Author: A. X. Zanier
Rating: PG-13 (Language, mild violence)
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or basic story ideas to 'The Invisible man'. Any additional characters or story ideas are mine to do with as I please.
Timeline: We're number one! We're number one!
Comments: This is a revised version of my Alyx origination story. Original Post 10/15/2000 @ yahoogroups.com/groups/IMFanfic
You Are Not Alone
The Keeper stood before the Official in his office, wondering what was going on in his head this time. "You don't want me to give him his shot?"
"We need to give our 'guest' a bit more motivation to cooperate," he said gruffly.
"What does that have to do with..." She trailed off. "You wouldn't."
He simply looked at her.
"I don't approve of this. It's far more likely to do harm than good." Claire sounded very unhappy, quite certain this would backfire.
"We'll just have to see, now won't we?" He turned back to his paperwork. "When Fawkes finally shows up, send him to me."
"Yes, sir," she responded dryly.
"I've got a little job for you."
Seven little words guaranteed to instill fear in a grown man, at least when uttered by the Official.
Although Darien knew he would regret it, he asked. "What now?"
With a smug smile on his face, the Official said, "Just a little demonstration of what you can do for a...ahem...guest of the Agency."
"I'll need to see the Keeper for a shot first," Darien replied.
"That won't be necessary. This won't take long. You can see her after."
Darien debated arguing for a moment, but decided against it based on the Official's expression.
Something was up.
"Fine. Lead the way."
When the door opened, she didn't even bother to react. Just another day of torture in this...place...she'd been brought to. She continued her slow, graceful movements, fully intending to finish the routine. It's not like she had anything better to do. Then her shielding decided to collapse and she realized that this was someone new, someone who wasn't exactly thrilled to be here, someone like her.
Cocking her head slightly she said, "At least they didn't send in the blonde again. She was beginning to annoy me." That was the only acknowledgment of his presence in her cell.
Darien was rather startled. To begin with, he hated this damn padded room. Had recurring nightmares about being in this place. Did everything he could to avoid the implied threat of being put back in here for some infraction, large or small.
As the door slid shut behind him, he took a deep breath to make himself relax. He glanced over at the mirror, knowing that they were watching, waiting for him to perform his little trick.
What the hell did this kid have to do with anything?
That's really why he was startled. She had turned around to face him with her eyes still closed and he felt instantly sorry for her. She couldn't have been more than sixteen at most and was tiny, delicate, and beautiful. All of five feet tall and wearing what looked like hospital scrubs about two sizes too large for her. She had hair so red it could rival some of the more impressive sunsets he'd seen in his life. An expression of wry amusement showed on her face.
Then she opened her eyes. Two silvery orbs stared up at him, a startling bright contrast with that hair.
He swallowed with some difficulty, wondering was going on this time.
"Well... you're prettier than the snakes, but not nearly as amusing as the tarantulas," she said. "Are you going to lecture me on the value of my gifts and my duty to use them for the greater good, like the blonde bimbo, or are you just going to stand there and be tall at me?"
That threw him completely. This was no child, no matter what her appearance suggested. Although his curiosity was most definitely aroused, he didn't really have the time now to find out who exactly she was. His mouth, however, had other ideas.
"Who the hell are you?" he blurted out, unable to stop himself for some reason.
"Me? I'm no one. Or so I keep getting told." She began to pace around him, looking him over. "So what's your angle? Sympathetic listener, beleaguered compatriot, threatening big guy?"
Darien shook his head, completely thrown by her. "No angle. I was just told to come in here and show you what I can do."
"Ah. So you actually do something." She stopped circling him. "Well, I'm waiting. Do something."
Darien opened his mouth to say something in retort, but changed his mind. Instead, he went invisible, creatively. Starting with his extremities he began to vanish, finger and toes, legs and arms, torso, and finally his head. He managed to do it so as to leave a Cheshire-like grin for last. He moved silently to stand behind her intending to startle her by whispering in her ear.
