Author: A. X. Zanier
Rating: R (language, violence, adult situations, sexual content)
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or basic story premise to "The Invisible Man." Any additional characters or story premises are mine.
Timeline: Approx. one year after "Opposites Attract"
Spoilers: BK, TCh, JA, Impetus, F2B, Lesser Evil
Comments: Okay, so the first one kinda screamed for a sequel. The plot bunny of a different color bit me, hard.
Be warned, the characters are a lot darker than portrayed on the show.
Rebecca(WorkerCaste) gets a big honking credit for tightening this one up for me and figuring out how to say the missing bits that I kept getting stuck on. Oh yeah, and a pretty good Beta job as well. BEG
So this schmuck named Nietzsche once said, "Believe me! The secret of reaping the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment from life is to live dangerously!" The man had no idea, no idea at all.
The wailing sound penetrated through the covers, the pillow, and the deep sleep, causing an arm to snake out from under the snug embrace of the blankets and into the cool air of the room. After a moments random searching, it slammed down atop the alarm clock on the nightstand next to the bed. As silence descended and the hand slipped back under the covers, a sigh could just be made out as the unseen body shifted, attempting to settle back into sleep. Then the wailing began again. This time both hands appeared, pulling the pillow tighter over the head that was presumed to be under it.
"Fawkes, just get the damn thing," a voice -- a decidedly female voice -- grumbled from the other side of the bed.
"And why can't you, Miss five-star-A-rating?" a hoarse male voice growled in response.
"'Cause it's your place and not mine, Fawkes," the female voice countered, then rolled, lifting the pillow to look at the face of the man. "Then you can come back to bed."
One eye opened and glared balefully at she who dared to lift the pillow. "I just went to bed, don't wanna get up."
She sidled closer to him, pressing her bare skin up against his. "Are you sure about that?" Her voice was husky, seductive, and got the attention of at least one part of his body.
"Uh, not any more," he admitted, as he felt more and more of him attain that horrid state of wakefulness. He and Monroe had started sleeping together about five months ago, though both would freely admit it was only out of convenience. And while both would agree that it had been anything but planned, once begun they had managed to find some small amount of comfort in each other.
It was anything but true love. They'd both had that once, and both had had it ripped viciously away from them. Small comforts were all they could afford anymore.
After a few minutes of grumbling about women and their ways to blackmail men into anything -- to which the response was a throaty chuckle -- the pillow was knocked to the floor and the covers thrown aside. A lanky figured appeared, wearing very little, just a long silver chain about his neck with a small square of clear plastic hanging from it. Embedded in that plastic was an ID microchip that had belonged to someone he'd not seen in a year.
If the woman sprawled on the bed felt any jealously about the fact that he wore a memento of another woman, she had never mentioned it. After all, she wore a similar chain, with a heart-shaped locket. For each of them, what they wore on those chains were reminders of events that had made them who and what they were today. And it bore very little resemblance to who they had been a year ago.
Fumbling about, he found his boxers and pulled them on as he stood, noticing dispassionately that they just barely fit. He'd lost even more weight in recent weeks, as bad news and anniversaries piled on top of one another, stealing both his appetite and his will to live. Shuffling around the bed, he headed towards the front door, where the sound -- he was awake enough now to realize it was not the alarm, the phone, or the door buzzer -- seemed to be emanating from.
It was the brightly-colored bag and basket sitting on his pool table that caught his eye. Changing targets, he found the source of the sound lying in the basket. As he looked down, for a long moment he believed he'd truly gone off the deep end. He reached out with a shaking hand, confusion on his face, to touch the squalling item, quieting it for the moment. Gingerly, he lifted it up, cradling it in his arms.
"Uh, Monroe, is there something you want to tell me?"
On the bed, Alex shifted and looked over at him, leaning back again the pool table holding a..... "Fawkes, where the hell did that baby come from?" Getting out of bed, she grabbed her bathrobe, slipped it on, and joined Darien. He was gazing down at the infant with a stunned expression on his face.
"The stork would be my guess." The infant had brown hair, with red highlights that were easily picked up by the light in the room, and blue eyes that were a surprising contrast to the dark hair.
Alex began looking through the bag that sat on the pool table. "Well, everything you could need is here. Clothes, formula, bottles, diapers, toys, but nothing to say who left him." The child began to fuss again, no longer amused by the finger it had been sucking desperately on. "You been fooling around and not telling anyone?"
Darien turned his head to glare at her. "Just with you, Monroe." He tried to hand the infant to her, but she backed away with her hands raised.
