Author: A. X. Zanier

Rating: R (Adult. Strong language, violence, sexual content)

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or basic story ideas to The Invisible Man. Any additional characters or ideas are mine to do with as I please.

Timeline: After Agency

Comments: Once again this is what happens when I can't sleep. This is from Darien's POV. Like you can't figure it out for yourself. And, as usual, this story took on a life of it's own.

Fall from Grace

~~~

The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.

Steven Weinberg

~~~

I'm pacing my apartment, waiting. I'm tired of waiting. Tired of being told tomorrow, soon, maybe. Yeah, right. Like I'm going to believe a fucking word they say at this point.

They separated us the moment we got back. I knew the Official would be pissed. I suppose he had a right to be.

Maybe.

I know I did.

According to Bobby, Alyx told off the Official big time about a week ago. I'd like to ask her for myself, but they haven't let me see her. I don't understand what their problem is.

We came back.

I'm starting to wish we hadn't.

Shit. That's the gland talking. Or so I keep telling myself. I was due for a shot yesterday and I decided not to go in, decided not to deal with their blackmail until I got what I wanted. They had Bobby try to talk to me, try to convince me to go in, but he wasn't very convincing. I could hear it in his voice, he was still backing me over the fat man, and he warned me they were going to start tracking me. Using that damn thing in my arm. That was fine with me Alyx had told me a few ways to disrupt the signal and I used every one of them. Claire had turned the damn monitor back on. My damn built in baby-sitter.

Claire.

I'd love to teach her a lesson. Show her what its like to have every aspect of your life under scrutiny, under someone else's control. See how she likes it.

I stop and take a deep breath.

It's close.

So very close.

I can feel the pain building in the back of my head. I've had a headache all day, but I've ignored it. Just let it become part of me. Stupid way to rebel, you might say. Letting the madness come. But what else do I have? How else do I prove to them I'm serious?

I've learned that if I don't fight it doesn't hurt quite as much. If I just let the pain wash across my senses without challenge, let those emotions I typically keep under tight wraps pour to the surface, let that control I try to maintain every day, that facade of humanity simply slip away, it doesn't hurt quite so much.

What does that mean? What does that say about me?

Am I truly that person?

Am I just wasting energy pretending to be the person most see every day?

Am I just lying to myself, and the world about who I really am?

It isn't always like this. I usually don't mull over the reasons, the conflicts, the differences. But then again, I've usually been a good boy and had my shot by now.

I'm tired of following their rules. The fat man was always able to use the counteragent against me. He can't anymore.

It's time for a new arrangement.

This time the pain catches me off guard and I shout into the empty apartment.

I'm angry.

So very angry.

But the pain wins this time and I collapse into a chair until it passes leaving gasping for air and wondering for an instant why the hell I'm doing this. Then it doesn't matter. The anger is back. The urge, need, desire to do whatever I like.

Rob a bank? Sure. Could be fun.

How about some simple wanton destruction?

Maybe find some pretty young things and spend the evening with them.

Maybe let them live, but not quite as pretty as before.

I'm sinking fast and I don't care any more. I've decided to sit back and enjoy the ride this time. See where it takes me. See what lessons I can learn or teach. See who I can meet and play with.

My door opens, startling me. For an instant, I'm afraid. What if they found me? What if they've come to take me back to the Keep, to that damn cell? I won't let them. Not this time. But I relax when I see it's only Alyx. She got my note. Was able to get away from her watchers. Came here even knowing what condition I'd be in.

She walks over to me, the door shutting and locking behind her as if of its own volition. She sets her bag on the pool table and removes a case. This one is gray.

Black is for her.

Gray for me.

I know what is inside, but there is no craving for it. Thanks to her. And I think, maybe, I'm too far along to care.

Seeing her has created a different craving, a different need. She's wearing a sleeveless sweatshirt that zips up the front and a skimpy pair of shorts. I'm betting she biked over here. There's a slight sheen of sweat over her body and... I can smell her.

I wonder for a moment if this is how it is for her. Her senses are so far above the norm there is no comparison. Hell she's even claimed to be able to smell quicksilver, which Claire says is impossible.

Personally, I believe Alyx.

I'm walking a fine line right now. Not quite over the edge into the madness. Still have enough conscience to want to warn her. "I'm close," I hear myself say.

She doesn't respond immediately just closes the gap between us. She brings her face down next to mine and inhales deeply. "I know," she whispers. "Let it come."

