Title: Things Undone 5: Snipe Hunt (23/24)
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 blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned"
~~William Butler Yeats -- The Second Coming~~
THURSDAY, APRIL 9, 2000
As I hear the crack of the gun, Sari is slammed back into me, screaming,
dropping us both to the ground. We hit the wall as we fall, and I try to
cover as much of her as I can from the gunfire. We're too exposed. She's
been hit, and she's moaning, but she's lying still beneath me. All I can
think is she's not dead, she's not dead, but I have no idea how badly she's
hurt. Another shot rings out, and several more. I hear one hit the wall, too
close. With a slight turn of my head, I see that the bullet struck less than
an inch from my skull, and there's no room in me now for anything but
Deb and I are almost to the van when we hear the shots. I grab her arm and
drag her down to the sidewalk with me, taking cover behind the rear tire of
the van. We'll probably be safe long enough for Mulder and Scully to do
something. I scan the scene fast. The fibbies already have their guns out,
and they're looking around, like trying to spot the shooter. Frohike dives
for cover, but Nicole freezes, panicked. "Run, dammit!" I shout, but it's
too late. She takes a bullet in the chest and crumples without a sound. Deb
screams and tries to get up and go to Nicole, but I won't let her. No way
I'm gonna let her get shot in this mess. I've gotta keep her safe. She'll
leave me when this is over, but at least she'll be alive to do it.
Damn. I'm scanning the rooftops as Scully sweeps the street for potential
snipers. The people on the street are hitting the sidewalk, taking cover, or
running into buildings as fast as they can. "There he is!" I shout, taking a
shot at our would-be assassin.
The gunfire snaps me to total alert. I'm back in 'Nam in a heartbeat, and
move with the reflexes I had when I was just a twitchy kid in the jungle.
I've been nervous and hyper-vigilant since we fled the office, but now all
my senses are at their height. I can smell the blood, and without thinking,
I run for Nicole and drag her toward the van. You never leave your people
down under fire if you can help it. "Deborah, Langly, help me get her
inside!" The two lunge for her, pulling her out of the line of fire and
getting her onto the floor of the van, where Deb starts a fast damage
assessment. Byers and Sari are helpless and exposed where they are. They'll
both be killed if that sniper gets off another shot or two. Hang on, Byers.
I can't lose you, not like I lost my kid brother, back in the jungle in '65.
Another shot rings out, striking the sidewalk next to me. That was too damn
close. I'm going to die. Somehow I always knew it would come to this. One
high, one low -- the next one will hit me; the sniper has me. I just hope
that the mass of my body is enough to keep Sari from being hit again. Scully
shouts "Byers, get Sari to the van! We'll cover you." I don't need any more
urging. As their pistols fire, I drag Sari to her feet with me. Once she's
upright, she begins running for the vehicle of her own accord. I'm trying to
keep her head down and shield her as we move. It's only a few feet, but
right now it feels like the Appalachian Trail.
Nicole's been hit bad. If I can keep her going, she might make it to the ER
in time. God, I'm scared. I've never been so scared in my life. I only half
believed the guys about the danger until yesterday, when I saw how they
reacted to Mr. Skinner's arrival at the beach house, but even that didn't
drive the point home like this. I'm moving frantically to rip open Nicole's
shirt so I can get to the wound. Frohike has her head cradled in his lap.
She's gurgling, bleeding profusely, and bloody foam is gathering at her
lips. Looks like a solid lung shot, arterial bleeding. No sign of
consciousness. "Ringo, I need your shirt." He pulls the 'speed saves' shirt
I gave him off his body in record time. "Hold it to the wound as hard as you
can, you have to stop the bleeding," I tell him, and put one ear to her
chest to listen to her lungs. God, it's worse than I thought, and there's no
first aid equipment in immediate reach. Just then, Byers and Sari stumble in
almost on top of us as I'm trying to clear Nicole's airway. "Watch it!" I
snap at them.
"Sari's hit," he says breathlessly. She looks pretty pale and she's
obviously in pain, but I don't see blood. Wonder where she took the bullet.
If she's moving like that, it can't be too bad, but then, I've seen people
do impossible things in the depths of the adrenaline rush.
"Okay, I'm okay," she says, then she sees Nicole and wails, and she's right
here taking Langly's place so he can scuffle for the first aid kit in the
back storage unit. Byers is crouched behind Sari, a hand on her back. He's
about as freaked as I am. The only thing that's holding me together right
now is that I have a patient to save. There's shouting everywhere. I can't
make out who's saying what, but I think that the FBI agents are calling for
backup and an ambulance.
Oh, God, she's shot. Don't puke, man, don't puke.
