Author: A. X. Zanier
Rating: PG-13 (Language, 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: # 2 of the Alyx Silver series. Original post 10/19/2000 @
Yahoogroups.com/groups/IMFanfic
Comments: In my timeline none of Season 2 ever happened and though MFN 1&2 are referred to
eventually the events played out a bit differently. In my AU Arnaud never put a gland in his own
head and therefore never went permanently invisible. Most other events occured as they did in the
show and in the revised versions of the stories they are referred to as they happened.
Enjoy!!!
Thanks to Rebecca(WorkerCaste) my brave Beta reader!

Even When You Want To Be



One of the greatest philosophers of all time said, 'How many things there are which I do not
want.' I had few on my list, starting with that gland tucked away in the back of my head and going
from there.

How was I supposed to know I was getting off easy?



It had been two weeks since she had agreed to join the Agency. Two weeks of trying to adjust to a
life she wanted no part of. Two weeks of trying to learn to be someone she was not. It hadn't been
easy. She had yet to decide if this was better or worse than the previous six months.

Well, she wasn't locked in a small padded cell any more; that was an improvement of sorts.

She also finally got to be outdoors for the first time in half a year. That in itself was no small
joy. To see the sun, to smell air that hadn't been through some sort of processing, to feel a
breeze across her skin, in her hair -- it was amazing what one could forget, how simple a pleasure
one could revel in when freedom, no matter how fleeting or how restricted, was given back.

Better still was the apartment they'd finally found for her. She was glad to no longer be staring
at the four walls of that tiny hotel room. To be rid of Agency baby-sitter outside
twenty-four/seven.

Like she had anyplace to go.


She had a new name now, and all that went with it -- social security number, bank accounts,
driver's license, the works. But without the Agency, she would have nothing. As far as the world
knew, she, or rather the person she had been, was dead. She was a whole new person now, from
appearance to abilities. Heck, most people would love to drop twenty years from their appearance,
to have a second chance at youth. Some might even be willing to pay the kind of price she had for
it. Some.

The new place was nearly perfect for her; an old converted warehouse. The ground floor was a
parking garage that she had no use for. The three floors above had been converted into a total of
six apartments. She had a top floor apartment, with a partial water view over the top of the
building across the street. The most important thing about the place, however, was the scarcity of
neighbors. Most of the nearby buildings were either empty or nearly so. Fewer minds to impinge upon
hers. Fewer people for her to accidentally hurt if her shields collapsed and her control went.

She'd spent the last few days buying the basics for her place and having it all delivered. The
Official wasn't going to be thrilled with the bill, but it was part of the deal they'd struck.
There was no way she was going to scrimp on what little she was going to have. The most expensive
purchases had been the electronics; she was now the happy owner of an entertainment system good
enough to make the average guy green with envy. The only other thing she had really splurged on was
the bed. Not that she really used it to sleep -- she hated to sleep these days -- but it was a place
to curl up and hide. To try and forget.

She pulled the bicycle out into traffic, making her way to the office building where the Agency hid
itself behind the name of the Department of Fish and Game. Wonderful...not only had her life been
co-opted by the government, it had to be the one agency that couldn't even afford its own name.

Life sucks, then you die, then you get to live it over again. Or so she tended to believe these
days. Why couldn't she have just stayed dead? She ignored the irritated honks and curses of the
drivers as she deftly maneuvered through the early morning traffic. It was going to be a long day.

Alyx carried her bike downstairs to the lab where Claire, the Keeper, let her store it in an
out-of-the-way corner during the day. In exchange, the Keeper got to run some tests on Alyx's more
interesting abilities.

Peeling off her biking gloves, Alyx spoke to the Keeper. "What is it about guys? They have cars and
I bike, but I still get here before them."

"Maybe it has to do with the fact that they sleep past four A.M.," Claire replied sardonically.
"How many hours last night?"

"Three. But broken. Weird dreams again," Alyx said as she stored the bike.

"Your sleep cycle is completely screwed up. I don't see how you keep going," Claire commented with
actual concern in her voice.

Alyx just shrugged. "I have a choice?"

Alyx lifted her head, suddenly. With an odd look on her face, she walked towards the door. "It
doesn't count if you have to sneak in invisible, Darien," she said to a seemingly blank wall. "You
owe me a dinner. Again."

With the sound of quicksilver dust falling lightly to the floor, Darien Fawkes appeared. Looking at
the Keeper, he asked, "How does she do that?"