Damn. I swear my heart skips a beat. It's been too long without having her even near me. I feel myself slide even further towards the madness. What little fight I had been putting up drops away. I'd just been waiting for her.

I hear myself growl her name.

It's dragged out of me.

Torn from me.

I grab her arms, pull her into a crushing embrace and kiss her. Though it could barely be called that. It's violent, vicious, demanding. And she responds to it driving me beyond what little control I have. I feel myself closing my teeth down on her lower lip until I taste blood. Her blood. But she still doesn't react. Not the way I want her to. Not with fear. I want to see her tremble, to beg, to cry.

I push her away and she places a hand to her lip, showing no surprise when it comes away bloody. She just smiles. A sly, almost feral smile.

It enrages me.

Standing, I grab her by the throat and lift her into the air. "You're not afraid, are you?"

I know I'm saying this.

I'm doing this.

To her.

But I can't seem to care. Enjoy it, in fact. I walk across the room still holding her in the air and slam her into the wall.

The brick wall.

Somehow she remains conscious and I debate repeating the action, but then she answers my question.

"Never. I'm never afraid of you." Her voice is rough. I'm holding her so tightly by the throat. I'm astonished she can breathe much less speak, and I almost drop her.

Almost.

Instead, I lean in close. Smell the sweat on her skin, the citrus scent of her shampoo, the sweet intoxicating smell that is her. "You should be."

I know now without having to look at the monitor, or at my eyes in the mirror, that I've gone over that edge. Allowed myself to fall into that abyss, that pit that resides, hides in the back of my mind and I don't want to leave. This is freedom. Not caring. Wanting, however...

Oh yeah, there was something I wanted.

She speaks again. Like a fool, she eggs me on. Perhaps thinking I'll give a damn, but I'll give her the opportunity to beg. It will make things more amusing for me.

"If you're going to kill me, do it. I never wanted this life in the first place."

This was not the reaction I was expecting. Wasn't the reaction that I wanted. I wanted fear, terror, and pain. I wanted her to beg for her life, for forgiveness. Not to ask for release.

I squeeze her throat tighter. Her hands coming up to wrap around mine. Not trying to loosen my grip, but trying to get me to tighten it further. And suddenly I can't. Can't do this. Can't give her what she seems to so desperately want.

I can't kill her.

Frustrated with her and myself, I carry her over to the bed and throw her down upon it. "Bitch."

She lies there coughing, trying to breathe, looking up at me almost as if she's disappointed.

"I'm still not afraid, Dare." Her voice is barely audible, as if I might have injured her, and part of me cringes at that thought.

Was hurting her what I intended when I began this little rebellion?

Why did I ask her here?

Was it to talk me out of this?

To stop this madness?

To... to... I don't know any more. I stand for a moment, fighting with myself. Which I regret, as a searing burst of pain washes across me, leaving me doubled over and panting. When I can refocus, I find myself leaning over her, and she is watching me. Her hands running lightly through my hair.

It feels wonderful, a distraction from the lingering pain that still echoes through my head. I wonder for a moment why she doesn't fight back. I know she can. She could have ended this long ago, but she didn't and, from what I see in her eyes, she won't.

Why isn't she afraid of me?

Why?

I grab her wrists and hold her hands above her head. She's so tiny I can hold both her hands easily with only one of my own. Not that it matters; I doubt she'd fight no matter what I did. But I wanted her to fight, to scream, to beg. Perhaps there was a way.

Tearing at the zipper of her sweatshirt, I find her naked beneath. I swear everything goes red for an instant. The anger, the lust all came rushing to the surface and in that instant I knew what to do to get the reaction I wanted. Leaning down, I bite her hard on the shoulder. She groans and arches beneath me. Her hands struggling against mine for a moment.

I lose it then. I tear at her shorts ripping them from her and discarding them and the flimsy piece of silk beneath with a grunt of irritation. When she doesn't react, I do. Hitting her. Splitting open her lip, bruising her ribs, her thighs.

With and inarticulate cry she says,. "Darien, please. End it."

I give her what she demands. Unbuckling my jeans, I let them fall to the floor, along with my briefs and kick them away. I thrust myself into her, intending to break her, make her cry, and make her fear me. But the opposite happens. You can't rape someone who is willing, hell, ready. Yet, I couldn't stop. She arches up to meet me, her feet sliding up to rest on the back of my thighs.