The shooter ducks as we cover Byers and his friend. I'm off after him as
fast as I can run, shouting to Scully to call for backup. Devi didn't even
get out of the building before the shooting started, and I haven't seen her
since, so I think she's still inside the diner. I hope so. She'll probably
be safe if she avoids the urge to rubberneck, and she's away from the
windows. The building across the street is only about three stories, and I'm
pretty sure I can cover the back exit before the shooter gets all the way to
the ground floor. Scully will be able to observe the front entrance from
where she is.
I can hear the commotion in the van. I'd be in there helping Nicole myself,
if I didn't have to stay here and cover for Mulder as he charges across the
street. When he yells for backup, I hit the emergency button on my cell
phone and request backup and an ambulance. From the looks of Nicole when she
hit the ground, she's going to need one. I have no idea of Sari's condition,
only that she made it to the van on her own two feet. It's the only positive
thing about this whole damn situation.
I'm hit, I know it, but I don't know why I'm still alive. My cast arm is
screaming with pain, but Nicole is down, and it doesn't look good. When
Deborah starts up CPR, John holds the cloth to Nicole's bloody wound while I
start on respiration. Deborah manages the cardiac portion. She's counting
out frantically while I breathe in the right places. Frohike's hovering
anxiously. I don't know how long we can keep this up. Stay with us, Nicole,
I hear the sirens as help arrives. We're still doing CPR on Nicole, but
there's no response whatsoever. It's possible the medics can revive her with
the defibrillator, but it's been almost five minutes now. I have a very bad
feeling about this. The amount of blood she's lost looks fatal. We've all
taken turns breathing for her, but we're exhausted. Where the hell are the
medics? There's more gunfire and shouting, and finally the ambulance crew
arrives. "She needs a defib, plasma, and saturated saline, stat!" I shout at
them. They look at me. "I'm a doctor dammit, *move*!" They do. One comes in
and gets the details of Nicole's condition from me while the other runs for
the equipment. He comes back again in short seconds that I swear feel like
hours, pushing the equipment on a gurney.
They go into their routine like smoothly oiled machinery, as we all move
back to give them room. Sari's curled up into herself between the front
seats, crying, and Byers is holding her, rocking her gently back and forth.
After our work, she's got blood all over her, and I have no idea how much of
it's hers. "Sari, let me look at you." I'm in the van again through the
front passenger door, giving her a once-over as best I can in the awkward
"It hit my arm," she says, cradling the arm that's already cast. The plastic
stuff we use now would never have stopped a bullet, but when I see the
condition of the bracelet on her wrist, I understand what happened. She'll
need x-rays, but I don't think the bullet ever got past the metal cuff. It's
mangled where the bullet hit, deflecting it so that it didn't enter her
body. The impact may have shattered her wrist, though; it certainly damaged
the cast. We won't know until later. Thank God she likes heavy jewelry, or
she might be in Nicole's condition.
As I look up, I realize that there's blood in Byers' hair. "Lean over here,
John," I tell him. A quick exam reveals that he's got a few small cuts from
flying shrapnel. Must have been too close to where the bullet struck. He's
all right, thank you God. He won't even need stitches, just a little cleanup
The medics continue their work, and I return to help them, but with each
successive charge of the defibrillator, more hope dies. "Damn you, Nicole,
come back!" I scream. I can't lose her, this is too important. She's got a
press conference. She has a new life waiting for her. I'm a good doctor;
I've saved so many lives, so many stupid fucking goober guys who get
themselves hurt in unspeakably ridiculous ways -- why does someone whose
life means something, like Nicole, have to be the one to die? When the
medics declare her dead, all I can do is sob.
We rush into the building, Mulder, Scully and Frohike hauling the boxes of
press packets. The building is crawling with security. Langly has an arm
around Deborah, who's barely functional. They're going straight to the green
room to get cleaned up and rest, if Frohike has anything to say about it.
Sari's boss meets us at the door. "Where ha..." He stops when he sees that
Sari is covered with blood. "Oh my God. Are you alright?"
"No," Sari says, and keeps walking, so her boss leads us all back to the
green room, where the stage manager is waiting, looking frantic.
She almost panics when she sees the blood on Sari as well, but all she says
when she sees Sari's face is, "Come this way. Everyone's waiting."
Assistants scurry to gather the boxes and run to get the packets out to the
waiting press. The tall, blonde woman approaches the podium, situated before
a large Sierra Club logo. "Our speakers have arrived. We're very sorry for
the delay, but now we can begin. The Sierra Club would like to welcome Ms.
Sarasvati Thomas and Dr. Nicole Jackson." The room rustles and mumbles, and
Mulder and Scully walk onstage, guns exposed but not drawn, flanking Sari
and me. Silence cuts the room abruptly when she approaches the mike,
clothing soaked in blood. My own is as well, but it's far less noticeable on
my suit jacket than it is on Sari's brilliant white shirt. I'm sure we
present a suitably dramatic tableau.