That idea went right out the window as she impossibly turned and faced him.
Applauding mockingly, she spoke. "I see they have you trained to do tricks. I'm impressed." Poking him lightly in the chest, breaking the quicksilver into fine dust that fell to the ground at their feet, she growled in a low voice, "I stopped performing for them over a month ago. Your little show, pretty as it was, hasn't made me change my mind."
With a snarl, she turned from him and walked to the mirror. Looking beyond her reflection she said, "You can return him to his own cage now. I don't want the company."
In the room on the other side of the mirror the Keeper turned to the Official. "I told you it wouldn't work. We have nothing to bargain with."
"Patience." the Official said. "Patience. Fawkes hasn't finished the job yet."
"He's due for a shot. We can't leave him in there for long," the Keeper reminded him.
The Official smiled. "I know."
"Your keepers should be along for you soon. Just stay out of my way until then." She walked as far away from him as she could and returned to the yoga that she'd been doing when he had entered.
Darien watched her for a few minutes, wondering what had just happened. There was no way she could have known where he was unless he'd moved close enough for her feel a cold draft. But that would imply that she knew what such a draft meant, and that wasn't very likely was it?
He sat down on the bed in the center of the room, shaking his head. This was nuts, even for the Official. Completely nuts. Sending him in here to perform like a circus animal for a kid. Like the crap they normally put him through wasn't bad enough.
His hand unconsciously began rubbing the back of his neck, and that's when it dawned on him. He checked his right wrist, noting he had three segments left green. One changed as he watched, leaving him with only a few hours before he began to fall into the madness. Not too late, unless... They wouldn't. The Keep wouldn't.
He flopped back on the bed with a sigh and stared at the ceiling. He hoped the kid didn't mind company because he had the feeling he was going to be here for a while. This would teach him to be on time for his damn shots.
After a couple hours of being completely ignored he rolled on his side and looked at her. She sat in the corner, in a full lotus position that looked decidedly painful.
"Why are you here?" He wasn't really expecting her to answer, given that she seemed perfectly content to ignore his presence entirely, but he felt compelled to try.
She opened one eye to look at him. "What the hell do you care?"
"It looks like we're going to be stuck together for a while. It seemed a good way to start a conversation." This was not going to be easy. She had an attitude that wouldn't quit, but considering he had no idea how long she'd been locked in this room, it might very well be justified.
She sighed. "Does it really matter?" Then she shifted, stretching out her legs in front of her and folding herself in half, her hands holding her feet, her face pressed into her legs. "I'm here. That's what they wanted, I assume."
"Who?" God, the woman was limber.
"Whoever you work for, I would guess." She sat back up, moving into a more relaxed position. "Ask them yourself. They haven't exactly been all that forthcoming with me."
Well he had succeeded in breaking the ice a bit anyway, but a thaw was a long distance away. He tried his original question again. "Why?"
She shrugged. "Torture? To play merry hell with my life? To see how much abject suffering one person can take before breaking?" She tipped her head back against the wall and lowered her voice to a whisper. "I wish I knew."
He actually raised his eyebrows in surprise. Articulate, and obviously very intelligent; his two greatest weaknesses when it came to women. He shook his head and closed his eyes for a moment. What was he thinking? She was a kid for god's sake. "So why am I here?" he muttered, mostly to himself.
"Dunno. Are you dangerous?" She looked at him like she was expecting the worst.
"Not usually." He said to her, knowing that in a few more hours he probably would be. He could already feel the headache building and had a bad feeling this was going to be one of those really nasty attacks. He still couldn't believe they'd leave this defenseless child alone with him while he went mad. At least not the Keep, anyway.
"So how long have you been able to..." She waved at him.
"A while. Over a year I guess." He had tried not to let himself think about how long he'd been stuck here with the gland and the Agency.
"Huh. Interesting." She slid up the wall to stand and rubbed the back of her neck the same way he tended to when the headaches started getting bad. This one was beginning to get really bad.
