Title: Things Undone 5: Snipe Hunt (4/24)

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. 

"I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it." 

~~Shirley Conan -- Superwoman~~ 

10:14 AM 


Time to check the email again. In spite of the spam filters that are 
supposed to keep the crap out of our system, I still get far more mail than 
I'd like, and usually from people I don't really want to hear from, but 
that's one of the perks of being a lobbyist. I have 137 new messages, oh 
glee, oh bliss. I don't want to read at least 100 of them. One sticks out, 
from Blondie@wastedminds.com. I haven't seen the address before; probably 
yet another porn spam. I open it anyway, just to make sure it's not from the 
aide of some legislator I'm trying to influence who might actually have a 
sense of humor. To my surprise, the address belongs to Ringo. I wonder if 
the guys have come up with something new in their search for the hacker that 
thrashed my system, but I doubt they'd say anything by email. I can't 
imagine why else he'd be writing me, though. 

"Hey Sari -- what's up? Hope you don't mind me bugging you and all, I know 
you're real busy, but I got a problem." I hate it when messages start out 
like that. It's rather like starting a conversation with, 'I'm at the police 
station.' I read on. "My girlfriend's coming down in two days and I'm 
freaking. I want to see her so bad it hurts, but I'm scared that she's going 
to get the wrong idea about me and the guys and all that. I kind of told her 
what we do, so she knows that we're not like just journalists or computer 
consultants, but I don't want her to get a bad idea about us. I really have 
to make this happen. Got any advice? Thanks, RPL." 

He even ran spell check on it. It's funny but rather sad that he would be 
coming to me, of all people, for relationship advice. After my five-year 
Barry fiasco, I'd hardly consider myself an expert. I'm more like the person 
to ask about what to avoid, like, the warning signs of imminent physical 
abuse. But maybe he's not looking for an expert, just a woman's perspective. 
I'm certainly qualified for that. Last time I looked, the plumbing was XX, 
at least. I warm up the recently-installed voice input system. It's nowhere 
near as fast or efficient as Janet, my temporary office aide, but I'm not 
interested in responding to personal messages through an essentially unknown 
intermediary. I'll have to edit quite a bit once it's dictated, as these 
systems aren't all they're cracked up to be, but at least I can do that with 
one hand. 

"Hey Ringo; It's no bother at all, honestly. You've been a good friend to 
me, and I'm happy to help if I can. It's the least I can do, after all that 
you, Mel and John have done for me. From what you've said, Dr. SaintJohn is 
a third-year ER resident. I suspect that rest will be right up there on her 
list of things to do. Maybe she'd enjoy some movies? I doubt she gets out 
much. Actually, I doubt she gets out, period. I think she might enjoy movies 
more on video, so she can stop the tape if she gets tired. A few of my 
fellow Reedies went into medicine, and they lost any semblance of normal 
life for years, so don't expect her to be up on the latest gossip, or the 
current crop of SF shows. Feeding your friends is always a good idea. I 
highly recommend the Ethiopian place near my apartment, assuming she's into 
foreign food, and it's modestly priced. You said she's from New Orleans, 
which is a great city for good food. Living there isn't a guarantee of an 
adventurous palate, of course, but I'll bet she doesn't live on McFood by 
choice. Has she been to DC before? If not, show her around the city. Give 
her a tour of the museums, or show her around the monuments. John can tell 
you about some wonderful galleries. I don't know if either of you are into 
poetry, but I'll be doing a reading at the Soylent Bean this Saturday at 1 
pm. If you've never been there, the food is good, and inexpensive. I'd love 
to see you there. My best advice, though, is: ask her what *she* wants, then 
actually do it. This goes for everything. Believe me, it's the best possible 
way for you to impress her. Oh, and Ringo? Three little words. Clean Your 
House. Your Obdurate Serpent, Sarasvati." 

I hope he'll find that at least a little helpful. My morning consists mostly 
of talking on the telephone. Thank all the Gods for headsets, otherwise my 
neck would have a permanent and very painful kink. It's often said that 
lobbyists have phones growing out of their ears, and having done this work 
for a while, I can tell you, it's true. I hate having to use the things when 
I'm off. I'd much rather talk to people face to face. 