"No way. Been there. Done that. Had my heart ripped to shreds." Her look had gone very hard.
"Monroe, just hold the kid while I figure out how to make a bottle." When he gave her no choice, she took the child in her arms, trying not to let her anger show.
Darien grabbed what he needed out of the bag and wandered to the kitchen. He set some water to heat in his tea kettle and looked back at her, holding the baby with a look of near-panic on her face. He knew how hard this had to be on her. Losing her son five months ago had nearly broken her. Her facade of callous disdain, once a thin veil disguising a caring woman beneath, had become a permanent part of her. The caring woman had died with her son, leaving only an empty shell behind.
After the funeral, with guilt eating at him, blaming himself for what had happened, Darien had very nearly joined her in her attempt to end it all, but somehow, with the guilt and the pain to share between them, they had just managed to get stinking drunk and fall into each other's arms instead. That tiny bit of solace, shallow and jaded though it might be, was all that kept the despair at bay for either of them.
The shrill whistling of the teakettle brought him back from his quiet observation of her. Yawning and rubbing the back of his head, he poured eight ounces of water into one of the bottles and set it in the fridge to cool. Then he filled two more, knowing they'd be needed later. They just had to keep the baby distracted until breakfast was ready. Looking over at Monroe, he watched her set the baby on the pool table and begin to undress it. Almost as if she'd done this many times before, she pulled the items necessary to change the infant's diaper out of the bag.
"Well, we have a little girl here, Fawkes." Darien moved closer to see for himself. "A couple months old at a guess. Healthy." She finished with the diaper and looked over the infant, though for what Darien was unsure. Looped about one ankle was a bracelet, like an ID bracelet. Examining it carefully, Alex made a discovery. She removed it and showed it to Darien. "Look familiar?"
The short metal strip contained what looked like a data chip, identical to the one Darien wore on the chain about his neck. Running one had through his hair, he muttered, "Ah, crap."
Bobby leaned over the sleeping infant that lay in the basket on Monroe's desk. They were trying to keep the Official and his trained pet, Eberts, from finding out about her until they knew a bit more. Calling Claire had been necessary -- she was the Agency's doctor and the only one who could make sure she was as healthy as she appeared to be. Monroe had removed the ID chip from the bracelet and was trying to access the data on it.
"So, Fawkes, you been sowing your wild oats with someone other than Monroe, eh?" Hobbes looked over at his partner, who was slumped in the leather chair across the room. The scar that curved about Bobby's right eye was standing out more than usual in the bright light of Monroe's office. He'd gotten that injury in the explosion that had broken Monroe; none of them had walked away unscathed that day.
"Yeah, I've been leaving a trail of condoms and quicksilver all over town." Sarcasm dripped off the words. "Get real, Hobbes." He shifted leaning his head onto his hand and closed his eyes. He hadn't gotten more than a couple hours of sleep, needed his medication, and was tired of being needled about the baby being left on his doorstep.
Monroe looked over at him. "Darien, go down to the Keep. She'll be fine here, and it'll be a little while before I can break the encryption on this. No reason for you to be in pain."
Turning his head, he met her eyes, her look just as flat and lifeless as he knew his was. "Alex, that pain is the only thing I have left." But he got to his feet, knowing that from here is would get progressively worse, very quickly, and would leave him incapacitated in mere hours. He didn't say anything else as he left the room.
What was there to say? He didn't blame Claire for what had happened. She had tried, really tried, to solve the riddle of the gland. So when computer test models for a gene therapy treatment, the one Kevin had hinted at when living in Darien's body, had proved promising and testing on rats had gone well, she'd told Darien. He, fool that he was, had jumped right in without bothering to look first. The fall had been hard and painful.
So now, as Darien walked down the darkened hallways of the Agency, he tried to ignore the weakness that ran through his muscles, the numbness across his face, and the pain, the dull throbbing that, while directly related to the gland, had nothing to do with the madness. Oh yes, he still suffered through counteragent shots to prevent his id from taking over, only now there was no slow increase of symptoms; it was literally like a switch was being flipped in his mind. One moment he'd be his usual dark and depressing self, and the next he'd be evil Cousin Id and trying to do the most damage to the most people possible in the shortest amount of time.
The Keeper's little attempt to make things better had only made them worse.
He slid the mag card through the slot and watched the door slide open, but he didn't immediately enter. Just stood there, looking into the dark room that reminded him more and more of a mad scientist's secret dungeon laboratory every time he saw it, with him as the Frankensteinian monster that had been created within.
