TITLE: IT'S A WONDERFUL FILE by Alison
(Sorry about the title - I couldn't resist the pun!
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DISCLAIMER: Not mine, of course.
ARCHIVE: Lone Gunmen Mailing List, anywhere else just ask
SPOILERS: Minor for Unusual Suspects
SUMMARY: What would Mulder see, if he got the chance to see what
the world would have been like without him?
NOTE: Yes, this is my entirely inadequate tribute to that great
Christmas film, "It's a Wonderful Life."
IT'S A WONDERFUL FILE 2/4
They rematerialised on a street corner in downtown Alexandria.
Mulder looked round uneasily; he knew this area and knew it was
best avoided at night. Lucy patted his arm reassuringly.
"It's okay, Mulder, no-one can hurt you while you're with me. And
they can't see me at all."
"Just as well."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well . . . the way you're dressed . . ."
"Don't tell me . . . not proper attire for an angel? Okay, how
about this." She clicked her fingers again, there was a brief flash
and she reappeared in jeans, teeshirt and a leather jacket. "Better
Mulder mumbled. "I just thought you might be cold like that."
"Don't be ridiculous. Come on."
Mulder trailed after her, wondering why it was he always got
involved with bossy women.
14th & Arlington
"I know this place. I was here couple of years ago, there was a
Lucy nodded. "A drugs bust that went wrong, wasn't it? And don't
tell me an angel isn't supposed to know about drugs busts. Some of
us spend half our time picking up drugs victims."
Mulder sighed and took a place across the table from her. "What are
we waiting for?"
"'Who'. Wait and see."
The waiter came by offering coffee to Mulder, but he didn't seem to
"You should't drink that stuff anyway, it's terribly bad for you."
Mulder grunted and watched her as she played with the black box.
"That's another thing. Since when have angels had computers?"
She looked up with a smile. "Cool, isn't it? I't something Alan
Turing's been working on. He's a sweet guy, but so shy! He runs
like a rabbit every time he sees me coming!"
"Why am I not surprised?"
She was saved from answering by the phone beeping again. "Yes,
Joseph. No, we're waiting in a diner. Well, it's a sort of bar.
What? no, of course I won't!"
She put the phone away. "My boss . . . poor guy, just can't get
him to delegate. You'd think I shouldn't be allowed out on my own!"
"Please, just don't tell me this is your first assignment?"
Lucy's reply was certainly not one expected from an angel.
Ten minutes later Lucy sat up straighter. "There."
Mulder looked behind him. A familiar figure was standing in the
doorway, looking round warily.
A hand came down on Mulder's forearm. "Be quiet!"
"But it's Langly. What's he doing here . . ."
Mulder watched in amazement as the tall lanky blonde walked past
with no sign of recognition. He approached a table at the back of
the room and talked quietly for a minute with a nondescript,
casually dressed guy in a heavy gold necklace and dark glasses.
Mulder saw a small packet passed across the table to Langly, and
Langly passing something back. His heart sank. Round here, that
could be only one thing. God, Langly, no!
He started to get up. "Gotta stop him!"
He found himself pushed back with a strength greater than his own.
"No. You can't interfere. You don't belong here. All you can do
Mulder's felt nauseous. He couldn't stop watching. Langly was
heading towards the door. Mulder tore away from the girl's grip and
ran out the door. He saw Langly disappearing into an alleyway on
His yell stopped the blonde man in his tracks. Mulder found himself
looking face to face at his old friend. Facing a blank, completely
unrecognising stare. Langly looked almost the same, but not quite;
some how he looked thinner, haggard and much older. His hair was
shorter, ragged and dirty. His sweatshirt sleeves were pushed
back, and Mulder saw with a sense of inevitability the needle tracks
on the inside of his forearms.
"Langly, it's me, Mulder! Don't do this!"
A hostile, cynical face glared back at him aggressively. "Who the
fuck are you?"
"It's Mulder! Don't you remember me? Langly, I've known you for
more than ten years! Ever since Baltimore -"
Langly's hiss of indrawn breath was his only reaction, and his stare
was like that of a snake. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Langly, don't you remember? Baltimore, me and Frohike and Byers -"
Langly backed away. "Oh, fuck . . . I never been to Baltimore,
okay? You got the wrong guy. I never seen you before."
Mulder made a grab for him. "Langly, think! The Lone Gunman . ."
Langly looked scared and backed away further. His voice rose to a
hoarse shout. "Get off of me! I don't know nothin' about any
gunman. Leave me the fuck alone, okay!"
He twisted his arm out of Mulder's grasp and was gone, racing away
down the sidewalk as if his life depended on it.
Mulder stared after him, breathless. He turned to find Lucy looking
at him compassionately.
"He doesn't remember you, Mulder. He never met you."
"But . . he knew something about Baltimore. And he knew the names
of Byers and Frohike."
"Yes . . but it happened differently, Mulder. You weren't there."
