"Will Never Disappear"
Set approx. 8 months after "The New Stuff"and 1 month after my own fic "The Seeds of Destiny".
You know, I was never really one of those people who liked to dwell too much on the past. A world of hurt, loss, rejection and downright disappointment lay back there, which is why one of my motto's has always been 'live for today…then move on fast.' 'Sides, misty-eyed sentiment didn't quite fit in with the whole wise-ass punk persona I'd worked so hard to perfect for most of my formative, law-breaking years.
What a shmuck huh?
Funny man Bill Cosby's take on the whole reminiscing thing kinda reflected my own when he said: 'The past is a ghost, the future a dream, and all we ever have is now.' But, just lately…well, I can't seem to stop my thoughts from wandering back to those halcyon days, before I became one of the US government's most valuable and classified science projects.
Now I'm not saying things were better back then, just less… complicated. All that the thrill-seeking, care-free me really had to worry about was casing the next B&E job, getting a decent price from my fence for my ill-gotten-gains and staying one jump ahead of San Diego's finest.
See, Darien pre-2000 didn't have much in the way of responsibilities - or a fat bastard of a boss ordering him to get his ass kicked every five minutes by some fruitcake wielding a semi-automatic or a scalpel. Come to think of it, he also didn't have a paranoid, balding best buddy to keep him on the path of righteousness…I guess some things have definitely taken a turn for the better!
So why this current wistful wander down memory lane I hear you ask? Well….
Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away,
Now it looks as though they're here to stay,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.
Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be.
There's a shadow hanging over me,
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.
…it was Friday night, and me and my happy band of Agency co-workers were hanging out together in a bar a few blocks from the Harding Building. While Hobbes racked 'em up ready for another game of pool, and Claire and Alex treated the lucky patrons of this fine establishment to their heartfelt, if slightly off-key and drunken rendition of the aforementioned Lennon/McCartney classic, care of the Karaoke machine, I volunteered to get the next round of drinks in.
So there I was, having a real good time and feeling pretty chilled after working 10 days straight without a break on a kidnapping case with our FBI buds, leaning with my back to the bar waiting my turn to be served. Then a husky female voice behind me was asking…
"Okay bud, what's your poison?"
I turned ready to place my order, eyes locking with hers…my smile instantly freezing in place.
After a few minutes of trying to out-stare each other she finally broke the silence, those full lips parting ever so slightly and genuine pleasure lighting those piercing green eyes. Oh man!
"Oh my God., Darien Fawkes!"
I was still too shocked to do anything more than grunt like a big dumb ass, like I had the first ever time I met Francesca Casati or Frankie as she liked to be called back then by her friends, which included…me. Well technically, we were more than friends. I was hooked big time for nearly half a year, until her over-protective, psycho mobster brother got paroled from prison and scared me off.
One of the only times in my life when it was me doing the actual leaving; and leave I did but with a heavy heart - and a few broken bones. But two lessons I've definitely learned the hard way are: don't mess with nature, and don't mess with the mob.
Even though Dominic Casati was into just about every crooked, dirty scam you could think of, when it came to his little sister only the best was ever going to be good enough. And back then I fell way short of what he considered la crème de la crème.
With an amused smile and a possible attempt to bring me out of my catatonic stupor, Frankie nodded her head in the direction of Claire and Alex who had set about murdering another Beatles classic, something about a long and winding road. Their mostly male appreciation society whistling and shouting encouragement.
"They with you?"
I risked a furtive glance over my shoulder and winced apologetically.. "Yeah, unfortunately."
For a moment I thought I caught a hint of disappointment in her voice., but the same warm smile was still in place so I couldn't be absolutely sure.
"Uh…none…I mean neither. We're all just friends…work together," I spluttered. Get a grip Fawkes.
For some reason this amused her. "Well, I guess it had to happen - Darien Fawkes gets an actual job."
I was grinning now as well "You'd better believe it sister." Taking the chance then to check her out properly. From her long dark hair with its soft auburn highlights tied back off her face, all high-cheek bones, full sensual mouth and flawless olive complexion, and that slender to-die-for body.
Somehow my hand had found hers across the counter and I leaned in close.
"What is it seven/eight years, Frankie? Man, you look incredible."
She'd obviously done her own checking out too, and I was glad for the recent revamp of the Fawkes wardrobe - white long-sleeved tee shirt teamed with a pair of dark gray khakis. More expensive than my previous thrift store bargains, but the Agency was still reaping the benefits of the extra 'funding' that had come our way thanks to the generosity of the Department of Defense - where up until quite recently I'd spent an unpleasant little sabbatical cocooned in one of their underground facilities. And extra funding for once had meant sizeable bonuses for me, my partner Bobby Hobbes and my Keeper, Claire.
"You're looking pretty amazing yourself D." And when her hand reached out to touch my newly shorn locks I almost melted. "Short hair looks good on you too."
Just as I was about to impress her with a witty comeback, I found myself being jostled on one side by Hobbes and on the other by the giggling all-female Beatles tribute act.
"When you've finished hassling the bar staff Fawksey, any chance of getting those beers? We're just about dying of thirst over here" Then almost without drawing a breath and with his most disarming smile at the ready, "Well hello there lovely lady, Robert A. Hobbes at your service." Frankie obligingly held out her hand so that Hobbes could plant a gentlemanly kiss on the back of it.
I mumbled to Hobbes to get lost but he just wouldn't take the hint.
"If this man is bothering you I can always shoot him." Monroe offered jokingly…least I think she was joking!
"This is Francesca Cas…" I started the intros hoping to get rid of Hobbesy et al that little bit faster, but she cut in giving me one of those meaningful 'I'll explain later' kinda stares.
"Uh Francesca Cassidy… but friends can call me Frankie. We go way back." She winked at me and I know I blushed. "So Robert, do you and Darien work together?"
"Yeah," I answered quickly on his behalf, not sure she was ready to hear quite how reformed I now was. "Bobby's my…."
"Conscience," Hobbes chimed in helpfully, a playful little smile on his face.
"And I'm his doctor." Claire slurred. For some reason this caused her and Alex to go into uncontrollable spasms of laughter. Ah, my sweet Keepie and her low alcohol threshold..
"And on that happy note," I added with a forced cheeriness. "I'd better get the children their drinks, so that they can run along and leave me and the nice lady to talk old times." My last sentence aimed deliberately at Hobbes, who was doing a fine impression of someone ignoring his partner…and soon to be former best friend if he didn't amscram…fast!
Eventually though the message sunk in, and with Claire and Alex latched onto his arms they weaved their way back to our table, Hobbes waggling his eyebrows suggestively in my direction as he went. I turned to Frankie ready to apologize but she was busy loading a tray with Coronas.
"So…uh…it'd be kinda nice to catch up on stuff. I don't suppose you'd wanna…?" I was a little out of practice on the whole asking out on a date thing and I guess it showed, so she saved me the embarrassment.
"I get off at midnight if you're interested?" Her fingers brushing mine briefly as she handed over the beers.
With the tray rattling in my trembling hands, I know I was grinning like some goofy adolescent as I reluctantly tore myself away and went back to join Hobbes and the ladies, already mentally counting off those minutes 'till midnight.