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
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.
"I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it."
~~Shirley Conan -- Superwoman~~
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2000
SARI THOMAS' OFFICE
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
"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.
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?
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"
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.
LONE GUNMEN HQ
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 trip" 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
"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
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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