"Now if I knew that, would I be strapping electrodes to her head every other day?" Claire asked
rhetorically, without turning from her work. "Good morning, Darien."

"Actually, I think you probably would if you could get away with it. Morning, Alyx," Darien said as
he walked over towards the Claire.

"She should be glad I'm honest and not skewing the readings on her," Alyx commented as took over a
nearby chair.

Looking over his shoulder at her, Darien asked. "What do you do all night anyway?"

She chose not to mention that he must have been eavesdropping if he knew to ask that question.
"Let's see...last night I did katas till midnight, then yoga and my meditation exercises until
around two. Tried to sleep. Gave that up as a bad job around five. Went jogging until six or so.
Showered, had my breakfast, and came here," Alyx recited. "Oh yeah, and I learned to speak
Russian." She smiled sardonically. "It's amazing what you can do with language lessons on tape and
the fast forward button."

"Is that all?" Darien said sarcastically.

"Like to see you keep up," she grumbled at him.

"No thanks," he laughed "I happen to enjoy sleeping." He watched as Alyx leaned back in her chair,
stretching a bit. She ending up leaning on one hand with an elbow on the long desk before her.
Since her arrival and their rather unique meeting, there had been a bit of an upheaval here at the
Agency. The Keeper, Claire, was having fun with her new toy, namely Alyx. Hobbes was openly hostile
towards her, convinced she was going to be far more trouble than she could possibly be worth. And
Darien...well, Darien was feeling a bit confused, and Alyx was the source. She was gorgeous,
intelligent, athletic, angry as hell, and making him absolutely crazy. Like the dinner thing; today
was the third -- no, fourth -- dinner he'd lost to her. But had she even once actually let him take
her to dinner, even just a burger? No. She seemed to be deliberately avoiding him outside of work
situations, and he couldn't quite understand why.

She was just sitting there, staring off at something only she could see, tapping a pen she'd picked
up along the edge of the desk in an intricate pattern that only she seemed to know the permutations
of. The pen snapped in half when the Lab door slid open and Hobbes came in.

"Hey, Hobbes," Darien said warily. His partner had a look of disgust on his face. "What's up?"

"Some idiot on a bike was playing target on the road this morning." He shook his head. "I'd be
very surprised if he actually reached his destination. Intact, that is."

"Hobbes, tone down the anger," Alyx pleaded in a strained voice. Her shielding had been a bit iffy
all morning, causing one of those brilliant headaches she had learned to both accept and hate.
Now, however, Hobbes' seething anger was enough to push her over the edge into a full shield
collapse. Every thought in the building was suddenly in her head...heck, nearly every mind on the
damn block was vying for her attention. And then there were the emotions. She suddenly found
herself lost in the swirling morass that had invaded her mind.

Hobbes' startled expression was surpassed only by the Claire's sudden look of concern. "Alyx, are
you okay?" she asked. She got up and crossed over to where Alyx sat gulping for air.

With a groan of pain Alyx replied, "Yes... no...damn it, get out of my head!"

Claire realized Alyx's sometimes erratic control was failing, and a moment later her fears were
confirmed. A wave of pain/fear/anger flooded her senses as Alyx began broadcast her own discomfort
to everyone around her. They didn't even have to be receptive; Alyx's feelings and emotions simply
forced their way in. Both Darien and Hobbes gasped in surprise, their hands going to their heads in
reaction as everything Alyx was feeling was shoved into their minds rather abruptly. Darien managed
to get out a surprised "Aw crap," before Claire waved him to silence.

Using iron-clad control over her own emotions, Claire spoke in a firm voice to Alyx. "Get you're
shield up, girl. You're broadcasting to the entire building."

Through gritted teeth, Alyx growled, "What do you think I'm trying to do?"

"Don't try," the Keeper barked, "do it."

A few more agonizing moments went by. Although the waves of emotions and thoughts weakened, they
did not stop. Claire realized that her charge's control had collapsed completely and went to the
emergency plan. She spoke one word. "Pattern."

As suddenly as it had begun, the intrusion into their minds was gone. At the same time, Alyx's
entire posture changed. "Acknowledged," she replied in a monotone. She suddenly relaxed, and Claire
moved quickly to catch her as she toppled out of the chair.

Glad for the mental silence, she called to Darien and Hobbes. "Help me get her to the table, would
you?"