When he saw the gesture his first thought was that she'd had a gland implanted as well, but would the Official do that? Cheap bastard that he was. Could they have fixed the problem and implanted someone else unwillingly? It didn't make any sense. As far as he knew, Claire still had no idea how to remove the damn thing, so why would they stick one in someone else's head? Especially a kid.
"You have one hell of a headache, you know," she grumbled, rubbing the back of her head again.
Darien managed a surprised, "Huh? How'd you know that?"
She just shook her head and walked around the room to the mirror. "Wonder if they're bored yet?" She knocked on the glass and then turned away to lean against it. "Not yet. They seem to be waiting for you to do something."
Darien sat up. "I bet they are." he muttered. "Look, kid... What is your name, anyway?"
"Don't have one anymore," she replied, sounding angry. "They left me nothing."
She walked over and sat down on the bed, still keeping her distance from him. He wasn't sure what to do. It was obvious they were going to leave him in here with her until he went mad. It was obvious she knew about quicksilver, but he couldn't figure out how. And it was obvious that she was very, very unhappy with the situation. Darien reached out to her, but she flinched away with a yelp.
"Please, don't touch me." She had gotten to her feet and backed away, shaking. The lights in the room flickered and dimmed for a moment before returning to normal. She looked at the mirror. "Get him the hell out of here." She put a hand to her forehead and sank to the floor again breathing heavily. Then she looked at Darien. "Leave. please."
He shrugged. "Open the door."
She broke out into harsh laughter. "That's just what they want." She closed her eyes. "Just... just stay away." She tipped her head back and huddled upon herself on the floor.
He had no idea what to do, but he was becoming more than a little angry with his superiors. Getting up, he walked over to the mirror, shaking his head in disgust. He placed his right wrist against the glass. "Do you really want to do this?" he asked of those he knew were on the other side.
The Keeper looked over at the Official, leaving the obvious question unsaid.
"It's working," he explained to her. "I'm betting she'll protect him, even if she won't protect herself."
"I still don't like this," she reiterated. "You risk alienating both of them."
He thought about it for a moment. "Perhaps," he agreed. "But the potential benefits are more than worth the risk."
The Keeper shook her head. "Nothing is worth this."
"Some things are."
When the first really bad pain hit, he reacted with a grunt and doubled over. Head in hands. Elbows on knees. He tried to do what the Keep had taught him, but tonight his body was having none of it. The pain was excruciating and left him unable to breathe. By the time it passed he was on the verge of blacking out. He lifted his head gasping for air to see her standing in front of him.
"What the hell was that?" Her voice was hushed she was so shocked and he noticed tears running down her cheeks.
"Get back kid." Forcing himself to his feet and avoiding the girl, he went to the mirror and shouted, "Get me out of here, now!" When there was no obvious response he slammed his fist into the mirror, with no effect other than to make himself even angrier. He spun around to find her standing about three feet in front of him. "I told you to get away kid," he growled.
"And where am I supposed to go?" She spread her arms to encompass the whole of the room.
"Damn it." It was still early. He still had time. He just had to convince them to let him out.
"They won't let you leave until you've done what you came to do," she said quietly.
She backed away from him as far as she could, trying to bring her shields back up. Trying to keep him out of her mind, but it was so hard, so very hard. She could feel what was happening to him, and it hurt. Gods it hurt.
He was so afraid of hurting her, so afraid of himself. She swallowed and closed her eyes. Forcing herself into that state of calm she had been so painstakingly taught. After a moment, a long moment, his impingement on her mind eased. Faded into the background.
She had no idea how long it had taken her to regain some control, but when she opened her eyes he was looking at his wrist, the despair evident on his face and in his posture.
His head snapped up and he looked at her, looked through her for all intents and purposes, though he was most definitely fully aware of her.
Then she finally understood his real reason for being here.
He moved swiftly then grabbing her by the arm and dragging her back towards the center of the room. She dug her heels in and reversed her position tossing him over her hip, much to his surprise.