Sari is terribly shaken, but I've never seen anyone more steeled for a
public speaking engagement. "Members of the press, good afternoon. My name
is Sarasvati Thomas. I am a lobbyist for the Sierra Club." She looks like
hell, but her voice is clear and strong, if quiet, with only a hint of
tremor. "My... my long-time friend and associate, Dr. Nicole Jackson,
formerly of Pinck Pharmaceuticals, is unable to join me as planned." Her
voice nearly breaks, but Sari's determined to get through this. "She was
assassinated half an hour ago, to prevent her from speaking to this
assembly, and an attempt was made on my own life at that time as well. In
Dr. Jackson's place, I have asked Special Agent Dr. Dana Scully of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation to join me in describing the medical and
chemical details of the information we will be presenting. Also speaking
will be Mr. John Fitzgerald Byers of Aegis Consulting, on the relevant facts
concerning acts of computer espionage and sabotage regarding this matter."
Compared to what I've already been through today, a little public
presentation won't even register. I'm here to address the matter of Black
Widow's identity and activities without revealing my own or my partners'
role in the matter. "What I bring before you today is a matter of the utmost
urgency, and involves a knowing, willing conspiracy between Pinck
Pharmaceuticals, elements within the Department of Defense and the United
States Military, the World Trade Organization, and factions within the
Republic of Indonesia..."
Langly and Deborah have been back here with me during the conference.
Deborah has been alternately watching the conference on the monitor and
pounding herself for losing Nicole. Langly's tried to talk to her, but
Deborah insists that she should have been able to save her. I've tried
talking to her as well, but she ignores both of us, inconsolable.
Sari, Byers and our fibbies are finally away from the hounds. Sari is on the
verge of collapse, and Byers looks like he's not far behind. The conference
stunned the assembled press and media drones, but with all the documentation
provided in the press packets, no one can deny what's happened. The
information is too widely available now to suppress entirely. Nicole's voice
may have been silenced, but her knowledge has been shared, as was her
intent. Sari, Byers and Agent Scully revealed everything about Wildfire; the
secret DoD-commissioned experimentation on an American civilian population,
Black Widow's exploits covering for the DoD's project and his identity as an
Air Force officer and National Security Agency operative, the off-shore WTO
agreement between Pinck and Indonesia to commit genocide as a 'field test',
the role of the County Extension Office and the Andover Community Medical
Center in collecting data on miscarriages and fetal and infant neurological
damage, the distribution of Wildfire through the groundwater, Nicole's role
in revealing the plan, all of it.
Sari barely made it through the conference, and under the circumstances,
even this bunch of sharks didn't descend on her over the sharp, brief cracks
in her composure. I think the blood all over her was sufficiently exploitive
and entertaining for them to stay away from her personal grief and shock. It
was entirely obvious that she'd come directly to the conference from the
scene of the shooting, and no one was going to make a single comment about
her showing up late. At least none of the flunkies were insensitive enough
to ask her how she was feeling.
"Sari, we need to get you to a hospital now," Scully tells her. "You need to
have x-rays to determine how much damage was done when you were hit." Sari
just nods. She's sitting on the green room couch, silent and shaking
violently, with Byers wrapped around her protectively. "You're also in
shock, and you need to be treated for that." I think we're all in shock.
Langly still doesn't have a shirt on. We'll have to get him one soon.
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER
After an excruciating wait in the ER, someone is finally examining Sari. I'm
staying with her, at her request. While she's examined, an intern swabs the
cuts on my scalp. It stings, but it's far preferable to what would have
happened if the bullet had been an inch lower. I'm still shaking. I pull my
blood-soaked suit jacket around me for warmth, and my finger gets stuck in
the cloth. I look down, because there's no pocket or button hole there, and
I don't know why my finger should... oh my God, it's a bullet hole. The shot
that hit the sidewalk next to me was a hell of a lot closer than I realized.
Suddenly, I'm dizzy and it's a good thing I'm sitting, or I'd fall to the
floor. Sari gasps, "John, what's wrong?" and the doctor and the intern have
got me and lay me down on the examination table.
"Get him some warm blankets," the doctor says, and the intern runs out of
the room. "What happened? How do you feel?" he asks. I can't make the words
come out, so I just hold up my hand, finger through the bullet hole. He gets
the picture. Sari is next to me in a heartbeat, but the doctor puts her back
on the table she's been lying on. "He's fine," he assures her, "he's just in
shock. He's not seriously injured, and he'll be fine. You're the one we need
to worry about." I watch through a feeling of unreality as he pries the cuff
bracelet from where it's been wedged into her cast, and then the intern
returns and starts wrapping me in warm blankets. God, I'm so cold, so dizzy.