I'm still getting a lot of fallout from the Pinck white paper. Some of it, 
as expected, has been disbelieving, even derisive. I've been called 
everything from a charlatan to things that should never be repeated in 
polite company, but I'm also getting an overwhelmingly positive response and 
deeper inquiries. Some of my inquiries, asking the most difficult questions, 
are from old-line Republicans. I guess the paper did manage to cut across 
party lines, and for that, I'm grateful. It means that the full 
investigation will have proponents, or at least genuinely interested 
parties, on both sides of the aisle. 

1:05 PM 

I have a dinner meeting tonight, and I've always preferred to eat lightly 
during the day. Shortly after a light lunch of ordered-in falafel plate, the 
traffic lightened up a bit -- never let it be said that members of Congress 
miss a meal -- and I returned to check my email and see what disasters have 
descended in the hours since I last read it. I've got another message from 
Blondie. I groan; Ringo is a dear, but he reminds me of Kris when he was 
five and wanted mom's expensive chocolate truffles instead of his chocolate 
chip cookies. I'm expecting him to quibble with my advice, if for no other 
reason than he argues about things just to hear himself talk. So I'm 
surprised when his response reads: "Sari, I know this sounds stupid, but 
I've never really cleaned before. Where do you start? How do you do it? 
Thanks, RPL." 

I burst out laughing so loudly that Janet pops her head in to make sure that 
I'm not ready to be dragged off in a straitjacket. She just shakes her head 
and closes the door. There's plenty of weirdness in the lobbying business; I 
suspect she imagines it's just another over the top request from a 
legislator I've contacted. I try to dictate a response to Ringo. I'm amazed 
that he has no idea how to clean; but then, I've seen where they live, and 
from what they've said, John is the only one that cleans with any 
regularity. He's been unable to do much for a few months now, and the place 
is looking a lot like a Superfund landfill. I wouldn't be entirely surprised 
to find a few barrels of nuclear waste sitting in there under Ringo's dirty 
socks and underwear. And I keep getting messages throughout the afternoon, 
asking 'what's Bon Ami?' or 'why do I have to wash under the lid?' I don't 
understand how John tolerates living with the guys under these conditions. 
I'm in the midst of yet another attempt to guide Ringo in getting the Good 
Housekeeping Seal of Approval when the email beeps again. It's from him. 
Naturally. Now what -- 'what's a sponge?' 

"Sari -- got some developments about your unwanted visitor. Can you get over 
here tonight? RPL." 

I sigh. I'm exhausted. I have a dinner meeting, which I would prefer not to 
attend, but seeing as I've missed two of them so far due to my broken arm, I 
really can't dodge this one. Still, it starts early, at 6 pm, which means 
that it should break up around eight. I haven't had much time to spend with 
John recently, either. I get the feeling that my reading to him is one of 
his few diversions right now, and I almost feel guilty for not having been 
able to be there more often. Last night was a deathly embarrassing fiasco, 
but perhaps I can make up for it this time. I reply: "Right, I'll try to be 
there around 8:30. In the meantime, if it crawls, kill it. Yours, ST" 

8:07 PM 

Dinner was a bust. I knew it would be when we ended up at a steak house. I 
don't mean a bust politically, just in terms of my actually eating dinner. 
I live on a mostly vegetarian diet, and as a Hindu with Buddhist tendencies, 
beef is the one thing I absolutely won't eat. As a sanyasa at the ashram, I 
ate what I got in my begging bowl, which sometimes included fowl or fish, 
but only rarely. I'll generally accept fish, seafood or fowl from friends 
these days, as I don't want to be rude when people go to the trouble of 
cooking for me -- this is the Buddhist way -- but the ones who know me best 
offer me vegetarian food. Unfortunately, when I'm at a dinner meeting with a 
brace of senior Republican congressmen, we go where they want and eat what 
they eat. I ordered a salad. It consisted of four leaves of exceedingly pale 
inner iceberg lettuce leaves, a cherry tomato, and three croutons, topped 
with a little grated carrot, then drowned in low-quality ranch dressing. The 
sautéed mushrooms were nice, but not particularly filling. My stomach aches 
for more substance, and if I don't get out of this suit right now, I'm going 
to kill something. Happily, I was able to answer several of their questions 
about the human birth defects in the areas surrounding Pinck's Midwest test 
fields. Even they couldn't find any other satisfactory explanation for the 
sudden spike in neurological damage and deaths that began the same month the 
testing did. Something incredibly toxic is going on out there, and it's 
skipping from species to species with alarming ease. 