He didn't immediately see Claire when he entered, but that was nothing unusual. She could be in any of a half dozen labs, working on any number of projects for the Agency. Taking care of Darien and the gland had become routine. Now that there was no chance it could ever be removed safely, it was simply a matter of keeping him as comfortable and functional as possible. Oh, she was still doing research into preventing counteragent tolerance and improving the painkillers for the headaches. Keeping him from becoming addicted to the painkillers was a challenge, considering the drugs she was forced to use. She'd had to create some of them herself so that he wasn't forced into having to take more after only a few hours. That meant more needles. Like he wasn't already a professional pincushion by this point.
He moved over towards that hated chair, hated more because he knew he couldn't survive without it. The Keeper had trained him well and, although there had been a time when he would have done anything to get away, even fight little things like sitting in the chair, he no longer bothered. There was little point, just one more day to get through with some semblance of sanity. Sitting there, one leg drawn up to his chest for his chin to rest on, he heard the Keep door slide open and the tapping of Claire's shoes on the floor. She came into view looking over something in a folder. She'd cut her hair a few months back and it now came down only to her chin in sharp, razor-cut layers.
She turned around to glare at him and stormed over. Waving the folder at him, she snapped, "Something you want to tell me?"
Darien stared at her blankly, not having any idea what she was talking about, or what was in that folder. "Sure, if you'd give me a hint as to the topic."
She glared harder, if that was at all possible. "I should have known that the two of you slept together. It should have been obvious after what happened between us."
Darien didn't even bother reacting. They'd had this 'discussion' far too many times already and he refused to talk about it any longer. "Keep, what the hell are you talking about?"
She took a good look at him and then sighed, instead of screaming like he had expected. "You need a shot, don't you?" She didn't wait for him to answer, simply moved to prepare it for him. When she returned with the syringe, she seemed a bit calmer, for which he was thankful considering where this injection had to go.
Turning sideways on the chair, he tipped his head down, allowing her easy access to the back of his skull. With a practiced motion, she slipped the needle into the back of his neck and up into the gland, where she released the contents. The painkiller would be distributed into his system along with the quicksilver the gland leaked into him. He didn't even flinch, the pain of the needle being insignificant in comparison to the headache and numbness swiftly building. The needles, the headaches, and the madness were all minor discomforts these days. The emptiness, the hopelessness that lay on his soul, was so much greater, and there was no medicine for that.
As the pain began to fade, feeling to return, he lifted his head to look at Claire. She seemed worn out and saddened about something. He got to his feet and went to her, setting a hand on one shoulder.
He'd never meant to hurt her, hadn't really noticed that she'd cared for him as anything other than her Kept, had truly thought it was Bobby she'd been attracted to. He'd been very surprised when she'd told him the truth about her feelings, and he'd been unable to return them. He'd been forced to explain that their one night of passion was a drug-induced mistake. It had done irreparable damage to her and their relationship.
"Are you okay?"
She laughed harshly. "How many times, Darien? How many times did you sleep with her?"
It was Darien's turn to sigh. "Why does it matter?"
She jerked away from him, picked up the folder, and slammed it into his chest. "It matters because that child upstairs is your daughter." When he just stared at her, she continued. "Yes, Darien, you are the proud father of a baby girl. Congratulations. Oh, and yes, Michele is the mother."
She stalked away from him while he tried to process the information she'd all but hit him over the head with. That meant.... that meant they *had* slept together that last night. His memory had never returned completely and, what with all the midnight romps his mind had conjured up with her, he'd figured the few disjointed images he had recalled had just been another dream, one that left a stronger impression than most.
Convincing himself to take up forward motion, he caught up with Claire just as the door to the Keep slid open. "Where are you going?"
She shrugged out of his hold. "To inform the Official, what do you think?" When Darien began to protest, she snapped at him. "That child has quicksilver in her system and may have other talents that I can't discern at this time. Besides, how do you intend to keep this a secret, Dad?" She sneered the last word at him.
"Claire, that child upstairs has nothing to do with you." Darien snapped back. "Don't take your anger at me out on her."
She laughed bitterly. "That child has everything to do with us. Her mother is the reason you not only slept with me but spurned me after. I have every reason to be angry." She stalked off then, presumably to inform the Official that is prize receptacle had screwed up yet again. Darien leaned against the closed door and wondered if this time, finally, the Official would order the gland removed. It would kill him, but he wasn't sure he cared anymore. In this mood, Claire might even agree to perform the operation.
