Author: A. X. Zanier
Rating: PG-13 (language, violence)
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or basic story premises to 'The Invisible Man'. Any
addidional charatcters or story premises are mine to do with as I please.
Timeline: #4 Ten days after 'Into the Darkness' Original Post 10/18/2000
yahoogroups.com/IMFanfic
Spoilers: References to various eps. Nothing too specific.
Comments: This is the updated and revised version.
Thanks to Rebecca(WorkerCaste) my brave Beta reader.

Interlude

Okay this guy William James said, "Compared to what we ought to be, we are only half awake. We
are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. Stating the thing broadly,
the human individual thus lives far within his limits. He possesses powers which he habitually fails
to use."

I watched what happened to Hobbes when he got the chance to use all his mental resources. It nearly
killed him. Hell, look at me who's been given the chance to go beyond the norm. I haven't handled it
all that well. Hate it most days.

Can you imagine what it would do to someone who has taken a step beyond either of us? Someone for
whom there are apparently no limits?

I think there are limits for a reason.


Alyx was rhythmically punching and kicking the bag in front of her to the bass beat pounding from
her stereo. Sweat trickled down her sides and plastered her hair to her head. 'Just twenty more
minutes,' she thought to herself, 'then I should be able to sleep. For a little while, anyway.'

Switching from forward kicks to reverse kicks, she paused in mid motion.

Balanced on one foot she listened, hoping she had been mistaken. The faint sound of her door buzzer
could barely be heard over the music. 'Damn it. I like this song,' she thought. Reaching out with
her mind, she lowered the volume as she crossed the room. She probed lightly at the person on the
other side of the door. When she realized who it was, she sighed.

Opening the door, she said, "What do you want Darien?" She had hoped he'd gotten the hint the last
time he was here. Not to mention the fact that she'd been making a point of avoiding him the times
she'd had to go into the office to see the Keeper.

Darien was only somewhat surprised at her disheveled appearance. "Hello to you, too," he said with
his patented 'get-the-girl-to-smile' grin.

Alyx didn't respond.

"Um... I was in the neighborhood and decided to stop by?"

"Right. At midnight. Across town from your place. Try again?" she said dryly.

"Look, can I come in?" he asked.

"Why?" She was having enough problems without having to deal with him again.

At this point he was ready to try anything. "Please?"

With a sigh, Alyx stepped out of the doorway and gestured for him to enter.

She watched him as he stood before her. His trim figure was encased in a bleached pair blue jeans
and a white t-shirt, over which was his black leather jacket. He looked so comfortable, so casual
with his hands stuffed into the jacket's pockets, that it irritated her. Shutting the door she
repeated her original question. "What do you want, Darien?" she said wearily.

He turned around and looked at her, really looked. What he saw shocked him. Before him stood a
stunningly fragile doll of a woman whose eyes reflected more heartache than anyone deserved to
experience. Her defiant posture was counter-pointed by the dark circles under her eyes. She was a
lean as a jungle cat, having not a trace of visible fat on her. He realized she worked so hard, so
long, so determinedly, because she had nothing else. This place and her work with the Agency were
all she had, all that currently defined who she was. And she *did not want it*. Somehow he knew,
knew, she could and would walk away from all of it if given a chance to.

"I just thought you might like some company," he answered in a soft voice. "But I'll go. You're
busy."

With a sigh Alyx said, "No. It's okay." She pushed away from the door. "Have a seat. I'll attempt
to get human." She pushed past him and headed for the bathroom. Fast as she could she stripped,
tossing her clothes in the hamper before jumping into the shower. The cold water was refreshing
against her skin. Moving with an economical swiftness she washed and rinsed, getting in and out in
just over five minutes. She dried off and dug through her closet, deciding on a comfortable pair of
sweats and tank top.