I toss the suit in my laundry basket and debate taking a shower, but I'd 
really just like to get over to the guys' place and have some dinner. Mel 
promised he'd fix something nice for me when I called to bitch a few minutes 
ago. I settle for a quick swish off in the sink, and slip into a pair of 
black 501's and a teal silk turtleneck tunic, then wrap a black leather belt 
around my waist. It's a nice medieval style belt that knots easily around a 
metal loop, from my SCA days, and the end hangs down to mid-thigh in front, 
with a lovely bronze belt tip decorated with Persian designs. My loafers 
have the advantage of no laces, making them easy for me to get in and out of 
over my Marvin the Martian socks without needing both hands. I top it all 
with a knee-length black duster vest and my tropical fish sling (there's a 
lot of teal and black in it), then get out the cat carrier. I promised John 
that I'd bring the Cardinal next time I came, and this certainly qualifies. 
"Hey sweetie! Where's my purr kitty?" 

I see a nose poke out from under the living room couch. "I see you now, fur 
boy. C'mon out, time to go see the guys." He takes his own leisurely time 
sliding out from underneath the couch frame, stretching slowly to show me 
how unkind I've been to disturb his beauty sleep. I pick him up in 
mid-stretch. "Hah, you think you can guilt me? You've got another thing 
coming." After a snuggle and a few scratches behind the ears, I push his 
tailless butt into the cat carrier. He looks up at me as though I'd just 
offered him sawdust for dinner, and yawps a complaint. For a moment he puts 
both paws up on the bars, looking for all the world like James Cagney. I 
almost expect him to rattle a tin cup against the bars and wail 'let me out, 
you dirty screws!' I laugh. "Don't worry, Richelieu, I'm sure uncle Mel will 
have a tasty treat waiting for you." In fact, he usually does. He spoils the 
cat horribly. Any more spoilage, and I doubt that the cat will have floor 

It's funny to watch John's friends around the Cardinal. Ringo unabashedly 
adores him, and even tolerates him on the equipment from time to time, but 
Mel surprised me completely. His suspicious, standoffish demeanor absolutely 
melted once the ginger menace deigned to let Mel pet him. Ever since, it's 
been treats and snuggles and baby talk. Watching Mel with Cardinal Richelieu 
has got to be one of the funniest things on the planet; this short, gruff, 
older man who looks like a refugee from a veteran's home getting all squeaky 
and silly like a child with a twenty two pound ball of fur. I have to admit 
that I never expected such a thing from him, and probably wouldn't believe 
it if I hadn't seen it myself. The Cardinal has even taken to riding around 
on Mel's shoulders from time to time. It used to be that he'd only do that 
with me. I think I'm a little jealous. 

It doesn't take me long after that to toss on coat, hat and gloves, and I'm 
off for my third one-handed drive of the day. Automatics are a wonderful 
thing, even if everything is placed on the right hand side of the steering 
wheel, where I have to perform contortionist's tricks to reach it. I've 
gotten pretty good at steering with my knee recently. 

8:25 PM 


The bathroom hasn't looked this good since the Precambrian Era, which was 
roughly the last time Byers cleaned it, only this time Langly's our Merry 
Maid. I confess that when Blondie asked for the bleach, my first thought was 
'when did he get into explosives?' On the off chance that he would use it 
for its intended purposes, I told him the bleach was under the sink in the 
kitchen. The upshot of this experiment was that he damn near burned his 
lungs out; apparently he was unaware that bleach requires both dilution and 
proper ventilation. After venting the area and reassuring both of us that he 
didn't require a trip to the emergency room, I was even more shocked when he 
returned to his task. In addition to the sparkling bathroom, his foray into 
housework kept Byers intensely amused, offering directions and advice from a 
safe distance. Anything that amuses Byers these days is a good thing. It's 
one of the reasons I'm grateful that Sari will be here soon. 

The boys were on good enough behavior that I took out my chef's hat and 
apron and prepared some dinner, and upon hearing that Sari'd nearly starved 
at her dinner meeting, was glad that I did. I've cooked up some pasta 
primavera with baby veggies for the humans, sprinkled with fresh Parmesan 
cheese and fresh ground pepper, and tossed in the finest extra virgin olive 
oil. Sari is fundamentally vegetarian; I think she'll appreciate my current 
culinary effort. For our quadrupedal guest, I've roasted a turkey leg. Sari 
did promise that the Cardinal would make an appearance. I look forward to 
his presence the way little kids can't wait to open Christmas presents. This 
amazes everyone, none more than myself. I never cared much for cats, but the 
Cardinal is no ordinary feline. 

