By Leia Fee
minus 3 Days
Langly caught Frohike’s arm as he came out of the kitchen.
“What’s up with him?” He gestured towards Byers, sitting slumped on the couch.
Frohike frowned and stepped further down the corridor, out of earshot.
“You know it’s his birthday in a few days?”
“He said he just wanted to let it pass.”
“Well why?” Langly looked puzzled.
Frohike sighed. For all he knew Langly to be a perfectly intelligent individual he quite frequently displayed a total lack of understanding.
“Not every counts growing older as a great thing, Langly.”
And having Jimmy around, practically bouncing off the walls with youthful enthusiasm had brought home to all of them, that they were getting older. Well all of us except Langly apparently, Frohike mentally corrected himself with a grimace.
Langly frowned. “Byers isn’t old. He’s only a few years older than me.”
“Yeah, but you never act your age, hippie.”
Langly suddenly grinned. “Well then neither should Byers. I’ve got an idea.”
Frohike looked at him suspiciously.
“We’re going to have a party,” Langly grinned.
minus 2 Days
“That’s a great idea!” Jimmy beamed when they mentioned the idea to him. “I love parties. Jello and sausages on sticks and balloons and games—”
Frohike rolled his eyes. “Jimmy, I don’t think that’s the sort of party Langly had in mind.”
Langly shook his head. “Actually I think Jimmy’s got a point. We want Byers to quit worrying about his age after all…”
Frohike raised his hands. “All right, okay. Just remember whose idea this was if he never speaks to us again.”
Birthday minus 1 Day
“Jimmy, hold the cart still a minute!” Langly grabbed at the shopping cart to pull Jimmy to a stop. He rummaged through pile of shopping. “We still need paper plates, cookies, cocktail sticks and streamers. Anything else?”
“Noise makers! And candles for the cake.”
“Okay.” Langly turned the cart and gave both it and Jimmy a nudge in the right direction.
“So how are we going to keep Byers out of the way tomorrow?” Jimmy asked.
“That’s where you come in,” Langly grinned. “You’re going out on a story with him.”
“Jimmy,” Byers sighed. “Are you sure you have no idea where we are?”
“Sorry” Jimmy looked up at him sheepishly.
Byers sighed again and brought the van to a halt at the side of the road.
“Here, give me the map.”
“Uh…” Jimmy fumbled for a moment, juggling both the map and his drink and finally dropping both onto his lap, spilling cola all over the page.
“Jimmy!” Byers slid across the seat, out of the way of the liquid trickling towards him. He grabbed a handful of paper tissues and started mopping at the spill.
“Never mind. Let’s just go home. It’s almost six. We’ll try again tomorrow.”
Back at the warehouse Byers banged on the door. After a moment Langly hauled it open. Inside the office was dark, lit only by the flashing lights of the assorted electronics.
Byers frowned, “What happened to the lights?”
“We, uh, had a power cut.”
Byers glanced round. “The UPS we hooked up for the computers works okay then?”
“Yeah.” Langly glanced over his shoulder. “Go on through. Frohike found some candles in the other room.”
Byers picked his way cautiously across the room towards the flickering candlelight.
As he reached the centre of the room it was suddenly flooded with light. In the same moment there was a sudden chorus of voices raised in greeting.
Byers stood stock still and stared around. The room was crowded with people, all grinning broadly at him. It seemed like everyone he knew was there. The flickering candle was revealed to be topping a large chocolate cake which Frohike was holding out towards him in both hands. Streamers and paperchains hung from the ceiling, equipment racks, equipment, and many of the guests. One of the workbenches had been cleared of equipment and covered in a sparkly tablecloth and paper plates full of snacks, candies, sausages on sticks, crackers and fairy cakes.
“I made the sausages on sticks this morning and hid them in the fridge,” Jimmy piped up from behind after a few moments silence.
Byers turned to see Jimmy grinning at him and Langly smiling rather nervously. He raised his eyebrows and Langly visibly twitched.
“Your idea?” Byers guessed aloud.
“Uh, yeah,” Langly admitted, nervousness being replaced by outright guilt on his face.
Byers stared at him. “You planned all this? Had Jimmy lead me around on a wild goose chase all day?”
“Uh, yeah.” Langly looked down at the floor.
Byers shook his head and suddenly started laughing. “Langly…”
Langly looked up. “You’re not mad?”
Byers shook his head. “Langly, you’re an idiot.”
“Langly, come here!” Byers caught both his shoulders and hauled him into a rough hug. “Of course I’m not mad! It was a lovely idea. You’ve all obviously put a lot of work into this. Thank you.”
Langly practically drooped in relief.
“Good,” Frohike said loudly from across the room. “Now we’ve established that we’re not going to get our asses kicked for this little plan, get over here and blow out your candles!”
The music stopped for the final round of pass-the-parcel and the newspaper-wrapped bundle dropped into Mulder’s lap.
“Open it!” Jimmy leaned over to watch.
Mulder pulled off the paper to reveal a keychain bearing a silvery plastic flying saucer.
“Fix!” Frohike looked up suspiciously at Langly, clutching the remote control for the stereo.
“Hey, you won musical chairs, what are you bitching about?”
“Yeah and I would have won pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey if Agent Scully hadn’t distracted me.”
“Don’t be a sore loser, Frohike,” teased Scully dangling the water pistol she’d won.
“Everyone’s won something now,” Jimmy beamed happily.
“Yes…” Frohike still looked suspiciously in Langly’s direction but he’d already bounded off to retrieve the bowls of icecream.
Later that night after waving the last of guests goodnight, the four of them sat in companionable silence amid the debris, having made a collective decision to leave the clearing up until the following day.
“It was a great party guys,” Byers smiled.
“Mm good,” Langly murmured sleepily.
“Convenient how everyone won something,” Frohike added.
“Wasn’t it, Langly?”
“I said, ‘it was convenient how everyone won a prize.’ Wasn’t it, Langly?”
Langly sat up. “Uh…”
Frohike smirked at him. “Quite a clever bit of game fixing I thought. Subtle.”
Langly blushed. “Well, the ‘planning kid’s parties’ website I looked at said you should make sure no one felt left out and everyone got something to go home with…”
Byers burst out laughing afresh at that. “Oh yes, it would have been terrible if we’d had disappointed FBI agents throwing tantrums!”
Langly relaxed back down into his comfy slouch. “Yeah man, they carry guns.”
“More cake?” Frohike reached across to grab the last of it and wave it in front of the others.
Byers took a piece and muched on it contentedly.
“You know were right, Langly,” he said after a moment.
“Yeah, that’s rare enough it’s got to be worth hearing,” Frohike added.
“Yeah. Growing old with you guys really isn’t so bad.”
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