Hobbes refused to move, just staring in surprise at the youthful-seeming girl. Darien hurried over,
lifted Alyx off the floor, and carried her to the examination table nearby. Gently, he laid her on
it, brushing a stray lock of hair away from her face before stepping back. As the Keeper began to
attach electrodes to Alyx's brow, he asked, "What the hell just happened?"

"That is what happens when her control slips a little." Claire made some adjustments to the
monitors.

"A little? What happens when it slips a lot?" Darien asked. There was just something in her voice
that made him wonder what had happened.

Claire looked at him. "You really don't want to know."

"What the hell is she?" Hobbes sounded stunned.

"Very annoyed," a weak voice said from the table. She turned to Claire, "You know I hate it when
you guys do that to me. Stupid programming." She hated losing what little control she had over her
own mind and body. Hated having her mind suddenly flipped 'off' as if with a switch. Hated the
uncomfortable, ill-fitting shield that got shoved unceremoniously into her head, even if it did
ease the discomfort and allow her to regain her control. The only thing she hated more was the
inhibitor that blanked her new senses completely.

"Well, don't lose control over your powers and I won't have to use the programming," the Keeper
replied.

"If your bosses hadn't done their little experiment on me, I wouldn't have to control anything,"
Alyx growled back.

Claire felt Alyx's anger wash over her and the monitors all began to go crazy. "Alyx..." she warned.

"Yeah, I know." She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths, forcing herself to relax. It
took several minutes, but the readings finally leveled out on the monitors.

"What is she?" Hobbes repeated, his voice hushed.

"More than the boss bargained for," Alyx replied stiffly. "Their little experiment had a few
unexpected side effects." She began to pull the electrodes from her forehead.

The Keeper tried to stop her. "We're not done."

"Yes we are," Alyx said. She wasn't in the mood to play lab rat today. She removed the remaining
electrodes from her forehead and then glared at Hobbes. "I do not need your attitude. I'm no
happier about this than you are. Deal or get the hell out of my way." She slid off the table and
walked away, intending to leave the Lab and go...somewhere else, didn't matter where.

The door opened before she got to it and the Official marched in, followed by Eberts.

"What the hell is going on down here?" the Official bellowed. "Half the accounting department is
currently cowering under their desks."

Alyx, whose control was still none too steady, snapped, "I've been practicing."

The Official looked at her for a moment. "Not bad," he said.

Alyx snorted. "'Not bad.' Like to see you do better."

He wagged a finger at her. "Don't push your luck young lady," he said.

Claire groaned. She knew the Official had just pushed button number one on Alyx's list of
'piss-me-offs'.

"Whatcha gonna do, fire me? Go right ahead, it would make for an interesting day," Alyx growled,
taking a step towards the much larger man with no fear.

"Girl, we have an agreement," the Official said gruffly.

"Some agreement, more like blackma...." Alyx stopped and took a deep breath. "Nice try. Are you
satisfied? Have I passed your little test? What number was this? Fifty-three?"

"For someone who hit the hook as hard as you did, you sure spit out fast," the Official said with a
smile.

"I'm confused," Hobbes said.

"I'm not surprised," Alyx said under her breath.

Both Claire and Darien heard her comment and did their best to hide snickers.

Hobbes glared at her. So the enmity was mutual.

"Do you think you can hold that control?" the Official asked Alyx.

"Don't see why not," she said, stepping back to lean against the table.

"Good. I've got an assignment where your talents will be quite useful," the Official said. "Time to
earn your keep."

"Within the rules?" she asked him.

"Within the rules," he confirmed. "Think you're ready?"

"What the hell," she said. "I'm always up for new experiences."



Hobbes was behind the wheel, hunched over and grumbling under his breath. Darien sat in the
passenger seat, dozing, after having given up any attempt to have a rational conversation with him.

It was going to be a long trip, Alyx decided. A very long trip, given the way her head was
pounding again. The Official was too cheap to get them plane tickets, so they were stuck making the
four hour drive to a little town that was fast becoming another Silicon Valley. Hobbes' bright
scarlet anger was counterpointed by the cool blue of Darien's dozing mind. As they passed other
vehicles, the minds in them would flash through her consciousness. Surface thoughts, and emotions
-- nothing strong, nothing memorable, but there. A constant irritant, usually easily ignored, like
background noise. Not today. Each tiny intrusion was like a spike being driven between her eyes.

