Title: Things Undone 5: Snipe Hunt (3/24)
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 little wind cleans the eyes.
~~Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks The Essential Rumi ~~
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2000
LONE GUNMEN HQ
Once again I wake up with a headache, and this time it isn't due to my old
friends J&B. I was sorely tempted after Ms. Thomas' departure to, say,
prepare a fifth for recycling, but went to bed instead. Not that it helped;
I slept badly, with echoes of 'Nam in my head, and now that my eyes are
open, I feel more like I've gone 15 rounds than indulged in revitalizing my
I'm surprised to find Langly awake ahead of me. Normally, he's the last one
out of bed. This morning, however, he's not just awake, but already
showered. His hair's still hanging in long, damp strings. It's a good thing
he hasn't done the blow-dry yet. I don't think my heart could take that kind
of shock at this hour.
"There's coffee, dude," he greets me, and rather pleasantly at that.
Langly's coffee is atrocious, unless, of course, you delight in being able
to dissolve your spoon in the brew. I'm tempted to make one of my usual
snide comments, but he's being so damn agreeable, almost sweet, I simply
mutter, "Thanks." That he even thought to make it, instead of whining at me
to get out of bed and do it for him, is a show of serious consideration on
"I'm gonna head over to the bakery after I dry my hair," he announces. "Get
Byers some of that bread he likes so much."
He hands me a mug of his battery acid, and I accept it gratefully. Any
caffeine fix will do right now, even if I could strip the floor with it. And
to chide him for it would be like telling a six-year-old, who's gifted you
with a dreadful drawing, that it isn't good enough because it isn't a
Picasso. "Who kidnapped the real Langly?" I ask with a grin. I don't
seriously believe he's been cloned, but one never can tell these days. He
laughs. It's really been a long time since we've had much genuine laughter
here. It's good to have it back.
"You okay today, Fro?" he asks as he pours himself a mug.
"I'm fine," I mutter gruffly. The truth is, I'm horribly ashamed about my
behavior last night. I had no right to go off like I did, especially with a
lady present; a lady who is in fact extremely ill at ease with that sort of
out of control carrying on. The guys have been getting under my skin, but
screaming at them like I did was hardly the way to get my point across.
Well, maybe it was to some extent. Langly is certainly on his good behavior
today. I've always said the boy won't respond to anything less than a
battering ram. It doesn't, however, make me less embarrassed over my tirade
late last night.
I hear the tinny strains of a computer-canned 'Fur Elise,' (I can't for the
life of me understand why he doesn't use a full orchestration mp3,) which
means that Langly is receiving an email from his beloved. He manages to
spill about half his coffee while racing over to his terminal to see what
news the lovely Deborah has sent him this time. She's supposed to be here
sometime Friday, from what she's said. That's the day after tomorrow. I know
he's about to lose his mind. Unlike me, however, he hasn't completely lost
his cool, and that puts him one step ahead of me. Apparently she's put some
meat on the bones of her latest communique, as he doesn't jump up right
I make my way over to my computer to see what's new. I generally start the
day by checking my email. It's not usually that interesting, but you never
know when you're going to get a note from a contact, or something from Moose
or Squirrel that could be a potential headline for next month's issue.
Nothing from either of them, but there is a note from Ms. Scarlett. I feel
my heart leap and allow myself the pleasure of a wide smile. Maybe today
won't be such a bad day after all. And fortunately, she didn't see me
behaving like a bear rudely awakened from hibernation last night. I bet if
she'd seen that, she'd never have anything to do with me again. She's such a
lady. I'm so glad she wasn't around for my Krakatoan eruption last night.
