Coming Clean 2: Sleeping With the Lab Rat

Coming Clean 2: Sleeping With the Lab Rat

By Carol M.

Rating: PG

:)Tough love rating: Major Darien angst and sickness

Spoilers: Brother's Keeper

Timeline: A week after BK

Summary: So exactly what happens when you spend the night with Darien Fawkes?

Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just love them

Author's Note: I had several people ask me to write a sequel to my story Coming Clean, so here it is. In Coming Clean, Claire takes care of Darien while he is sick and tells him what happened between her and Kevin during Brother's Keeper. If you want to read that fic first so you will understand some of the details in this story, it is on page 2 or 3 in the I-man section of Fanfiction.net. This story picks up about 2 hours after the other one left off. The last we left them, both Darien and Claire were fast asleep in Darien's bed. Enjoy the story folks!

Claire sat up quickly in bed, not knowing what had jostled her out of her deep sleep. She looked around in confusion, realizing that she was not in her own bed. Then she spotted the retro refrigerator in the dark and instantly remembered where she was, Darien's apartment. That's right, she thought. He had talked her into spending the night with him in his bed, slippery little ex-con that he was.

She looked at the clock on the nightstand. Two thirty. They had only been sleeping for about 2 hours. She looked to her side and smiled slightly when she saw Darien sleeping soundly next to her. She brushed her hand against his forehead, checking to see if his fever had returned. She sighed slightly in relief when she didn't feel any warmth.

Darien jumped slightly in his sleep. Claire started to stroke his hair.

He jumped again, this time moaning softly. "Easy Darien, easy," Claire whispered softly into his ear.

She watched him for a few minutes. He was completely silent and didn't move a muscle. Satisfied, she gave his hair one last stroke and then laid back down next to him. She closed her eyes and was about to fall asleep when she heard a soft whimper.

She instantly sat up in bed and turned her attention to Darien. She was alarmed when she saw his face. Tears were streaming down his cheeks and the expression on his face was one of pure terror. His breath was coming quickly in shallow rasps and every couple of seconds he moaned in misery.

Claire immediately started rubbing his arm. "Darien, Darien, wake up," she said softly.

He started to thrash about. "No, no, please, no," he softly sobbed in a sleepy voice.

"Darien," said Claire a little louder as she started to shake him.

"No," he breathlessly whispered.

Claire started to shake him violently, wanting to help him escape from the pain of the nightmare. "Darien, I want you wake up," she said firmly.

"No, no, help!" screamed Darien as he sat straight up in bed, breathing hard.

Claire stroked his back and his neck. "Calm down, Darien it was just a dream," she whispered softly, her face etched with worry.

Darien looked over at her in confusion, tears continually pouring down his face. "Why...what..why are you here?" he said between gasps of breath. He started to shiver slightly.

Claire pulled Darien closer to her, continuing to rub his back. "Shhh, its okay Darien. You're sick remember. You didn't want me to leave you," she whispered softly.

He nodded slightly, remembering. He put his head in his hands and tried to wipe all the evidence of his tears away.

Claire leaned over him and pulled a tissue out of the box on the nightstand. She nudged him gently, handing him the tissue.

Darien looked up at her, mortified. He quickly grabbed the tissue and got out of the bed. "I'll be right back," he said with embarrassment. He walked to his bathroom and shut the door behind him.

Claire sat in the bed awkwardly for a few moments. With hesitation, she climbed out of the bed and walked to the bathroom door. She put her ear against the door and could hear the sound of water running out of the faucet. After a few seconds, the faucet turned off and then all she could hear was heavy breathing marked with an occasional cough and sniffle.

"Darien, are you all right?" she asked.

She could hear him clearing his throat. "Yeah, I'm fine, go back to bed, Keep," she heard him say through the door.

She sighed and shook her head. "Okay, but I'm right out here if you need me," she said.

She took a few slow steps backwards and walked back to the bed, sitting down. She eyed the bathroom door with concern, battling her instinct to go in and give him a big hug.

Several minutes passed and he still had not come out of the bathroom. Claire once again got out of the bed and crept to the door. What she heard when she pressed her ear against the door this time broke her heart. He was sobbing.

She decided to put all pretenses aside and tapped softly on the door. "Darien," she said softly as she slowly opened the door.

He was sitting on the floor of his bathroom, his back against the wall and his face buried in his hands. His body shook with the exertion of his sobs. He looked up at her and shook his head. "Please just leave me alone, Keep. I'll be okay," he sobbed as he put his face back in his hands.

