[disclaimers in part 1]
"Do not be one of the conquered."
~~Rimbaud -- A Season in Hell~~
THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 2000
SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING ROOM
The last couple of days have been hectic. Sari and I have been working
hard on getting her presentation ready for the Senate
subcommittee. I think she's been pushing herself far too hard, but she insists that she can't rest until after she finishes today.
Scully says Sari hasn't been sleeping well, and she's certainly got a harried, exhausted look about her. But she's a strong-willed woman, and she's been working the subcommittee like an expert. She knows her material inside and out, and uses her voice and presence like an instrument. I've rarely seen a more impressive or persuasive speaker. She has an amazing array of evidence of the damage being done by Pinck's experimentation, not just on the wildlife population of the tall grass prairie restoration project that the Sierra Club is sponsoring, but on the human population in the region as well. Pinck's representatives at the hearing were unprepared for the amount of documentable evidence and information she brought forward. In fact, it appears that they're completely unprepared to face the charges at all. I know it's because they thought they'd destroyed Sari's work. They believed she'd have nothing to show, so of course, they wouldn't need any defense. They didn't count on her having allies. All they can do, here in chambers, is deny the evidence she's brought forward. And the subcommittee is calling for a full governmental investigation.
I know how these things go. The Sierra Club may get this experimental site shut down, and there will be a big splash in the press for a while, but ultimately, the evidence held at Pinck will disappear, shuffled to a dummy corp, or another country, and so will a number of people involved with the project. The conspiracy will move on, and take up somewhere else. But here, for the moment, they've been exposed. We've brought them, however briefly, to a standstill, and it will take them time to recover. I'm proud of this young woman. She's done a spectacular job. But now it's time for her to get the rest she needs and deserves, so that she can get well.
I move to her table and help her gather her materials together. She wore a basic black sling today; said it was a necessary part of the staging. Her clothes, hair and makeup are precisely done, projecting an image of power and confidence. The makeup hides the worst of her exhaustion. She should be resting, but at least she will be soon. Her office offered her a week of personal time with pay, free and clear, if she managed to pull off the presentation despite her condition and the destruction of her materials. She's done more than that. She's given them a precious victory in a hostile political environment. If they don't give her a whacking bonus on top of the week off, they're shooting themselves in the foot.
"Congratulations, dear. You were magnificent today."
She smiles and blushes. "Thanks, Frohike. I really appreciate your escorting me. I've been nervous about all this. The meeting has been in the press all week, and I can't help but suspect that my ex is around here somewhere. Your help, and Ringo and John's, has been so essential to me. But I think we should leave as quickly as we can, to avoid the crowds and the press."
I nod. "You got that right. By the way, Sari, you can call me Mel if you like." I've gotten comfortable with her around, and I think she'll make a fine friend.
"All right," she says. "Thanks, Mel." With that, she leans down and kisses me on the forehead. Ooh! Yes! Too bad Byers has the hots for her. I wouldn't mind taking up with this sweet young thing myself. It only takes a few minutes to gather her papers into a large briefcase, which I carry for her. "Do you think we could stop and pick up some stuff for lunch for everyone on the way back to your place?" she asks.
"Sounds like a wonderful idea," I tell her. I'm looking around for Mulder and Scully. We figured the best way to catch Barry was to be around Sari while she's in public. None of us doubts that he'll try to get to her again today. She's been laying very low these past few days, and he hasn't had an opportunity to actually find her place, or to see her anywhere. I'm hoping I can ghost her away before he sees her, and that our fibbies will be able to nail the guy without her being exposed. As we hurry down the steps, I spot him. I take Sari's arm and start leading her away from him as he comes running up the stairs toward us. "He's here," I tell her.
"Shit. I hope Dana and Mulder are ready for him," she says. There's fear in her voice. "I don't want him to hurt you, too."
"No chance, dear. I'm too short for him to see." We hurry toward the parking lot. I see Mulder and Scully and their assorted federal and local assistance beginning their flanking maneuver. Barry's unaware of them. He's focused on Sari, but I'm hoping he's too far away to get to us before the law gets to him.
