Title: The Second Round

Summary: (A short and silly fic) The guys go out drinking to celebrate a well-received article in the LGM publication – and we're introduced to a rather interesting drunk.

Disclaimer: Chris Carter owns the Gunmen, not me. "Brass Monkey" written by the Beastie Boys/R. Rubin

Rating: PG-13 for some slight language and drinking.

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Harry's Happy Hour, one of the many secluded taverns in town, was humming with an unusual abundance of business for a Wednesday, especially at 7:45 at night. The strange cluster of people were imbibing miscellaneous drinks faster than the overworked bartenders could pour them. The live band playing in the back kept the music up-tempo to imitate the mood of the room. Some folks were actually dancing and there was generous laughter among the place. The bell over the front door jingled and three dissimilar and somewhat eccentric men, strolled into the establishment. They made their way through the throng of gathered individuals, and found three seats at the end of the bar.

"Name's Chris. What'll it be, guys?" asked the tall bartender, who appeared to be very friendly. He assembled some paper coasters in front of the men.

The shortest, and gruffest of the motley group answered first. "Gimme the best, cold beer ya got, in the bottle, please." He smiled at the kid next to him.

"Yeah, me too," said a long-haired, blond kid, with glasses, who tucked his hair behind his ears and smirked. He looked all of nineteen.

"You have I.D.?" Chris asked, gently.

The kid's grin grew wider. "You cardin' me?" he inquired, with amusement. "That's a compliment. Thanks, man, I haven't been carded for the last 6 years." He removed his I.D. from his pocket and Chris was satisfied.

A striking, and rather shy gentlemen in a suit, adjusted his tie and cleared his throat. "Well, I really don't drink very often, but, due to the occasion, I think perhaps I'll have a, uh, scotch, on the rocks, please."

"You gotcha." Chris walked down the end of the bar and grabbed a glass.

"Hittin' the hard stuff early, huh, Byers?" Langly teased. "We'll have to carry you home after a half a glass of that."

"I'll have you know, Langly, I can hold my liquor quite well."

"Actually, I've never seen you drink anything stronger than coffee in all the years I've known you, buddy," Frohike mused. "You sure you can handle a scotch on the rocks? That's a man's drink," Frohike said, playfully, and patted Byers on the shoulder. "You should start out with something softer, like a glass of milk and work your way up."

"Are you inferring that I'm not a real man, Frohike?" Byers played along, smiling. "I'm too sensitive for you, huh? Not enough masculinity for you? Well, possibly, there's a side of me you've never seen."

Chris returned with the three drinks and shuffled off to help some patrons down at the other end.

"Uh, huh. We know you like a book, man," Langly answered, taking a swig of his beer. "You wear your heart on your sleeve and your vulnerability in those big, blue, puppy-dog eyes."

Byers looked down, with a small, knowing smile. He took a slight sip of his drink, holding back a grimace. He had to get used to the taste, it had been awhile since he'd drank anything so strong. He kept his eyes focused on his glass and his throat burned.

"I still can't believe we got a call from The New York Times about our nuclear reactor article in the last issue of the newspaper. I mean, The New York Times, guys." His voice sounded almost dreamy with happiness and Byers felt more comfortable in this change of the subject. "At least for once, we have a stronger reputation than The National Enquirer, with which we're usually equated."

"I know," Langly agreed. "Journalistic Respect: it tastes good." He downed the rest of his beer and signaled to Chris for another. He brought Langly another bottle.

"Yes, gentlemen, a toast: To hard work recognized." They clinked bottles and glasses. "Damn, this place is busy tonight. I've never seen it so packed." Frohike glanced around. "This is a little, out-of-the-way place, how the hell did all these people find it?"

Byers took another mouthful of scotch and kept the shudder through his body well-hidden. Had scotch always been so biting? He couldn't remember having this reaction before, it usually went down so smoothly. When was the last time he'd had a scotch, or any really pungent bit of alcohol, anyway? College? He drank many a classmate under the table at that time in history. The other Gunmen had no idea. Of course, lots of those binges had sent him staggering back to the dormitory, sicker than a dog, but, there were some fond memories, too. Like cute, little Lila, after midnight, under the tree in the backyard of the girl's dorm. She'd had such soft and pretty, brown hair. She'd snuck out to see him one night and, boy could she kiss…. His thoughts tapered off for a moment.

Byers didn't know how long he was staring down at his glass with a silly grin on his face. He noticed, suddenly, that Frohike was waving his hand in front him.

"Welcome back to earth, Mr. Byers. We've been talking to you for the past five minutes. Nice to see you've decided to join us once again."

"You O.k., man, you're lookin' kinda drowsy?" Langly asked, as he was finishing his second beer.