Growling in frustration, she dug though her backpack for her pain meds. Swallowing them with a swig
of bottled water, she prayed they would take effect fast.

"More meds?" Darien asked quietly. In recent conversations with both her and Claire, he had learned
that she sometimes got rather severe headaches. Ones that required very powerful painkillers to
even put a dent in. The side effect was that she tended to fall asleep for a while after taking
them.

Alyx leaned her head back and closed her eyes. "Yeah. Someone's a bit irritated with me, and I
can't help but pick it up." She sounded so very tired, even to herself.

Hobbes growled, "Try staying out of my head, girl."

Alyx didn't rise to the bait. "Love to, but I can't. I pick up surface thoughts and emotions no
matter how hard I shield. Usually I can ignore them, like a radio on in the background, but..."

Hobbes' anger dampened somewhat. "But what? "

"Your anger is directed at me," she said. "It's like trying to ignore someone shouting in your ear."

"Oh," he said, suddenly subdued. "I didn't realize..." he trailed off.

"No problem," she said groggily. "No way you could know." She shook her head and chuckled. "I still
can't believe they didn't tell you."

"Tell us what?" Darien asked.

"About my bonus prizes," Alyx said.

Darien turned in his seat to face her. Her normally bright, silvery eyes were turned to dull pewter
by the pain and the medication. Her tightly braided auburn hair had come loose and looked as if she
had spent the last hour or so running her hands through it. "Jeeze, Alyx. You look awful."

She smiled at him. "And?"

"Try to sleep," he said, concerned. "I'll try to keep Hobbes out of your head."

Hobbes turned and shot a glare at Darien.

Alyx chuckled wryly. "Sleep, what's that? Now, drug-induced unconsciousness, that I can do." She
leaned back into the seat and shifted to get comfortable, her eyes closing. "How I miss sleep," she
mumbled as she let the effects of the drug take over.

"Is she going to be all right, Fawkes?" Hobbes asked as Darien turned to face forward.

"I hope so," Darien said.

Two hours later, Hobbes pulled into a truck stop to refuel and stretch. As he shut off the engine
he looked at Darien and asked, "Should we wake her?"

"Wake who?" Alyx said, startling both men. They both turned around to glare at her.

"What?" she asked innocently. She'd been awake for a while, but had just let her mind drift about,
somewhat relaxed.

Hobbes just grumbled under his breath and got out of the van. Darien chuckled and shook his head.

Alyx stretched a bit. "I go forth to claim sustenance. Want anything?"

"No thanks. I'll get something when Hobbes gets back," Darien answered, watching her carefully.

"You da boss." She slid open the side door and made her way inside the coffee shop attached to the
gas station.

About ten minutes later she trotted back out, carrying some more bottled water and one of those
styrofoam containers for take-out food. She climbed into the back seat, somehow knowing she
wouldn't be welcome up front. Between the meds and Hobbes' realization that he was contributing to
the problem, she was feeling much improved and ravenous. The headaches tended to depress her
appetite, which drove Claire crazy as she was still underweight from being on strike for well over
a month. She opened the container, pleased to see the salad she ordered had extra hot peppers like
she requested.

She he'd been having new problems the last few weeks but she'd been ignoring them, figuring they'd
settle out eventually. Darien climbed back in the passenger side and turned back to look at her.

"Ewww. Hot peppers. Are you insane?" he commented with a smile.

She swallowed. "Given the way my life has gone recently, I can only hope I am."

"Out of curiosity, how often to you have to get counteragent shots?" Darien asked. He figured
since he had her alone he might as well find out what he could. Claire had not filled him in very
much about what she could or couldn't do, and he hadn't noticed a monitor tattoo anywhere on her.
If they were going to work together, it might help to understand exactly what she was capable of.
Okay, maybe not understand per se...

She shook her head at him. "I don't."

Bobby climbed back in then and started the van. Within moments they were back out on the road.

"So how do you deal with quicksilver madness?" Darien asked, wondering exactly how she had lucked
out.

"I don't. My body is fully adapted to the quicksilver. According to what I've read, some chemical
modifications were made to the quicksilver gland, which caused the madness. My ability was created
by an entirely different process." Alyx explained, digging out another hot pepper and nibbling on
it, savoring the flavors.

"Wait...so you're saying you have full quicksilver abilities, without a time limit like Fawkes
here?" Hobbes asked, honestly curious. Neither of them had been told much of anything about her,
even though she'd been at the Agency, officially, for a couple of weeks now. So far she'd just
been taking some basic courses, bringing herself up to speed on how an agency of this type worked.
She would continue these studies for a few months, along with doing any assignments the Official
decided needed her particular set of skills.

