Note to Archivists: Reposting this story with Surreal's permission, some changes due to our sequel to be posted shortly. Please replace earlier version when you next update - Alison.

Finding Comfort
by Surreal (surreal666@hotmail.com)
Rating: PG-13 for adult situations
Category: Langly/Byers
Disclaimer: Still Chris Carter's, not mine
Archive: Unusual Suspects, Basement, Ephemeral, Gossamer: anywhere else just ask
Note: This is (like everything else...) post-Requiem; not for any specific reason, but I just really suck at trying to write Mulder. I love having an excuse not to have to! Author's note: Bien merci a Alison...a shy but extremely talented lurker on the list. She wrote some of the best scenes in this beast below, and this story couldn't have come out so well, or so quickly, without her!
Summary: Love heals


Gunmen Headquarters
7:36pm

"Hey, Scully," Frohike greets her as he opens the door.

"Hi guys. I was wondering if you could do something for me," she says, waving a tan file folder.

"Anything for you, G-woman," Frohike quips. "Whatcha got there?"

"These are the medical records we were looking at before, back in Skinner's office. Could you do a search for anyone who had that same brain anomaly; people out-side of Bellefleur, that I could talk to?"

Frohike takes the folder from her and heads for his computer. "We'll see what we can do."

She watches him begin his work, not sure what to do now. Normally, she would just blow out of there, and wait for their call later. But now...she just didn't want to leave; not yet, anyway. She found herself doing that more and more recently; spending more time with the guys instead of just tossing them a job like they were a pack of trained dogs and leaving.

Glancing around, she found the familiar cluttered room almost relaxing, despite the apparent chaos. Her eyes fell on Langly, sitting at his laptop and typing furiously. She cocks her head to one side; he didn't look very happy. He hadn't said anything since she had arrived, either.

Suddenly, she feels like there is something missing...

"Hey, where's Byers?" she asks, her question directed at Langly.

He doesn't look up, but narrows his eyes at the screen. She could barely make out his mumbled, "Who cares?"

Scully is beginning to think that maybe she should have called first. She gets the feeling that she's stepped into something ugly, and private, between the guys. She draws herself away from the silently angry blonde, as if afraid that if she makes any sudden moves, he will explode.

Instead, she moves over to Frohike and leans in close to whisper, "Should I come back some other time?"

Frohike shakes his head slightly and gives her a tight smile. "It's okay; they get like this sometimes. They got into a fight, and Byers went out to walk off some steam. Don't worry; they always keep it between themselves."

Scully just nods understanding and lets it drop.

*Briiing briiing*

"I got it," Langly says as he jumps to answer the ringing phone.

Scully watches him for a moment then turns back to Frohike to inquire about his progress. But before she can say anything, she is startled by the loud crack from behind her. She turns to see Langly frantically hitting the machines attached to the phone to turn off the recorder. The fear on his face tells her that this is a serious call.

"Yes, he lives here," Langly is focusing on the floor, his face suddenly a whiter shade of pale. "No, he's not married...I'm his, uh, roommate."

Scully exchanges a worried look with Frohike as she moves to stand next to Langly. Langly doesn't look at her; he brings a trembling hand to his head, absently running it through his hair as he listens.

"Oh, god..." he whispers, closing his eyes. He listens for another moment, nodding occasionally despite the fact that the person he is talking to won't see it. "Okay, I'll be right there. Thank you," he says as he hangs up the phone.

"Langly? What is it? What happened?" Frohike asks the younger man.

Langly looks at both of them helplessly. "It...that was Georgetown Medical. It's John...he was found in the park about half an hour ago by an off-duty police officer. He was unconscious and...um, beaten. He's at the hospital now..." he chokes on these last words. "I--I gotta go over there right now..." he says, moving toward the door as he reaches into his pocket for his car keys.

Scully watches as he fumbles with the keys in his shaking hands and drops them on the floor. "Langly, wait," she follows him and grabs his arm. "Let me drive you over there."

"No, it's okay," he shakes away from her grip.

"Langly, please. You're shaking; you're going to get into an accident if you try to drive. Let me help," she says, giving him her most authoritative tone.