"Fine, I'm fine," Byers smiled. He took another swallow of scotch, and this time, it didn't sting his throat too badly.

"Just lost in thought. What were we discussing?"

"Who's hotter - Jeri Ryan or Lucy Lawless from Xena?"

"Well, there's a perplexing and completely significant question. Actually, there was this very attractive red-head I noticed on some television show the other day. Her name was Gillian….Gillian…something. I can't remember at the moment. She was rather sexier than those two."

"Mmmmm, red-heads," Frohike reflected. "They're so tasty; there's just nothin' like 'em."

Byers raised his glass, and announced, very uncharacteristically, "To drop-dead, gorgeous, tasty red-heads, gentlemen."

Langly and Frohike exchanged a look and touched glasses with Byers. "Uh, yeah, riiiight. To red-heads."

Byers finished the rest of his beverage and got Chris's attention to bring another one. Frohike pointed at his bottle, also.

"You know, we should do this more often, guys. We don't kick back enough and relax." Byers put his arms around the shoulders of the other two. "We're buddies, we should hang out more this way."

Langly and Frohike started to smile and looked down. "You're right, buddy, we should hang out more." Frohike patted Byers' arm while Langly was struggling to hold back a laugh.

Chris brought Byers another scotch and Frohike another beer, along with a dish of pretzels and peanuts.

"Thanks." Byers felt a little warm and loosened his tie.

"I still say Jeri Ryan is a complete babe, I mean, those cool eyes just bore through your soul, man," Langly found himself already through half of his second beer.

"Yeah, she's cute." Byers threw a pretzel up in the air and caught it in his mouth. Langly and Frohike froze. It was like witnessing a UFO landing.

Byers noticed the two staring slack-jawed at him. "What?" he questioned, with his mouth full. "These pretzels are good. Here, have some." He pushed the dish towards them. He took another gulp of his second scotch.

"Um, Byers…hey, maybe you should, uh, slow down a little." Langly was still gawking at Byers as if he'd grown two more heads in the past few minutes.

"No, no, it's cool," he said. And with that, he removed his suit jacket and slung it over the back of the bar stool.

"Cool? Did you just say, 'it's cool'?" Frohike chuckled and cursed the fact he hadn't brought the video camera to this particular endeavor.

Byers noticed the music coming from the back of the bar. "Hey, you know, that's a great band, they're really kickin'!" He drank down the rest of his scotch.

"But it's rock music, John. You hate rock music. Rock music makes you nauseous," Langly remarked, slowly and emphatically. He looked over at Frohike who returned his glance, shrugging his shoulders.

"No, they're really good. Hey! Is that a dart board?" Byers voice was a bit louder than he had intended. A few people glanced in their direction and went back to their business. He put his hand over his mouth with a slight giggle.

"Sorry."

Frohike and Langly had decided perhaps it was time to go. "Byers, maybe we should be on our way…" Frohike began. "I mean…I think maybe you've had enough…"

Byers turned his gaze to Frohike. "Don't be silly, I'm fine. Really." He put his hands on Frohike's shoulders and looked at him, eye-to-eye. "I'm O.k., seriously. We're just about to have some fun. It's been a great day."

"You sure you're O.k.?" Frohike asked one last time.

"Right as rain," Byers answered with a big grin.

"O.k."

"Hey, Chris, can I get another beer?" Chris slid Langly another bottle down the bar.

Byers glanced around the bar at all the people in high spirits. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt this good, glad to be alive. He was vaguely aware of Langly and Frohike conferring about some new computer software which had impressed them. He stood up, with an almost imperceptible wobble in his legs. He told the guys he was going to the restroom, he'd be back in a second. They watched him disappear towards the back of the room.

Langly finally broke out in a chuckle. "Byers is drunk. I didn't think our favorite little Narc had the capability. He's so proper and uptight."

Frohike laughed also. "Actually, he needs to just let loose every once in awhile. Being so tense all the time isn't good for his health."

"He's almost normal sometimes. I can't believe he threw a pretzel in his mouth. I think we should be worried," Langly joked. "Isn't that one of the signs of Armageddon?"

Frohike laughed and shook his head in agreement and took another gulp of his beer. Their conversations jumped around and they kidded some more about frivolous things. It was awhile before they realized, with some concern, that Byers still hadn't returned from the bathroom. Frohike glanced at his watch.

"Hey, he's been gone over fifteen minutes, you think he's O.k.?"

Langly furrowed his brow. "Maybe one of us should go check."

"I'll go." Frohike got off the barstool. He made his way through dancing and laughing couples to the back of the place. He entered the men's restroom only to find, to his dismay, it was empty. He could feel a bit of anxiety start to rise in his throat. Where the heck was Byers??