LONE GUNMEN HQ
Byers has actually been more or less behaving himself today. Or, at least, he hasn't been bitching about getting up and helping. When Scully went over the possibilities of brain aneurisms and keeling over dead with him yesterday, he decided maybe he could live with a little guilt. Sari told him that he had to wait until his blurry multiple vision had diminished to only blurry double vision before he even thought about picking up a book, much less getting up and doing anything more strenuous than using the bathroom or taking a shower. When she offered to read to him, he agreed. It's funny, but I think he actually listens to her.
I know he's worried about her. Everyone's expecting her godzilla sized ex to show up while she's out. Wish I could be there to help, but somebody's gotta be here and babysit Narcboy. He can't do the eye medication thing by himself -- can't tell which tube is which -- and it's like way messy. He's on the couch right now, not asleep, but not much awake either. It's the pain meds. They keep ya pretty woozy for a while. Sari hasn't been taking nearly enough of the stuff, and we can all see how much of a toll it's been taking on her. If she doesn't collapse in a squeaky little heap when she gets here, Frohike and I are gonna tie her down to a chair and stuff the damn things down her throat. Scully's even volunteered her assistance, and she's got a gun.
Since Sari and Byers talked the other day, he's been a lot more peaceful than I've ever seen him. He's still having those nightmares he always has, but they seem to be less intense, and they don't rag on him all night like they used to. I dunno what they said to each other, but whatever it was, it's made one hell of a difference in him. He may be all bruised up and look like hamburger, but I've seen him smile a few times; real smiles, not that tiny little almost smile I've always thought of as his trademark. It's easier to make him laugh, too. Weirdness. Another real positive sign is that he's eating almost like a human being again, not this birdy nibbles on toast and stuff he's been doing lately. Johnny's finally starting to act like he gets hungry now and then. Fro made whole wheat cinnamon raisin toast for him this morning, and he ate like five or six slices. That's a hell of a lot closer to his normal appetite than I've seen in him since January.
I'm sitting at my 'puter, working on recovering Sari's poetry stuff.
At first I was thinking, like, poetry, right. It's gonna be this
squishy goopy romantic shit. But then I start reading some of these files of hers, and man, this stuff is good. Some of it's downright hot. Makes me think of what I'd love to be doin' with my Doctor Deb right now... hot, naked flesh... lots of warm, sweaty... Whoa, boy. Concentrate. Get back to work. Sari's got most of a book here that wasn't on her backup files. All her newest stuff. Her old books were all backed up, thank god. Saves me a bunch of work. And I've really only got another half hour or so to go before I've got everything.
Byers starts to stir over on the couch, and I go over to check up on him. "Sari back yet?" he asks me.
"No, not yet. You'll know when they come piling through the door. Like, try to sleep some more, okay?"
"What time is it? Is the session over yet?"
"Ain't heard anything from Mel, if that's what you mean. But I bet we'll hear something in the next hour or so. You know those boys in the Senate, they don't miss their lunch breaks."
Byers chuckles. "You're right about that, at least," he says.
My email starts up that familiar Deb Song again, and I'm like, "Hey man, be with ya in a minute! Gotta get mail from my Debster!" What's she written? I responded to 'lick' with 'skin,' and if this response is anything like the last one, I'm gonna be praying she's got time for some hot chat, or I'll die right here.
Sure enough, it's hot stuff. Deb writes back 'suck' -- "GAAAAAAH!" She's gonna give me a stroke. And what parts does she want to suck, I wonder? Byers is back there laughing at me on the couch, watching me turn all shades of purple as I shriek. I drop into chat, paging her. Byers is still watching me, amused.
"Hey man, you gonna do that, do it in your bedroom. Go snuggle up with the Cardinal and think of Sari or something!" Oh, that got him. He's gone all red himself. Fortunately, he's been able to walk around the place by himself today. He's slow, and leans on the walls and stuff a lot because his head hurts and he's a little dizzy, but he can do it on his own, and all of us are happy about this development. He gets up, real slow, wanders over to me, and whispers in my ear.