The next thing I know, Sari's gone, and someone's stuck an IV in my hand.
"Sari, where is she?" I ask.
"We sent her for x-rays, Mr. Byers," the doctor replies. "We have to
determine how much damage was done to her arm, wrist, and hand, and whether
the impact of the bullet re-injured the break she sustained last month. We
also want to be certain that she didn't break a rib when the force of the
blow hit her chest. They'll take good care of her, and she'll be back soon.
For the moment, you need to relax and rest for a while so that you can get
over the shock." They aren't going to let me move, so I stay where I am. I'm
not sure I could stand up at this point anyway, and it would be too
undignified to fall on my face.
Some time later, an aide comes in, bringing Sari in a wheelchair. Her cast
has been removed, and her arm is a mess, swollen and purple-black. I prop
myself up on an elbow. "John, are you all right?" She looks like she's in an
incredible amount of pain. I sit up and offer her a hand, my dizziness
"I think I should be asking you that question," I tell her.
"I'll leave you two here until the doctor returns from reading the x-rays,"
the aide says, then leaves the room. Sari gets up, then sits on my exam
table and leans into me. I put my arms around her as she holds me close.
We're both shaking and crying, clinging each other. We're alive. I don't
know how it happened, but we're alive.
I'm not sure how long the wait is, but eventually the doctor returns. He
gives me a quick once-over. "Youčre looking much better, Mr. Byers. I think
you'll be just fine. Let's remove this IV, and you can go whenever you want
"I'd like to stay here with Sari," I tell him. Sari nods.
"Ms. Thomas, the x-rays show that your arm has been re-broken by the force
of the impact. Your wrist is shattered, and there's a lot of damage to your
hand as well. It's going to require surgery to put everything back together
enough for it to heal. We'll need to insert pins in several places, and the
small bones in your hand and wrist will make this a long and somewhat
difficult procedure. There is some chance that you won't regain full
function in your right hand, but I understand that you're a faithful
practitioner of yoga and you exercise regularly?" Sari nods. "That will help
a great deal, particularly because it means your joints are very flexible to
begin with, and you're in very good general health according to your
records. The good news is that you didn't sustain any broken ribs or other
"How long is the surgery likely to last?" she asks.
"Depending on the complexity of what we find when we go in, anywhere from
four to six hours, possibly more if there are complications." Sari looks
down at the floor.
"That sounds like a very long time to be under anesthesia," she says. The
"But do keep in mind that we perform lengthy surgeries on a regular basis,
and unlike most people undergoing such long procedures, you're young and
quite healthy. We'll need you to sign releases, of course, and get you into
prep." He's being as gentle with her as he can under the circumstances, but
it's still very stressful. I'm not sure how much more she can take before
she just passes out. The doctor looks at me and says, "I'm going to have to
ask you to join your friends in the waiting area, Mr. Byers. We need to
start prep now, and she can sign the papers while that's going on." She
looks distressed, but the doctor is very insistent, and has one of the
orderlies escort me out -- unwillingly, I might add -- to join the rest of
the crew in the waiting room.
When I appear, everyone starts talking at once -- how is she, what's
happening, is she going to be all right -- and it's all I can do to get them
to shut up while I try to answer them. Langly's finally got a sweatshirt,
Devi has arrived with her husband and son, and A.D. Skinner is here, as well
as the guys, Deborah, and Agents Mulder and Scully. It's turned into a
"Her arm's broken again, same place apparently, she's got a shattered wrist
and hand, and they're taking her into surgery shortly. The doctor said
something about inserting a bunch of pins. They tossed me out, or I'd still
be in there with her." This starts another uproar.
"How long?" Devi asks, winning out over the others' voices.
"The doctor said it could be anywhere from four to six hours, maybe more," I
"Byers, c'm'ere," Frohike says, patting the empty chair beside him "come sit
down, you look like shit." I feel like shit. "I was afraid you weren't gonna
make it, pinned down out there on the sidewalk," he says quietly as I join
him. "Scared the crap out of me." He puts an arm around my shoulders. I put
one around his back.
"I didn't think I was either. Look at this." I show them all the bullet hole
in my jacket, just over the back end of my pocket near my ribs. Langly comes
over and puts his arms around me too. I think it's only their closeness that
keeps me from falling apart entirely. I'm so lucky to have these guys for
friends. "God, I love you guys," I whisper. I don't think I've ever told
them that. "I was so damn scared. I thought I was dead."
"You're okay, Johnny, you're okay. We love you too," Langly says, his voice
cracking. All three of us lose it then, but hearing those words helps, more
than I can say.
End part 23
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