She brushed out her hair and then twisted it up into a bun, which she held in place with a couple
of chopsticks she kept lying around for just that purpose. She stared at her reflection once more,
shocked at the child that stared back. This was one of those days when she knew she was losing
herself. The person in her head could not accept the one reflected before her, and it left her soul
torn. Forget who she was in favor of what she now had to be? Or hold on to the past, the life she
had known and lived, and fail to go forward? She didn't want to do either, didn't want to be here
at all. Today had been one of those days that just hurt. She shook herself.

Now was not the time for this. Now she had to face the man in her living room. This was not going
to be easy. For either of them, she suspected.

Opening the door, she smiled when Darien started guiltily from his perusal of her CD collection.

"See anything you like?" Alyx asked him.

"I do now," he replied with a grin. That had not been part of the plan. She wasn't supposed to
look stunning in a pair of sweats and a tank top. Even if she did still look achingly sad and
exhausted. It was weird, but when he was near her intelligent thought just went right out the
window.

"Don't," Alyx said, moving to the kitchen. He was starting in with the comments already. Would he
not get the hint? "Coffee?"

"Sure." He watched in amusement at her method of making coffee. Although she carefully measured
the beans by hand and placed them in the grinder, the beans weren't ground until she was filling
the coffee pot with water, across the room. Gracefully, he moved closer to where she was and leaned
against the counter beside her.

Alyx locked her shields down tight, his presence a somewhat pleasant irritant. She got down mugs
and arranged the spoons and sugar bowl neatly on the counter. Realizing she was avoiding him she
placed her hands firmly on the counter before her, took a long deep breath and turned to face him.

"Nervous?" He said with a knowing grin.

She let out the breath with a laugh and smiled. "You wish."

"Alyx, you don't have to hide all the time, you know," Darien said. "I mean, we're both stuck in
the same boat. It might be easier if we were, I don't know, friends."

"Friends, hmm... What kind of friends? The drink in the bar kind of friend or..." She sidled up to
him a sultry look on her face. "Did you have something a bit friendlier in mind?" This was just
plain stupid and she had no idea why she was doing it. Maybe she really needed to start trying to
sleep instead of spending her nights fighting with herself. Maybe it was to prove that what she
believed to be true was indeed correct.

More than willing to take advantage of her sudden change of mood, even if he didn't understand it,
he brushed his fingertips lightly across her shoulder. "Friendlier would be good," he said softly.

The heat from Darien's hand was nearly painful and the anger that bubbled up within her at his
answer was immediate. "Bastard," she snarled, jerking herself away from his touch. Blinded by her
own anger, she stepped away violently and smashed her right side, bullet wound and all, into the
counter. The pain was immediate and brilliant, sending bright red streamers of light behind her
eyes. She cursed and backed away slowly until she came to rest against the counter behind her.
Sliding down to the floor, she curled her legs into her chest and moaned.

Feeling a combination of guilt, confusion, and anger, Darien walked over and crouched down next to
her. "Alyx..."

"Don't," she whimpered. "Just don't, please." He was one of 'them'. He was part of the reason she
was stuck here now and his actions just reminded her of all that she had lost and all she did not
want. And all that the Official was trying to do.

Sitting back on his heels he watched her. "I didn't mean..."

"Yes you did," she cut him off again. "Maybe you didn't plan it, not now anyway. But don't say you
didn't intend to try."

Rubbing the back of his neck in consternation, he said, "I'm sorry."

Tipping her head back against the dishwasher door, tears sliding down her cheeks, she whispered "Ah
gods, it just hurts so damn much." She hadn't meant to say that aloud, and Darien misinterpreted it
anyway.

'Hospital', Darien thought, standing quickly, 'Phone. Call the Keeper.' "Alyx where's your phone?
Should I call Claire?"

Blinking confusedly up at him she said. "W...What? Why would you call her?"

"You said you were hurt..." He trailed off, realizing what she had meant. He wasn't sure what to
say. He'd come over because he had been feeling a bit lonely and hadn't seen her in several days.
He wanted to know how she was doing. Based on her reaction, not well at all. "I'm sorry."

