike. 

"Hockey," Fro says, "the most damage you can do to another human being in 
public and still walk free." 

That wasn't exactly what I was referring to, but it's okay. Maybe I should 
lay off Byers for a while. He's always been one to move at his own pace, 
whether that's 300 baud or a T-3 line. We both laugh. "Y'know, dude, I was 
thinking while I was working today. You remember what I was saying about 
that hacker who got into Sari's box?" 

Fro just nods. He's got a mouth full of mushrooms and salad. "Mmhmm," he 
says. 

"I'm kinda thinking that the guy who's been inside this other machine looks 
real similar. Like, there was the same kind of targeted destructo-shit going 
on. And I can't be sure just yet, but I think the signature was the same." 

Mel looks at me as Byers and Sari come back with Byers' dinner and a mug for 
Sari. "Interesting," he says, after he's swallowed his chipmunk cheeks full 
of food. "Maybe we should check into it after we're done here." 

"Check into what?" Byers asks. 

"The hacker in the system we're working on. Looks like it might be the same 
dude who got Sari a couple weeks ago," I tell him. 

Sari looks up from her cup of tea. "The same hacker? That's strange. I 
wonder what that's about? 

"I dunno. That's why I wanna look." 

"I think it's worth checking into," Frohike adds. 

"Definitely," Byers agrees. 

Sari's all together again, at least. I don't think she was crying; her eyes 
aren't all red and she's not sniffly. The conversation is a lot less loaded 
than it was before Frohike blew, too. It's like the atmosphere here is 
little lighter now. 

After dinner, Byers cleans up the table (Sari helps; somebody needs to make 
sure he can hit the trash can), then he perches on the red couch -- his 
usual place these days. Like, I think his ass is gonna grow roots. God, I 
really hope he'll be better enough that he can start working again soon. 
It's driving all of us nuts, him as much as me and Mel. Sari sits with him, 
and starts to read that French thing to him again. Mel and I get back to 
work on looking into this system we've been hired to fix. 

Fro and I talk back and forth about this stuff, looking into some of Sari's 
old files as well, to do some comparison stuff. As we talk, sometimes Byers 
or Sari will make a comment or ask a question. Byers keeps trying to 
backseat hack, which is really pretty annoying. I mean, yeah, he makes some 
damn good suggestions, but like, he's not hovering over a hot keyboard with 
us, like we usually do, so there's always the extra dialogue and it kind of 
breaks the rhythm. "Did it work?" he's asking me, for like the fifteenth 
time in the last ten minutes. If he could see, he wouldn't have to ask. 

"Yeah, it worked Byers. Now shut up and let Sari read to you. I gotta 
concentrate." 

Frohike backs me up. "If you don't shut up, I'll make you go to your room." 

"Oh, don't tell him that! He'll be a total jerk so he can be alone with his 
chickie again," I moan. It's like, I bet he'd do it just to get some more 
private time with Sari. God, she's so hot tonight, even if she *was* 
crouching in Byers' closet, ready to impale us with a ski pole. If I was 
him, I wouldn't be in total denial about her. Hell, if I didn't have Deb, 
I'd think about snapping her up myself, except she's way classier than I 
have any hope of being. 

"Richard Langly, will you just *stop* with the juvenile case of testosterone 
poisoning? I'm not going to warn you again," Sari growls. "Next time, buddy, 
it's a whole new asshole for you!" She gives me a glare. "And the same for 
you, Melvin." 

Fro looks up. We're both blushing. "Hey, I didn't even say anything!" 

"No, but you were thinking it, weren't you?" She's all suspicious. And of 
course, she's most likely right. Byers is just laughing at the whole thing. 
He really seems to be getting off about Sari getting bent out of shape at 
us. 

Mel puts on his best innocent look. It's never been convincing. "Me? Why, my 
dear, I can't imag..." 

"Gym sock," Sari says. "Dirty gym sock. Mouth." He gets a little pale. I 
think she'd really do it. So maybe she'd only touch the gym sock with tongs, 
but the result would be the same. We both turn our attention back to the 
computers, maybe a little faster than necessary. I can hear her giggle 
before she starts reading to Byers again. 

We keep on it for another hour or so, but Byers is mercifully quiet now, 
mostly just listening to Sari read, or talking to her real quiet, so that I 
can't really tell what they're saying. Finally, she stands up and 
stretches, and says "Well, guys, it's nearly midnight, and I've got an early 
work day coming up. No rest for the obdurate." 

"Are you sure you can't stay just a little longer?" Byers is being whiny 
again. Of course he wants her to stay, but even he knows that she keeps 
ungodly hours and gets up at obscene times in the morning. Hell, I think she 
gets up even earlier than he does. 

"I wish I could, John, but I really need to get home and get some sleep. 
Tell you what, though. I'll see about bringing the Cardinal by next time I 
come over, okay?" Cardinal Richelieu is the coolest cat. I think that 
announcement cheers all of us up. There's a universal affirmative from the 
room. She goes around and gives everybody a nice, warm, one-armed hug. She's 
gotta be about the friendliest person I've ever met, always touching 
someone, even if it's just a hand on your shoulder. It's like her world is 
anchored by touch. That's just so weird, given what Barry used to do to her. 
You'd think that the last thing she'd want is anybody getting that close, 
but instead, she really seems to need it. Maybe she just needs to know that 
there are still people out there who aren't like her ex, who don't beat on 
people and break their bones for a hobby. Whatever; if she wants a hug, she 
can always have one from me. Especially when she's dressed like this. I 
swear, Byers must be on some weird kinda drugs that totally lobotomize your 
sex drive and shrink your dick to microscopic size. This is nothing like he 
was with Susanne. Then again, that's probably a good thing. 

Frohike sees her out the door, apologizing to her again, and she smiles at 
him and says it's really okay, that she was just a little too jumpy still. I 
wonder how long it'll take for her to get over that? Byers heads for his 
room about ten seconds after she's gone. Wonder what he's gonna do with 
himself... Maybe he's not so lobotomized after all. 

End part 2

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