Drunk With Autumn

Classific: SA
Spoilers: Unusual Suspects (US5)
Summary: The return of Susanne Modeski into the lives of the Gunmen.
Time Line: Early Sixth Season - just after Drive. The rest of the season does not occur in this universe.
Disclaimer: All XF characters are the property of 1013 Productions and FOX Broadcasting. Lyrics quoted are from Drunk With Autumn written by Rich Hill & Ron Rutherford, 1994, performed by Keltoi. Both the lyrics and characters are used here without permission.

With thanks to Deborah and Sally for beta duties.

Martha's Notes: This story started out a number of months ago when Plausible Deniability asked if the Gunmen could play dirty with Spender and then Erynn wanted the boys and CSM to tangle. Part 1 got written in a hurry . . . and then stalled. Being unable to come up with anything further, I asked Erynn what she wanted to see. Several days later, she wrote back with a tale that took form during a fit of insomnia. What follows is basically that story. I think that she needs to lose sleep more often.

Erynn's Scribblings: The Divine Ms. Martha asked me what I thought about a fic she'd started some while back, partially at my request. She suggested a couple of things, and I sent her back a note; but a few days later, my brain went haywire, and I ended up sending her this several-page missive outlining pretty much what you see here. Then I sent her more notes. And a few more. Finally, she says to me, "If you want, you can write some scenes or a chapter or something."

I've never written fanfic before. I've tried my hand at fiction a couple of times, but everything I'd ever tried was pure crap. But that was years ago. Since then, I'd been working hard on writing in other genres - articles, essays, poetry, and even a book. I guess I got a little better with practice. Anyway, most of what's written here are Martha's words, but I'll take credit for bits of Parts 2, 3, and 4. (She should take credit for a *lot* of Part 4. - mwl)
 I give my heartfelt gratitude to Martha for letting me play in her pool, and to Bruce, Tom, and Dean for being such excellent people and bringing the Gunmen to life. Without them, who would inspire me? Remember - There Ain't No Such Thing As "Too Much Lone Gunmen".

Drunk With Autumn
by Martha and Erynn

Drunk with autumn, will we meet in fields of truth?
Drunk again on autumn wind, and I harvest all but you.

Lone Gunmen Headquarters
early September, 1998

"What have you guys done now?"

For the past few minutes, Byers had listened to Langly and Frohike behind a bank of monitors, alternately whispering with the occasional guffaw. The two had spent most of the late afternoon out and about, and Byers had suspected that they were again playing their new favorite game of Spender-baiting. He sighed and shook his head, returning to the work at hand, while the other two continued their free association dance of the latest round in these events.

"Sorry, man, it was just too funny," Langly finally volunteered. "We got little Jeffy somewhat miffed."

"You've got to admit that, if nothing else, he at least looks good holding a newspaper," Frohike added with a snicker.

Byers continued typing at the computer keyboard, knowing that he should not appear too eager to learn the latest details, that they would be forthcoming eventually simply because the other two could not stand it when he refused to play along.

Langly caved in first. "We got Spender to stand at the bottom of the escalators of the Pentagon entrance, holding today's Washington Times. Told him that someone also carrying that paper would meet up with him with some 'important family news'." He slammed his hand against the table top several times for emphasis. "You should have seen the looks he got from people he approached, thinking that they had information about his mom."

Frohike leaned back in his chair, arms folded, and joined in. "I loved how he would unfold the newspaper at times and give it a good shake for the other people to see what he was reading. Unfortunately, he's one of those types who can't refold a road map together much less balance a multipart newspaper. He kept dropping various sections across the floor."

"Did you at least stay out of sight of the surveillance cameras?" Byers asked.

"Of course. We're not Jeffrey Spender. God, I hope someone with access to those tapes gets a good laugh out of this."

Byers again shook his head at the others and tried to suppress a smile. He did not want to appear to encourage them, although he was getting a perverse thrill out of hearing of these little practical jokes on the FBI agent. Of course, he reminded himself, the real culprit behind all of this was Mulder. He was the one who had mentioned to them, a bit too eagerly it now seemed, that Spender was ripe for this kind of treatment since he got handed the X-Files assignment. And Mulder would call them in the middle of the night, desperate for the latest updates.

"Don't you think you guys should give it a rest for a bit?" Byers called out. "He's bound to know that someone is fooling with him."

"Not a chance," Langly shot back.

Frohike slid his chair over to the next terminal to bring up another database. "Say, isn't it close to Diana Fowley's birthday?"

Langly followed suit. "Yeah, at the end of this month, isn't it?"

"We could send some flowers, put Spender's name on the card." Frohike winked and smiled. "Use his Visa."