He looks down at her; she feels her throat tighten at the raw emotion she sees in his eyes. Finally he drops his head, closes his eyes and nods sullenly. "Yeah, okay," he whispers. "Um, hang on a sec." He runs down the hall, and returns a moment later with his backpack, hastily stuffing some clothing into it. "They told me to bring some clean clothes for him; they said we should be able to bring him home tonight."

Scully nods and follows him out the door, tossing a tight, concerned smile over her shoulder to Frohike. The older man nods slightly and moves to lock the door behind them.

Langly was very quiet on the drive over. With a few subtle glances Scully determined that there was more to what was happening than a simple, random attack in the park.

"Langly? Did the hospital say anything else about what happened?"

He didn't look at her, just kept his eyes focused on the road ahead of them. "Um," he starts, then clears his throat. "They don't know all the details yet, but they said...there are indications of, um, of s-sexual assault," he stutters, running his hand through his hair again.

"Oh, my god," she says softly. She decided to drop the subject and wait until they get to the hospital and get all the answers.

Georgetown Medical
7:58pm

"Byers, John Fitzgerald Byers," Scully asks the woman standing at the reception desk in the emergency room.

"Are you family?" the receptionist asks politely.

"No, I'm his doctor, and he," Scully indicates Langly, who is glancing around nervously," is his roommate. We're his closest thing to family." "All right, wait here a moment. I'll find out who has his chart and let you speak to that doctor," she says as she turns makes her way down the hall.

Scully walks over to where Langly is standing and places her hand on his arm. "They'll be with us in a few minutes." He nods and gives her a tight smile.

Ten minutes pass before a woman in a lab coat approaches them.

"Hello. You two are here for Mr. Byers?"

"Yes," they answer in unison.

The doctor, who's badge read "Emily Franklin", gives them a warm smile and indicates for them to follow her. "He's with a nurse right now, but I need to talk to you about what is happening." She leads them to an empty exam room and motions for them to sit in the chairs.

"I understand that you are his doctor?" she asks Scully.

"Well, I am listed as his doctor, but I'm not a practicing physician. I'm a federal agent. But yes, I am in control of his medical records, as well as those of his roommates," she adds, placing her hand on Langly's shoulder.

"Okay," Dr. Franklin responds as she jots down notes on the chart in her hand. "This is the situation. Mr. Byers was found unconscious in the park by a police officer and was brought here by ambulance. There are bruises and minor lacerations over most of his body. He regained consciousness shortly after arriving here, and was able to answer questions about the assault. However, the blow to the back of his head that knocked him out apparently did not end the attack. Evidence shows that he was battered for several minutes after losing consciousness, as well as possibly being sexually assaulted. We have done the standard tests involved in rape cases and we are waiting on the bloodwork to return from the lab."

Langly's head shot up when the doctor explained the last part, as if a realization had suddenly struck him. He glances at Scully quickly, then back to the doctor. "Um, the tests are for tracing DNA from semen, right?"

Scully and Franklin both nod. "If he has been sexually assaulted, there may be traces of semen found," Franklin explains. Langly began to blush, dropping his eyes to the floor. "Then you should know that John and I are, um, together..." he says softly, his voice shaking. "I mean, we..." he trails off, not knowing quite how to explain to the two female doctors his situation.

"Then I need to ask you a few questions, Mr. Langly. Are you two sexually active?" Franklin asks gently, picking up the chart again.

"Yes."

"Have you engaged in anal intercourse within the past three days?"

"Yes," he nearly whispers, hands nervously fidgeting in his lap.

"All right. This means that we will need to do a semen analysis for you as well, to compare to the results of Mr. Byers' blood tests."

Langly closes his eyes and nods hesitantly, understanding.

Scully listens to this exchange in stunned silence. She had had so few glimpses into the personal lives of these guys that she never knew that Langly and Byers were together. Now she understood why Langly had been so shaken by the phone call, and why Frohike had stayed behind, letting Langly handle this alone.

"Dr. Scully, Mr. Byers is in exam five if you'd like to check on him. His physical injuries are not serious, but he is very shaken from the incident. It may be good for him to see a familiar face."

Scully nods and exits the room, heading down the hall to find Byers.