He walked back out and scrutinized the room. The lights were lowered slightly to give people a bit of privacy. He finally located a small group in the corner that was cackling in great amusement. He thought he saw someone who might be Byers. He walked over to them, and his mouth dropped open. He couldn't believe his eyes.

Byers, with a napkin folded into a hat sitting on his head, was sandwiched between two really beautiful women. He had his arms around both of them and they were laughing hysterically at a joke he was telling them. The pretty blond on the right kissed him on the cheek. Byers looked up and saw Frohike standing there.

"Hey, hey, Fro! Come 'ere, you gotta hear this. This is great. Oh, wait…I'm being quite rude, I have to introduce you both. Frohike," he pointed at the blond. "This is Gina and this is…um…"

"I'm Cindy," the brunette answered. "You know, your friend here is awfully cute!" Byers started giggling when she touched him gently under the chin.

"Uh…yeah," Frohike replied. He was caught between feeling concerned and feeling jealous. "Listen, buddy, I hate to break up the party, but, um, Langly and I were lookin' for you. You O.k.?" Which was a stupid question, considering the two lovely ladies he was seducing.

"I'm terrific!" he announced. He turned to the women and said," I really hate to leave you two charming ladies, but I really should return to my friends. It's been a wonderful time." He leaned over a kissed each of them, gently. "Take care, dears."

"Bye, Johnny!" they called after him. "Hope we see you again sometime, cutie!" He waved back.

Frohike couldn't stop staring at Byers. Johnny? Good grief, he was acting like a….gigolo! He noticed Byers quaver a bit as he tried to walk, so he helped prop him up with his arms around Byers' waist. He also observed that Byers was missing his tie and his shirt was slightly unbuttoned and rumpled. They made it back to the barstools.

"Where was he?" Langly asked, eyeing him suspiciously.

"What, you mean 'Cassanova' here? He was at a table in the back, and get this, he was with women. And not just women, beautiful women."

"Byers?" Langly said, incredulously, noticing some lipstick on his cheek and a little on his shirt collar. "Our sweet, timid and shy Byers with women? Are you sure you weren't hallucinating? Maybe they put something in our beers."

"No, I wasn't imagining it," Frohike said. He removed the napkin-hat from Byers' head. "I had no idea you were a chick magnet, Byers."

Byers just smiled innocently and swayed a bit. He was going back into his own little world. Frohike and Langly, working together, managed to get him back onto the barstool.

"O.k. I think we've officially had our limit of alcohol for tonight, some of us more than others. I think we should prepare to go." Frohike had to keep grabbing Byers' arm every once in awhile so he didn't teeter-totter off the stool.

Frohike's words somehow found their way through the haze in Byers' mind. "Awww, guys, we shouldn't go yet. I'm O.k., really I am…" His words came out a slight bit slurred. Frohike signaled Chris that they needed the tab. He glanced at the bill. Langly had four beers, Frohike had two, and Byers, two glasses of scotch, on the rocks.

The music in the bar died down as the live band announced that they were finished for the night, however, it was karaoke time. Whoever wanted to come up and sing was welcome.

"Damn!" Langly exclaimed, patting the pockets of his jeans. "I left my wallet in the van. Hang on, I'll be right back." He went out the front door.

"Yeah, and I have to visit the little boys room," Frohike declared. "Hey." He gave Byers a little shake to get his attention. "Will you be O.k. here by yourself for a second?"

"Sure," Byers said, his eyes closed. He was fighting to keep them open. Then that big grin again. "I'll be... I'm fine, really." He pawed Frohike gently on his cheek a few times. "I'm fine."

Frohike fought with his judgment for a few moments, almost deciding not to leave. No, he'll be O.k., I'll only be gone a minute. He went to the men's room.

Outside, Langly dug around the inside of their vehicle. "I think it slipped down next to the front seat," he muttered to himself. Finally, he felt his fingers close around the recognizable, flat object. He locked the door and started back to the bar.

Frohike came out of the restroom to the sound of cheering and clapping. And singing, or more like someone trying to sing. He struggled to see through the crowd of people in front of the stage.

Langly entered the establishment and cringed as he heard a very bad rendition of "Brass Monkey" by The Beastie Boys. His eyes moved over to their three barstools. Byers was missing again.

Langly swiped his hand over his face. "Oh, no…." he started to say.

The voice doing the very bad rendition of "Brass Monkey" was starting to sound startlingly familiar. Langly found his way to Frohike and they looked at the stage, in horror.

There stood John Fitzgerald Byers. And not only was he 'rapping' quite poorly, he was trying to dance, too.

Frohike, part of him not wanting to admit to this pack of people that he actually knew this man, hurried up to the stage, self-consciously, and struggled to get the microphone out of his hand.