"Just stay back, please." She spoke calmly, evenly.
But he didn't hear her. He'd begun that slow slide into the hated, feared madness and nothing could stop it now. No matter how much he might want to.
"Why would I do that?" he asked in a surprisingly light tone as he began to stalk her, his mind sinking lower and lower, his thoughts turning to places and things he would not normally ever consider.
"Because I could kill you," she told him in complete honesty, moving away from him and placing her back against the wall.
Faster than she thought possible, he caught her and began to lift her into the air by her forearm. "Try," he whispered at her.
"We have to stop this." Claire nearly shouted.
"No. Let it play out a bit more." he said watching the two in the room before him.
"He'll kill her." Claire said.
The Official shook his head. "I don't think so."
"It's that think that has me worried," Claire snapped at him.
She noticed his eyes first. The formerly sweet brown eyes, that conveyed so much with just a glance, were now laced with blood-red streaks. She tried to jerk her arm away, but he held on tight and began to lift her higher off the ground.
Her eyes flashed with her own anger. "Oh, I get it. Nice try. One warning, mister. Put me down or I'll take you apart."
Darien only laughed and lifted her higher.
"Fine. I warned you," she stated coldly.
With a snap of what sounded like a static charge, Darien was flung back onto the bed; his chest feeling like it had just been set on fire, small seizures rippling through his body that had nothing to do with the gland. Now free from his grip, she crouched on the floor watching him with wary eyes.
He lost the battle then and there. With a simple thought the quicksilver rushed over his body rendering him invisible to normal sight.
But she still knew where he was.
As Darien rushed forward to attack her, she dodged and kicked out, tripping him and sending him crashing into the wall. He snarled as he turned to go after her again, noting that the oversized top had slipped off one shoulder revealing smooth, soft flesh. Along with the hate and anger, a new feeling appeared: lust. His quicksilvered brain decided he would teach this young lady a lesson in proper behavior before he killed her.
The next few minutes must have looked quite odd to those on the other side of the glass, as she dodged and fought with someone they couldn't see and she could only sense. It was a losing battle. She didn't dare let him out of the room in this state, couldn't fight him one-on-one he was so strong, couldn't win no matter what she did or didn't do. If he succeeded in what his rage filled mind intended, it would break him just as surely as it would kill her. And she couldn't bring herself to truly hurt him when they had done this to him, when she had been in his mind, seen what she had seen, felt what she had felt. They'd left her with no choice.
Just as they intended.
She backed herself into a corner and let him catch her.
He let the quicksilver fall as he wrapped a hand about her throat and casually tossed her onto the bed, fully intending to enjoy himself with her. He was occupied with tearing the shirt from her when she surprised him by reaching up to gently touch the side of his face.
She closed her eyes, trying to keep herself separate from him. So she wouldn't be dragged down into his mind and lose her sense of self. Her control was not yet perfect; she found herself seeing, feeling, being more than she should, more than she could handle, almost. Almost. With great effort, she managed to find that calm center within and use it to help him. To hold back that fiery rage that both was and wasn't his. To give him a few, a very few, moments of control.
She opened her eyes to find him no longer over her, but a few feet away staring at her in shock. "Stop me, please," he begged.
With a quick nod she lashed out with a simple chop to the back of his head knocking him unconscious. She didn't allow him to fall, catching him and ensuring that he was comfortable. A sad smile touched her face.
But when she raised her head again, it showed only anger.
Striding over to the mirror, she raised a hand to touch it. "I know you're there. Are you happy now? You got what you wanted from me."
She quicksilvered her own hand and laid it against the glass. Frost began to form and quickly spread, coating a large section of the mirror, changing its normally bulletproof strength into something far more fragile. She pulled her hand back and, along with a little push from her mind, smashed it into the glass, shattering it and sending dust-like particles all over the two very surprised people in the other room. She turned to the Keeper. "Give him what he needs before I really get angry."