Scully stands outside exam room five, watching as a female nurse applies antiseptic to the cut along Byers' right cheekbone. Byers is laying on his side, curled up nearly in a fetal position.

Scully knocks on the door softly. Byers jumps slightly, and the nurse gets up and opens the door. "Can I help you?"

"I'm Dana Scully, John Byers' doctor. I was told I could see him."

The nurse smiles warmly and motions for her to come in.

Scully approaches Byers, who smiles at her weakly. "Hey, Scully," he says.

"Hi, John," she replies, taking the seat vacated by the nurse, who had exited shortly after Scully came in. "How are you feeling?"

He sighs and pulls the sheet tighter around him. "I don't really know. They gave me painkillers so I guess I'm better than I could be."

Scully nods, understanding. Seeing him like this, vulnerable, scared...she had to fight the urge to reach out and comfort him. She wasn't sure if that kind of contact would hurt him more. "Langly's here with me," she tells him.

Byers sniffs quietly and nods against the pillow. "Is he...um, is he okay? Can I see him?"

"Yeah, he's okay. He's getting some tests done," she explains.

"Oh," he responds. "So...they, you, know about him and me," he says quietly.

"Yes, he told us after the doctor explained what was happening. Why didn't you guys tell me before?"

Byers looks at her pointedly. "Why didn't you tell anyone about you and Mulder?"

Scully is surprised by the question. "Well, because there are, uh, rules that discourage FBI partners from having sexual relations," she explains, hoping that the by-the-book excuse will be good enough for Byers.

It isn't. "We both know there are other reasons. If They found out that you two were something more than just partners and friends, you would both be in even more danger. They would use your intimate relationship against you, to force you into silence."

Scully listens, realizing that Byers had already considered conclusions that she herself did not want to face. "And since you guys are visible to Them as well, you didn't want word getting out about how close you and Langly had become. That if the Consortium found out, they would use your relationship to shut your newsletter down, to keep you quiet," she concludes.

"You got it," he mutters.

Langly enters the room cautiously a few moments later. He gives a worried look to Byers, and the older man smiles at him fondly. Scully moves to stand near the door while Langly approaches his friend.

"Hey, John," he says softly, his arms crossed over his chest shyly.

Byers extends his right hand to the younger man. Langly relaxes visibly and laces his fingers with Byers', moving closer. He lays his right arm along the railing to lean close to his lover.

Scully watches as Byers lets go of Langly's hand and reaches up to gently stroke the younger man's cheek. The gesture is so poignant, moving Langly to return the favor hesitantly. He lets his left hand gently brush the little fringe of hair away from Byers' forehead. Watching these two from the shadows near the door, Scully can't help but think of how many times she and Mulder had done the same thing.

She stands by silently, watching. Byers rests his right hand on the arm Langly has leaning on the rail, stroking the pale wrist with his thumb gently. He closes his eyes as Langly continues to stroke his hair, gently comforting him and talking to him softly, soothingly.

"I'm so sorry, John," Langly whispers. "I never should have made you run out like that..."

"Ringo, don't. I--this isn't your fault. I should have been more careful..."

She watches as Byers struggles for control, unable to keep a few tears from escaping, a few muffled sobs as he finally gives in to the reality of his situation. Watches as Langly leans in close, kissing him softly on the forehead. "Shh...it's okay, you're okay now. I'm gonna take care of you..."

She catches Langly's eye and tilts her head towards the door, mouthing "I'll be outside . ." He nods - he'd already forgotten she was there.

Walking outside into the street for some fresh air, she is surprised as always when visiting the hospital, to find the noisy bustle of everyday life going on outside, uncaring. A walk clears her head and it's an hour later when she returns to the quiet room.

Langly is sitting on the bed, his back propped against the head-board with his arms tight around Byers, who has his head resting on Langly's shoulder. Both have their eyes closed, but Langly looks up as she enters.

"No news on the tests yet?"

Langly shakes his head. Byers looks up sleepily and smiles at her. "Scully, you don't have to wait. You've done so much for us already."

She shakes her head fiercely. "No, I'm not leaving." In her mind is the time of her own stay in hospital, what they did for her then and the risks they took for her, Byers in particular, and she feels a stinging behind her eyes. "I'm staying as long as it takes."

