by Merri-Todd Webster

Title: "Valiant-for-Truth"
Author: Merri-Todd Webster
Feedback to: lonchura@yahoo.com
Author's Website: http://www.ravenswing.com/~lonchura/
Date Archived: 05/05/02
Category: Drama, Missing Scene, Character Death  
Pairing: Langly/Byers      
Rating: PG
Spoilers: "Jump the Shark"
Permission to Archive: Yes to DitB; others please ask, I rarely say no.
Series or Sequel/Prequel: Sequel to "'Much Ado about Nothing'," "'John Come Kiss Me Now'," and "'In Dulci Jubilo'"
Notes: Have I ever written a missing scene story before? Oh, yes, "Mentor." Anyway, this is my tribute to the Gunmen and to an episode that engaged and moved me the way XF did week by week in the good old days.
Warnings: Big hanky warning on this one. Religious anthem lyrics warning, too.
Disclaimer: Not mine, all Chris Carter's.
Summary: "And all the trumpets sounded for them on the other side."

by Merri-Todd Webster
22 April 2002

"You know, there's something I've been meaning to tell you."

Frohike looked at Byers without turning his head. His head hurt too much to move it, and there was a foul taste at the back of his throat that he longed to wash away with a Pepsi.

"Save it," he growled. "I've known about you and Langly for ages."

Byers smiled. By the way his skin stretched across his teeth, Frohike guessed Byers was feeling it the same way he was. The bad taste, the shortness of breath, the tingling in his chest. "That's not it. We knew you knew."

Langly looked up from where he was squatting beside the dead man, staring at the glowing pool of pink that was killing them in the same way he used to stare at the glowing monitor when he was deep into a hack. Used to stare. Frohike was already thinking of them in past tense. "You had to know, as much noise as Fitz makes--"

"Save it," Frohike growled again. His knees wobbled as pain shot through his groin, and he let himself slide down the wall until his butt hit the floor. He felt a little better sitting, but not much. Not that it really made a difference, but he didn't like being that much closer to the source of the toxin.

Byers lowered himself with awkward grace to sit opposite Frohike. "What I wanted to say is that I've never told how much I respect you, Melvin."

Frohike stared at the floor. Byers hadn't used his first name half a dozen times in the--what? how many years had they been together? He couldn't remember. It was getting hard to think as the ache crept down his arms and his legs. His head was hurting now, too.

"You taught me about standing up for myself, and for something I believe in." Byers took a ragged breath. "Thank you."

"Thank you." Frohike traced a line on the dusty floor and studied the grit that clung to his finger. "Thank you for showing me I was something more than a raddled old hacker. A man who saw shadows that weren't there."

"The shadows were there." Langly crept over, on hands and knees, and slumped next to Byers. Byers, unself-conscious in his extremity, pressed a kiss to Langly's sweating forehead. "And so were the men in the shadows. We found that out." He tipped his head slowly onto Byers' shoulder.

Frohike gulped air. The pain in his groin had eased, but he felt so cold. So cold. His arms were so heavy that he couldn't wrap them around himself. He couldn't feel his feet. Byers had found Langly's hand and grasped it loosely. Langly was wheezing audibly; Frohike thought he remembered the man had been asthmatic as a child. He tried to get enough breath to say something else, something that had to be said.

"I'm glad you two--found each other." God, it hurt to breathe now. "Glad--Jimmy and Yves will carry on."

"They won't give up," Langly murmured, almost inaudible. He raised a hand toward Byers' face, but it fell weakly into the other man's lap.

"We never did. Never gave up. Just like Joey, right, Ringo?" Langly didn't answer; Frohike knew he wouldn't speak again. Byers tilted his head back, eyes dropping closed; it thudded wetly against the wall. "'Death, where is thy sting? Grave, where is thy victory?'"

I love you guys, Frohike thought, but he was too weak to talk. It had to be over soon. Langly slumped down against Byers, his glasses tumbling askew. He did not reach up to adjust them.

Someone was beating on the glass window and shouting, but Frohike couldn't look up to see who it was. He didn't think it was Jimmy; Jimmy and Yves had said their good-byes and fled a while ago, getting away while it was safe. For a moment he thought it was Mulder, but that couldn't be; they hadn't heard from Mulder in months, had no idea where he was. He wished his old buddy well.

The last thing Frohike heard was Byers murmuring, "'And all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.'"

He heard them, too, and smiled.

After this it was noised abroad that Mr. Valiant-for-Truth was taken with a summons, and had this for a token that the summons was true, 'That his pitcher was broken at the fountain'. When he understood it, he called for his friends, and told them of it.

Then said he, "I am going to my Father's, and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am.

My sword, I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill, to him that can get it.

My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me, that I have fought his battles, who now will be my rewarder.

When the day that he must go hence, was come, many accompanied him to the river side, into which, as he went, he said, "Death, where is thy sting?"

And as he went down deeper, he said, "Grave, where is thy victory?"

So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.

--John Bunyan, "Pilgrim's Progess," set by Ralph Vaughan Williams


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