"Dear Mel, " she writes, "I can't believe I'm telling you this, but I felt
you'd understand. I'm so ashamed. Last night, I completely lost it with my
kids. My daughter's fiancée was there as well, but that didn't keep me from
having a major blow up in front of him. He probably thinks I'm going to be
the mother-in-law from hell, provided that didn't deter him from marrying my
daughter entirely. Most likely, he's thinking that moving at least a
continent away might provide some safety for him and Lisa." I chuckle
slightly. Oh, Mel, I do understand. Been there, done that. Just last night,
in fact. "I came home and the kids were here, as usual. Lisa and David" her
daughter's fiancée "were talking about their wedding plans. They want to
have everyone they know and an entire troupe of mimes at their wedding as
well. I'm thinking of stocking up on olive loaf. This was after Mark" her
son "was complaining to me that there was nothing to eat in the house, which
is of course complete bull; what I don't spend on rent goes to groceries.
The only reason there would be nothing to eat would be because he'd devoured
it all. It was a terrible day at work -- the residents are having their
practical exams, which is always an awful time, and we had a number of
call-ins and lots of customers. We had to go on total divert three times in
eight hours. Everything finally just pushed me over the edge, and I wouldn't
be surprised if they heard me shrieking in the next county."
I'm laughing as I read this. Not at her, but with her. I think we had
identical evenings yesterday, except for the Opus moment with the mimes, but
then, she didn¹t get Sari brandishing a ski pole. "I love my kids but
they're making me nuts. They're probably plotting to murder me in my sleep
and get my insurance money, and after last night's command performance, I
wouldn't blame them. Tell me, do your boys ever get to you this much? Take
care, Mel." Oh, pretty lady, you don't know the half of it.
"Good morning, Frohike," I'm greeted by another pleasant voice. This time it
belongs to Byers. He's dressed in neat but faded jeans (he does have them,
he just doesn't usually wear them) and a royal blue sweater, a compromise
between the everyday armor of his suit, and the admission of illness that
pajamas and a robe usually signify. I almost crack, 'what is this, be nice
to Frohike day?' but since I'd been hoping for a little more civility from
the boys, I should at least make an attempt to return the favor.
"Morning, buddy. How's the eye?"
"Not too bad. Would you mind helping me with my eye drops?" I can see signs
that the sinus infection is still giving him a headache, but he's making a
damn good effort not to let it bother him.
Doing Byers' drops is messy, painful for him, and vitally necessary if he's
going to regain his normal vision. "Sure. Have a seat." I walk over to the
counter where we keep his scrips. I put on some hot water for tea for him,
grab a small glass of orange juice, and bring his oral medications as well.
"Salute, buddy." He takes the oral meds first, and they go down with a
grimace. They've got him on those massive pink antibiotic horse pills that
probably originated in a veterinary supply depot.
"How're you doing?" he asks me as I prepare to clean out his eye with
"Me? I'm... I'm very sorry for upsetting Sari like that last night. I truly
Byers sighs. "She has a hard time with that, Mel, that's all I'm saying."
"I know. And I had no right to jump all over you guys like I did."
I begin the washing procedure. "I don't know. I guess Langly and I *have*
been pretty miserable to be around lately. I feel like I'm the one who
probably owes you an apology, for not making more of an effort to be civil."
"Well, that might be true, but I still shouldn't have blown up like I did."
"Forget it. I'm sure Sari will. Just... try to watch your temper when she's
around, if you would." We start the steroid drops. I know that they hurt
quite a bit, and Byers twitches and hisses when I insert them, but he
doesn't whine and squawk as he has in recent days. I can't say as I blame
him, but if he can exhibit some control, maybe I can, too. At least until
next time I'm ready to kill them. "I'm going to go lie down in the TV room,"
Byers says when I'm done.
I almost add, 'and do it quietly,' but I have a feeling I won't need to
drive that point home today. He flips on CNN, which he can listen to and not
be concerned about the visuals, then settles himself on the big leather
couch with a blanket over his legs to his hips. As I clean up the kitchen a
little, I don't hear him doing any sniveling. When his tea water's hot, I
take him a mug of that new tea Sari bought for him. He really seems to like
it. Langly comes bounding in shortly afterwards, hot cinnamon raisin loaf in
hand, with giant, drippy sweet cinnamon rolls for the two of us. Byers is
intensely appreciative; even if he can't see very well, the smell of the
incoming treat is unmistakable. We manage to have breakfast without a single
argument. This has to be a new land speed record.
