Even When You Want To Be
Part 3
The first hour passed uneventfully. The three of them talked a bit; complaining good-naturedly
about the various aspects of their lives that intersected. In other words: work, the Official and
the Agency in general. Hobbes alluded more than once to his need for a vacation. Both guys were
surprised to learn that Alyx was just shy a black belt in karate. Darien told a few humorous
stories from his adventures at the Agency.

Alyx was the first to become quiet. Her head was throbbing in time to her heartbeat, and every bump
in the road caused a sharp stab of agony. She could feel Darien's rage pushing against the wall she
had erected in his mind, screaming fury just waiting to get out. She dug deeper into her reserves
of energy and made sure the wall stayed secure. It wasn't until she felt blood running down her
side once again that she realized she wasn't going to make it.

Darien groaned, as the sharp pain he had so learned to hate once again pierced his skull. "Alyx?"
he said, sounding worried.

She turned to Hobbes. "How much longer?"

"Thirty, forty minutes at best, why?" he said as he glanced over at her. She had gone dead pale,
her eyes going a pale crimson, a eerie reflection of what Darien's did when the madness took him.
Then he saw the blood. "Christ, kid. You're hurt." He began to pull off the road.

Alyx laid a hand on his arm. "Keep going." She was more than hurt; the blood was flowing freely
now and soaking through her jacket and her pants. There was nothing she could do about it, though.
Right now, she had to try and rebuild the wall in Darien's mind before those darker thoughts and
emotions that so frightened him took over.

She got out of the passenger seat and went into the back with Darien. Her wall in his mind was
crumbling. Every moment she held it intact was a moment closer to salvation. Every mile they gained
put them closer to home. When it finally collapsed, she groaned in agony, both for herself and for
him. Had she gained them enough? As she watched, his eyes went from bloodshot to full crimson. In a
heartbeat, Darien was gone, no longer quite the same person she was slowly allowing herself to know.
Rage and hate were evident on his face. He stood, hunched over, to face her in the cramped space of
the van. Without hope, she tried to push back the tide of anger in his mind.

"Get out of my mind, bitch," he shouted. Lashing out with his arm, he viciously backhanded her into
the side door. Hitting her head, she slumped to the floor of the van, barely conscious.

"Hey, Fawkes. Get a grip," Hobbes began in a voice filled with phony cheer.

"Oh yeah. I'll get a grip all right," Darien said as he moved beside Hobbes. "Oh yes, right around
your neck."

Alyx was torn. Part of her so wanted to give in to unconsciousness, to just fall into darkness and
let whatever was going to happen, happen. But the other part, the part that still gave a damn about
the world, couldn't allow that, and fought back. Pushing away the darkness and the pain, she forced
herself to her feet.

Alyx lashed out with a kick that shoved Darien forward into the dashboard and refocused his
attention on her. "Pull over, Hobbes," she shouted.

Darien spun around with a growl of rage and came for her. Hobbes pulled into the grassy median and
slammed on the brakes, bringing the van to a sudden stop. Darien was once again flung towards the
dash but caught himself on the back of the passenger seat.

"Now what?" Hobbes shouted.

"Now I drain the van's battery and teach this bastard a lesson," Alyx growled.

With a thought, the charge in the battery drained out and into her. The energy burst would be just
enough, barely. She opened the van's side door just as Darien lunged at her. They landed in a
tumbled heap on the grass. Unfortunately, Darien ended up on top. Alyx did the only thing she
could; she entered his mind and took his madness as her own. As Darien's violent emotions entered
her mind, her eyes changed. Instead of the expected red, they turned a molten silver and began to
glow with a blue white light. She shoved him off, the madness giving her a strength to match his.

But it was his size that gave him an advantage. After a moment of predatory circling, he lunged for
her. She was able to block one punch but was caught by his other hand when it encircled her throat.
He squeezed and pulled her close to him. "I seem to recall having you in this position once
before," he said in a deadly voice.

"Not quite," she growled at him. Without a bit of regret, she kicked him where it would hurt the

Doubling over with a roar of rage, he refused to release her. His grip tightened, cutting off what
little air she had been getting.

"If you're going to kill me, do it. I never wanted this life in the first place," she ground out
past his grip. Then she stopped fighting him and left his mind, the light in her eyes dying and
returning them to normal.