"Damn it, this is not the shit I need right now," Darien snarled into the empty hallway. As he made his slow way back to Alex's office, he wondered what the hell Michele had been thinking by dumping the kid on him. He'd spent one damn night with her, had found in her something that had been missing in himself and in his life, and then had it torn away, leaving him empty and lost. They had never found any trace of her or those who had taken her. He found himself standing, staring sightlessly at the wooden double doors of Alex's office, not quite willing to go in and face what he knew was there, what a large portion of him could not believe was real.
With a shaking hand, he opened the door and entered. Hobbes and Alex were huddled over the computer, having broken the encryption of the ID chip at a guess. He caught Alex's nervous glance over in his direction, but said nothing and simply walked over to the infant still sleeping peacefully in the basket. He could see it now. It was subtle, given how young the child was, but there. The hair was an eerie combination of his and hers, with soft curls instead of 'Chele's tight coils or his slight wave. The face was a softened, rounded version of hers, though the chin was all his. She opened her eyes then and looked up at him, with an intelligence that was almost frightening.
"The chip doesn't give her a name, just a code number," Alex said quietly, and Darien forced himself not to react. "She..." Alex's voice shook slightly when she continued. "She's your daughter."
Darien nodded. "Claire told me. I still don't believe it."
"Fawkes, there's more. According to this, Michele had twins," Hobbes said a bit ruefully. "You sure you don't remember anything about that night?"
Darien shook his head. "Not enough. Hell, Hobbes, how many times did you dream about Claire a year ago?" Darien turned to look at him and was surprised to see no anger in Hobbes' face at that. "Whatever they hit me with did one hell of a job on my memory, as you well know."
Hobbes nodded in agreement. Even with the problems involving Claire, he and Fawkes had discussed that night several times. But except for some vague images and odd feelings, there was never much to go on. Her clothes had been strewn across his apartment, along with his, but there was little else. He had never remembered any details of what had happened, how she had been taken, the fight that must have ensued when her kidnappers had broken down his door and come in shooting. The blood they'd found in his place hadn't been Michele's, so they -- or more likely she -- had managed to do some damage before the goons had been successful in their task and dragged her out of his life.
Hobbes' words suddenly sank in. "Wait, you said twins?" Hobbes nodded. "Where is she?"
"He," Alex supplied. "A boy and a girl."
Darien met her gaze, but she was a complete blank, hiding whatever she was feeling about this situation very carefully. She'd lost her son forever, while he suddenly found himself with two children that he'd had no knowledge of. "Well then, where is he?"
"We don't know." Hobbes answered truthfully. "But I doubt Michele has gone far."
"Why is that?" Darien asked as the infant began to fuss. With only the slightest bit of hesitation, he picked her up.
"She hasn't, Fawkes." Alex's voice was tight. "Trust me, I know."
The next several days fell into a weird routine. When Darien had to work, the baby -- he was calling her Cat, simply because he had to call her something -- would be watched at the Agency, much as Alex's son had once been for so short a time. He did his work with the same lack of enthusiasm as he had for the last year or so, and at the end of the day, or night in some cases, he would return to the Agency, collect his daughter, and take her home.
The Official had been less than pleased with the situation. In fact, he'd been down right apoplectic at first; Darien had been convinced he was going to have a heart attack and collapse right in front of them at one point. He'd never seen the Official that angry before. Even after some of the more rebellious and stupid stunts he'd pulled over the years, never had the Official actually had that look that said 'if I could afford to remove the gland, I would.' Darien was willing to bet that all that had saved him was the cost. The 'Fish had also made a point of saying he didn't give a damn about the child, that she was going to be far more trouble than she could ever be worth, and that, if it wasn't for the fact that he had no idea who had taken Michele, he would have shipped the little inconvenience off in a heartbeat.
Darien wasn't sure how he felt. He'd had a responsibility dumped on him by a woman who obviously didn't give a damn about either him or the child and, for some reason he couldn't fathom, that hurt. He managed, though, surprising himself by having a knack for knowing what to do. He was lucky that she was a fairly calm and quiet child and, with the exception of the very first night, she'd usually sleep a good six hours at night, which he could live with.
Which is what he had been attempting to do tonight, but for some reason, at the unholy hour of three AM, Cat decided she wanted to be conscious and fussy, and for the life of him he couldn't figure out what was wrong. He'd checked her diaper, tried a bottle, carried her about for a bit, and finally ended up sitting on his bed, propped up by pillows, while she fussed and waved her arms about in the air as she lay on his chest. He ran fingers through her hair, trying not to notice how soft it was, trying not to care for anything other than the fact he was losing sleep, trying to calm her. He was gradually putting himself to sleep listening to her when she suddenly went silent and still, causing him to be instantly wide awake and wary. Which was why, instead of being in a state of deep unconsciousness, snoring into his small apartment, he was fully awake and prepared for the unexpected when his door was smashed in.