Claire walked over to him and sat down next to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. "No Darien, I'm not leaving you alone. This is how you made yourself sick in the first place," she said gently. "You can't bottle all of your emotions up and hide them from everyone. You need to let all of this go. I'm here, Darien, I want to help you," she said as a few tears started to shine in her own eyes. She hated to see him suffer so much.

Darien shook his head again. "Please," he pleaded. He looked up at her with tear-filled puppy dog eyes. "I don't want you to see me like this," he said softly.

Claire gently put her hand under his chin. "Like what, like a human being with feelings. Come here," she said gently. She pulled his head gently so it was on her shoulder. Then she pulled the rest of his body over to her and wrapped her arms tightly around him.

She could feel his body fighting with itself, trying desperately not to break in front of her. But all of a sudden she felt him go limp in her arms and wracking sobs slowly starting to shudder through his body. "I'm sorry," she heard him say softly between sobs. This only made her hug him tighter. "Shhh, it's okay," she said soothingly as she rubbed the soft hair on the nape of his neck.

She held him tightly for about a half hour, rocking him gently and whispering soothing words into his ear. The sobs gradually stopped, replaced by sniffles and an occasional sneeze. Soon, she was simply rocking him back and forth in her arms like her mother used to do to her when she had a nightmare.

After several minutes of the rocking, he slowly pulled out of her arms, quickly wiping his face. He looked at her awkwardly. "Thanks," he said softly.

Claire smiled at him tenderly. "What are they about Darien?"

He looked at her with mock ignorance. "What are what about?" he said.

"Your nightmares," she said.

He looked up at the ceiling and took a deep breath. "Everything," he said.

Claire sighed. "Darien, you're not making this very easy for me. I want to help you. I want you to talk to me," she said.

Darien gave her a look of amusement. "What do you want to talk about? Dancing? Movies? Hey, how about that new hair salon they opened on Main Street?" he said, desperately trying to avoid the conversation.

Claire looked at him with irritation. "Don't do that, Darien."

Darien shrugged his shoulders. "Do what?" he asked innocently.

" Don't hide behind sarcasm like you always do," said Claire.

Darien shook his head and looked back at the ceiling.

Claire slapped her hand against the floor. "Damn it Darien, I didn't just hold you in my arms for a half hour so you could clam up the second you got uncomfortable," she said angrily.

He moved his glance from the ceiling to her face and what she saw was naked emotion spread across his face. She was seeing the real Darien, the one he never let anyone close enough to see. She put her hand on his shoulder. "Tell me," she said.

He hesitated for a few seconds and then took a deep breath. "Ever since Kevin came back and then left, it's been awful. I dream of Kevin and Arnaud shoving the gland into my brain, laughing at me when I start to curl up in pain from the quicksilver madness. Then I go nuts and I kill you and Hobbes and the Official," said Darien, shuddering slightly. "Then I grab Kevin and start choking the life out of him. I watch him slowly start to die, second by second. The whole time Arnaud is standing over us laughing. Then towards the end, Kevin turns into me and I'm killing myself. But it's not myself I'm killing, it's Kevin in my body that I'm killing and then..."

Tears started to fill Darien's eyes again. Claire put a supportive hand on his arm. "Keep going," she said softly.

"Then all of a sudden, Kevin in my body goes quicksilver mad and he knocks me down and tries to kill me. I see his red eyes staring back at me, I see myself killing myself. I can't breathe, I can't scream. I try to look around for help, but all I see are the dead bodies of my friends and Arnaud laughing. Just when I think I'm gonna die, I wake up."

Darien looked at her, a few stray tears trailing down his cheeks. She rubbed his arm and gave him a reassuring smile. "I think you're going to be okay, Darien," she said.

Darien looked at her with surprise. "You mean I'm not going crazy? I'm cured?" he said with confusion.

Claire nodded. "In a sense, yes. I think you let all of your emotions build up to the point of detonation. You needed to breakdown a little bit. I think the fact that you actually told me any of this is a sign that you're ready to put all of this behind you and move on. Getting sick, the nightmares, your body was trying to slow you down and make you deal with your emotions," she said. "And I think you did," she said gently. "I'm sure you don't spend most of your nights sobbing on the bathroom floor."

He shook his head violently. "No, I'm usually the strong, silent type," he said, trying to sound confident.

Claire smiled. "And a smart ass. Don't forget smart ass."

Darien smiled back. "Yes, I am a smart ass," he said in imitation of her accent. "It's one of my most enduring qualities."

Claire rolled her eyes and stood up from the floor. "Okay, now that you're feeling better, you need to go back to sleep. Bed now," she said firmly.