"You know where Mel keeps those videos," he says, and snickers. Then he wobbles back toward his room. At least he's gonna give me some privacy. He may not be able to see for shit right now, but he can sure as hell hear the catch in my breath when I read my email from Deb. I don't need him listening to me doing heavy breathing with her in chat.
C'mon baby, answer your page!
"I've got him in sight," I tell Scully over the audio link. She's flanking
one end of the stairwell, I'm at the other. We've got
backups surrounding the entire entryway of the Capitol Building, both federal and local. It pays to have friends in low places.
"Copy that." Her mellifluous voice is muted slightly by the electronics,
but it's unmistakably hers. Scully has an incredible
voice. Low, soft, and exquisitely sexy. If I told her that, she would probably smack me, but I can think it all I want. And I do, much more than is strictly partnerly. Right now, though, the job at hand is to catch this asshole Barry Guertzen and get him ready for his one-way trip to a federal penitentiary. And no country club outfits like Danbury, thank you very much. We're asking for hard time, and with the case we have, I'm confident we'll have no trouble getting it.
I hate men who hit women. I watched my father hit mom as he sank deeper into his alcohol-soaked misery. Lucky for him, he moved out before I had the chance to kill him, which I had promised myself right before he left. In later years, I'd contemplated exacting revenge on him, but it seems that he managed to dig his own grave. Krycek was just the messenger boy.
"Closing in," the other federal agents announce.
"Hold your fire." I don't want this guy shot. Not only because I would be buried under an insufferable mound of paperwork, but because if he's killed, something very important will be buried along with him. Truth has a short shelf life in this town, especially once the party is no longer of this world. And I don't believe he's armed. We traced no carry permits for him, but that's meaningless. Still, in profiling him, I believe that in general, he eschews weapons. They don't make him feel more powerful, ergo, he has no need of them. The practical side of that is that you can only use deadly force when you're threatened with deadly force. Granted, Guertzen may in and of himself be a lethal weapon, but it has a habit of not looking that way to an observer when you're the one holding the gun.
I see him. We all do. He's approaching Sari and Frohike. I give the command. "Now!" The backups from the Bureau and the DCPD are all over him like flies on shit.
Scully is ahead of me. "Barry Guertzen, you are under arrest --" He fights and screams as the officers attempt to cuff him, but make no mistake, he's up against professionals. He seems to have forgotten that dealing with scumbags isn't incidental to our work, but the focal point of it. And we do what we need to do to make certain that the scum is contained.
Law enforcement isn't just what I do professionally; it's personal, too. Especially this time. Messing up my friends is not something I take very well. I don't have enough that I can afford to lose them is the excuse I always give, but Byers, Langly and Frohike are a lot more to me than people to bet on sports and get drunk with. They're my brothers in arms. They're True Believers. And if they've accepted someone into their tightly closed personal circle, and that person is at risk, that's sufficient to make it personal for me.
Barry Guertzen, you're about to go on the vacation of a lifetime, for a lifetime. I'll see to that.
LONE GUNMEN HQ
John-boy's in his room. This is a Good Thing, since Deb and I are in hot and heavy chat. We're describing all the lurid things we plan to do to each other as soon as we're up close and personal. I can't wait. Hell, I feel the room melting all around me. Of course Fro and Sari manage to barge in right about the time Deb is describing the magically delicious blow job she plans to give me when we get together -- nowhere near soon enough! Being blonde and male is a double whammy. I get all red and sweaty. Frohike isn't going to ignore that.
"I've got a couple new videos you can borrow," he says to me, wicked smile on his lips as he closes the door. I'm ready to tell him to fuck himself, but I may just have to take him up on it, so I shut up. "And," Frohike continues, not allowing me any privacy to regain my self-control, "got some good news."
"Such as?" Please, just get the fuck out of here, I'm dying already!
"Guertzen's been collared. Mulder and Scully made the arrest about an hour ago."