He reacted by quicksilvering both himself and Cat and rolling off the bed. Carefully, he moved over to the bassinet and set her down in it, hoping she'd continue to be quiet, and then retrieved the nearby bat he kept around for occasions such as this. Circling around his bed, he got the first one, who was checking out Darien's bathroom, with a solid hit across the back of his shoulders, knocking him to the floor. The focus of the other four immediately swung to him and he couldn't help but notice the stylish thermals all were wearing. Their weapons, rather impressive-looking guns, turned towards him, and he muttered a heartfelt "Oh, crap." A baseball bat wasn't much of a defense against automatic weapons.
Darien let the quicksilver fall away and dropped the bat, not really wanting to become a target for their close range shooting practice.
"Where is she?" the guy in front of him barked.
Darien just stared at him, not willing to answer, and not really knowing which 'she' he was asking about anyway.
"The baby, fool. Where is she?" It was then that Cat chose to make her presence known. The guy in front of Darien scanned the room and located the bassinet on the far side of the bed. Gesturing with his head, he said to the others, "Get her."
Two moved over towards them, while one remained in place, guarding the door.
Darien found his voice as the two men loomed over the bassinet. "Leave her alone."
"Why, Mr. Fawkes, we were under the impression that you would be far happier without her. Don't worry, she's going home." The thug took a step closer to Darien, the gun coming up in a manner that just screamed threatening. "And it's not like you'll be around to concern yourself with the situation anyway."
Much to Darien's surprise, the threat actually scared him, and he found himself not wanting to die. But even so, some deep protective instinct had kicked in. "I said, 'leave her alone'," Darien snarled.
Whatever the goon in front of him was about to say was lost, as the one standing guard at his door was yanked into the hallway by some unseen force, hitting the far wall with a solid thud that was anything but painless. The guy in front of Darien whipped around at the sound, and Darien took advantage of the distraction. Bending down and grabbing the bat, he swung low and connected with the guy's knees, making him scream and collapse.
When the goon tried to bring the gun around to bear on Darien, the bat swung again, smashing into the man's forearms and breaking them with a wet snap. The guy screamed and passed out from the pain.
Spinning about, Darien was surprised to see one of the two remaining thugs go flying, leaving a smear of blood on the wall next to his bureau. The other suddenly seemed to launch himself backwards out the window near his sofa. There was silence for a long minute as Darien looked about in bewilderment, not quite understanding what had just happened. Then Cat began to wail.
The bat fell from his hand as he rushed to her side, hoping she was all right. He had to step over one of the kidnappers to get to her, but he found her unhurt, just frightened at a guess. Lifting her, he made his way towards the kitchen, the one area without a body lying in it. He grabbed his phone off the counter, knowing he had to call someone, but not quite sure who. It was pulled out of his hold.
"Show yourself," he snapped. Half-expecting Arnaud, he was shocked speechless to see Michele appear before him, quicksilver flakes scattering across the floor. She looked different -- her hair had been cut short and she had lost a lot of weight, was whipcord thin and all muscle. And she seemed to be scared, of him.
Stepping forward, she held out her hands for Cat. Darien reluctantly released the baby to her mother. Michele spent a couple minutes getting reacquainted with the child before lifting her head to meet his eyes. "Hello, Darien."
"'Chele, what the hell is going on?" He wasn't sure whether to be angry, stunned, or relieved. Just seeing her brought up a lot of memories, both pleasant and painful, and he found himself torn.
"Later, Dare. The second team will be coming soon when these guys don't show. Get dressed so we can get out of here." When he didn't move, she took a step closer and set a hand on his chest. "Please. I promise to explain what I can."
He nodded but still didn't move. Instead, his hand came up to caress her cheek as if to make sure she was real. "'Chele,"
"Hurry." She gave him a slight smile and urged him into motion.
Once the momentum had begun, he found himself dressing quickly and throwing a few stray items into the diaper bag; when he had everything he could think of, he headed to the door where she was waiting. "My car is out front," he said as they left the apartment and headed down the hall.
She shook her head. "It's bugged. We'll have to go on foot, quicksilvered for a bit. I've a clean car stashed a couple of blocks from here."
"Michele, they have thermals." They reached the last door before going outside, and he could feel the hairs crawling on the back of his neck. He hated being watched, being followed, hated this covert shit that always ended poorly.
She grabbed his hand and pulled him close; he felt her quicksilver flow over the three of them. *I know. Trust me.*