Without a comment the Keeper picked up a rather large syringe and left the room, to appear moments later in the cell with her. She watched as the Keeper injected the entire contents into Darien's arm. The Keeper looked up at her. "He'll be all right now."
"He had better be." She turned back to the room where the Official stood, brushing glass dust from his jacket. "Now what? You've got what you wanted."
The Official looked at her. "Not quite. We need to talk."
Two days had passed since the incident, and Darien still wondered what had happened to the girl. They had been briefed, sort of, and he had been shocked to learn that she could quicksilver as well. When he had asked if she'd had a gland implanted, the answer had been not exactly.' It was amazing how thoroughly Eberts could clam up when he needed to. Or when the Official glared at him forcefully enough.
Hobbes' knowledge of the girl had been less than Darien's own. As in none.
Boy could the Fat Man keep a secret.
He and Hobbes were walking into the Keeper's lab when Darien stopped in surprise. Talking to the Keeper, dressed in simple jeans and a t-shirt, was the girl. The look on her face was not the happiest he had ever seen, but he was glad to see her alive and well.
She turned to face the two men who entered the lab. One was short, at least in comparison to the man next to him. She wondered absently if he had developed an inferiority complex from working with someone so much taller than himself. The other she couldn't have forgotten if even if she wanted to. He was the man from that padded room. Good lord, he was even better looking now. She had hoped it had all been her imagination, especially after what had happened, but no, of course not. She'd never been known for doing things halfway.
He started walking again as she watched him. When he stopped in front of her he ran a hand nervously through his hair. "Hey, you okay kid?"
"I'm not a kid," she said in exasperation. "I'm probably older than you are."
"Quite true," Claire confirmed for the two men. "Her appearance is an unexpected side effect of the... ah... process she went through."
"Right, and I have all my hair," Hobbes scoffed.
The girl snorted in derision, turning to look at the Keeper. "Oh, so polite. Just call it an experiment and be done with it. Now, are you going to introduce me, or shall I find out who they are for myself?"
"The hairless one is Bobby Hobbes," Claire said with a smile.
Hobbes nodded to her.
"The tall furry one is..."
"Darien Fawkes," she finished for the Keeper. She stepped forward and looked up at him. "We've met."
"Look, I'm sorry about the other day. I never..." Darien began only to be interrupted.
"She's knows, Fawkes," the Official interrupted as he and Eberts entered the room. "I see you've met. Good, you'll all be working together."
"But she's just a kid," Hobbes complained.
"I am not a kid," she growled at Hobbes. Oh, this was looking like it was going to be just so much fun.
The Official cleared his throat, pulling everyone's attention back. "Eberts."
Eberts stepped forward and handed her a thick envelope. "Everything you requested is in there, per our agreement."
"It had better be," she snapped at him as she opened the envelope and began to thumb through the contents. She pulled out a sheet of paper and looked at Eberts with a deadly smile. "You've got to be kidding."
"You only requested a first name, we supplied the rest." Eberts replied with a shrug. "It seemed appropriate."
"He's a comedian," she muttered mainly to herself, shaking her head.
"Now that we're in agreement." The Official paused and looked at her. She nodded. "Good. Get to know one another. I expect you to be working very closely together." With a nod to Eberts, they turned and left the room.
With a slightly irritated look, she turned away as they left and sat down in a nearby chair.
"What was that all about?" Hobbes asked.
"Just a name," she replied. "My new name."
Remembering what she had said when they were in the room, Darien asked, "So, what is your name?"
"Alyx," she chuckled dryly. "Alyx Silver."
With all the formality he could muster, Darien walked over to Alyx and put out his hand. After a moments hesitation, she clasped it in hers. She had already experienced this man at his worst and wasn't frightened by it. She had a very good idea what else lay within him, so she accepted the voices and emotions that flowed over her in a gentle wave.
"Pleased to meet you, Alyx."
"I hope so," Alyx said softly. "I truly hope so."