"What time is it?" Byers asks from the sofa. It's the first time today his 
voice has taken on anything resembling a whine, and it grates just a little. 
Still, he's got a lot to deal with, and I realize that, so I bite my tongue 
and simply say, "8:25. She should be here anytime." He knows that Sari's on 
her way, of course, and has been asking that question about once an hour 
since 1:30 this afternoon, when she first said she'd be over this evening. 
Sure Byers, it's not like that. And the moon's made of lox and cream cheese. 

I'm delighted that the place looks almost good enough to entertain a lady 
now. Langly's been discovering the mysteries, if not necessarily the joys, 
of housekeeping. Byers had to remind him to dust under the lamps and 
equipment, which mystified poor Blondie, but he went with it. I think he 
understands that he doesn't know jack. Byers urged him to rent a carpet 
steamer. I never knew the rug was pale green; I always thought it was brown. 
It's still shag, alas, but it's at least somewhat more sanitary than it was. 
No empty beer bottles, no plates that have been breeding penicillin for 
weeks lying around: I almost don't recognize the place. 

"I finished the kitchen, man," Langly announces proudly, pulling off his 
rubber gloves. I encouraged him to invest in a pair after the cleaning 
solutions began to give him a rash. Last thing I need is him coming up with 
excuses to never participate in this activity again. 

"Did you wipe down the counters?" Byers calls out to him. 

"Counters? We have counters?" Langly sounds aghast. 

"Those flat spaces next to the sink and the stove that you pile shit on," I 
tell him. He groans, swears a little under his breath, and returns to the 
kitchen. Byers and I giggle. This has been the best entertainment we've had 
in a long time. The buzzer goes off, and I check the video monitor. Sure 
enough, it's Ms. Thomas, toting what appears to be a cat carrier. Oh good, 
she remembered that she'd promised to bring the Cardinal. Byers begins to 
rise, but I shoo him back to the sofa, where he sulks mildly, until the 
lovely lady gains access. She enters and sets the cat carrier down. "Thank 
you for coming," I say to her, taking her hand. "May I take your coat?" 

"How about you take him? He's heavy," she says, laughing. "Unless, of 
course, it's a problem." 

"What? A pwobwem for my kitty cat? No waaaaay." I pull the oversized Manx 
from his penitentiary, and he begins to purr appreciatively. "Whassa matta? 
Mommy wock you up in dewe? Mean mommy!" I scratch him behind his ears. "Unca 
Mel has a tweatsie for you." I can see Sari cringe. Byers stands up slowly, 
as he has to these days, to greet Ms. Thomas. She tells him he looks good 
today, and he smiles broadly at her. Granted, their greeting is chaste as 
usual; a simple shared embrace and a kiss on the cheek, but I bet you bucks 
Byers'd love to put some tongue behind it. "Dinner's almost ready," I 
announce as they sit down on the sofa next to each other. "Let me take care 
of my kitty here first." 

"Well, we know who rates around here." Byers pretends to sulk, but he's 
smiling even as he crosses his arms over his chest. 

"You're right about that," I tell him, vanishing into the kitchen. 

Langly's finishing scrubbing down the countertops. "Jesus, where'd we get so 
much junk?" He moans. 

"You oughta know, at least half of it's yours." I remove the cooling turkey 
leg from its roasting pan and begin to peel shreds of meat from it. The 
Cardinal is almost ready to kill for his treat; he's eating it up faster 
than I can shred. "I can't believe Mommy doesn't feed oo. Not from the looks 
of you, at any rate, you fat kitty." 

Langly rolls his eyes. "You're disgusting." 

I stare hard at him. "Deborah arrives when on Friday?" 

"She gets off at one. Think it's about a three-hour drive." 

I begin singing the theme to 'Gilligan's Island.' "Just sit right back and 
you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful tripŠ" It has the desired effect; 
Langly winces and grits his teeth in agony. I stop singing and look at him 
again. "Before you start talking about disgusting, we'll play back the 
surveillance tapes of you when Deb arrives. Then we can discuss the 

"Oh, fuck you, Frohike." Ah, a little food should make him more agreeable. 