"Essentially. I haven't exactly spent time seeing how long I can stay invisible." She shook her
head at the unintentional pun. "In fact, until they stuck Darien in that room with me I hadn't used
any of my abilities intentionally for nearly two months."

"Why not, kid?" he sounded a bit gruff. "If you can tell us, that is."

Alyx actually paled a bit. "They tried an experiment to increase my powers."

"Didn't work, I take it." Hobbes commented, but Darien was looking at her.

"No, Hobbes, I'd say it worked too well."

Alyx nodded. "They succeeded, but I had no control." He voice dropped. "I destroyed the facility I
was at. No one will tell me how many survived besides me, so I assume it was bad. I refused to use
my powers after that."

"So, not only did you get an improved gland, you got extra abilities?" Hobbes commented. "Lucky
you."

"Yeah, right, lucky me." She closed the container and set it aside. "First off, I do not have an
artificial implant like Darien, and second, those 'extra abilities' are a far larger pain in the
ass than they could ever be worth, no matter what the Official may think."

"How could that be? Reading peoples minds, that's one of those things kids dream about being able
to do," Hobbes said turning slightly to look at her.

"In a perfect world maybe." Alyx shifted leaning forward a bit. "Look, I get headaches just
sitting here with the two of you, because I can't filter out your surface thoughts. I also pick up
every person driving past us. When we go through a town, I pick up even more, and that's with my
shields up. If they went down, I would know exactly what you were thinking and feeling, along with
everyone else for a mile around." She paused rubbing her forehead. "It hurts."

"Not to sound idiotic, but why?" Darien asked.

"Ever been to a party where the people start talking and just keep getting louder and louder?"
Alyx asked him. She had been waiting for questions from them and had taken the time to come up with
explanations she hoped they would understand.

He nodded. "A few times. I usually end up leaving to escape the noise."

"Imagine all that in your head, all the time, and you can't escape it," Alyx replied.

Darien took a few minutes to think about that. "Ouch?"

Alyx laughed lightly. "Ouch is right."

"So, if you don't have a quicksilver gland like wonder boy here, how do you do it?" Hobbes asked.

Alyx sighed. "Technically, I'm not supposed to say anything about how I got this way. But I'm
going to tell you a story. Might be true, might not."

Alyx took a few deep breaths. "Set your way back machines to roughly thirty years ago. A group of
children, all born with a few weeks of each other, were chosen to test a new 'vaccine'. The parents
thought nothing of it. New vaccines were pretty common.

"This one, though, was unique: instead of protecting against any known illness, it was designed to
create dramatic changes in the growing infants' brains. This 'vaccine' caused one of the brain's
little-used glands, the pineal, to secrete a substance to counteract the 'vaccine'. Eventually,
this caused the body to build up an immunity to the substance.

"Pretty standard. After three years of booster shots, tests were done to see if a tolerance had
been built and if the proper counter to the 'vaccine' was present in the blood. If it was, the
child would go on to Phase II. Only half the kids made it to Phase II. Of those that didn't, a
third died and another quarter were institutionalized for various reasons.

"Somewhere along the way, though, bureaucracy happened. No Phase II treatments were given. The
kids were forgotten for almost thirty years, until an old box of files revealed a list of names of
those who survived Phase I."

Alyx paused to opened a bottle of water and take a drink. Both Hobbes and Fawkes were waiting,
somewhat impatiently, for her to continue.

"It turned out that all but five of the names on the list had died when they hit puberty.
Coincidentally, this was when Phase II was supposed to occur, but didn't. Of the five, only one
name held any promise based on the research they did. They dug into the candidate's life and
discovered a number of occurrences and coincidences that made her a perfect candidate for an
attempt at Phase II, even at that late stage. Without giving the chosen person a choice, they
arranged for her personal physician to give her another series of 'vaccinations' to prepare her
system. Then they kidnapped her, faked her death, and gave her the final drug that would complete
the process. She woke up two weeks later, her life as she knew it gone, her reflection that of a
stranger, voices that weren't hers in her head, and able to control most forms of energy. She
also had the ability to turn invisible, which was the whole point of the experiment."

Alyx smiled. "Any questions?"

"So instead of an artificial gland, they did something to alter an existing one?" Darien mused
aloud.

