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                                    Adventures in Keeping:  Bad Luck

            Darien turned his gaze to his hands, damp with his own blood, as he stumbled along the hallway leading to the Keep.  He needed help.  The building was deserted at 3am and Darien could only hope that his Keeper was working really, really late.  If nothing else, he would be able to find medical supplies and call the Keeper for help.  But he had to get to the Keep first.  And every step he took seemed to make the distance he had to go seem farther.  He pushed on, hands clasped to his abdomen in an attempt to stem the steady flow of blood from the gunshot wound he'd so recently sustained. 

Darien leaned against the wall to rest.  He wasn't going to make it.  It was too far and his strength was leaving him quickly.  He breathed as deeply as he could manage and contemplated allowing his body to slide to the floor.  Unconsciousness had a welcome ring to it as the pain that wracked his body grew.

The door to the Keep was only ten feet in front of him when it suddenly swished open.  Claire exited, serenely engrossed in a printout from one of her latest tests.  She contemplated the chemical ratios in her test samples wondering if she adjusted a little here and a little there if she could make this one work to her advantage. 

"Claire?"  The weak voice and bloody figure of the man in front of her changed her immediate priorities and she rushed to his side, dropping her papers as she did so. 

He demonstrated the most pitiful look he was able, hoping Claire wasn't an illusion brought about by blood loss.  She grabbed his arm and began pushing him toward the Keep, heart pounding wildly.  "Bloody hell!  What happened to you?  Were you shot?"  She deposited her charge in the first office chair she came to and as she diagnosed her patient's situation in as objectively a manner as she was able.  In this situation, however, objectivity was a near impossibility.  She quickly moved to the door and locked it.  The perpetrator could still be nearby.  Hurrying around the room, the doctor picked up gauze and medical tape, alcohol and several rather pointy implements her Kept really didn't want to contemplate too deeply.

"Move your hands, Darien."  Claire batted her Kept's hands out of the way so that she could see the wound.  He sat back and let his arms dangle at his sides.  Claire's examination informed her of the weapon used, definitely a gun.  "Where were you when you were shot?  Were you here?"

Darien shook his head weakly.  "Naw.  I stopped at a gas station on the way home from work.  Hobbes and I were working late on a stakeout.  My gas tank was on empty.  It was a hold-up."  Deft hands gently cleansed his wound as Darien tried not to flinch.

"You drove back here?"  Claire paused in her work to look her patient in the eye.

Darien nodded, mutely.  He closed his eyes wearily.

"Don't go to sleep now."  She squeezed his arm.  "I need you to stay awake."

He nodded and sluggishly opened his eyes.  "I'm still here, Keep."

Claire smiled reassuringly as she finished cleaning Darien's wound.  "Good.  I'm going to call Bobby.  I'm not done with you yet.  Don't fall asleep."

"Wonderful."  Darien groaned.

Claire picked up the Keep's phone and dialed.  She waited a beat for Hobbes to pick up.  "Bobby?  Yes, It's Claire…  I'm fine, Bobby…  I know it's late...  Hobbes!"  Darien chuckled at his partner's paranoid babble, then groaned at the renewed pain in his stomach.  Claire continued trying to get Hobbes' attention.  "Are you listening now?"  She paused listening.  "Good.  Darien has been shot.  Bobby!  Let me finish!  He's going to be fine but I need you to get over here.  I need to take him to a hospital and get him checked out.  All right.  Good.  I'll see you then."  She hung up the phone and turned back to Darien. 

"Hospital?  The boss is gonna be pissed."  Darien grinned slightly at the mental image of the Official's face turning first red, then white as his fury grew.

"Don't look so happy.  You'll have to deal with him too."

His grin grew in wattage.  "But not before you and Hobbes.  He'll have time to cool off before I have to talk to him."  His eyes drifted closed again.  "Plus, it'll be worth it."

"Don't fall asleep, Darien."  Claire poked her patient in the shoulder as she walked past to hunt for a wheelchair. 

"I'm not, Keepy."  He sat up straighter on the chair to demonstrate.

Long minutes past and before long Bobby Hobbes came to a screeching halt just inside the door to the Keep.  He looked around frantically.  "Fawkes?!  Claire?!" 

"We're over here, Bobby."  Claire's voice came from behind a glass partition and moments later she appeared pushing his partner in a decrepit wheelchair.  When she realized Hobbes wasn't moving she shooed him toward the door.  "Let's go.  Darien's in a lot of pain."