Sari leans against me on the couch with a sigh, and I put my arm around her 
shoulders. I can tell she's very tired. She's been running hard at work. 
Sari is one of those people who needs this kind of casual physical contact 
to feel comfortable and at ease, and I don't mind providing that for her. 
It's soothing and comforting for both of us, and she's been doing so much 
for me when she's been here. The guys harass me about it, but they miss the 
fact that she does this almost as often with them as she does with me. I 
don't know if they deliberately ignore it, or if it simply doesn't register 
in their pea brains. Her philosophy among friends seems to be 'nobody 
escapes without a hug.' My eye is giving me trouble again, though, and this 
distracts me from the warm comfort of her presence. "I have to do my eye 
drops. Would you help?" I ask her. "If not, don't worry, I'll ask Mel." 

"It's no trouble John. I'm the reason you're using them in the first place." 
She smiles sadly. 

"Will you stop that? It's not as if you could control your ex's behavior. If 
you could, you'd still be married to him." Still married, and not here with 
me. In a rather twisted way, I'm grateful for the events that have 
transpired. I really need to talk to her later this evening about my 
thoughts and anxieties of earlier this morning. She gets my meds, and I lie 
down, preparing for the painful and annoying ritual. "I can't wait till I'm 
done with this," I groan. 

"I hear you. I'm so sick of having this cast on, I could scream. It itches 
underneath, and it's driving me up a wall." She pokes a pencil down into the 
cast for a minute, scratching frantically. 

Langly pops into the room again. "Know what you do for that? You like take 
some baking soda and shake it down inside the cast. Deb told me that works." 

"Really? I'll have to try that. You'd think after all these broken bones, 
I'd know the tricks by now." Sari smiles up at him. "I see you've been 
preparing for a career in home maintenance." 

I know he's making a face. "Not even. I just don't want Deb thinking like, 
you know, 'gross.'" 

Sari and I both burst out laughing, but upon seeing a look of utter 
discouragement on Langly's face, she stops. I make an attempt to do so, but 
I'm still snickering quietly behind my hand. "It looks very nice, Ringo. 
You've done a good job," she says. 

He's so eager sometimes. "Really? You mean it?" Poor guy. I don't think he's 
been praised much in his life. He laps it up like a kitten with a bowl of 

"Yes, I do," Sari affirms. "How did it go with your room?" 

"My what?" Langly is completely confused. 

"Your room," Frohike echoes, as he sets what looks like a large bowl of 
pasta on the table. "You know, that place you go to sulk, jerk off, and 
occasionally sleep." Whatever Mel has, it's redolent of garlic and pepper. 
I'm starving; despite the antibiotics ravaging my stomach, my appetite is 
returning with a vengeance. This is a mixed blessing at best. It's nice to 
feel like eating again, but I'm getting so little exercise that most of what 
I eat is starting to pile up around my waist. I was appalled by how tight my 
jeans were this morning. At least in another few weeks I'll be able to do 
something about that. Fortunately, Sari doesn't seem to notice that I'm 

"What about my room?" Langly sounds defensive. I can understand why. If my 
room looked like that, I'd be a lot more than defensive: I'd keep it hidden 
more securely than the NSA keeps the positions of our bombers. Although for 
us, that's not much of a challenge to discover. 

"Where were you planning on her sleeping?" Sari asks him gently. "Is she 
staying with you?" 

"Well, yeah, I think so. I want her to." Langly is squirming and even with 
my blurred vision, I can see him blushing. This brings me a good bit of 
glee. If Sari weren't here, I'd rub it in for him. It would certainly serve 
him right for the things he says to me about her. 

"Then here's a hint, dude," Frohike tells him as he serves up bowls of pasta 
for everyone. I can hardly wait for dinner. "The Star Wars sheets have got 
to go." 

"But those were a Christmas present!" Langly protests. 

"In 1977," I remind him, "which was probably the last time they saw the 
inside of a washing machine." 

Sari laughs gently. "Ringo, one thing women appreciate is good sheets. Get 
some new sheets and towels. The sheets should be 250 thread count or more. 
And the bath sheets should be the big, fluffy ones that you can wrap most of 
yourself up in." 

"250 what? Bath sheets? I thought we were talking about towels?" Now he's 
completely confused. 

Frohike waves his arms. "Okay folks, eat, then talk. We've got a lot of 
ground to cover tonight." 

End part 4

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