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

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. 
______ 

"After each war 
somebody has to clean up, 
put things in order, 
by itself it won't happen" 

~~Wislawa Szymborska -- End and Beginning~~ 
______ 

THURSDAY, APRIL 9, 2000 
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER 
6:35 PM 

FROHIKE: 

We're all huddled in a tight knot: me, Byers, Langly. I'm so grateful to be 
able to touch them and feel them alive and breathing that I could almost 
promise to overlook how annoying they can be sometimes... almost. We're all 
teary and laughing and just rejoicing in the fact that we're all here. Dan 
Rather once said, after the '94 quake in California, that there were certain 
things that are important to people -- provided the center holds. Today, our 
life was blown straight to hell in a million tiny shards, but the center 
remains: we have each other. "Man," Langly's voice is thick with tears that 
don't flow, but manage to clog his voice, "can you like believe we're not 
dead?" We laugh, more from hysteria than anything else. "Don't think I was 
ever so fucking scared in my entire life. Not in Vegas, not Baltimore, not 
Lombard, nothing." 

"I was," I say, very softly. 

Byers and Langly eye me quizzically. "Like when?" This time, Langly is 
genuinely curious. 

I hesitate. "I was in 'Nam, as you guys know." 

Langly says, "Like that's a big secret?" Byers actually laughs a thin laugh 
at that one. That brings me enormous relief, simply to see him smile a bit, 
but my relief doesn't last. 

"Only on Mars," I say to them, but to be honest, I don't feel much like 
kidding around. This is hard for me. I've never told anyone about this, not 
even my oldest drinking buds, the guys who were in country. Hell, I never 
even told Skinner, and we've talked a hell of a lot about the war. "But 
knowing that wouldn't tell you what it was like for me." There are military 
records, of course, but there would be no way to discover the fullness of 
this unless you crawled inside my head, and I've been loathe all my life to 
let people to do that. It's why I talk to other vets, not shrinks. They 
know. They've been there. 

"What happened?" Byers asks, very softly, his voice almost a whisper. 

Oh Christ, where do I begin? I look at him. God, I was so afraid of losing 
him, he's my family, like a son, or... a younger brother. They both are, but 
out there on the sidewalk... "Today... when you and Sari were pinned down in 
the open, bullets everywhere... it was... it was like when I was in 'Nam and 
my kid brother Josh..." Both of them turn pale. "We were caught in an 
ambush, and he was under heavy fire just across the clearing. He hit the 
dirt, and I tried to get to him, but I couldn't. He... he was shot while he 
was huddled against a tree, trying to find cover... calling for me until he 
lost consciousness. I let him down... I... I couldn't get to him. He died 
out there, ten feet away, because I couldn't get to him. I'll never forgive 
myself for it." Both the guys are stunned, silent. "And today I just kept 
praying, please, don't let them get hit, don't let them get hit..." I 
realize I'm weeping as I speak. I'm embarrassed, ashamed of my failure, of 
my brother's death, but the guys are deeply sympathetic, shocked; caring, 
not scornful. Byers takes my hand in his. 

"Mel... I'm so, so sorry. There was nothing you could have done," Byers says 
gently. 

"It doesn't make me feel any less guilty." 

Langly gets his in. "What were you supposed to do, get both of you killed? 
Was that gonna be better? Jesus, Fro, you'd a done that, you wouldn't be 
around bugging us today, and like where the hell would that leave us?" 

"Maybe better off than you are," I say sadly, knowing it's true. 

Langly's not having it. "Frohike, man, if it wasn't for you, I'd be a total 
waste case. I wouldn't be doing anything worthwhile, nothing." 

Byers perks up a little. "You mean you are now?" He pokes Langly in the 
ribs. "You know I'm just kidding," he adds quietly. 

Langly smiles his crooked smile. "Yeah, yeah, I know, but it's the truth. 
Like, we need you, Melvin, you keep us totally together, you got no idea how 
much." 

"Mel, I wouldn't have been able to survive the last few months without you," 
Byers says, his voice tender and sincere. I doubt that very much, from 
either of them, but it feels good to hear it. Maybe someday the nightmares 
about Joshua's death will fade, won't hurt so much, but not now, not anytime 
soon. The good thing is, I've got these two, and I can't tell you how much 
they mean to me. They say they'd be lost without me. Not half as lost as I'd 
be without them. 

