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Title: The Lonely Know Why
Keywords: Yves Adele Harlow, Lone Gunmen Spoilers: Three of a Kind
Summary: There are too many lonely people in this world.
Alison from the LGM Topica lists issued a challenge for Byers' 40th birthday fic (November 22nd). For obvious reasons, the events of the 'Jump the Shark' XF episode are being ignored.
Saturday, November 22, 2003
Yves was a bit surprised to find Byers greeting her at the door of the Lone Gunmen Headquarters - Jimmy was the one who was usually sent to do the mundane household chores. "I'm not intruding on any celebrations, am I?" she asked as she crossed the threshold and made her way to the main office.
"No," Byers called after her, almost apologetically.
"You're joking." She looked back at him over her shoulder to verify that he was, in fact, not joking. She then glanced over at the other two occupants of the room and directed her comments at them. "Frohike hasn't whipped up a cake? Langly hasn't filled your mailbox with the most obscene of birthday wishes?"
Langly called out from across the room, "He says he doesn't want to be reminded."
Yves was genuinely disappointed. "No silly little hats? No balloons or ice cream?"
"You'd think he was getting old," Frohike snorted. "He's only turning forty."
Yves sighed. "Pity about the ice cream," she said, more or less to herself. She walked around desks scattered with newspapers and blueprints, saddened that a birthday - and a significant one at that - was being wasted as just another day. With every other step, she tugged at a newspaper corner to catch the legend or a full headline, noting what cities they were currently interested in and in what possible direction their latest wild goose chase would take them. She believed that she had arrived just in time to break up another monotonous afternoon with their little publication.
"Is there something you wanted, Yves?" Frohike asked as he loaded paper into one of the laser printers.
The remark reminded her of the reason she had come to their little cave in the first place. She gave Byers a slight push towards the stairs to the second level. "Go on, change your clothes. You're going out."
"Why?" the three Gunmen asked in unison.
She refused to acknowledge the other two, directing her comments only towards Byers. "There's an item that I believe you would be interested in that I would like to show you. I won't keep you long."
Byers looked down at what he was wearing and adjusted his jacket. "I'm wearing a perfectly respectable outfit."
It crossed her mind that neither the cut nor the fabric could be classified as respectable for her tastes, but seeing as how the birthday boy had probably picked out the suit with his own hard-earned pennies, she let the thought pass without comment. "At the very least, change your tie."
"What's wrong with the tie?"
Yves just shook her head. "I loathe that tie." She waited until Byers was upstairs out of earshot before admonishing the others. "Are you seriously going to let this day end without a little birthday party?"
Frohike threw up his hands in defeat. "Yves, what are we supposed to do? He says he doesn't want one."
"Can't you see that he is in desperate need of a bit of fun?" She fit two fingers into a front pocket of her snug jeans and pulled out a Party Land business card. "Ring this number; they're expecting to hear from you, and they'll deliver within the hour. And don't forget the ice cream."
Langly snatched the card from her hand before Frohike could intercept it. "Where are you taking him?"
"Does it matter? I don't want to spoil the surprise." Noises from the staircase alerted her to Byers' early return. "You could invite a few friends over as well. You do have friends, don't you?"
Byers came down the stairs, shirt collar unbuttoned and no longer wearing the offending tie. "I couldn't find another one to go with this suit."
Frohike grabbed Byers' elbow before he could follow Yves out the front door and pulled him off to one side. "I have but one word of advice: Condoms."
Byers rolled his eyes. "Frohike, don't be so crude."
"One day, you'll use my pearls of wisdom and thank me for them." Frohike locked the door after them, then watched on the monitor as the two walked toward Yves' car.
Langly came up behind him to observe. "You don't think that he and Yves would ever, you know, do it, do you?"
"I doubt it, but he went with her a little too willingly. That boy is lonely."
"He still hasn't heard from Susanne, has he?"
Frohike shook his head and sighed.
Small talk had never been Yves' forte. Usually, she could count on distracting men with her ensemble or a drug in their drink; however, this approach was not likely to work with Byers - he'd seen her use it too many times. The subjects of the weather and the latest scoop for the newspaper had already been covered by the time they left the Beltway, and they spent several moments riding in silence. "And how is your Susanne?"
Byers continued to stare out of the window, not really noticing the passing scenery. "I don't feel like talking about her right now."
"A shame really." She stole a quick glance at her passenger before continuing. "I hear that you could use a good talk with someone of the female persuasion, among other activities."
"Frohike's got a big mouth."
"Tell me something I don't already know."
Byers shifted roughly in his seat, irritated at the deception. "So, what, Frohike called you and asked you to come over and coddle me?"
"I don't believe he used those exact words."
"I think I know which ones he would use. Why would you agree to this?"
"My name is an anagram of Lee Harvey Oswald and you're named after the president he allegedly assassinated. It's November twenty-second. We were destined to meet today; call it fate or kismet." Yves could tell by his demeanor that he was not going to be a sport about it and play along. "Look, let's just say that I can understand your loneliness."
Byers returned to staring out the window. "I live in a warehouse with two other guys; three, if you count the times when Jimmy sacks out on our couch. How could I possibly be lonely?"
"That only means that you're not alone. Lonely is another concept. Lonely is living without Susanne."
"I'm not living without her. She's had to do a lot of moving around lately." Byers was visibly agitated at having been drawn into this confession. "By the time I locate her, she's already gone on to a new place. And why are you playing psychologist all of a sudden?"
"Not psychologist. Chauffeur, actually."
A few minutes later, Yves turned off of the main highway and stopped in front of a steel and glass structure that looked like many of the office buildings that lined the Beltway and the surrounding areas.
Byers looked around for any identifying features and found none except for the street number plaque. "Why are we stopping here?"
Yves removed a plastic card from her jacket pocket and held it out to him. "Take this keycard and use it to get to the fifth floor."
"And what's on the fifth floor?"
For a bright boy, Yves thought, he was hopelessly clueless; she thought that she had dropped enough hints. "Oh, look. I could say that it was woman's intuition or that I just felt sorry for you, but it was something Frohike said about your not hearing from Susanne lately. He was genuinely concerned about your wellbeing so I tracked her down." When he made no immediate move to take the card, she leaned over and slid her hand inside his jacket, depositing the card inside the inner pocket. "I gather that she'd just gotten into town a few days ago, but you can ask her yourself. Don't keep the lady waiting."
For the first time that afternoon, Byers was seen to be smiling. "What about my 'surprise' party?"
Yves would have slapped him had she not known he'd been teasing. "Would you please get out of the car?" She leaned over to call out after him before he could shut the passenger door. "I shall make your apologies if we don't see you later at your birthday party."
She waited and watched to be certain that he could get past the initial security door before driving away. She was planning on sharing a quart of French Vanilla Haagen-Dazs with Frohike - Yves doubted that he would notice that Byers was not there.
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