"For what? You thought you were helping." She had watched the emotions run across his face. Could
feel them across her senses. Ever since the last time he'd been here she'd been more aware of him.
A stray thought at the Keep and she'd know exactly where he was in the building, or if he was there
at all. She'd been ignoring it as best she could, didn't need his emotions affecting her.

Some days she regretted saving herself from him in that padded room, or on the road back from the
one and only mission she'd been on. On several occasions she thought about how close she'd come to
bleeding to death that day, and she'd been unable to find a reason to be glad she'd made it.

Occasionally, she'd look into those brown eyes of Darien's and find herself wondering why she was
fighting so damned much. But then she'd remember the memo she'd stumbled upon in the computer
system. The one about breeding rats to be born with the ability to quicksilver. With that one bit
of information, she lost the last bit of hope she'd had where this new life of hers was concerned.
The one thing she did like about it was yanked right out from under her. Hell, this had to have
been planned months ago. Alyx knew Darien had no knowledge of it, but that made it no easier to
deal with. It just gave her another reason to push him away.

Darien watched her as she got a hold of herself and sat down next to her, his arm just barely
touching hers. He was pleased that she didn't move away. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Not unless you can turn back the clock eight months or so and make it so none of this ever
happened," Alyx replied, turning to look at him.

"Sorry," he shrugged. "I could steal you something, though."

That actually got a small laugh from her. "Sweet, but I don't think the boss would appreciate it."

"Why are you here anyway? The Official is so cheap, I can't see him spending the money it must have
cost to... to..." He wasn't quite sure of the word to use.

"Create me?" she suggested and he nodded. "I was cheap compared to you. The difficult part was
creating the Phase II serum without the original research. All told, getting me up and running cost
less than ten million. Little over seven in fact." Alyx had done a little perusing of the Agency's
computer mainframe and found all sorts of interesting tidbits to mull over. The security on the
system was pitiful, government standard, but pitiful.

That monetary amount rang a big bell with Darien. Ever since Chrysalis, Allianora, and the Official
ran that little con on him he'd been wondering what had happened to that Chameleon reward. Now he
knew, and she was sitting right beside him. He wondered how Hobbes would react to the knowledge.

But why? Why would the Official bring in another 'super agent', to borrow Hobbes' term, when they
could barely keep afloat with him? "I'm still in the dark as to why. Not that I expect you to
know," he added quickly.

"Don't be such a fool, Dare. I seriously doubt the Official would have had us work together if I
had been male or ugly." Alyx sneered. Even she had spotted that right away.

"All right, you've lost me," he said honestly.

"Are you going to even try and claim you're not attracted to me? Hell, it's half the reason Hobbes
doesn't like me." Her tone of voice was so bland Darien wasn't sure he wanted to answer her, at
least not truthfully.

He went with the 'answer with a question' route. "And if I was? Would that be such a bad thing?"

Alyx sighed. "Well, it would be exactly what the Official wants."

"How so?" he asked. For all that he was still working here at the Agency, he still had no real
fondness for his boss or his situation, and much like Alyx he would change it in a heartbeat if
given the chance. Until that miracle occurred, though, he knew he had a place to be, something he
could live with doing, and friends he both liked and trusted.

"Even if I were interested in you that way, which I have yet to decide, there's no way I'm going to
be your little treat from the 'fish to keep you happy and thinking about something other than that
gland in your head," Alyx said quietly. His confusion was obvious even without picking up his
emotions. "Several months ago you bottomed out, didn't you? Lost hope?"

He froze. "How could you know that?" Anger and indignation crept into his voice.

"I stumbled across it in the computer system. I stopped reading as soon as I figured out what it
was and who it was about, so I don't know the details. Just that you crashed big time and took off
for a while." Alyx wasn't trying to excuse herself, just explaining. She could understand him not
wanting to share a low point in his life.

"And if I did?" Hey, there were still days he wondered why he hadn't just let it end then. But
here he was, and now so was she. "What does any of that have to do with you?"

"Do you really think they didn't know? That they weren't trying to come up with a way to keep you
happy in your little cage?" Alyx paused and really looked at him. "You're an intelligent man,
Dare; do you really think they didn't know a shiny new exercise wheel wouldn't cut it?"