LANGLY: 

Sari's off to surgery. Byers looks as if somebody stabbed him through the 
heart when they take her away. Yeah, he and Sari may not be that way now, 
but one of these days, it's gonna cap him on the ass, just the way Deb did 
me. Seemed like she was the same way for me, but after today, I just don't 
know. "You two should get a hotel room, call it a night," Frohike says to 
us. 

"I'm not going anywhere 'til she gets out of surgery," Deb says to him, a 
little sharp around the edges. 

"They said it's gonna be a long one," Frohike reminds us. 

"Well, duh! They gotta put a ton of pins in her wrist, make sure she hasn't 
got any embolisms working." Deb forgets we don't know as much as she does, 
although in view of our experiences, Mulder's, Scully's, and our own, we 
know a lot more than we want to. I keep thinking, this is it, soon as Sari 
gets out of surgery, Deb's history. Who the hell could blame her? This isn't 
any kind of life for a good person like Deb to be getting involved in. I was 
so fucking selfish, bringing her down here like this. Selfish like I always 
am. If I really cared about her, I'd have told her to run like hell and get 
away from me as fast as she could. "Ringo," she taps me on the arm, "I need 
to talk to you." Oh boy. Here it comes. I can already feel the tears 
starting to sting. I make myself breathe in hard as we head for the vending 
room. 

"Hey, bring me one!" Frohike shouts after us. I think that's what he said. 
It's like the room is swimming. Well, when you know the big kiss-off is 
coming, what the fuck's it supposed to feel like? 

We each buy some hideous brown stuff that passes for coffee around here. 
"Let's go find one of the family rooms," she suggests. I think she means one 
of those little private waiting rooms where they send people when the docs 
have to tell them someone's gonna die. Well, this is like the same thing, 
isn't it? Deb can maneuver her way around here pretty good -- well, she is 
gonna be working here. That'll hurt even worse, knowing she's in town and 
knowing she and me can't be together. She sits down and looks at me, her 
eyes all sad. Shit, here it comes. "Ringo, I'm really sorry," she says, not 
looking at me now. 

"For what?" For leaving me? Seems like a weird thing to say. 

"For not believing you about how dangerous your life is. I was like, he's 
exaggerating." 

"Well, I'm not." I can't look at her. 

"No, and I'm sorry I didn't listen to you." She takes my hand. I look up. 

"Can't blame you." What sane person would believe it? 

"And I'm really sorry about Nicole." Now she's got tears in her eyes again. 
I put my hand on her shoulder. 

"Oh Jesus, Deb, haven't like four paramedics and at least five docs told you 
that you couldn't have done any more than you did?" 

"I know, but it doesn't feel that way. I'm just so... so... mad!" She's 
trying not to let the tears leak out, but it's not working. 

"People die in your line of work. And in mine." Sad and too damn scary, but 
true. 

"I keep wondering if I'm really cut out for this," she says. I was wondering 
when she was gonna get to that. Who would be cut out for this life? Hell, we 
live it and we aren't even close to cut out for it. I just nod at her. "I 
mean, I can't get used to losing patients, Ringo. I'm a wreck every time I 
lose one. I know I have to get used to it, but I just can't!" Okay, wait a 
minute, are we having two different conversations here? 

"Maybe you're not supposed to." 

"But how am I ever gonna be a good doctor if I can't get past that?" 

"You already are, babe." 

"I don't feel like one. I don't feel like the tough professional woman I'm 
supposed to be, either. I feel like a scared little girl, and I want my 
mother." 

"I feel that way a lot." Not that I want my mother, but that I want to be 
safe, have somebody to run home to and tell me it'll be all right. "All the 
time, really, 'cept when I'm with you." I feel like I'm pleading for my life 
here. In a way I am. 

"How do you live with it?" she asks. 

"I... I dunno. Having the guys helps, but... I dunno." I feel like my chest 
has turned to lead. "What about you?" 

"That's what I'm trying to figure out. I try to do the right thing, Ringo." 

"I know, you do it. We try, too." 

"I'm scared, Ringo. I'm scared that... after today, now I know what it means 
to be with you." 

"Well, can't blame you for not sticking around." 