Darien seemed to pause in surprise at her words.

Hobbes watched the fight with in growing dismay. If he didn't do something, the kid was going to
die. With but a moments regret he pulled his gun and prepared himself to shoot Darien. He was
within a heartbeat of pulling the trigger when a shower of dirt thrown up from a stopping vehicle
got his attention. Claire threw open the door and, with syringe in hand, rushed to Darien. Reaching
up she injected the entire contents into the back of his neck.

With a groan, Darien released Alyx and fell to the ground. Alyx's mind swam with the cool rush of
air that she was finally able to draw in. Her hand went to her bruised throat as she coughed and
gulped, barely managing to keep herself standing.

The Keeper stood from her quick examination of Darien to check on Alyx. Unsure of her voice she
waved to Darien's prone form.

"He'll be fine," Claire assured her.

Clearing her throat, Alyx said in a hoarse voice, "Good. Can I pass out now?" And promptly did so.

Hobbes managed to catch her and lowered her to the ground. His hands came away covered in blood.

"Damn it," Claire cursed. She pulled open Alyx's jacket to find a bullet wound in the girl's right
side. "Clean through," she noted. "Probably missed everything." Running to her car, she grabbed an
emergency first aid kit and applied a pressure bandage to both sides of the wound.

"Too close by half," she said under her breath. "Too close for both of them."

It was the smell that woke her. It just screamed 'hospital' to her senses, and that was one place
she had never been very fond of. She bolted upright, then immediately regretted it as her right
side reminded her of her recent adventure. The curse that escaped from her lips was not one she
would've normally chosen, but the invective seemed appropriate at this time.

"I really don't think you're up for that activity right now," Darien commented wryly from a nearby
chair. He looked tired, but okay. It was obvious that'd he'd been there for a while and she
wondered why. She leaned back against the pillows that had been propping her up.

"You should talk. Next time I'll kick harder," Alyx replied with a sly grin.

He stood up, his hand going to his heart. "Now you truly wound me." He sat on the edge of the bed.

"Smartass," Alyx said, shoving him.

Hobbes peeked around the doorway. "Hey, the kid is awake finally," he said as he walked into the

Curious, she asked. "Finally? How long was I out?"

"You've been playing sleeping beauty for four days," Darien said in a quiet voice. "You lost quite
a bit of blood. Bit too much, as it turned out." He paused and ducked his head almost shyly. Then
his attitude changed and he wagged a finger of admonishment at her. "Why didn't you say anything?"

"Get real," she batted his hand away. "Would it really have mattered, given the situation?"

"Kid has a point," Hobbes said. "You needed the help more than she did at the time. And it worked
out okay in the end."

"Hurrah, my cheering section," Alyx sniped at Hobbes. Then she lowered her voice. "Darien, I made a
choice, a conscious choice. I chose your life over mine. It's that simple."

Before Darien could make any comment, Alyx changed the topic. "All right, how do I get out of
here? Hospitals are not tops on my list of vacation spots, you know."

Feeling somewhat relieved that she had avoided his next question, Darien stood and said, "I'll find
Claire and see if she'll turn you loose."

In the hallway outside Lab Three, he stopped and leaned against the wall. Claire stood beside him;
she had been listening for the past several minutes. "Why didn't you tell her?" she asked.

Rubbing the back of his neck, he thought for a moment. It had been discovered that, because of the
quicksilver in their blood, he was the only match for her when she needed a transfusion. Finding
out that bit of information had nearly killed her; when given what was thought to be the correct
blood type, she had gone into a systemic reaction. He had donated twice and had thus saved her
life. Darien dropped his arm to his side and looked at the Keeper.

"I made a choice," he said, then walked down the hall.

A rather smart person, Abbie Dale, said, "To decide, to be at the level of choice, is to take
responsibility for your life and to be in control of your life."

I knew that somewhere along the way I had lost control of mine; that's why I was here now. But I
wasn't alone in it anymore. She'd made her choice to save my life over hers, to take responsibility
for my life over her own. Perhaps I should have left it at that, but when it came down to it, I
couldn't. Couldn't see my life being more worthy, more valuable than hers.

I took away her choice by making my own. Guess I'm more like the Official than I thought.