"Wait," said Darien softly, as he wiped the rest of the tears from his eyes. He got off the floor and pulled her into a light hug. "Thanks, Keepie," he whispered.

"It's not a problem, Darien, I'm just glad I could help you," she said.

They pulled apart from the hug. He eyed her suddenly in a panic. "You're not going to tell Hobbes about this are you?" he asked.

Claire shook her head. "Your secret is safe with me Mr. Fawkes," she said. She pointed at the bed. "Now go," she said.

"Yes ma'am," he said, walking out of the bathroom and flopping himself on the bed. He watched her walk around the bed and get in next to him. "Keep, I gotta tell you, you look really good in my Barfly T-shirt," he said.

She looked at him incredulously. "Darien," she said with a smile and a blush.

"Just admit it Claire, my Keeper is really hot. And you've got some moves there too," he said with a smile.

"Moves?" she asked with curiosity.

"Don't play innocent with me there, sister. I see you shaking your booty in the Keep all the time when you think no one's watching. You can't deny it," he said with a smile as he reached for a tissue and blew his nose.

Claire felt her face grow ever hotter. "If you keep this up Darien, you're secret may not be as safe as you think," she said teasingly.

Darien put his finger to his lips. "Nuff said, goodnight for the second time, Claire," he said.

"Goodnight Darien," said Claire as she turned the light off.

She laid with her eyes half shut and her ears wide open for a good hour, making sure he wasn't going to have another nightmare. All she could hear were the soft sounds of his even breathing. Satisfied, she let herself drift into a dreamless sleep.

The Next Morning

Claire looked at the clock. Seven in the morning. She sat up slowly and stretched. Then she quietly got out of bed, not wanting to disturb Darien. To her relief, she had slept the rest of the night without incident.

She walked into his kitchen and as quietly as possible started to make him some breakfast for his empty stomach. Just as she was simultaneously trying to put butter on the toast and pour a glass of orange juice, he woke up.

"Whatcha doin, Keep," he asked sleepily.

"I'm making you something to eat and I don't want to hear any arguments," she said firmly.

He smiled slightly and got out of bed. "I didn't know you could cook," he said as he eyed scrambled eggs, waffles and toast. His stomach growled, his hunger returning for the first time in a week.

She smiled mysteriously. "There are lots of things you don't know about me," she said.

"Oh really," he said.

"Yep," she said as she put the plate of food in front of him. "Eat. I'm going to get dressed and go," she said.

He looked at her with puppy dog eyes. "You're leaving a sick man on his own," he said.

She rolled her eyes and smiled. "I have work to do at the lab. Now I want you to eat this and then spend the rest of the day in bed," she said firmly.

Darien pouted. "Keep, I spent all of yesterday in the bed," he whined.

"Well you're going to spend all of today in bed too. You don't have to sleep, you can watch TV or read one of your magazines, but I don't want you doing anything more strenuous then blowing your nose," she said as she walked into his bathroom with her clothes and shut the door.

Darien started to eat his breakfast, savoring the taste. She really could cook. It felt good to finally have food in his stomach.

Claire emerged from his bathroom wearing the clothes she had been wearing yesterday.

Darien looked at her and smiled. "You might want to go home and change. People will talk if you go into the Agency wearing the same clothes as yesterday," he said with a mouth full of food. "This is really good by the way. If you ever want to change jobs, I'll hire you as my personal cook."

"As tempting as that sounds, I think I'll just stick to my job as your personal physician," she said with a smile.

"Yeah, well, I had to try, right?" he said.

Claire picked up all of her stuff and slowly walked to the door. "I'm going now, Darien. Remember what I told you," she said as she started to open the door.

"Keep, wait," said Darien as he got out his chair and walked to the door. He looked at her with a tender expression. "Thank you for everything. I really appreciate it," he said as he patted her gently on the shoulder.

Claire looked down at the floor nervously. "You're welcome," she said.

They looked at each other awkwardly for a second. Claire broke the silence. "Well I better go," she said.

Darien nodded. "Yep, you've got lab rats to poke and prod," he said. "Tell Hobbes I say hi, tell the Official to kiss my ass and tell Alex, well tell Alex whatever it is that you tell Alex."

"I will," she said. "Bye Darien, get better."

"Bye Keepie," he said as she walked out the door.

He walked back to the kitchen and finished up the rest of his breakfast. Then, like a good little lab rat, he spent the rest of the day in bed, feeling better then he had in months. And a week later, when Claire came down with a case of the sniffles, he took care of her, just like he promised.

That's All Folks!