I am trying to hurt her and I fail. I release her hands and feel them move, to lay on my shoulders, her nails digging into the skin leaving crescent shaped marks as I thrust into her as hard as I could. I was nearly there, could feel it building, feel it wanting to rush out of me and into her. It was her near silent shout that sent me tumbling over that edge. I thought I was raping her and yet she is responding, she has achieved her orgasm even as she drives me to mine.

And for an instant, my head clears and I wonder what I have done.

The sting of the needle in my neck is a shock, but she keeps me from jerking away, and injuring myself. She holds me close, while the cool rush of counteragent hits me, driving me into unconsciousness.

~*~*~

When I came to, the first thing I saw was toes, which was very odd. Raising myself up, I found the person who belonged to those toes sitting wrapped in my comforter on my bed with only vague memories of how we had got there. I checked the monitor and found it green. She must have... Then I really looked at her. Her eyes were glazed and unfocused, her lip was bloody, as was the shoulder I could see and I knew I had done this to her. "Alyx are you...?"

She shook her head and tried to speak. She gave up almost immediately, and I could see why. The deep purple bruises around her neck. There were even actual finger imprints. Mine I was betting.

*They're here.* she said in my mind.

I nodded, unable to say anything to her. Getting up, I quickly threw on my clothes and grabbed the case of counteragent to hide it. I ended up stuffing it back in her bag just as someone knocked on the door. Going to answer it, I had it shoved open in my face, breaking all my locks and putting me down on the floor. Hobbes stood over me with his gun drawn. I'd been in this position once before and didn't like it any better this time.

"Hey, Hobbes. What's up?" I tried to keep it light.

"Shut up, Fawkes, and don't move. The Keep will be here in a sec to give you your shot." He actually looked angry at me.

I held up my wrist to show that the monitor was all green. "Don't need one."

"What the fuck, Fawkes?" Bobby wasn't sure what to think based on his expression. "Just don't move until the Keep checks you over."

So I lay there staring at the ceiling, waiting for my Keeper to arrive and trying not to think about the fact that Bobby destroyed what little security I had in this place. In truth, I was really trying not to think about Alyx, who I could just see, still sitting huddled on my bed, barely conscious.

Shit.

Damn it to hell.

I could remember slamming her into the wall. She probably had a concussion. No wonder she'd looked glassy eyed. I decided to tell Bobby. "Hobbes, Alyx..."

"Shut up, Fawkes. Just shut up. The kid is missing," Bobby said, waving the gun at me.

"Bobby, she's on the bed," I told him even as he shouted "Shut up" at me yet again.

"What? What did you say?" He was looking confused.

I risked moving and pointed. "She's on my bed."

Cautiously, keeping the gun trained on me he circled about and looked over at my bed to see Alyx sitting there. "Ah fuck. The Keep is not going to like this."

"I'm not going to like what?" Claire asked as she entered the room with two other agents both armed with shock sticks.

"Alyx is here," I said, seeing no reason to hide the fact. She needed medical attention and Claire was the closest we had to that.

Her look turned hard and she acted as if she hadn't heard what I said.

"Your wrist, now," she ordered me, and I held it up for her to examine. "All green. Why am I not surprised?" She moved to one side. "Get up. Where is she?"

I got to my feet wondering why the hell she was so pissed off. "On the bed. I'm afraid I did a bit of damage." I was trying not to let the guilt eat at me.

When Claire got close enough to Alyx to get a good look at her she swore. "You are a fool," Claire said to her. "He could have killed you."

Alyx just shook her head.

Claire flashed a pen light that had appeared from nowhere into Alyx's eyes and frowned. "Where does it hurt?"

Alyx opened her mouth to answer, but nothing came out. She turned to me ,and I moved over beside her. I heard her answers in my head and told Claire. "She says her head and ribs are the worst."

"What about her throat?" Claire asked as she gently probed the back of Alyx's head, eliciting a silent hiss of pain from her.

"She says it hurts, but not as much as the others." I wanted to apologize right then and there. Wanted to do something to make it right, but couldn't. Like what had happened, what I needed to do now was between us and us alone.

"Bobby, would you and they wait outside please." Claire half turned to look at them.

"You sure?" Bobby asked.

"Yes. I'm sure." Claire added just enough force to her words to convince him and with a tight nod to her, he and the other two men left to wait outside in the hallway.

When Claire opened the comforter, I had to turn away. Had to walk away from what I had done.

This had to end.

