Author: A. X. Zanier
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or basic story premises to "The Invisible Man." Any
additional characters or story premises are mine to do with as I please.
Timeline: # 6 Four days after 'A Hot Summer's Night' Original Post 1/4/2001 @
Comments: This has been revised. Big surprise, huh? This one is told from Alyx's POV.
Thanks to Rebecca(WorkerCaste) my brave Beta reader.

Life Goes On

"A man's dying is more the survivor's affair than his own." -Thomas Mann

Everyone else left hours ago. Heck, they've even filled in the grave already, but I'm still not
ready to leave. Being here is so strange, so final. Maybe if I had stuck around this wouldn't have
happened. Seriously, what was the Official gonna do, fire me? Yeah, I wish. But no, duty had called
both of us back to work. I had things I wanted to accomplish, just as he did. His were simply a bit
more pressing at that moment. I should have stayed, or gone back sooner, or...I don't know,
anything but the couple of phone calls to make sure he was all right.

So here I stand, not sure what to think, what to do. My life has been through so many highs and
lows recently that I guess I shouldn't be surprised at one more. The tang of smoke is still in the
air and ash still colors the world gray around here. The low, dark clouds add to the effect. Too
bad they aren't expecting rain. Funerals just aren't the same without it, somehow. Like the world
is just as filled with sorrow at the passing of a life.

I've been numb ever since hearing the news. I swear I simply shut down everything. I remember
Eberts giving me the oddest look I had ever seen on his face. It took me a moment to realize it was
sympathy. For me. I've seen him scared of me, with good reason, but sympathy? I decided then and
there that I couldn't care anymore, couldn't trust, couldn't afford emotions, not anymore. I left
and went home, eventually.

When I did finally arrive home I found my answering machine blinking at me like a maniac. The first
message was from Max. He must have called from work. He was talking as if it was me and not some
impersonal machine and his voice--god, his voice--washed over me, trying to drive away the
numbness. Then the sound of an explosion and screams, and then nothing, dead air for long minutes,
before the system disconnected.

Then the machine beeped again and it was Alisha Patterson. She kept her voice under control at
first, but eventually broke down. With a tear filled, "Sorry," she hung up.

The next several messages were all from the guys at work. Eberts had spread the word and they all
called to see if I was all right. Even Darien. He sounded stiff, formal, and uncomfortable, but he
called. For an instant I wanted to respond, to pick up the phone and tell him how I felt about
everything, but I didn't.

I didn't know how much he cared, not then.

"A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly
born. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Darien. It's thanks to him I have all these stupid quotes running through my head. I was sure he
gave me that book of quotes as a joke, but now I think he meant something else. Like he wanted me
to understand him. What he doesn't know is I already do. I already do.

I've kept myself closed off for so long, far longer than my association with the Agency. I've often
said I don't trust, but that's a lie. I trusted people to do their worst. I was rarely disappointed.
Then I met Darien and was faced with the ultimate contradiction: a man I needed to trust, wanted to
trust, but was afraid to trust. I made sure to keep him at arms length, even though at times my
resolve would crumble and I would let him in for a moment. I always put that wall back up, always.

Maxwell Garrett. He brought the wall down.

So I stand here waiting for...I don't know. Perhaps some great revelation. Perhaps to be told this
is some great joke. Perhaps for no more reason than right now I need to be here. I've spent the
last few days driving everyone at work mad. The tentative camaraderie that had formed between the
four of us was shattered, or so I believed. Claire and even Hobbes tried, each in their own way, to
console me, but I rebuffed them. Only Darien acted like nothing had happened. Only he took my
drastic change in stride. Only he understood.

I'd like to think Max would have understood too, in time, but time ran away from us. It's hard to
believe I saved him from one death, only to have the same death overtake him only days later.

Maybe it wasn't him I'd been saving that night. Maybe it was myself. Without him I never would have
survived. Through either happenstance or my phobia, the fires would have consumed me, and he would
still be dead. I owe him so much, and I never got the chance to thank him.

"To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved." -George Macdonald.

There go the quotes again.

I hope it's true because, while I didn't yet love him, I did trust him. Completely. In that, even
more than the fire or my phobia, he saved me. He broke through that wall I'd been living behind for
so long. He restored my trust in humanity.

Then I threw it away. Or tried to. The last few days have hurt both myself and my friends. I put
that wall back up, tried to make it thicker than ever, only to find that I didn't want to hide
behind it any more. I no longer need that wall. I don't want to be alone, isolated, afraid any
more. One lifetime of that was enough. It's time to let go, and thanks to Max I finally can.

Darien's standing a few feet away, waiting. Like he has been for a long time, I guess. He's the
reason I'm here. He came by my place last night and insisted I come. Said that I needed to say
goodbye. He hasn't said one word since. Just waited. For me.

"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we
live." -Norman Cousins

I mull over the quote running through my mind, agreeing with it, but I find it incomplete. As long
as we still live, even those parts we thought dead can be reborn.

I stuff my hands into the pockets of my coat and pull it tighter about myself. I release my hold on
that wall and let it fall to dust, never wanting to need it again. It's time. I can feel the tears
running down my cheeks, the first tears I've cried since hearing the news. It's the first time I've
really cried for a long, long time.

Suddenly I feel Darien standing behind me, his hands coming up to rest gently on my shoulders. With
his touch, my last vestiges of resistance fall away and the tears flow freely.

I may have lost one chance at love, but in losing perhaps I gained the chance at another.

Above us, the heaven's open and the rain pours down.

"Who will tell whether one happy moment of love, or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright
morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life
implies?" -Erich Fromm

"Whom we love best, to them we can say least."