Mulder shook his head. "I don't understand. Frohike and Byers . .
he remembered them. Where are they? What happened to them?
Lucy had the black box in her hand again. "Melvin Frohike . .
.yes, I know where we can find him. Come on, it's not far."
This time round the surroundings were more familiar, as Mulder
recognised the bar that was one of the Gunmen's favorite off-duty
haunts. Lilting Irish fiddle music burst from the door as a
customer exited. Mulder hurried forward, leaving the girl trailing
behind him, and pushed inside, recognising the young Irish barman on
duty. "Hey, Dermot! How ya doin?"
The barman looked at him with a pleasant inquiring expression.
"Sorry mate, should I know you?"
"Aw, c'mon Dermot, you know me! Fox Mulder, I've been in here loads
of times with the Gunmen!"
"Gunmen? Who would they be, then?"
"Jeez, Dermot, don't mess me around! The guys - Byers, Langly and
Frohike! You know, the guys I call the Three Stooges! They come in
here most Friday nights."
The Irishman shook his head. "Fro-hickey? You got me there. What's
he look like, then?"
Mulder bit down his rising impatience. "Short guy, five-four or so,
receding grey hair, glasses. Always wears fingerless gloves."
The young man raised his eyebrows. "Hey, sounds like that old guy,
what's his name . . ." He turned and called through the kitchen
door. "Hey, Billy, what's the name of that old drunk hangs round
here trying to blag free drinks?"
Mulder bristled. "He's not that old . . ." he was distracted by
Lucy pulling his arm. The barman snickered and gestured in the
direction of the door. "Talk of the devil . ."
Mulder swung round. "Frohike?"
But he hardly recognised the wasted figure swaying in the doorway.
"My god - Mel?"
The man who had been Melvin Frohike blinked at him with bloodshot
watery eyes. He seemed even smaller than Mulder remembered.
Diminished, stooped and crushed. His hands shook. He looked
without recognition at Mulder in front of him. Mulder grabbed his
shoulders in both hands and recoiled at the stink of cheap alcohol
and unwashed flesh that hit him in the face. "Mel?"
Frohike squinted at him as if he had trouble focusing. "Who are you
. . . nobody knows me by that. Do I know you? Memory's not so good
now . ."
"Frohike, you remember me? Fox Mulder!
"Fox . . . Fox . . . buy me a drink, Fox?"
"Sure, yes, Mel! You remember me, don't you?"
They were interrupted by the barman."Okay, that's enough, old guy.
Outta here, now."
Mulder protested. "Hey, wait a second, I'm talking to him. Mel,
what happened to you? What happened to Langly? And -"
Dermot came round the bar towards them. "He'll say whatever you
want him to say if he thinks he'll get a drink out of it. He's
trouble. I don't want him in here. C'mon, grandad, on your way."
He took Frohike's shoulder and pushed him, not unkindly, towards the
door. Mulder protested. "What do you mean, trouble? What do you
Dermot shrugged. "He's an old lush, been nothing but bad news for
years. They say he was involved in some murder case up in Baltimore
few years back. He was lucky to stay out of jail. Lost his
business after that, went downhill fast. He's been in the gutter
for years. Poor old guy." He looked sympathetic. "Just get him
out of here, okay?"
"Okay, wait a minute, willya? Mel, talk to me. Do you know who I
Frohike blinked blearily at him with sunken eyes. He looked twenty
years older than the man Mulder had known. Drink and despair had
etched deep lines in his face and forehead. His skin was blotchy
and unshaven. His mouth trembled and a line of spittle ran down
from one corner.
"I dunno, man. Can't remember so good now. S'funny, I can forget
all sorts of things 'cept the things I want to forget . . ."
"What do you remember, Frohike? Do you remember Langly? I've just
seen him. What happened to him?"
Frohike frowned, his head shaking. "Langly . . . hippie jerk . . .
screwed up after Baltimore . . . "
"What about Baltimore, Frohike? Do you remember Baltimore? Do you
remember meeting me there? Me and Langly and Byers?"
Frohike's head jerked. "Whassat . . . Byers . . . no man, don't
know nuthin' 'bout that. I wasn't there, didn't see nuthin . . ."
"You must remember, Mel! I was there, I saw it. We talked,
remember? You and me and Langly and Byers?
"Shut up about them! I tell ya I don't know nuthin!"
Frohike pushed Mulder violently away fromhim and he fell backwards.
The old man stood over him, his face twitching. Tears were streaming
down his face. "Why did you make me remember? I'd almost managed to
forget. Why did you remind me!"
"Frohike? What happened? What happened in Baltimore?"
But Frohike was stumbling away from him down the street. "Bastard,
why did you make me remember!"
Mulder looked after him, a terrible suspicion crystallising in his
He sprang up and grabbed the girl's arm, pushing her back against
the wall. "What happened to Byers? Where is he? Don't tell me
he's not here. Show me!"
"All right, Mulder. But we need to go to Baltimore."
END OF PART 2