"C'mon, buddy, time to go," he said, pulling Byers towards the stairs.

"Awww, man, c'mon, you're no fun." Byers was tripping over his own feet as he tried to walk down the stairs. "Aww…just a few more minutes…"

Langly paid the tab, quickly, grabbed the jacket hanging over the back of the barstool, and helped usher a completely inebriated Byers out the front door. He was still singing as they half-carried him into the van.

By the time the guys reached the warehouse, Byers was out cold. They both struggled to get him in the door and to his bedroom, where they dropped him haphazardly on his bed. He was snoring loudly and his long legs hung over the side as Langly undid his shoes and covered him with a blanket. Langly made sure he was on his side in case he got sick in the middle of the night. He turned out the bedroom light and met Frohike in the kitchen. The two men looked at each other and burst out laughing, hysterically. After quite a few minutes, they finally got a hold of themselves, speaking between gasps of air.

"I am so sorry that I didn't have the video camera for that performance! Mulder will be so mad that he missed that!"

"How the heck does Byers even know 'Brass Monkey'? I've only ever heard him listen to classical music!"

"Well, he didn't know it too well, it was almost like listening to a dying seacow!"

"I'm never letting him live this down! He's never going to forget this!"

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Frohike and Langly sat at the breakfast table, reading the morning paper and finishing the scrambled eggs that Frohike had whipped up. It was almost 10:30 and Byers wasn't awake yet. All of a sudden they heard a long moan coming from the direction of his bedroom.

"Ohhhhhhhhhh, my head……I'm going to die….." Byers staggered out of his room, still wearing his clothes from the night before, only his shirt was now wrinkled and hanging out of his pants. He was holding his head and weaving left and right. His hair was a mess, he had dark circles under his eyes and he looked pasty.

Frohike stood up and got an ice bag from one of the drawers in the kitchen. "Byers, you want some…" he began, before the smell of scrambled eggs hit Byers and he went shooting as fast as he could move, down the hall to the bathroom.

"I think our little, playboy Narc has a hangover," Langly said, grinning behind his newspaper. "Oh, yeah, he holds his liquor real well."

Frohike took out some tomato juice and poured it into a glass. He removed some aspirin from the bottle and placed it next to the glass. After about ten minutes, Byers wobbled out, looking worse than before.

"You O.k.?" Langly asked.

Byers held up his hand, while the other held his forehead. "Please….don't shout."

"I'm not shout…." Langly started, but was shushed by Byers.

He sat down gently as Frohike came over with the ice bag filled with ice. "You look like hell, man," he said, as he plopped the bag down in front of him. Byers winced from the noise it made.

He sat a few minutes with his eyes closed and Frohike put the bag on his head. He opened them and picked up the glass of tomato juice slowly and took a sip. "Ohhhhh, I feel awful. Just how much did I drink last night?" He swallowed the two aspirin with another sip of the juice.

"You mean you don't remember?" Langly inquired. He was trying hard to stifle a snicker.

"No, it must have been a lot, though…" The bag of ice felt wonderful on his head.

"Well, if you call two glasses of scotch a lot, then I guess so," Frohike answered.

It took all of Byers' energy to raise his head to look at Frohike. "Two glasses? That's it?"

"Yep. Aren't you going to serenade us this morning with your creative version of 'Brass Monkey', or is that too much to ask in your condition?" Langly couldn't hold back the chuckles anymore.

"What?! What are you talking about?"

"Well, you weren't so reserved about trying to sing it in front of all the patrons of Harry's last night." Langly couldn't help it, he just had to taunt him.

Byers looked appalled. "I…did…not," he denied, emphatically. "Why on earth would I do such a ridiculous thing?"

"I was asking myself the same question while I was dragging you off the stage. You shouldn't have microphones in public, Byers, you're dangerous with those things." Frohike was enjoying this tormenting, too.

Byers glanced back and forth between his two friends and realized that they were telling him the truth. Good grief, he could never show his face in there again. And worse, with the both of them, he knew he was never going to live this down.

"But you were right about one thing, there is definitely another side of you we've never seen before, 'Don Juan'." Frohike just had to keep picking. "Those two little honeys you spent some time with were really good-looking."

"Honeys?" Byers was completely confused. "What do you mean?"

"If you hadn't been so wasted, you might have gotten their phone numbers. We'll just call you 'The Stud Muffin' from now on." Langly finally broke up into hysterics.

Byers was turning scarlet from embarrassment, even though he couldn't remember a thing about the night before. "I guess I don't drink as well as I thought I did," he admitted, sheepishly. Frohike patted him, in a comforting way, on the shoulder.

"You should just stick to milk from now on, buddy. Oh, but the next time you do decide to drink, don't let us forget the camera!"