"What kind?" Langly was always game for something silly. "Something really pretentious, you think?"

"Hey, Byers," Frohike called out, "you'd remember. What were her favorites again?"

"White tea roses," Byers answered absentmindedly. A few seconds later, he sat up and peered over the computer terminal. "Wait a minute, guys, you're treading dangerously here. Playing with Spender's mind is one thing; there's no need to drag Diana into this."

"I forgot. You liked her."

"And there's so much to like." Langly emphasized this by making a derogatory gesture with his hands at chest level.

Byers got up to walk over towards them. "Listen, that's got nothing to do with it, and you know it. Diana is not a stupid woman. You make her the butt of one of your jokes, and she'll start tracking it down." He leaned over one of the monitors to emphasize his point. "She knows who we are, and she may know how to find us. She could give us a lot of trouble if we annoy her too much. Just remember that."

* * * * * * *

X-Files Office
next morning

An elegant floral display on her desk greeted Diana Fowley as she entered the basement office. 'They're lovely, but who would . . . Fox.' She searched for the accompanying card. She pulled it out from the envelope and silently read. 'Thinking of you. Jeffrey Spender.'


"Hey, nice arrangement." Spender entered the office with the morning mail. "Secret admirer?"

"You should know," Fowley responded. "The card says that you sent them."

"Me? I didn't send you any flowers." Spender continued flipping through the interoffice envelopes. "Why would I send you flowers?"

"Why indeed?"

Fowley walked over to his desk and held out the card for him to see.

Spender took the card and stared at it for a moment before returning it to her. "I don't understand. They're not from me." He walked around his desk to his chair, threw the mail into the 'IN' tray, and sat down. "This is very weird."

"I have no doubt." She crossed her arms and leaned back on Spender's desk to await what she fully expected to be an absurd explanation.

"No, I mean, I've had a lot of odd things happen recently. It's sort of embarrassing really." He paused for a moment, realigning his deskpad and wondering if he should continue. "Some company that specializes in those 976 type calls has got my phone number, and I've been getting these calls in the middle of the night. Last week, Prince Georges County Sheriff's Department wanted to impound my car; they said that the license plate number had been reported in one of those Neighborhood Watch programs as a suspicious vehicle trawling through their area."

Spender leaned back in his chair, gnawing at his thumbnail. "Yesterday, I was supposed to meet with someone who said that he had some information about my mother's disappearance, but he never showed up."

Fowley walked back to her desk and gazed at the flowers. "I think someone may be pulling your chain here, Spender."

His reply was flat and dripping in sarcasm. "And we both have a good idea as to who that might be, right?"

"Fox wouldn't . . ."

Spender roughly pushed himself away from his desk. "Oh, yes, he would. It's just the sort of childishness that he'd go for. But to drag my mother into this . . . that is low."

"I always got the feeling that he wanted to find your mother just as much as you did." Fowley straightened out a few of the stems in the arrangement. "You can't go around accusing him without any proof."

"Then I'll get it."

Unknown to the office occupants, a third party was listening in on this conversation and had already made up his mind to acquire the proof.

* * * * * * *

Lone Gunmen Headquarters
later that afternoon

"Lone Gunmen."

"Good evening, Mr. Langly." The caller paused to light a cigarette before continuing. "Why don't you turn off that tape recorder? You won't be needing it."

Langly hit the speakerphone button so that the others could hear while he raced across the room to set the tracking sequences in motion. "Why not?" he yelled back towards the phone.

"Because this call never took place. And you won't be able to trace it, either, so why don't you and your colleagues just listen for a moment?"

Frohike approached the speaker. "Who are you?"

"Oh, I believe you already know the answer to your question, Mr. Frohike."

"Raul Bloodworth - as if that's your real name. Why are you calling us?"

"Ah, a fan. I'd like to ask a small favor. These little . . . incidents . . . with Agent Jeffrey Spender need to cease immediately."

Langly rechecked the settings on his equipment. "What incidents?"

"Oh, come, Mr. Langly. You are quite good at covering your tracks. But I'm better at uncovering secrets. A card that bears the address of a local florist. The email requisition of said transaction from the ISP of that vendor. Really, Mr. Langly; your software encryption is quite good but that florist should really not accept such confidential information through this avenue with only the shoddy protection that it provides."

Frohike shot a disappointed look at Langly.

"So again, I am asking that you leave Agent Spender alone."

Byers cleared his throat. "You said as a favor. What do we get in return?"

"Information about someone who used to be close to all of you. But especially you, Mr. Byers."

The three Gunmen eyed each other warily, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It did.

"I know where she is. I know where you can find Susanne Modeski."

end Part 1

Go to Part 2