Darien looked stunned. Felt stunned.

"You obviously didn't get involved with the Keeper, especially with Bobby mooning over her. They
tossed you a toy that would not only distract you from your own problems but might actually get
something for them in the long run." Alyx got to her feet slowly. Her side ached from whacking it
into the counter edge, but after a moment to shift and stretch she was pleased that no real harm
had been done.

"When were you supposed to arrive out here?" His voice was full suspicion.

"Near as I can tell, about six months ago, but they ran into a few problems." Alyx answered. She
could feel his anger rise at her answer.

His mind was doing some quick mental math. He had an approximate idea of when her troubles with
Agency had begun and knew when he had become seriously unhappy here. He didn't like what it added
up to. He swore under his breath. "They knew. He had this planned."

"Probably." Alyx agreed. "There was some luck involved, but the last year or so has gone pretty
much the way the 'fish wanted it to."

Darien wanted to apologize to her. If he hadn't become so depressed, maybe they wouldn't have
resorted to going after her just to make 'him' a bit happier. He did not want to be responsible for
her indentured servitude as well as his own. "You don't have to stay, not for me." He shifted
intending to get to his feet.

"No insult intended, but there is no way I'd stay just for you. I have my own reasons for staying,
even if I'm not very happy about them." Alyx shook her head to keep herself from laughing. He
might be sweet and tempting, but he was not a reason to work for the Agency.

"I think I should feel insulted," he said, smiling, as he got to his feet. She didn't really react.

His mood sobered again. He was the reason she was here. He was the reason her life had been ripped
to shreds. He was the reason she was so miserable. And here he was, standing in her kitchen making
her explain what he'd been too blind to see for himself. It was little wonder she'd been pushing
him away. He must remind her constantly of everything she had lost. "I better be going. I've caused
enough havoc in your life."

"Dare, I don't blame you," Alyx said, moving to block his exit for a moment, "but I won't just roll
over and do what the Official wants, either." She reached out to touch his hand and they both
received a small shock at the touch. "Damn. Sorry about that."

"Guess I'll have to get used to that," Darien said, shifting his hand so that he lightly held hers.

"No you won't." Alyx didn't try to free her hand, wanting the few moments of comfortable contact.
"Except when we work together, I don't want to see you at all."

He held her hand a bit tighter. "I don't believe that." He leaned down closer to her and lowered
his voice. "I remember the kiss the last time I was here. You seemed to be enjoying it."

"All the more reason to keep you away," she commented sadly. "Do you really want to prove the
Official right? That a pretty new toy can buy your happiness?"

That worked. Darien dropped her hand and backed away a step. "Work only."

Alyx nodded.

"I'd better be going, then." She shifted and let him by, following behind him to her door. "Good
night, Alyx," he said as he stood in her open doorway.

"Night, Dare." She slid the door shut and locked it. Gods, that was not fun, but it had gone far
better than she had hoped and maybe, just maybe, it would actually work.



Darien spent a restless night mulling over what Alyx had told him. He didn't know why, but he
believed her. She could have made the whole thing up, but he didn't think so. He could see the
Official doing exactly what she said he had done. Waving a shiny toy in the hopes of buying a few
more days, weeks, months of cooperation from him.

By the time he arrived at work the next morning he had a full head of steam and was ready to ream
out both the Official and Eberts on behalf of Alyx. He slammed the door shut, fully prepared to
scream about the unfair treatment of Alyx and himself. About how, no matter what they could do now
or how much the Agency felt they owed to them, they deserved better. Neither of them were simple
lab rats, experiments to be done and then examined piece by piece at a later date. He paused and
then slumped into a chair. That was all they were to the Agency, rather expensive lab rats, that
did their exercise wheel running at the Official's beck and call.

The Official looked at Darien. "Amazing. And what brings you here at such an early hour?"

"Why did you pair Alyx with me and Hobbes?" Darien asked.