And it's only a few minutes later that the doctor returns with the test results . . .

Dr. Franklin enters the room quietly, her stiff expression telling them what they don't want to hear. As she approaches, Byers struggles to sit up straight, with Langly's help. He winces painfully as he braces himself for the news; Langly never lets go of his hand.

"The test results show traces of DNA not belonging to either of you," she explains softly. "However, there is no evidence of sexually transmitted diseases."

Byers nods slightly, already emotionally drained. Langly lowers his gaze to the floor, swallowing hard. Scully leaves the room then, unable to watch her friends in such a fragile state. She busies herself with filling out Byers' release forms at the nurses' station.

In the exam room, Dr. Franklin finishes by explaining that Byers will need to come back for a checkup in two days, then writes a prescription for pain medication.

"You can take him home whenever you are ready," she tells them. "However, he does have a concussion so you'll need to keep an eye on him throughout the night."

Langly nods and gives the doctor a grateful smile. He turns back to Byers, squeezing his hand. "Ready to go?" Byers nods and smiles back at him, a tired but affectionate little smile.

Franklin leaves the room while Langly helps Byers get dressed; the younger man had wisely chosen to bring sweatpants and a t-shirt for Byers, as well as a fleece jacket.

Scully peers cautiously into the room through the half-closed blinds on the window. She feels her throat tighten at what she sees. As Langly finishes tightening the jacket protectively around Byers, the older man suddenly reaches out, wrapping his arms tightly around his lover and burying his face in the other man's chest. Langly closes his eyes, putting his arms around Byers and pulling him closer still. He reaches up, closing one hand around the head of ruffled red hair, tucking his chin close and brushing his lips lightly across the soft hair.

Langly gives the older man as much time as he needs, displaying a patience and compassion that Scully never knew the young man possessed. Byers finally raises his head, pressing his forehead to Langly's and steadying his breathing. After a moment he kisses Langly gently on the lips, then motions for them to leave.

The agent follows silently as Langly leads Byers out of the hospital, his arm wrapped not-too-tightly around the older man's shoulders. Byers leans on him heavily, the affects of the painkillers making him weak and drowsy.

The drive back is also silent. Scully glances back to see Byers curled up on his side, head and shoulders cradled in Langly's lap. The younger man absently strokes his lover's hair, occasionally catching Scully's eye in the rearview mirror and exchanging an affectionate, sad little smile.

By the time they arrive back at the Lone Gunmen HQ Byers is asleep, and Langly has to gently coax him awake enough to stumble to the front door while Scully knocks to summon Frohike. He appears quickly, concerned but deeply relieved. With a quick plea to Scully to 'wait a few minutes', he and Langly between them, one each side, help Byers down the corridor to the bedroom.

A few minutes later Frohike reappears, obviously moved, with a grateful smile for her. "Langly's just getting him settled . . . he asked if you'd wait until he could say thanks. You must be hungry, can I get you something?"

Until then Scully hasn't realised how hungry she is, and she accepts gratefully. It's pleasant to relax on the comfortable couch for a while Frohike fusses round her, getting her coffee and a sandwich while they bring each other up to date. He nods, and goes on to explain, when she refers to the boys' relationship. She learns that it's a comparatively recent development. Somewhat ironically, after being best friends for so many years, they have recently embarked on a passionate physical and emotional relationship.

"I was surprised too at first . . . but when you see them together, you realise how right they are for each other. I'm just glad that they make each other so happy."

Langly reappears then, looking tired but relieved. "He's asleep. . . I'm going to stay with him. I just want to say thanks, Scully. I would have gone crazy without you there."

He comes over to her, taking both her hands in his big gentle ones, and bends to kiss her cheek. She squeezes back and smiles up at him. "I'll drop in to see him tomorrow. It's not going to be easy for him - or you - but at least he's got you to look after him."

He nods and escorts her to the door, waiting to see her safely into her car. She smiles inwardly. He's really just as much a gentleman as Byers in his own way. And they are lucky, she reflects as she drives away, to have each other. She knows that Byers' ordeal is far from over, but she can take comfort from the knowledge that he will be cared for by the people who love him, on this night when he needs that more than anything else.

END