"Fort Leavitt?"  Hobbes asked.

"I assume.  It's the only hospital in the area with facilities and security."  Claire answered matter of fact. 

"Yes, but the boss didn't like that idea so much the last time.  You did ask the boss, didn't you?"  Hobbes suddenly threw a suspicious look over his shoulder at the Keeper.

Claire looked sheepish.  "There wasn't time.  Besides, if he doesn't have the opportunity, he can't say no."

Bobby shook his head and shuddered in anticipation of the conversation he would no doubt be included in over that very topic.  "Let's go."  He took over the wheelchair and led the way out to the van.

Claire and Hobbes helped Darien into the passenger seat and Bobby ran around to the driver's side as Claire climbed into the back.  She leaned into the front, checking on her patient.  "How are you, sweetie?"  She gently brushed a stray lock of hair back from his forehead, noticing for the first time how destroyed his usual hairstyle was. 

"Never better."  Darien looked pale and tired, though he seemed less like he was going to fall asleep at any moment.  He met her eyes and attempted a small smile.

Hobbes slammed the van into gear and pealed out as quickly and carefully as he could.  "He'll be fine, Keepy.  Won't you, Fawkes?"

Darien threw a mild glare at his partner but nodded his head in the affirmative.  "Just fine."

Claire raised a silent eyebrow in disbelief but refrained from comment.  She was certain that Hobbes was actually freaking out right now.  Beneath the calm exterior, she was certain he was worried about his unlucky partner.

The trio arrived at Fort Leavitt mere minutes later, thanks to the skillful driving of Bobby Hobbes.  They unloaded Darien and rushed him into the emergency room.

Much later, Darien Fawkes woke to the sound of a Fat Man going off.  His bellow was audible throughout the whole floor.  Not wishing to deal with the inevitable explosion just yet, Darien closed his eyes and drifted back to a soft, fluffy drug induced sleep.

Meanwhile, Hobbes was so entranced by the myriad shades of red his boss was exhibiting on his facial features alone that he completely missed what the Official was yelling about to begin with.  The Official realized his agent had acquired a glazed look that only appeared when his ADD kicked in.  "Did you hear a word I just said, Hobbes?"

Hobbes shook himself at the mention of his name.  "Huh?  What?"

The Official sighed heavily.  "Never mind.  How is it exactly that Fawkes managed to get himself shot while not on duty."

"Well…The Keep said something about a gas station hold-up."  Hobbes shrugged.

The Official sighed again.  He found himself doing that a lot the past several years.  "All right.  Get some rest, Hobbes.  I'll need a full report in the morning."

"Yes, sir."  Hobbes practically hopped to attention.

The Official shook his head and left to arrange security for his wounded agent.

Claire joined Hobbes in the lobby where they'd been waiting to be let in to see their friend for the past several hours.  She smiled as she approached.  "I see you made it through the Official's latest tirade." 

Hobbes waved a hand in dismissal.  "It's no problem.  I just did my "ADD" look and he decided I wasn't listening anyway.  Works every time."  He smiled with pride at his deception.

Claire chuckled slightly.  "I spoke to Darien's doctor.  He says that Darien will make a full recovery.  We can even go in and see him now, though he may not be awake."

The two crept into Darien's room to check on their injured friend.  Claire acquired a look of fond concern as she watched the even rise and fall of her Kept's chest.  She stood at his bedside for a long moment.  "He's going to be ok, right, Keep?"  Claire started from her reverie and met Hobbes' gaze. 

"He'll be just fine, Bobby.  He just needs some time to recover."  She moved to a nearby chair and sat down to watch as Hobbes carefully examined his partner's condition. 

After satisfying himself with Fawkes' medical care he moved on to examine the security features of first the room and then the surrounding floor the room was located on.  His survey complete, Hobbes returned to where he'd left the Keeper to find her position unchanged.  He watched her for a moment, a sinking feeling growing in his chest.  "Keep?"

She looked up at him then she looked at her watch.  "It's really late.  We should get out of here before they throw us out."  She smiled thinly as she climbed to her feet and made her way to where Hobbes was standing.  "You ready?"

"Yeah, Keep.  I'll drive you home."  Hobbes noted the backward glance the doctor spared for his partner with finality.

She smiled at him warmly and preceded him out the door oblivious to the subtle signs she had given.