"Actually, they've altered almost my entire lymph and glandular system, but thanks to the gland
that was altered as a control mechanism, I got the extra talents. The pineal has been theorized to
control ESP-type abilities. Guess they've proven that true." Alyx sat back in her seat. "It's also
why my sleep cycle is all screwy. Activating the abilities has altered the control programming in my
brain, and it's still trying to adapt."

Any further discussion was quickly forgotten when the van suddenly slewed violently to the right
and tried to tip over. Between Bobby's driving skills and a bit of mental support from Alyx, they
kept it upright and got it slowed. Bobby pulled the vehicle carefully into the breakdown lane and
turned it off with a sigh, then all three climbed out to stare in dismay at the flat but mostly
intact tire.

"Hobbes, please tell me they replaced the spare from the last time?" Darien did not have much
confidence in this, based on his expression.

"I doubt it. I'd be surprised if the jack was still there," Hobbes commented with a sigh. "Cheap
bastard."

While the two men continued carping on the lack of adequate funding supplied for even basic things
from the Agency, Alyx squatted down next to the tire and looked it over. She pulled out the piece
of stray metal that had embedded itself in the tread and tossed it aside. The hole itself wasn't
too bad, and not much of the tread had pulled away. "I can probably jerry-rig this if you like."

The running commentary stopped abruptly as her partners turned to stare at her.

"This I gotta see," Hobbes said with a sneer.

Alyx stood and backed away a few steps. Closing her eyes, she centered herself like she'd been
taught and then reached out and lifted the front quarter of the van off the ground.

It wasn't until it felt like their stomachs had dropped to their shoes that Darien and Hobbes
realized anything was happening. A surprised "What the...?" escaped from Hobbes as Darien pointed
to the now floating van. They both stared at the van for a moment, then at Alyx.

"How...? What...?" Hobbes started.

"Ah, so glib," Alyx commented. "You try and figure it out. I'm going to fix the tire."

Alyx first forced air into the tire through the puncture in the tread until it seemed to be
pressurized correctly. Next, she heated up the rubber around the puncture until it began to melt,
then convinced it to flow into the hole, filling and sealing it. She walked to the tire and
squatted down to examine her work. Deciding it would do, she reached out with her hand
quicksilvered and cooled the heated rubber to finish the job. Stepping back, she gently lowered the
van to ground and was pleased to see her fix-it job hold.

Bobby stepped forward and examined the tire. "Not bad. Don't know how you did it...but not bad."

"I wouldn't trust it for any longer than necessary, but it should hold until we get to our
overnight and can get it replaced," Alyx said.

"Matter and energy. Two sides of the same coin," Darien muttered.

"Give the man a prize," Alyx smiled. "Took your bosses a month to figure that one out. They thought
I was a simple telekinetic."

"But I thought you said you controlled energy fields?" Bobby asked.

"That's right. I know it's weird, but all things have an energy field, even this heap of a van,
which I can then interact with and control. It also means I can do stuff like this." Alyx held her
hands in front of her about twelve inches apart. With a snap, a spark of electricity jumped between
them.

"So that's what you did that day," Darien said. He'd found the mild burn from the shock she'd given
him after he'd woken up in the Keep. "You zapped me so I'd drop you."

"I warned you," Alyx said, smiling slightly. "Somehow I don't think a calm, rational discussion
would've done any good at the time."

"You're probably right," Darien replied wryly.

"C'mon, kiddies. Time to get back on the road." Tossing the keys to Darien, Hobbes said, "Your
turn to drive."

"Shotgun," Alyx piped and jumped for the passenger door.

"Hey, what am I supposed to do in back?" Hobbes grouched.

"Complain?" Alyx suggested.

"Take a nap. It's not like we're going to get lost," Darien added as he started the van and pulled
back onto the road. He glanced over at Alyx as she stared out the windshield. "You know, what you
can do is pretty darn amazing."

She shrugged. "I guess. But I 'd give it all up in a heartbeat to have my old life back."

"Anything?" Darien asked. "No cost would be too high?"

"You have no idea what I lost." Alyx said, her voice pain-filled. "My life may not have been the
most exciting or my marriage the best, but I'd rather be what I was than what I am now."

Surprise in his voice, he said. "Married?"

"Yeah. Married, kids...and the bastards took it all away." She snarled the last. "And they wonder
why I'm not grateful."***********To be continued....