"Cool!" Okay, that's worth having him tell me. I'm about to tell him and Sari to go find some hole to hide in, when Deb says she just got paged, she's gotta run. She makes a couple more comments about how hot she is for me and nearly sucks the breath out of me before she goes off to play doctor. Fortunately, she only plays it like this with me. I am one lucky bastard. Sari looks real tired. "You want something?" I ask her.
"No thanks, Ringo, I'm fine. I'm just exhausted."
"How'd the hearing go?"
"Well, I did manage to catch the opposition with their pants around their ankles," she winks at me a little. "I think they're looking at damage control, but I'm not sure they're going to be able to pull it off."
"Nope, we're gonna make sure they don't." And we will. Believe me, just because our job for her is over, doesn't mean our work's done. Far from it.
Frohike comes back from carrying a couple bags into the kitchen, bringing a mug of tea and some raisin bread left over from this morning. "Now eat this, young lady." He sticks it under her nose.
"I'm really not hungry right now, Mel..."
"Eat, eat! That's an order!" he barks at her, but he's looking worried. "And then, dear girl, you're going to lie down for the rest of the afternoon. Don't even try arguing with me."
"Or we'll bring out the furry handcuffs," I wink at her. I got one back at her. She's cool. You can banter with her and she's game.
She gives this mock look of distress. She does this Python voice, "Oh, please, not the furry handcuffs!"
"I thought I heard voices." It's Byers. He's making a slow shuffle over to Sari. "How did it go?"
"It went so well, John! Much better than I'd expected. And Barry's been arrested." Sari gives him this real gentle hug, knowing he's still pretty unsteady on his feet. She's got this huge look of relief on her face, but she still looks terrible. If she thinks I'm kidding about the furry handcuffs, well, I am. But like, only about the furry part. We have the real deal and we're not afraid to use 'em.
Byers smiles, a real smile. He looks close at her face, but then again, that's the only way he can see anything these days. "That's wonderful. You look as if you could use some rest, though."
"I'm fine, really."
"The hell she is," Frohike calls from the kitchen, where he's making lunch. "She's not doing anything more strenuous than lifting a remote this afternoon." He brings out some soup bowls, crackers, and apples. "I tried your soup recipe, my dear." He takes a more gentle tone with her. "I doubt it's up to yours, but they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
Soup's actually really good. Sari says it tastes just like her own. And I notice John polishing his off. This is good, seeing him eat again. Sari's kind of picking at her food, but she tells Fro he did good. "Let me help clear," she offers when we're done.
"Forget it. You're the one-armed bandit here, and you have earned yourself imprisonment on the sofa for the entire afternoon," Frohike dictates to her. And you wonder why we call him Napoleon?
"The sofa?" She looks kind of skeptical. Don't blame her. It's not the height of comfort for anyone but me. My dents are in it.
"She could use my room," I offer. I know she's not trying to be rude, but she's seen my room. Okay, so it's not the neatest. She shudders.
"That's okay. I'll take the sofa." She doesn't sound too happy about it, though.
"Sari, why don't you take my room? I'll take the sofa," Byers offers her, since he's a gentleman.
"No, I can't ask you to do that, John."
"You didn't. I offered. I insist." He must be feeling a lot better. She thinks about it and protests a little more, but after a minute, she caves. Byers gets a pillow and blanket and moves out with us. He makes a few noises about do we need any help, but Fro and I both tell him to shut up or we'll gag him. He gets a lot quieter when the Cardinal curls up on his feet. That seems to make both of them happy. I guess I'd always pegged Byers as one of those dog people, but he really seems to be enjoying having Cardinal Richelieu around. I don't know why, but we all really like that cat.
Frohike and me keep working for a while. I've got lots of old stuff to go through in order to figure out who did this hack into her system when I get the Deb Song. Yes! Byers is snoozing on the sofa, drugged and oblivious to all that's going on. Frohike gets up and says he's got a few things to get at Spies R Us. Sari's down for the count.
Time for some more words. Because words make all the difference.
end part 16