She looks up at me with her eyes blazing hard green. "Who said anything 
about not sticking around? I didn't say I wasn't sticking around. I'm saying 
I have to find a way to deal with all this stuff. That's not the same 
thing." She shakes her hair. "Guys. They are so thick." Well, excuse me, but 
I resemble that remark. She stares at me. "You think I was just gonna pack 
it in and run off? Hey, I still cry myself to sleep at night over not saving 
people, but did I say anything about quitting medicine? Forget it. And same 
goes for you." 

I'm a little confused here, so let me make sure I'm getting it right. "You 
mean... you're gonna stay with me?" 

"Ringo, two nights ago, I told you I loved you. I meant it." I take her 
hands in mine and hold them hard. God, she is so damn special. What did I 
ever do to deserve someone this special? Don't answer, I know. The answer 
is, nothing. I just got lucky. 

"I love you, too, Deb." I really do. 

"Ringo, when I crashed on you five minutes after I got in your door, I was 
positive that you were gonna kick me out the next morning, but you didn't. 
When I got all bent out of shape over Sari being a hugger, I thought you 
were gonna say, this isn't worth it. But you didn't. And when I couldn't 
save Nicole..." 

I pull her in close. "Hey, I know you tried, we all do. Especially me." 

"Really?" She blinks up at me. 

"Remember what you told me the other night, when I fucked up the hack? Shit 
happens. This comes under that heading, I think." 

"It's very bad shit to lose a patient." 

"It's even worse to lose someone you love." 

"Well, you don't get off that easy, Ringo Langly." She's got this smile 
coming through her tears. I just hold her close and kiss her, real soft. 
"You're stuck with me." 

"I can handle being stuck," I murmur into her hair, and rub my hand down her 
back. As long as it's like this, bring out the glue; Super Glue would be 
best. "Deb, man, when the bullets started flying, I was like so freaked 
something was gonna happen to you, and then I didn't know what I was gonna 
do... I'm like just so glad you're alive and okay." 

"Funny, I was thinking the same thing," she says, running her fingers under 
the edge of my sweatshirt. I love the way her hands feel. 

"I guess great minds think alike," I laugh, and she even laughs a little 
with me. 

"Or at least equally insane minds," she giggles. Well, that too. 

"So you're still gonna be here in June? And we're gonna be together?" I need 
to hear it from her. 

She shakes her head. "Hello! What did I just tell you?" 

"I wanna hear it again." 

"I love you, Ringo." The nicest words I ever heard. I don't ever think I can 
hear them enough. I don't think anyone can. We wander back to where Byers 
and Frohike and the gang are all hanging out. Byers has finally changed into 
something that's not all bloody from the stuff Skinner brought us. 

"Where's my coffee?" Frohike demands. Oops. I like totally forgot. 

"Uh... we'll get you some," Deb says, kind of stammering. 

He waves us off. "Forget it. Go and get a hotel room. Take care of each 
other." 

"You mean like now?" 

"Did I say sometime in the next millennium? If I didn't, you can assume I 
meant now." He shoos us out, and Devi and her family, Mulder, Scully and 
Skinner join him. Byers doesn't say anything, but he gives me this ghost of 
a smile. Yeah, maybe things'll be all right. 


SATURDAY, APRIL 11, 2000 
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER 
SARI'S ROOM 
EARLY AFTERNOON 

FROHIKE: 

Devi and Byers have been staying here with Sari, and the staff rolled a 
couple of cots in for them. Byers wouldn't have thought of it, but Devi said 
that just because her sister's had surgery doesn't mean they shouldn't all 
be at least marginally comfortable. When I arrive, her husband Muladharma 
(she calls him Mula) and their son Palin are with them. God, he's a cute 
kid; dark skin and black hair, with deep, soft brown eyes, and a broad 
smile, just like his dad. Palin is sitting on his auntie's bed, looking 
bored, and Sari's trying to tickle him with her good hand, despite the fact 
that it has an IV stuck in the back of it. 

"Auntie, no! Don't tickle me!" He makes a face at her, and she sticks her 
tongue out at him, then he turns his attention to Byers. Sari looks like she 
feels terrible, but she obviously doesn't want to disappoint her seven year 
old nephew. Byers looks exhausted too, but calmer than yesterday, and way 
better than Thursday. He's smiling at Palin as the young boy tries to grab 
his beard. Fortunately for Byers, it's too short for that kind of treatment, 
and the kid's fingers slide off his chin. 