I don't know what I was thinking when I called her. Maybe I had hoped she'd talk me out of it. Maybe force the counteragent on me. Make me realize I was being an idiot.

Instead, she had done the opposite. She had joined me in a bout of vicious madness, during which I tried to kill her.

I held my head in my hands and for several long minutes I wallowed in my misery until I felt Claire's hand on my shoulder. I looked up and she sat next to me on the couch.

"She'll be okay. She has a slight concussion, maybe some cracked ribs, and you did one hell of a job on her throat, but she'll be fine." She gave me an odd look. "There was a reason I was keeping you separated. I wasn't doing it just to be mean or to punish the two of you."

"Then why? Cause you did a damn good job at torturing the two of us." I was angry and it crept into my voice, but this was normal anger not the uncontrolled rage of earlier.

"That drug they gave her was still active in her system," Claire explained quietly. "And there is no counter for it. Or there wasn't."

"That's what she figured. We were damn careful before we got back." I paused looking at Claire. "Alyx didn't want to risk infecting me." I refused let myself think about earlier. She wouldn't have come over if she weren't safe to be with. Wouldn't have risked my life.

"At least she was smart about something," Claire muttered. "You would have died within minutes."

I was feeling more than a bit cynical at that moment. "And that would have been just sooo bad, right. Give you a chance with a new receptacle. Maybe even fix the damn gland first."

Claire shook her head. "Sometimes you are a complete idiot, Darien. The gland would have crystallized along with any Quicksilver in your system. There would be nothing we could do. The QS-9300 project would be over. Permanently."

I remembered Traci saying something along those lines, but given she was trying to kill me anyway, there was a chance she'd been lying just to scare us. "They could try again."

"Yes they could, but it won't matter. We've developed a vaccine, I guess you'd call it," Claire said to me. "I need to do some more testing, but it should work."

"And Alyx. What did it do to her?" That was one of the questions that had been getting ignored for the last week or so.

"Well, after unsuccessfully trying to kill her, it... she..." Claire stopped, thinking. "I have no idea. And what little we got from Traci didn't help much. Somehow, her body adapted to the mutated Quicksilver until the drug was out of her system. Near as we can tell everything is back to normal and her ability to produce Quicksilver was never really affected."

"So where does leave her?" I asked, leaning back on the couch.

"The same place she always was. Working for the Agency. Driving all of us nuts. Searching for the truth." Claire got to her feet. "Unless there is a problem I don't want to see either of you until tomorrow." She glanced over at Alyx who still sat on the bed. "Watch her, Darien. This whole experience did... something to her."

I nodded and got up, walking her to the door. Bobby patted me on the shoulder as he stepped past me, following Claire out of the building. I shut my door and stood there for a long moment, trying to screw up enough courage to face Alyx. She didn't give me a chance. She stepped in front of me still wrapped in the blanket. Her shoulder had been bandaged, and she was swaying slightly, as if her balance wasn't too secure at the moment. I stepped forward to wrap my arms about her and she rested her head against my chest.

"Darien." She sounded as horrible as I felt.

I had done this to her. I had to do something, anything to make amends.

"Alyx, I..." She laid a hand on my lips and shook her head. Then she held up the hand in my line of sight. It took me a moment to actually see what she was showing me. And when I did, my heart leapt for joy. It was on her right hand, not her left, but it was a start. She was wearing the ring I had been trying to give her for nearly a month now. Wearing it. I wanted to sweep her up in my arms, but I was afraid to touch her, afraid I'd hurt her more. "What changed your mind?"

She struggled for a moment to get the words out. "Rachel," was all she could manage.

I made the connection. "Something you and Rachel talked about? It changed your mind?"

She nodded. She opened her mouth to speak again but I stopped her. "Don't talk."

*I still won't get married. But I'm yours for as long as you want me.*

It was more than just words rolling through my mind. It was emotions. Everything she kept bottled in normally; how she saw me, felt about me, felt when with me, without me. And she saw no difference between me and that other me, the one I become when the madness takes over. To her they were - are - the same person. No wonder she has no fear. It was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I was left feeling buoyed up and more than a little foolish. I had doubted how she felt about me. I felt like an idiot and I told her so. Or tried to. I never got a word out.

*I should have shown you sooner. Forgive me?*

Forgive her? I should be the one begging for forgiveness, not her. I nodded not sure of my voice.

She smiled.

That was enough. I don't know how, but it was enough.

**

Finis