Two more days, she'll be here Friday! Oh God, I'm gonna go insane! It's
almost worse than, like, a month ago when I knew it was gonna be a long
time, but now she's so close I can almost taste her. God knows I'd love to.
I'm getting real nervous, though. Truth is, I only ever had a couple of
serious girlfriends in my life before, and both times it went down in
flames. I swore I was never gonna get into that again. But then I got hurt,
and I had this real nice doc...well, you know the rest.
I think the thing that hurts most was that my last girlfriend's parting shot
was to tell me I was shitty in bed. Where computers are concerned, I've got
no confidence problems at all, no way. My kung fu *is* the best, always has
been. When it comes to women, though, I just don't know bupkes. What if she
laughs at me? What if she thinks I'm a lousy lay? What if she thinks I'm an
asshole? Well, okay, so I am, but with Deb I'm trying real hard not to be.
What if she feels like my life is just too strange and my friends are too
weird and she doesn't wanna have anything to do with this, or with me? She's
so great. She's smart and pretty and nice, and if she had any sense she'd be
running like hell in any other direction. Makes me wonder what she's doing
hanging around on line with a guy like me.
I gotta make this happen, it's gotta be right for her, and I need some
advice. I need to talk to another girl. Problem is, we got a total girl
shortage around here. I bet Scully would just laugh and tell me to suck
wind. I wonder if Byers would mind if I talked to Sari about it. I mean,
Sari's cool. I don't think she'd laugh at me. She knows what we do, and she
hasn't screamed and run, at least not yet -- and last night doesn't count. I
don't think she will, either. She's real together, especially now that we've
got her asshole ex away from her. I mean, last night was a little weird, but
from the way her medical record reads, it doesn't surprise me she gets a
little freaked like that. Girl's had more broken bones than Jackie Chan.
Byers is lying on the sofa in the TV room. He actually got dressed today.
Good thing. I was getting real sick of seeing him lying around in his
jammies. Not that I got anything against lying around in jammies; it can be
a big time treat, but with him it was like every day. Sorta like he'd given
up and was just gonna be sick and whiny and miserable. Today it seems like
he's doing better, though. "How's it going, dude?"
"I'm okay," he says. "It's about medication time again, though." He doesn't
sound any more enthusiastic about that than he did yesterday.
"Hmm, you want me to put the music on like they did in 'One Flew Over the
Cuckoo's Nest'?" That gets a chuckle out of him.
"No, but I wouldn't mind listening to some Billie Holiday."
Lady Day's awesome. "Done." I go and grab 'Billie's Blues' and pop it in the
stereo. "That work for you?"
"Thanks." I get his tray of stuff together. I start with the wash and get
the gunk out of his eyes. Man, that's just so gross. He's hurting but he's
staying together, just hissing here and there. Hey, I'm no nurse, but he's
doing real good, having me handle this.
"Hey Byers. Think Sari'd mind if I emailed her?"
"Why are you asking me? It's not like she's my personal property. She can
talk to anyone she wants to." Then he looks up at me for a second, just when
I'm about to put the steroids in his eye. "Why do you need to talk to her?"
"Oh... you know, just, stuff."
"As in, Deb stuff?"
I feel myself going red. "Uh, yeah."
He laughs a little, but he's nice about it. "Couldn't hurt. Unlike these
stupid drops -- aagh!"
"Hey, dude, you're done; just groove on some Billie."
"So you're going to email Sari?"
"Thought she wasn't your property."
"She's not. I'm just curious." Right. And 'it's not like that,' either.
Makes me glad I didn't ask him for advice.
I'm so sick of having my eyes messed with five times a day, I could scream.