Eberts, who had been crossing the room behind the Official, stopped mid-stride and turned to look
at Darien, his usual calm, bland look momentarily surprised. Then he regained his control and
continued with his paper shuffling.

"Why? Is there a problem?" the Official asked calmly.

"Aside from the fact that she doesn't seem to like either of us, not really. It just seems odd. Do
you really need both of our talents on the same cases? One invisible man is too much already,"
Darien said in as bland a voice as he could manage.

"I seem to recall it was Miss Silver who saved your butt on this last job," the Official was quick
to point out.

"Exactly my point. She could have handled that job with anyone. My talents were unnecessary. She'd
make a great thief with her skills," Darien said, hiding a bit of a smile.

The Official sat up straighter in his chair and said stiffly. "We have our reasons."

"I'm sure you do." Darien said. "Perhaps you'd care to tell me them."

"That would be need-to-know information," Eberts said in that slightly smug voice of his.

Darien got to his feet, nodding. This was pretty much what he expected, the run-around. He paused
when he opened the office door and looked back at the pair. "Well, then, some of us know more than
we need to." He shut the door behind him, leaving the Official and Eberts rather stunned.

The Official turned to Eberts. "We may have a problem."

"Yes sir," Eberts agreed. "I warned you that someone had been in the secure files."

"Eberts." The Official sounded irritated.

"I know, sir, but if she has made the connection and told Mr. Fawkes, it could completely ruin your
plans," Eberts continued, ignoring the Official's admonishment.

"One problem at a time. First we have to solve Miss Silver's current problem, then we can worry
about the long range plan." The Official didn't sound overly concerned. Almost like he knew
something no one else did. Which was usually the case.

"If you say so, sir," Eberts conceded and returned to his work.

"Of course I do, Eberts."



Darien went down to the Keep. Perhaps Claire knew something about this, although he really hoped
not. Really hoped she hadn't been involved with this. Hoped she'd just gotten tagged with Keeper
duties because she was here already and they didn't want to pay for another one.

She was in looking over something on the computer and shaking her head. "It doesn't make any
sense." she was muttering to herself.

"Problem, Claire?" Darien moved to stand beside her, not really caring about the work she was
doing.

"Good morning Darien." The she paused. "You're early. Please don't tell me you need a shot?" She
was looking at him in dismay.

"No, just want some questions answered." He submitted to having his monitor checked so that she
would believe him.

"If I can. What is the problem?" She turned off the computer monitor, intending to return to the
work later.

"When did you find out about Alyx?" As good a place to start as any.

"About a week after she arrived here. Why?" Claire looked just a touch confused.

"Why is she here? And don't give me the 'need to know' or the 'we needed another agent' line. Both
are so bullshit laden I'm surprised we've got no garden growing in here." You'd think he'd be used
to the run-around by now, and in some ways he was, but he still didn't like it.

Claire sighed, looking resigned. "You obviously found out something. Care to enlighten me?"

"Not me, Alyx. It's put her even deeper into depression. You guys couldn't have screwed up worse
than if you were starting over again with me." Darien sat down on a nearby chair. "You guys had to
try and fix my life by screwing up someone else's."

"Darien what are you talking about?" Claire was, for all appearances, completely in the dark.

"Alyx has apparently been poking in the computer system when she's here and has found out a few
things. Like why the Official had her brought in." Darien watched her and she paled slightly.

Claire swore softly. "I should have guessed when parts of her medical files turned up missing."
She rubbed her forehead for a moment. "Darien, don't believe everything you hear. Yes, the Official
had some secondary motives to introduce the two of you when she turned out to be..."

"Gorgeous?" Darien supplied and Claire nodded. "So it is true. Can't you fix her or something, so
that she can go home?"

"I'm afraid not. It's irreversible, and that's part of her problem." Claire said getting to her
feet.

"She's crashed fast, hasn't she?" Darien said half to himself.

"Not really. Remember, although she's only been here about two months, she was elsewhere for over
six. For her it's been almost a year." Claire walked across the room behind the glass screen, but
Darien could still hear her. "I'd say she's right on schedule."