"Ah, good afternoon Mr. Frohike," Mula says. 

"Mr. Padmabandhu," I say, offering him a hand while trying desperately not 
to trip over my tongue. He shakes my hand then puts his palms together. I 
echo the gesture. Wouldn't want to offend a diplomat, particularly one who's 
related to Sari and Devi. 

Byers and Sari look up at me. "Hi Frohike," Byers says. Devi picks up her 
son. 

"How are you doing, Sari?" I ask. 

Her voice is quiet. "I've been better." Haven't we all? 

Devi says, "Mula, beloved, Sari's very tired. Would you take Palin home?" 
She kisses him, and he nods, leans over and hugs Sari, takes his son, then 
leaves quietly, mumbling his goodbyes. "I'll see you later this evening." 

Sari waits until they leave the room and says, "Thanks, Devi. I love him 
like crazy, but it's hard to have Palin here when I feel so awful." Devi 
nods and rubs her sister's shoulder. 

"I know, but he really wanted to see you. We kept it as short as we could. 
I'm just glad you're in one piece, more or less." Sari nods and smiles 
weakly. 

"Skinner came by earlier," Byers says. "He says that the NSA and the Justice 
Department won't be pressing charges against any of us." That's certainly a 
relief, but let's face it, it would have looked really bad if they defended 
the sort of shenanigans Monroe and the DoD were pulling with Pinck as a 
'national security issue.' "The FBI's holding him until the trial, but I 
doubt he'll be convicted. He's too far inside. He'll be back on the net soon 
enough." 

"Yeah, but now people know who he is. They'll be gunning for him. By the 
way, Mulder and I went house hunting yesterday," I tell him. He moans. 

"Oh, God, you didn't let him talk you into another rat-infested, dank, 
miserable dump with not enough space, did you?" 

I chuckle. "Well, he tried, but I prevailed. We'll start moving in this 
afternoon." 

"I'm glad you guys found a place so quickly," Sari says. She's got Byers' 
hand now, and he holds hers carefully. 

"I expect you to stay here with Sari," I tell him. He'd be a wreck if we 
tried to get him to work while she's laid up like this. He'd do his best, 
but he'd probably be more in the way than anything else right now. "After 
Deborah takes off in a couple of hours, Langly and I are going to handle it. 
She's got to be back in Harrisburg for her evening shift. Mulder and Scully 
will be by to help us." 

"Will Deborah come by and see me before she goes?" Sari asks, hopeful. 

"That's what they were planning on," I tell her. She smiles. 

"That's good. I wanted to thank her for what she did, trying to save Nicole. 
I haven't had the chance yet." 

"How much time are they giving you for medical leave?" I ask. I know her 
boss was here yesterday, and several of her co-workers, and apparently a 
flood of her other friends as well, but I was gone with Mulder most of the 
day. 

"A month," she says. "Devi and I are going to Wichita pretty much as soon as 
I get out of the hospital, to be with Nicole's family for the funeral, then 
I'll be going to India for a week or so after I stop in Portland to see mom 
and dad, and Kris. I really need to go and see my guru, and thank him for 
giving me that bracelet. He was right, it did give me protection, in a way I 
never would have considered." Byers looks a little stressed, but I think he 
knows she needs to do it. "I need to remember the important things in my 
life. My work, my friends," she looks at Byers when she says this, "my 
family. Thank you for being my friend, Mel. I appreciate you guys so much. 
I'm glad I met you; you're a pearl of great price, you know." I'm just 
blinking, those aren't tears, really. I sit on her bed and give her a big 
hug. She kisses me on the cheek. As I lean back, she smiles at me. 

"I just came to check in on you, my dear. You get some rest now," I tell 
her. Sari nods. 

"Don't worry," she says, "I will." 

"Not to mention that my kitty-boo needs lunch." 

"Melvin Frohike, if that cat gains so much as an ounce while you're watching 
him, I swear I'll make both of you exercise." Now that's a threat that makes 
me twitch. She'd do it, too. As I leave, Byers sits up next to her on the 
bed, and Sari curls up in his arms with an exhausted sigh. I'm off to start 
packing. We all have a monumental amount of work to do, but the fact is, 
we've been given another chance, and if that's not a pearl of great price, 
nothing is. 

End part 24 of 24

~fin~

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