Actually, I think I have, and more than once. My surgeon says I have at
least two more weeks of this, that I'm recovering well if a little slowly,
and to keep doing what I'm doing. It's not easy. I'm so bored, restless, and
frustrated about being unable to work, read a book, or even clean up around
the place. It's getting to the point where I can almost see our personal
ecological disaster area again. If Langly's going to bring a lady here, the
place desperately needs some work. I'd do it, just to pass the time and try
to relieve the restlessness, but I know that the moment I reach for a mop,
Frohike and Langly will be on me like E. coli on warm beef. I could do some
lighter cleaning, but I have to completely avoid dust, which could damage my
eye, and believe me, I'm deeply interested in seeing normally again.
Dust is a major challenge in this dump. But that's the least of my concerns
where Sari, or anyone else for that matter, is concerned. My worries are
founded in the unusual, often dangerous life we lead. Everyone needs the
intimacy of friendship and love in their lives. We have each other here in
geek central, and the guys are at the center of my universe, but we need
more than just each other. The problem is that we don't have a life that can
be neatly explained at office parties. I know we could just tell people
we're computer consultants, but it barely touches the surface of who we are
and what we do, and we would never be able to answer subsequent questions
with any truth.
Drawing people close to us makes them vulnerable to a great deal of danger,
just by association. Susanne, the Thinker, and Jimmy are examples of that,
although to be fair, all of them were involved in their own high risk lives.
Sometimes I think that even Mulder and Scully are exposed to more danger
than they might otherwise be, when they come to us looking for assistance.
We did, after all, have to go rescue Mulder when he followed our lead on the
Queen Mary. Sari understands what we do, the risks we take. I made sure of
that when I told her about Susanne, and Timothy Landau. I didn't want her to
have any illusions. She seems able to handle the strangeness of our life
with the grace and style I see in her constantly, but she hasn't seen us
when our backs have really been up against the wall. She's become my friend
with her eyes open, well aware of the terror we've recently faced, and that
it wasn't an isolated incident. My concern is not that she'd run if
something dangerous happened, but rather that she wouldn't; that she'd
insist on backing us up somehow, on trying to help, and risking, or even
losing her own life in the process. I couldn't take that happening. The
sound of her snapping arm and her scream invade my dreams, and that's guilt
I have confidence in her courage and her ability to handle herself under
difficult circumstances, but things are very different when you're up
against conspiracies of powerful, unseen enemies with agents everywhere, and
sudden, deadly threats. I keep reminding myself that she's spent the last
five years of her life seriously at risk, and has miraculously managed to
carry on something closely resembling a normal life despite that, but it
doesn't help the feelings of fear and guilt that rise in me so easily. She's
suffered enough in her life. How can I ask her to put herself in even more
danger, just to be my friend? I've made her vulnerable to anything from
kidnapping to assassination, just by being seen in public talking to her.
Of even greater concern is Dr. SaintJohn's impending visit. I don't know
what Ringo has or hasn't told her. Being forthcoming is not his strong suit;
not because he's dishonest, but because when it comes to women, he's very
shy and insecure -- not unlike I am, actually. He may have painted a very
different picture to Deb of what our life is like. If that's the case, she's
in for a very rude shock when she arrives. While I haven't met her, she
seems more innocent to me, younger and less experienced in having fear and
injury as close, personal companions. Will she understand what she's risking
by falling in love with Langly? By being anywhere near the three of us?
The guys and I, we need friends and lovers, like anyone else in the world.
For a long time, I needed Susanne, but we could never be together. How could
we bring anyone into our lives and not jeopardize their freedom, their peace
of mind, their safety -- even their lives? This is the problem with
recovering from emotional disintegration and retinal surgery. There hasn't
been much to do these past few months except think, and right now, if I
could shut down my brain until I recover, I would. I don't have that luxury,
though. Despite all these fears, I still hope Sari will be able to stop by
tonight. I'd like to talk to her about what's bothering me. Maybe she would
be able to help me find some insight.
End part 3
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